Wednesday, April 28, 2010

52Eighty Singing On TV

I'm going to deviate from the comic book blogging briefly and post a singing video!  This is the youth chorus (ages 30 and under) that I sing with.  I was unable to get off work for this televised event so I'm not in this video.  As soo as our contest DVD comes in from our win in Tampa, I'll post it here.  But for now, enjoy the sound of 52Eighty....

Click here to see the video

Justice League: Generation Lost Incentive Cover

Wow, this is just way to cool to not post here....

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Avatar DVD Trailer

In honor of the Avatar DVD release, here is the trailer to the film..

CFV 426 - Avatar/Pocahontas Mashup FINAL VERSION from Randy Szuch on Vimeo.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Batman...LIVE!!!


According to Comic Book Resources, a live production of Batman will be touring in a stage production called "Batman Live." Writing the script will be Alan Burnett and Stan Berkowitz who have worked on many of the recent DC "direct to video" animated films.

It seems that the production will be neither a musical endeavor nor anything that will run on Broadway. Rather it will be presented as a family friendly adventure story, possibly featuring many of the popular Batman characters and villains. The rumor is that the production will hit the stage right on time with Nolan's third Batman film.
I remember going to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s live musical production where the Turtles fought the Shredder's hate of music. As a young boy this was exceptionally exciting for me as I was a huge Turtles fan. But looking back on that, along with other comic book productions to hit the stage on Broadway and the like, their success has been less than satisfactory. I can't remember a live comic book production that has made enough money to spurn a profit. The idea behind the "live production" approach to marketing comics truly misses the point and goes too far. Comic book fans are not in this collecting hobby to go see a major live production. Especially now, fans are more driven by the stories that come along with comic books rather than the production value in a live stage performance. However, as this live production seems to be focused more on creating an appealing storyline, this production could very well be more successful than, say, Superman...One Ice!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Movie Review: Kick-Ass

Release Date: April 15, 2010 
Studio: Lionsgate 
Director: Matthew Vaughn 
Screenwriter: Jane GoldmanMatthew Vaughn 
Starring: Aaron JohnsonChristopher Mintz-PlasseMark StrongChloe MoretzNicolas Cage 
Genre: Action, Adventure 
Rating R: (for strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and some drug use - some involving children) 
Official Website: IAm-KickAss.com 




My Wonderfully Majestic Opinion
So for those of you who have gone to see Kick-Ass, could you relate?  How many of us have actually contemplated being a superhero?  How many of us have wanted to go out there and fight crime without worrying about the limitations that the government puts on our law enforcement officials?  How many of us have at least dreamt of becoming something that was so far above and beyond that of a normal human being?  I know I have.  Kick-Ass tackles those very aspects of the human psyche, shedding some light some questions while keeping some hidden in the shadows.  One thing we can be sure of, however, is that Kick-Ass holds nothing back and creates a much more realistic superhero world, which isn’t exactly what you’ll expect it to be..

The film is about David Lizewski, an average high school nerd, whose life consists of reading comic books, talking on message boards, fantasizing about the women he’s surrounded by, and hanging out with his other dorky friends.  After asking himself why no one else has ever tried to become a superhero, he goes on a personal quest to right the wrongs and defend the defenseless as an actual costumed avenger.  As Mr. Lizewski goes out night after night fighting crime, he discovers this lifestyle isn’t as glamorous and colorful that the comic books might have you believe.

The story, in and of itself, is quite predictable.  It has a very formulaic progression of events where most of the major establishments within the story are very predictable and in line with the typical comic book plotline.  Now while this is typically a negative aspect of films to me, Kick-Ass takes a much more unique approach in telling the story of an average boy going out to fight crime.  Lizewski finds himself getting the shit beaten out of him more often than not.  In fact, the very first, and shocking “hit and run” scene where Lizewski suffers blows to the face and ribs, a knife punctured stomach, and a car ramming into him, causing his whole bloodied and broken body to fling in the air, was the most surprising scene of the film.  It was in this moment the vibe from everyone in the theater came at me like a shot in the dark, as if they were thinking, “This wasn’t the film I expected to see…and I’m not sure I like that!”  The story is not at the heart of this film, it’s the thematic aura that permeates the story that Director Matthew Vaughn wants at the forefront of his viewer’s minds.

The previews make this film out to be some light hearted, fun comedy film that makes fun of the superhero genre.  But rather than portraying the nice little satyr of comic books in general, it shows audiences the absolute brutal nature of crime fighting and what it would actually be like if someone were to dawn a cape and mask.  Lizewski makes a profound statement that people are more concerned with becoming like the immoral/materialistic celebrities like Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, or one of the Baldwins, (wink) but no one wants to become someone that actually attempts at making a difference in this world.  But through the brutality of each event, we see why no one has ever attempted such a feet.

The actors are almost spot-on with their character in comparison with the graphic novel.  Mindy Macready played a wonderfully awesome and hard ass Hit-Girl, equipped with all the swear words and violent nature that comes along with being a 12 year old, middle school girl.  And as controversial as it may sound, Nicolas Cage and his depiction of a loving father despite his gun-crazed, vengeful lifestyle comes off eloquently and humorously while still maintaining that edgy persona of being Big Daddy.

Now as much I try not to compare films based off of their literary counterparts, I felt that Kick-Ass, played by Aaron Johnson, was incorrectly portrayed as a cowardly nerd rather a persistent, hard-nosed kid who could take a beating better than anyone alive.  The team up between him and Chris D’Amico’s interpretation of Red Mist was a little off center as the graphic novel has Kick-Ass going head first into the burning building and little Misty is the reluctant one.  I found this alteration in the story to miss the point of our Ass-Kicking hero, but it makes sense in the scheme of the film’s overall plot change. 

Speaking of which, the film’s ending became a tad to “happy-dappy” for me.  I hadn’t finished the graphic novel before going to see the film, but even then I felt the ending was too much on the positive side.  As it turns out, the graphic novel doesn’t end happily in any way.  Lizewski doesn’t get the girl; in fact she down right calls him a prick and unleashes her boyfriend on him.  And of course Big Daddy dies, but to put another twist on things, he’s just another fanboy with no real vendetta against the mob who also doesn’t get to say goodbye to his daughter before the bullet goes through his head. 

While the graphic novel is FAR more violent that the film, the blood, head bashing, and sword slicing action is still not for the squeamish and those with weak constitutions.  But you’ll be happy to know that it is a lot more bearable than you’d expect as the film gives the audience moments to breathe and break away from the blood and gore, where the graphic novel…does not.  The musical score during many of the fight scenes also helps to alleviate a lot of the tension, almost making it humorous.  But in doing so, the film gives off a very hollywoodish ending that does fit the hour and a half storyline where everyone ends up happy with over the top, booming endings that’s aimed at making you smile and feel good about life as you walk out of the theater and into your car.  This defeats the purpose of a film whose story is founded on dark humor which should never end happily. 

My Awe-Struck Conclusion
Fanboys, get off your duff and go see this movie.  You’ll enjoy it and geek out over the comic book related material.  For you Kick-Ass fans, I think you will love the film despite the inconsistencies and changes in the storyline.  But as for you “normal” people, you may like it, you may not.  Just don’t go into this film expecting some nice little satirical film making fun of comic book geeks and superheroes...it’s far from it.

Rating 8 out of 10 Stars

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Comic Book Review: Batman & Robin #11

Book Information
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Andy Clarke & Scott Hanna

Plot
Damian Wayne and Oberon Sexton keep Dick Grayson safe from harm as he attempts to uncover the mystery behind Bruce Wayne’s time traveling disappearance.  But while this happens, we find Sexton is not what he seems to be, and Talia isn’t a loving mother as I’m SURE we originally thought. 

My Thoughts
It seems my eyes are not what they used to be as I couldn’t see the greatness of this book that everyone else sees it to be.  The book has some pretty outstanding moments, but quite frankly, overall the book lacks in a substance that I would deem as an awesome achievement on the part of Grant Morrison.

Writing
What we have at the beginning is an out of place introduction which actually works well in the overarching theme of the story.  Raising questions in reader’s minds is one of my favorite ways to open up a story…one of Morrison’s better qualities.  I won’t reveal who this mystery guest is; you’ll just need to read the issue yourself.  We then transition into the graveyard rumble scene while Grayson embarks on some pretty epic discoveries below. 

Like I said, the book starts off great and ends great, but the stuff in between brings the book way down for me.  The bulk if this issue consists of a redundant fight scene with small glimpses of the much more important plot driving aspects of the story.  The mystery that Grayson seems to be unveiling and the unmotherly usage that Talia takes on her son were not utilized to the extent that could have made this issue even better.  The strong points of a story should never be under minded for the sake of an action sequence that really serves no purpose except to fill up space.  The last five pages, however, are pretty epic and clearly show that some revelations will be made next month as too Sexton’s identity, and possibly the whereabouts of Bruce Wayne. 
Rating: 6

Themes
The themes in this issue actually come off pretty strong, like the possibility of Sexton’s Identity being that of Bruce Wayne and Talia taking control of her son to kill Grayson.  But what hit me the most was how Damian’s immature, abrasive behavior has been nothing more than an act.  I’ve never like Damian, even before he took up the Robin mantle.  For the past ten issues, Morrison has given Damian the same annoying demeanor that I’m sure we all have come to know and hate, but this month’s issue approaches the young lad’s character a little differently.  Damian’s entire attitude has been nothing more than a fa├žade to help cover up his own weaknesses and torn childhood; finding some way of coping with the fact that his upbringing and parentage has been less than satisfactory.

I do wonder how the mythology of Barbatos is going to play out in the Return of Bruce Wayne and why it’s an important clue in the story.  Mythology is one of my favorite aspects of DC Comics which gives me hope that the return of Bruce Wayne could be better than I originally thought.
Rating: 9

Art
Fans seem to really enjoy Andy Clarke’s artwork.  I don’t share those sentiments.  I find his penciling to be incredibly static and wooden, having very little emotional impact and visually appealing qualities.  The Graveyard fight scene was a poorly done piece of work. I felt like I was watching a fight scene with action figures.  You know how you have too pose your figures before making them fight the bad guy?  Was Clarke playing with his Batman and Robin toys as a way of inspiring his art?  Whatever the case, I did not enjoy it.
Rating: 0

Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

Next Issue Coming May 5, 2010
All is revealed in this final installment of "Batman vs. Robin" – the identity of the Domino Killer, the terrifying secret of the dominoes, and the shocking truth behind El Penitente! All of this, plus the surprising return of a fanfavorite character!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Kick-Ass!!

So being on-call every evening this week, I was unable to depart from my apartment to go see "Kick-Ass."  Never-the-less, I have anxiously preparing myself for the gruesome film by way of reading the graphic novel.  I've always heard people rant and rave about how awesome the comic is, but never read it myself mostly due to the Marvel Comics label on top left corner.  But with the news, about the film and some reviews I've read thus far, my interest continually becomes more interested about the content and story. 

I decided to visit the "Rotten Tomatoes" page to see what the common movie goer thought about it.  Here are a few comments I saw about the film...
"When filmmakers nudge a child into viewing savagery as slapstick, are we not allowing them to do what we condemn in the pornographer -- that is, to coarsen and inflame?"

"The select audience it is aimed for will thoroughly enjoy it while the rest of us will suffer through it."

"The longer it goes on, the more revolting it becomes."

"[It] thinks it's so brave and bold. But it's more like the title character, a dweeb who just thinks he's tough."

"For better or for worse, Kick-Ass has been constructed to shock and awe rather than to support and value deep thought."

While these aren't the only comments I saw on the site, in fact there were quite a few positive reviews about the film, I've been noticing a trend in those who found the film unenjoyable.  Most negative opinions about the film lean on the fact that it's overly violent and gruesome, showing that a good potion of the films viewers can't stand the violent nature that Mark Miller imposes on the comic book genre.

I under, it's not everyones thing.  However, when I see a movie title called "Kick-Ass," my first thought is n't "This movie is going to be about fluffy bunnies and butterflies.  You can not like a film for it's bloody and gruesome nature, but don't rate it down for that aspect of it.  I'm very much looking forward to seeing the film tonight!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Comic Book Review: Action Comics #888

Book Information
Written by Greg Rucka & Eric Trautmann
Art by Pere Perez

Plot
With Nightwing trapped yet again in the Phantom Zone by the deceptive Jax-Ur, and Flamebird’s emotions at their breaking point, the clone of Rao walks closer and closer to achieving ultimate power.  Flamebird must do all she can to distract Jax-Ur while the JSA fight off the oncoming nuclear onslaught of the Pakistan and Indian military.

Also, Can Nightwing come to terms with who he really is and once and for all defeat Vohc-The-Breaker?

My Thoughts
Action Comics, in these last few months, has mustered itself up as being the mythological archetype for the modern comic book era.  The story surrounding Nightwing and Flamebird has developed so much in such a short amount of time that I wonder if this story was planned out years ago, waiting for the right moment to rise up.  While the comic itself isn’t the best I’ve read, it takes quite a few strides in further developing the story of the two Kryptonian legends.

Writing
The story in and of itself has its good points and low points.  The book’s setting goes from being on Earth, to the Phantom Zone.  While on Earth, Flamebird partakes in a knuckle bearing knock down with Jax-Ur…or Vohc-The-Breaker, I’m never quite sure what to call him.  While she does this, the two Eastern military forces armed themselves to take out the super-sized cloned God of a former planet Krypton, which was apparently his plan all along.  This plot development, while still used well, isn’t necessarily the strongest literary approach.  Personally I find it hard to swallow and a bit contrived (Boy, I love that word don’t I?!?) that Rao, in that short amount of time figure out that the missiles, after crashing onto the very spot he stands, would allow him enough power to grow an exponential amount.  It works for the story, but in and of itself is a bit unrealistic.

Speaking of unrealistic plots, how was that second trip to the Phantom Zone for our little Nightwing?  It was one of the most interesting and creatively done sequences I’ve ever seen in comics.  What I couldn’t tell was if Chris was actually talking with himself, or if the Nightwing and Chris somehow became two completely separate entities entirely.  The verbal exchange between the two was spot on perfect, allowing Chris time to realize who he really was deep down inside.
Rating: 7

Themes
The thematic scale is off the charts for me with this issue.  I’m not entirely sure where to start.  The moment Chris throws away the only piece of glass showing him the outside world as if all hope is lost, The amount of triumph that fills the pages as Wonder Woman flies in and breaks open Rao’s eye, this issue is almost too jammed packed to list everything that was good in one review.  But the theme that Greg Rucka wanted in the forefront of our minds was everything surrounding Nightwing and the Phantom Zone.

I think this was a much needed turn of events in the Nightwing and Flamebird mythos.  I wasn’t even sure if Chris was THE Nightwing or not, but the last page obliterated any doubts I might have had. 
Rating: 10

Art
Perez really outdid himself here.  The toggle from the scenes on Earth and the Phantom Zone were incredibly well contrasted, one portraying Perez’s typical style we see from week to week, the other presenting a much more painted look.  I sometimes forget the array of emotional impacts that using many shades of only one or two colors that can be presented in a piece of art.  The image of the Nightwing presenting itself to Chris was horrifically gorgeous.  The use of the dark, misty light creates such a deep emotional impact that both mystifies and horrifies. 

The cover could very well be one of the best covers of the year.  The feeling of heat radiates all throughout it as the three heroes displayed honestly look as if they can’t push through the flames shooting at them.  And this cover also achieves some incredible artistry by only using many shades of one color.
Rating: 10

Overall
While not the greatest piece of work on the literary side, overall this book achieved some masterful work within the genre.

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Next Issue Coming April 28, 2010
ACTION COMICS ships twice in April! In issue #889, with the fate of both New Krypton and Earth weighing on their young shoulders, are Nightwing and Flamebird prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice? And in the co-feature, Captain Atom has managed to find a way back to Mirabai's world, intent on confronting the woman who made him a tool of destruction — but what stunning revelation awaits him there?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Comic Book Review: Justice League #43

Book Information
Written by James Robinson
Art by Mark Bagley

Plot
Questions arise in each JLA members mind as to how the team is doing as a whole, and individually.  The newly appointed Justice League find themselves in a state of uncertainty while a new found menace confronts the team and challenges them on a whole new level.  Can the League come to terms with their inner demons with time enough to save an old ally?

My Thoughts
As Cry for Justice came to a close, Mr. Robinson was put in between a rock and a hard place.  First he has to deal with the fact that Green Arrow has fallen victim to uncertainty and feels his place might not be with the League, and second, we have Starfire who decided to leave rather suddenly and without explanation.  Two characters of which I’m sure was not of Robinson choosing to have leave the league.  With that being said, the quality of this particular issue was less than satisfying.


Writing
Like most writers, Robinson’s ability to use poetic language is quite good.  In fact, you could say this about most writers in the industry; they have the natural ability to write beautiful dialogue, a poetic prose, and emotional highlights in a story.  But one thing you have to do in making a story at least somewhat interesting to your readers is at least know what is going on in your own story.

I understand the connection between the different events going on, but the transitions make the story seem more confusing than it actually is.  While the team is still under going some uncertainty within the ranks, the heroes seem to jump from one battle to the next without any concrete reason why.  Plus, the constant toggle between one inner monologue to the next is a bit jolting.  I’m never sure who the protagonist is; whether it is Green Arrow, Donna Troy, Batman, etc., it is unclear who our central focus should be on.  And as we learned from the Tim Burtonized and Joel Schumacherized Batman films, having one too many character focused plots in one story can cause MAJOR problems.

I’m not entirely clear as to why The JSA was brought into the story on that very last page, huddling around a dying Alan Scott, especially since he’s died in an issue of JSA already.  Another reason why this issue didn’t make any sense from start to finish, continuity is key.

And can anyone tell me why Red Tornado is still in the pages of the JLA?  Over half of his time has been spent in pieces!
Rating: 2

Themes
While the writing of the overarching story was severely lacking, the thematic scenery was a tad more enjoyable.  The title of the arc, ‘Team History,’ gives a hint that their will be a nostalgic approach in the telling of this story.  The first three pages give us a nicely faded ‘in the past’ tint.  The past is painted as a much happier time for the League due to the smiling and smirking heroes as they bring down their foe, which quickly turns into a green, yellow, and violet light show as an indicator that we have moved into the present.  It’s obvious through Green Arrow’s face that something doesn’t feel quite right; that or he’s still conflicted with the devastating event that occurred in his home town of Star City weeks ago.  Either way, the connection should be made that he currently doesn’t feel right.

The cover is actually quite interesting.  The spilt down the middle, showing two contrasting, yet comparable images of the past and present League, is a clear depiction of the story contained within.  I rather enjoy it when the cover forces readers to call upon their analytical skills to deduce what a story might be about.

As stated above, the heroes’ inner monologues continually jog to us from one person to the next faster than the Road Runner in Looney Tunes.  Batman questions if Bruce Wayne would have approved of this new Leagues crime fighting methods, Donna Troy is satisfied and enjoying how things are going but conflicted with Starfire’s sudden departure, Starman can’t seem to decide what he’s feeling, and Congorilla Bill is allowing his emotions to get the better of him.  An interesting take, despite its unfocused literary organization.
Rating: 6

Art
Once again, Mark Bagley produces some amazing art.  I did feel a bit jolted by the extreme overdose on color, but then again, Ivan Reis’ art in Blackest Night was quite enjoyable for me, so I don’t see why I should be distracted by this similar approach.  I think the chaotic intervals between panels is what got to me the most.  Bagley is amazing, but I feel he went a little too far with the visuals...in essence, he was TOO good.

Despite that, he did present some really great pin-up worthy images.  My favorite would most definitely have to be of Starfire flaming out of the old JLA headquarters orbiting Earth.  In and of itself, the art is amazing, it just didn’t integrate well into the story as it should have.
Rating: 6

Overall
If Robinson had written a better story, this issue could have received an above average rating, but his script truly did kill the story.  That is a pity too; last month was so good that I was ecstatic for this one.

Rating: 4.67 out of 10 stars

Next Issue Coming April 21, 2010
A BRIGHTEST DAY tie-in! Following the events of BLACKEST NIGHT, the brand new Justice League of America enters into BRIGHTEST DAY with an arc featuring the Justice Society of America. The epic team-up begins with a character from the end of BLACKEST NIGHT joining the JLA. But when the storyline's over, what mysterious villain will be revealed – and which hero will switch teams?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Top Ten Comics For March

10. Action Comics #887 (7)
Written by Greg Rucka and Eric Trautmann
Art by Pere Perez

Honestly guys, if you don't like what's going on with Flamebird and Nightwing then read something else. But to be frank, I think the whole storyline is great.  This issue may not be the best, but it's still a fantastic arc.
9. Blackest Night #8 (7.5)
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis

Don't let the number 9 ranking fool you, it's still completely worth reading, I just wasn't sure about the ending.  It's still an amazing ending, but I felt a little out of place when I got there.

8. Secret Six #19 (8)
Written by Gail Simone
Art by J. Calafiore

Talk about cliff hangers!  This was a lot fun fun, humorous and clever, not to mention scary as hell!

7. Supergirl #51 (8)
Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Jamal Igle

I sure hope Supergirl and Mon-El hit it off!

6. Green Lantern Corps #46 (8.5)
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleeson

Ended rather abruptly, but all in all, a very colorful and tense storyline.

5. Green Hornet #2 (9)
Written by Kevin Smith
Art by Jonathan Lau

Kevin Smith, please bring this to the big screen!






4. 
Green Hornet #1 (9)

Written by Kevin Smith
Art by Jonathon Lau

Definitely NOT one of Smith's flops.


3. Justice Society #37 (9)
Written by Bill Willingham
Art Jesus Merino

Classic, Nazi hating, silver age storytelling...what more could you ask for?
2. Green Lantern #52 (9.67)
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke

This is a bang up issue!  So detailed and rich in artistry and a well written script.


1.Batman #697 (10)
Written by Tony Daniel
Art by Tony Daniel

Nothing can express in words how awesome this issue was. If Tony Daniel hasn't proven himself as a writer with this comic, then I don't know what else he can do.  Perfection is how I would describe this book...complete perfection!

Comic Book Review: Secret Six #20

Book Information
Written by Gail Simone
Art by J. Calafiore

Plot
McQuarrie’s thugs are hanging Catman’s baby boy over the ledge of a twelve story building, and he only has two choices…kill his teammates, or his son will fall!

My Thoughts
It is an awesome thing to know that one of the best pieces of literature out there today is in the hands of a comic book writer.  There is nothing in this issue of Secret Six that isn’t worth the cover price.  There are no happy endings and no wonderfully joyous moments in this book what so ever, yet this issue might very well be the best comic of 2010 thus far.

Writing
I went through this book twice and was unable to find anything wrong with it.  The energy never lags and the dialogue crisp with unending depth and precision.  Interestingly enough, not one of the characters ever deviates from their known characteristics on the literary side of things. 

The drama permeates every page with angst, suspense, and gore, but Simone is no stranger to other sides of the emotional spectrum. (sorry Geoff Johns, couldn’t resist!) As a way to lighten the mood from an already established and dramatically hefty story, Simone reverts back to the surrogate father/daughter relationship as Bane tells Scandal Savage to go to “her room.”  I immediately thought to myself “holy shit, she’s going to kill him,” as did the rest of the team.  It was one of those interestingly tense, humorous moments; something that shouldn’t have happened, but you’re glad it did because it’s friggin hilarious!

The dark and sinister nature of this issue is at a record high for the Secret Six.  Catman has reached a breaking point in his sanity level, (if he was sane to begin with) McQuarrie might just be one of the most disturbingly seedy men I’ve ever laid eyes on, and the ending battle scene between Claudio Rinetti and Catman was as gruesome as a fight sequence can get.  As a fan of storylines that don’t end on a positive note, this issue was absolute candy for me!
Rating: 10

Themes
As I said above, Secret Six verges on being one of the best pieces of American literature to date.  It has defied the all stereotypes that come along in the comic book genre.  Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Justice League, they all retain some semblance of the campy approach in writing comics.  Secret Six, however, has found a way past that, by giving readers a book about a villainous team who don’t care much about anything, except for their teammates.

When Bane first set foot in the DCU, he came off as a heartless soul who only cared about earning a dishonest day’s pay.  But Simone has revamped him into a caring, Hispanic male who seems to be out of place in the Secret Six.  I suspect if he could turn his life around, he would.  But being trapped with no where to go within the Secret Six, he does all he can to protect his teammates, and more importantly Scandal Savage.  Whether or not this caring relationship they have actually turns into something more is difficult to see, especially with Scandal’s homosexual side.  But the moments the two of them share have been incredibly moving throughout this series.  They obviously aren’t getting all “kissy kissy” on us, but no one can deny that these two definitely love each other, even if they don’t realize it yet.

Catman is dished out (very deservingly I might add) as the focus of this issue, showing the readers that he is just as much of a bad ass as Deadshot.  If you ever wondered if anything could scare Deadshot, Catman would probably be it.  The tension that built up within those first nine pages was excruciating.  Imagine just standing there knowing you had to choose between two evils, both of which produces unwanted outcomes.  But of course, no one can truly outclass an exceptionally experienced assassin when it comes to a threat like this.  Blake’s response to the unnamed thug was an amazing twist.  Instead of Catman killing his teammates, he pulls the ultimate 180 and tells him to drop his son, while still informing the thug that he will come after them with no where to hide.  It’s quite a classy way of telling them that he cares about his son, but refuses to play their game.
Rating: 10

Art
Calafiore has made his mark on the Secret Six with this issue.  Catman has always been a lot like Batman, very contemplative, to himself, and talks very little.  The vengeful side of him comes out like a cougar pouncing on his prey, unrelenting and without mercy.  But the visual transition he made in the first nine pages was so sudden and dramatic that I couldn’t figure out what he was going to do until that very moment he picked the phone back up.  He was so conflicted with what to do that he basically said “fuck it,” having a combined look on his face of complete misery and anger.  Calafiore just showed us that he could have told this story without the need of any words at all.

I was particularly fond of the scene back at the House of Secrets where nothing but a black and orange tint was used to display the low lit firelight from the furnace.  Both exemplifying the mood and feel of the team in that given moment. 

Now if you are a fan of Frank Miller’s Sin City, the fight scene at the end might interest you.  Calafiore uses the same artistic technique in creating a shadowing figure with the blood as clear as daylight, streaming down Rinetti’s body in intricate patterns, pooling down at the broken floor below him.  This is so detailed in all its ugliness and gives off the emotional impact I’m sure Calafiore is going for.
Rating: 10

Overall
I don’t see how any comic can beat this issue out this month.  Geoff Johns is good, but Gail Simone really put everything out there along with J. Calafiore.  This very well might be the best comic to come out this year as well!

Rating: 10 out of 10 stars
            + 3 incentive points

Next Issue Coming May 5th, 2010
This isn't just a Catman story; it's THE Catman story, as Thomas Blake continues his bloody trail of vengeance tracking the man who took away the only thing he ever cared about! Not for the faint-hearted! Also, Black Alice vs. Scandal Savage for the right to remain in the Secret Six!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Comic Book Review: Batman #698

Book Information
Written by Tony Daniel
Art by Guillem March

Plot
A series of hits are played out by the Falcone crime family, taking full advantage of the Black Mask being gone.  However, something isn’t quite right.  A deeper, more sinister player is involved and no one, not even Batman can figure out who it is.  Is it the Riddler?  If it Blackspell?  Or could it be someone else with a sinister smile?

My Thoughts
Honestly, I love Tony Daniel and his work on Batman as of late.  He’s improved so much as a writer over the last few years, something I could model my own writing style after.  And the addition of Guillem March on art was a stroke of genius! 

Writing
Tony Daniel has this uncanny ability to write incredible mysteries that are both engaging and thrilling.  The series of events that occur made me guess the identity of the perpetrator without really having much evidence to make those conclusions, but I still do it none the less!  The watermark of a great mystery is being able to keep your readers guessing, yet frustrated at the fact that they know they are probably wrong.  I’m one of those fans who will jump to the last page of the book to find out what the ending will be like, so it’s frustrating for me to do that only to discover I have to wait another month!

I wasn’t complete sure why Blackspell came into the picture at the last minute only to get away with no real answers being revealed, but I’m sure his connection in the story will come to light next month.
Rating: 9

Themes
The opening dream sequence was fantastic.  I have full confidence that Dick Grayson has finally been establish as THE Batman where he no longer has to worry about the opinions of others, but that doesn’t mean the worrisome thoughts and dreams won’t continually linger in his mind. 

The first few pages show us a much younger Dick Grayson, still a part of the circus and the Flying Graysons.  First being tossed by his father to the loving arms of his mom, only to be surprised it isn’t actually Mrs. Grayson, but Catwoman!  As he is tossed from one past memory to the next, the scenery around him becomes more dark and dismal, as if nothing truly exists on this plane of reality.  The ones he is closest too continually throw him out as being unworthy of carrying the Batman mantle.  I wonder how this little tid-bit will play out in the overarching theme of the story

As for the bad guy…I think it could be the joker!  Here’s why….

Rating: 8

Art
Guillem March, how I love thee!  I was wondering if he could do anything else but draw an incredibly hot Poison Ivy, and he doesn’t disappoint.  His ever so clean lines have become a hallmark of artistic endeavors.  His range of facial expressions is limitless and he has a real knack for utilizing the different positions the human body can take.  Every known person in this book walks and stands all in character, never straying away from who they are.  As an artist myself, I can fully attest to the fact that maintaining a player’s most known visual characteristics is not an easy task to maintain in a comic book story.

March’s’ attention to detail also come into play here.  The fire coming from the Bat-bike, the wrinkles in the bed sheets as Dick wakes up, the rain drop bouncing of the stone buildings, and the light beaming off of Batman back all portray the level of quality in March’s art, giving off the best emotional effects comics could ask for.
Rating: 10

Other Aspects
I can’t figure out if the Riddler is returning to his evil ways or if he truly is remaining straight.  Either way, something very strange is happening with the Riddler and I’m guessing it’s going to be a doozy next month!

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Next Issue Coming May 12, 2010
Only one month until BATMAN #700! As the anniversary issue nears, Dick Grayson's life as the Dark Knight inches dangerously closer to the edge! With the Falcone crime family and The Riddler creating havoc in Gotham City, Batman is completely occupied with no idea what shocking surprise awaits him in the near future!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Comic Book Review: The Flash #1

Book Information
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Francis Manapul

Plot
A mystery is at hand! (like always) Barry Allen is back in the “Flash” and keeping people safe from the thugs and criminals who wish ill-will on the innocent bystanders of Central City.  But a Mirror Mask look alike has descended upon the City and Barry Allen has no idea what is going on.  The Flash must do all he can to solve this mystery before he is wrongly accused of murder.

My Thoughts
This issue was not what I expected it to be, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Flash #1 focuses more on the reestablishing of Barry Allen and the people around him in the DCU, which means this is a much more dialogue driven script than anything else.  So I would implore those of you who are hoping for a lot of lighting bolt trailing action to sit back and not allow your pre-conceived ideas of this book to dictate your feelings about the story.

Writing
The book starts out with a nice entrance as the Flash shoots down the street after the Trickster who seems to have chosen a poor get away car to outrun the cops in.  But I guess the make and model of a vehicle is a secondary concern for Geoff Johns since the entire chase scene is pretty epic, ending with the automobile flying off a harbor dock and the Flash ripping the car apart mid-air to save a kid in a pretty silveristic-age style.

The next 13 to 14 pages place Barry Allen back into his old forensic position at the Central City crime lab.  My problem is I was never a huge fan of the Flash, especially during the whole aftermath of that damned Zero Hour so many years ago.  So for me, having a reintroduction to a lot of the classic Flash characters was a nice re-cap.  However, seeing as how fans wouldn’t want a complete history lesson of stuff they already know, Johns pushed through the re-capping pretty quickly, giving us enough to be informed without dragging the story down.

It’s interesting to me that virtually no time is spent on Iris and Barry catching back up on the years they have missed together.  I’m very much a fan of nostalgic story lines so I was a tad disappointed that Johns didn’t take advantage of that literary opportunity.  There was an instance where Iris and Barry look back on an agreement they made, defining the professional boundaries Barry has to take between his personal life and work; this moment was equally happy and sad, foreshadowing what this married couple’s future could be like.
Rating: 8.5

Themes
As the book reestablishes Barry Allen into the DCU, the loneliness that seems to following him along is an interesting aspect.  Not one character in this book is an unfamiliar face in the eyes of Barry Allen, yet the amount of loneliness I sense in Barry is more than I could have endured.  He walks into a city he hasn’t seen in years, finds himself at semi-odds with his wife, and is unable to make himself comfortable in his old workplace.  Now while Johns is presenting The Flash as a happy-dappy man who goes with the flow, and it’s possible I’m seeing things that aren’t there, I can’t seem to get past those moments of utter loneliness.
Rating: 7.5

Art
If you take out the word balloons and thought boxes, I would still find myself enjoying this book equally as much.  Francis Manapul might have just boosted himself as one of my favorite artists.  His style seems to combine both the clean, finished look with the rough sketch approach which makes it very appealing visually as no one else draws like that.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the lighting bolts trailing after the Flash (any of them) so it is a bit annoying to me to have to see that happy trail every time he shoots off.  But minor annoyances aside, I love how well done the speed lines are in this issue.  This is an important and vital aspect in the Flash mythos and if it’s not done well, it’s possible the book could fail.

I do find it odd that Both Barry and Iris look a lot younger than they probably should, but Power Girl has been around for ages and her boobs are perkier than ever with no sag in sight.  I guess I can live with a 70 year old man living in a 30 year old man’s body.
Rating: 9

Overall
A fun read; probably one of the better “first” issues I’ve read in a long time.

Rating: 8.3 out of 10 stars

Next Issue Coming May 12, 2010
BRIGHTEST DAY shines its light on the continuing saga of Barry Allen – The Fastest Man Alive! The Flash continues his investigation into the "Dastardly Death of the Rogues" as the case takes a dramatic turn and Barry corners a suspect...and can't believe who it is!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Comic Book Review: Wonder Woman #42

Book Information
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Nicola Scott & Fernando Dagnino

Plot
A galactic battle force sets its sights on Earth for reasons only known to the attacker.  Apart from the slithering prize they wish to claim, a mysterious connection between the alien attacker and Wonder Woman exists.  With no victory in sight, Wonder Woman must now rely on assessing abilities and put a stop to this insane woman’s agenda.  Hopefully Wonder Woman is able to maintain her composure after the attacker reveals her identity.

My Thoughts
While I still enjoyed this issue, I’m not quite impressed by it.  The new artist team up was great, but the story was a tad contrived and confusing. 

Writing
I’m not entirely sure why the two Green Lanterns were integrated into the story in the first place.  I was hoping to find a connection for that later in the issue but, sadly, that never happened.  Perhaps the reasoning was to merely introduce this new threat in the Wonder Woman world, but from how everything progressed in the story, I didn’t see the necessity of having Green Lantern’s in it other than to say that they were there.

The weak start became stronger as the story went deeper and deeper into the plot, when finally the ending gave me something to hold onto.  The majority of my time reading this issue was spent wondering when it was going to be done, which is a big deal since this has the Gail Simone literary stamp on it.  But there truly was nothing that my mind could take hold of to keep my interests peeked.  Not until the revelation at the end does the story finally BECOME something.  As I think back on what I remember of Wonder Woman, I can’t seem to recall Wonder Woman ever having an aunt.  This new twist has given me some hope that next month’s issue will be much more interesting as I’m sure a missing part in Wonder Woman’s family comes out

Of course, Simone maintains her ability to write very poetic pieces of dialogue, giving Wonder Woman that mature edge over the other female and male heroes.  Ever since this title started up three and a half years ago, through great writing and storytelling, Wonder Woman has been defined by her very profound statements via inner monologue and spoken words which seem to, on some level, be commentaries on humankind in general.  The story isn’t great, but Gail is good enough of a writer for this to work well in a low quality storyline.
Rating: 4

Themes
The thematic setting of the story lacks in substance almost as much as the writing itself.  The potential in the last few issues that Simone has on this title are tremendous with the kind of ending that we as readers are given, but nothing really sticks out as being incredibly profound. 

I did enjoy seeing the classic saving of Steve Trevor; a shout out to the days when Lynda Carter was saving Steve all the time, almost neglecting everyone else around her.
Rating: 3

Art
I hate dual art duties where two artists come together and collaborate together on one book.  However, this issue seemed to work REALLY well.  There was a definite Nicola Scott stamp that went into this issue, but it didn’t seem to be her entirely working the pencils.  Dagnino and Scott did quite the job at maintaining unity in the art and not allowing a certain style to stick out too often.

I was truly impressed by the explosive moments and usage of color.  The book tends to go from a predominantly green tone, to bright yellow.  I will always miss Aaron Lopresti’s artwork on this book, but the replacement is a quite satisfactory and pleasing choice on DC’s part.
Rating: 8

Overall
I find it hard to believe that this is how Simone is choosing to end her run on Wonder Woman.  Yes she has a little more time on the title, but this can only be the last story arc for Simone before focusing her efforts on the Secret Six and Birds of Prey.  One can only hope it gets better.


Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

Next Issue Coming April 28, 2010
The fan-favorite writer/artist team behind SECRET SIX reunite for part two of this (literally!) Earth-shaking story! Who is the leader of the mysterious invasion force attacking our planet, and what connection does she have to Wonder Woman? It's a War of the Worlds, with Diana in the middle!