Comics, Movies, Video Games, and More

"Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

~Ephesians 5:16

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Interview With Tony Isabella

Before reading this, be sure to check out my retro review of Ghost Rider #9. After I had finished the comic, I wanted to dig deeper into the story and retcon. The way to do that was to get a few words from the writer of the story of course. I managed to get in touch with the writer, Tony Isabella, where I asked a few questions regarding the issue. (And one about the 2007 Ghost Rider film.) 

1. You took over Ghost Rider at issue #6, did you have a set plan for 
the series forward at that point?

Not really.  Gary Friedrich had left the series somewhat abruptly. 
Marv Wolfman and Doug Moench did a quick fill-in for issue #5.  I was 
given an issue already pencilled by Jim Mooney from Gary's last 
plot.  That was issue #6.  As I recall, I switched around some of the 
pages.  I never received a copy of Gary's plot so I made up my own 
story around the pages and Jim's border notes. My getting the gig was 
a typical-for-Marvel scenario: "Congratulations, you're the new 
writer and you're already late on your next script and plot." My 
immediate "plan" was to come up with an exciting finish to the story 
for issue #7.

For issue #8, I wanted to get the book back to its core concept of 
Satan trying to claim Johnny Blaze's soul.  Since it was girlfriend 
Roxanne Simpson's "protection" of Johnny that was holding Satan at 
bay, I decided to put that protection in jeopardy.  By the time I was 
plotting issue #9, I decided that protection kept Johnny from the 
consequences of his deal with the devil and that particular bit was 
wearing thin.  So what could be more game-changing and shocking than 
Roxanne being tricked into renouncing that protection?

This was when I realized I'd written myself into a hellish corner. 
How could Johnny Blaze be saved?  I was thinking out loud about it in 
the Marvel Bullpen when the great Steve Gerber suggested, half in 
jest, that maybe God could save Johnny.  I loved the idea and, with 
the blessing of editor-in-chief Roy Thomas, made "the Friend" a 
recurring character in the series.  It should be noted that Roy and 
his successors Len Wein and Marv Wolfman supported what I was 
doing.  There was no controversy about the addition of Jesus Christ 
to the book until, as Marv was ending his stint at editor-in-chief, 
Jim Shooter took offense to it and took it upon himself to rewrite my 
last issue and destroy the finale I had been working towards for two years.

2. To this day, are you still proud of how issue #9 came out? Do you 
think it has aged well?

Yes.  At a time when Marvel had several demonic entries operating in 
its universe, I was determined to let have Heaven have a voice in 
these stories.  When I reread the issue a few months back, I saw 
flaws here and there, but I do think it has aged well.  A number of 
readers have remarked that my old stories hold up better than many of 
those written by my contemporaries.

3. December 1st marks the 37th anniversary of issue #9. Looking 
back, would you consider it your single greatest issue or something else?

That's a tough call to make.  I think the best single issue of any 
comic book I've written is Black Lightning #5 from the second run of 
that series.  When it comes to Ghost Rider, while issue #9 was an 
important issue, I like issues #11 (with the Hulk) and #12 (with the 
Phantom Eagle) better.  I was really pleased with the scene in my 
original version of issue #19 wherein Johnny Blaze accepted "the 
Friend" as his savior and defeated Satan, but, sadly, readers never 
got to see that scene as written.

When I became the regular writer of Ghost Rider, I knew I couldn't 
write the kind of stories Gary Friedrich had been writing so well. So 
I decided to put a somewhat greater emphasis on the "superhero" part 
of "The Most Supernatural Superhero of All."  I'm told sales went up 
with this approach and the title went monthly shortly after my 
departure, based on the sales of my run.

4. Of course, the big thing fans remember is the retcon of your 
story. You've talked about it a bunch of times in the past, I would 
like to know a few things. So it wasn't until after issue #19 that 
your editor decided he didn't approve your story? Was it a last- 
minute change? Why didn't he approve the concept of Heavenly forces 
to counter Hellish forces?

It wasn't my editor per se.  Jim Shooter, who was just an assistant 
editor at that point, stated he was offended by the story and took 
advantage of the chaos during the end of Marv Wolfman's time as the 
editor-in-chief and the start of Gerry Conway's to rewrite and have 
partially redrawn the already-completed and ready to go off to the 
printer issue.  So, yes, it was a last-minute change.  At the time, 
Shooter told me he was offended by the story and that statement was 
backed up by others who heard it.  I asked for my name to be taken 
off the issue, but he refused to honor that request.

5. After you left the book, did you follow Ghost Rider at all? The 
90's series, or the mid-2000's Daniel Way series?

I read the book sporadically.  I remember liking some of the issues 
written by Michael Fleisher and Roger Stern in the original run of 
the title.  The 1990s series didn't do anything for me, I 
haven't  read more than an issue or so of the Daniel Way run and only 
those issues that crossed over with whatever Marvel Universe event 
was going on at the time.

6. What did you think of the 2007 Ghost Rider movie?

I enjoyed it and even recognized something of the Johnny Blaze who I 
wrote in Nicholas Cage's performance.  It wasn't a great movie, but 
it wasn't as awful as some would have it.

7. The retcon came ten issues later in #19. Some fans believe the 
Arch-Demon was lying about "The Friend" being an illusion. After all, 
he is the Prince of Lies. Would you tell those fans to give up that 
claim and just accept that he was just an illusion, or since "The 
Friend" technically never appeared again, it's alright to claim that?

I would tell fans to interpret the story however they like.  On my 
long "bucket list" of things I'd like to write before I kick that 
bucket is a Ghost Rider Forever series wherein I would proceed as if 
my story had been left intact and cover the next several years of 
Johnny Blaze's life.  I doubt Marvel would be interested in my doing 
this, but, who knows, I might describe what I would have done in some 
future blog.

8. And finally, would you change anything about issue #9?

Not really.  Maybe tweak a line here and there, correct any typos I 
spot, but not really.  It was a good comic book that addressed an 
interesting facet of the Marvel Universe.  My only regret is that, 
ten issues later, Shooter pissed on another writer's story.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #9 Review

Happy belated Thanksgiving. I apologize for the lateness of this review, I had ordered the Matt Frank Gigan variant, and it wasn't in Wednesday afternoon. I ended up getting it today. (Which was a good thing, since I got a sale, instead of $20, it was $10, thank you Black Friday.) Now, let's get on to the review.

I have been following this series very closely, some fans have dropped the book completely. I'll admit, some issues were almost unbearable, making me actually think of dropping it. (A passing thought, mind you.) We can thank the real-world references for that. It would have been fine, but the issues really threw it in your face. (I gave Issue Five a 3/10, the lowest score I've ever given in a review.) But unlike most fans surprisingly, I thought Issue Six was a good issue, putting the series back on track. The last issue featured a titanic battle, which I thought was pretty well-done. Now, it was announced that the current writers, Eric Powell and Tracy Marsh would be leaving. One has to wonder if that was due to the complaints from the fans. So with a new writer on board, the series was going (well, that was what I was hoping) to get better. The question on your, the reader's mind, is: "Does it?" Yes, yes it does.

The story follows Steven Woods as he attempts to control Mechagodzilla. Meanwhile, underground, Persident Ogden wants some good news, and sadly, there really aren't any. Back above ground, Mechagodzilla runs into Anguirus, before advancing onto the battlefield where Godzilla defeated King Ghidorah......

Basing things on this issue, it appears that the series will have more of a serious tone, there was really no comedy in this issue at all. Those real-world references looked to have dried out, I doubt they will play any major role in the future. (Thank goodness.) This comic is definitely a breather from last issue's craziness, but it still packs a very well-done monster fight, and a pretty good plot with actual good writing.

The first couple of issues had pretty unbelievable characters which you just want to slap off the pages. The President was pretty good in his past appearances, but nothing special. At least in this issue, he's showing character in that the government isn't just hiding underground. Steven Woods is good, like always. He gets a flashback involving Godzilla. A bit generic and was a bit sudden, none of the prior issues gave indication that he disliked Godzilla for personal reasons. But it fits in to the story nonetheless.

We get a very good battle between Mechagodzilla and Anguirus near the beginning. Each blow was felt, and was less "messy" than Godzilla's battle with King Ghidorah in the previous issue. Angurius was very good, showcasing his rolling ability from Final Wars in an amazing splash page. (Heh, the Anguirus from Legends seems like a total weakling when compared to this one, then again, he was battling Destoroyah.) The only major problem this series has right now is Godzilla's portrayal. He's not really the focus, and is really nothing more than a walking event. Hopefully he gets some character later, Gangsters and Goliaths did a good job with that.

The only problem keeping this book behind is the art. I've gotten use to it, and the action sequences were good, but the art just isn't that great. The humans don't look realistic at all. This time, both covers are pretty spectacular. The main one, showcasing a Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla version of Godzilla staring down at a sub is very good. Though, the cover gives you the illusion that the sub plays some sort of importance in the story, it doesn't appear or get mentioned. The Matt Frank variant, which showcases Gigan in Showa form, is very amazing. If only the cyborg would appear in the story, I'm still waiting for him.

Overall, a very impressive issue. There are zero real-world references and no slapstick comedy. The actual plot with the monsters is back to being the focus. With what looks to be a titanic battle for the next issue, I'm pumped. And just wait until you see the cliffhanger ending. Casual readers will be intrigued, but hardcore fans like myself will be wide-eyed and shouting "Say what?!" I'm now buying this series not just cause I'm a die-hard fan, I'm buying it also cause it has a very interesting story, let's hope it stays that way.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Godzilla vs. Biollante Review

I hope you've all had a great Thanksgiving. Usually on these big holidays, I watch a film. I was in a Godzilla mood, (then again, I always am) so I wanted to check out one I haven't seen in awhile. With the recent rumors that the rose monster would battle the big G in the upcoming reboot, I had this incentive to check out this film. (That, and it's been over twelve years since I've last watched it, lost the VHS awhile back.) It was one of the few Godzilla films I've only seen once, and was very small when I first popped it into the VCR. So without further ado, onto my Godzilla Thanksgiving special review.

Wow, I literally remembered almost nothing about this film while watching it, which made it a fresh experience. The Heisei era is known for going back to the original 1954 film's route of having a very serious tone and none of the light-hearted fun of the late Showa era. (Save for Terror of Mechagodzilla, that was a pretty serious one.) A lot of fans have a fondness for Godzilla vs. Biollante, which one of the reasons is that to this day, it still doesn't have an official DVD release. (C'mon Media Blasters, if you're gonna do Godzilla vs. Megalon, you should also do The Return of Godzilla and this film.) Anyways, I wanted to see just exactly why a lot of the fans appreciate this entry so much, and I got my answer.....well, I'm still trying to figure why it's regarded as one of the best.

The story follows the Japanese's governemt plan of creating a bacteria that could destroy Godzilla. However, one scientist decides to combine Godzilla's cells with that of a rose. The rose grows into a giant monster dubbed "Biollante," which is said to be exactly like Godzilla. Not only that, but she has the human spirit of a girl. Even though they are blood-related, when Godzilla and Biollante meet, there will be no happy family reunions.

A rather unique concept, you'll see a monster with a giant rose for head in this film. The problem was that the first half of the film was very interesting, yes, but in the second half, the plot kinda vanished for a bit. The early scene with Biollante's tentacles was intense and well-done. And just when you're getting a bit tired of the human characters, Godzilla shows up and makes his way to Biollante. After a very interesting confrontation resulting in Biollante's "death," the film takes a bit of a dull turn. See, the concept of Biollante was what made this film supremely interesting and different when compared to the rest. Once she was defeated in the first battle, she wasn't mentioned until toward the final act. What we have to do is endure the human subplot of Americans, (they never really look good in these films, do they?) attempting to steal the Godzilla cells. When Godzilla appears, he battles the Super X II, which was quite dull, being nothing more than back and forth beams. Don't misunderstand me though, it'still a pretty solid entry with a very interesting concept.

The Heisei era gave the human characters more of a focus, with deeper plots for them. The people we got here were pretty well-acted and well-scripted. There were some obvious and cringe-worthy dialogue, ("I think I've made a mistake") but was a very solid effort. The problem is that they get a bit too much screen time when we want to see the monsters. This was fan-favorite Miki's first appearance, not a bad performance at all. The problem is that they introduced a bit too many characters to give equally solid performances.

Godzilla himself looked pretty good, there are some amazing closeups in his face. Biollante's design is truly a unique one, the most unique since Gigan at the time. However, one flaw was that Erica, the girl whose spirit is in Biollante, isn't explained very well. It was never said exactly how her spirit went into Biollante's, it didn't make much sense. The final battle, while short, was definitely very well-done. Every move the monsters made was felt, truly epic. The scene where Godzilla stands in front of Biollante's evolved form was truly awe-inspiring. I also liked the scenes with Biollante somehow walking toward Godzilla, gave off a creepy feel.

One of the things that killed this film was the awful soundtrack. My goodness, a lot of these songs belong in some cheesy 70's flick. The sad part is, this film has a very serious tone, and these cheesy themes remove the tension in some scenes. (Especially in the first chase scene with the stairs, where this Scooby Doo-like theme plays.) The soundtrack is definitely one of the worst in the franchise. Biollante's theme might have been the only good theme, (aside from Akira Ifukube's Godzilla theme of course) giving off an eerie feel.

Overall, I think Godzilla vs. Biollante is a bit overrated. Too little monster sequences, too little Biollante, some poorly developed human side-plots, and an awful soundtrack. It had a dull atmosphere at times. (Apparently TOHO realized this, cause in the next film, Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, became more fun and followed the Showa route of craziness.) Still, this film has some solid acting, a cool monster in the form of Biollante, and the final battle is supremely epic, especially when Biollante attempts to eat Godzilla's head. (Which Orga would attempt ten years later.)


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Justice League #3 Review

Well, the revamped Justice League series enters its third issue. I've been giving high praise to this series so far, it's been having that high quality movie feel, combined with DC's way of telling stories, it's been a fun ride so far. One of the best series I'm currently reading. I won't waste anytime talking about how The New 52 was a good idea anymore, it's time to get onto the review. Some spoilers, so skip to the last paragraph if you've yet to read the issue.

The story continues with the demonic creatures from another world attacking the heroes. With a little help from the arrival of the Amazonian princess, Wonder Woman, they drive the creatures back, but not enough. Meanwhile, Victor is on the verge of dying, so his father makes a decision to send nanites into him. Back on the battlefield, the creatures are halted when another hero rises from the depths of the sea......

As you can see, the latest member to join the team is Wonder Woman. I don't read her series, so I can't comment on how they link. With that said, her portrayal is accurate enough in how she would be fresh out of Paradise Island, though most of the time she's seems cardboard, lacking character. The other new member is Aquaman, who is introduced at the end. I already can't stand this incarnation, "So, who's in charge here? I vote me." I mean really? Do these members have to be so un-heroic in their words? Again, Batman is really the only likable character. We haven't seen enough of Cyborg yet.

"Why didn't you stop her?" Yes, that's what Steven Trevor asked a soldier about letting Wonder Woman go. How ridiculous is that quote? This issue has a lot of words, but it doesn't feel like a lot, which is a good thing. It balances between dialogue and action supremely well. You get satisfaction for spending the four dollars, unlike Amazing Spider-Man, where it should be $2:99 instead. That's when you know you have a good comic, when you put it down with satisfaction, and not feeling cheated by anything, not by the art, or the story. You feel content, and that's what I've been with Justice League so far.

Wow, Superman is pretty downplayed in this issue, becoming nothing more than someone who just fights. I know this is a new take and all that, but to altar him in this manner is almost unbearable, he isn't the hero you could turn to. "You're strong." He has some mindless dialogue, acting more like Superboy from Young Justice. In fact, I'd say their portrayals are identical. There isn't much development for the team, it's basically them fighting off Darkseid's hordes. It's still hard to picture them becoming a team after this is over, so we'll see if it feels forced or rushed.

The art is one the best parts of this series. Jim Lee, along with Alex Ross, are my favorite comic book artists. Everyone looks great, and the splash pages are gorgeous. Triple A plus art that puts Avengers and Amazing Spider-Man to shame.

Overall, another great issue of Justice League. Wonder Woman needs a bit more character, but I'm sure that'll be fixed. Hopefully Superman will be less mindless as the issues go. With it's great story, excellent pacing, interesting characters, and fantastic art, Justice League #3 is a must-buy.

Another 9/10.

Godzilla: Legends #1 Review

Godzilla: Legends is one of those series where it's truly the fans who would appreciate it. At its core, the concept is like a fan-fic, Destoroyah vs. Anguirus?! As a Godzilla fan, the concept is something I've always wanted, and now it's happening in the form of Legends. The possibilities are endless. Now Godzilla himself is awesome, but it's his allies and enemies who are just as interesting and deserve tales of their own. I've been anticipating this comic for quite sometime, it may just be my most anticipated comic of the year aside from Kingdom of Monsters #1. Of course, Kingdom of Monsters has disappointed me, but Gangsters and Goliaths was an amazing mini-series, so Legends had a big thing to live up to. Does it? Yes, yes it does.

The story begins with the sudden appearance of the most devastating monster of all time, DESTOROYAH. Before the good folks at G-Force could decide what to do, the monster destroys their building. Only two make it out, and are deciding what to do when a familiar roar is heard. The spiky armadillo known as Anguirus appears, and Destoroyah wouldn't mind a little massacre. Can Anguirus hope to beat the beast? Of course not, so get ready for a slaughter.

Well first off, you have to think for a second about this concept. Destoroyah vs. Anguirus? A bit random. You see, Anguirus is no match for Destoroyah, it's like comparing an ant to a tiger. This issue was perfect in applying the monster's strengths and weaknesses, I applaud at how accurate the story was. Anguirus tried and tried, but was met with unstoppable resistance. It's good stuff, just like how a movie would be.

This being a self-contained story, there isn't much time for development of the human characters. With that said, they were pretty much your average people. You have the loyal second-in-command, the hard-as-nails commander, and the scientist that just wants to do the right thing, always mellowing in self misery. So no one truly stood out, but they weren't bad either, just your generic summer blockbuster types.

Of course, we're here to watch the two monsters battle it out on paper, and it delivers. There are some amazing scenes, such as Anguirus standing in front of  the monstrous Destoroyah. One of things things that made me smile as a longtime Godzilla fan was when G-Force was talking about Anguirus's past encounters with other monsters, it showed Godzilla firing his atomic ray at him, (from Godzilla Raids Again) King Ghidorah grabbing him, (from Destroy All Monsters,) and Gigan slashing him. (From Godzilla vs. Gigan.) I love that, it makes this story canon, it was truly a treat to see those scenes referenced on paper. One amazing scene in the issue was when Destoroyah was slowly breaking Anguirus' jaw, it truly gave the mass murderer persona he has.

The art is another high point of the book, easily beating Kingdom of Monsters and even Gangsters and Goliaths. It has a certain style I like, both the humans and monsters look great. Especially Destoroyah, there are some spectacular scenes with him. He looks, as Doctor Who would say, fantastic. Anguirus also looks great, matching his look from Destroy All Monsters perfectly. The covers are also fantastic. The main one by Arthur Adams is probably the best representation of Anguirus in a comic yet. Bob Eggleton's has some really nice detail, giving off a dramatic atmosphere. (Love how Godzilla is drawn.) The one I got, by Matt Frank, is truly awesome in capturing the feel of the issue, Destoroyah looks amazing on it, and the silhouette of Godzilla in the background was a nice touch. It's in his universe, but the other two are the stars. Now if only Kingdom of Monsters could get Frank doing the art.

Overall, Godzilla: Legends #1 is one of the most simple comics I've ever read. It features a bunch of soldiers deciding what to do while two monsters duke it out, and I loved every second of it. In terms of quality, it doesn't match up to the first issue of Gangsters and Goliaths, it's mainly a fun popcorn style issue. With it's amazing monsters, great battle, and spectacular art, Godzilla: Legends #1 is a must-buy for any Godzilla fan.


Retro Review: Ghost Rider #9

I've always known about the classic 70s Ghost Rider series. I really had no interest, (not to mention how expensive the issues are) to start collecting them, I was busy with the 90's series. That changed when I read a very interesting article about this infamous retcon as they call it. The most important thing about this issue, Johnny Blaze getting saved by a "Friend" from Satan was completely thrown out the window. In fact, there was another big retcon saying that wasn't really the Prince of Evil, it was Mephisto. (If a longtime fan could tell me the details about that retcon, it would be greatly appreciated, I've only recently begun to delve into the Ghost Rider lore.) Ignoring all of that, I want to talk about this issue, because it wasn't until after it was published that the editor decided to completely change the writer's story so that the "Friend" was just one of Satan's tricks, which was against the writer's wishes. The paragraphs following will my review/thoughts on the issue and the retcon itself.

I didn't buy any of the previous issues beforehand, and this issue was continuing over from the previous one. It starts with a battle from Issue 8, Ghost Rider against the demon Inferno. Meanwhile, the demon lord Satan is attempting to make Roxanne, (Blaze's girlfriend) give up her "protection" over Johnny, so the Demon Lord could have his soul. She's reluctant, but Satan convinces her with the image of her father burning in Hell. After she mutters the words, "I renounce my protection of the Ghost Rider," the Demon Lord laughs saying that her father is not in Hell, for his soul cannot be reached. What follows is Ghost Rider losing his powers, thus making him an easy target for Inferno and the possessed citizens of San Francisco. However, thanks to his ingenuity, Blaze is able to beat Inferno. But then Satan himself appears, about to claim his soul. Blaze says he'll keep fighting, but it's no use, his soul is the Demon Lord's. However, someone yells "You are wrong, Satan!" A man steps forward, helping up the defeated Johnny Blaze. He says "No man lives his life without contending with you several times, Satan. For now, remember that he is free--that you have no claim over his soul." Satan flees the scenes, saying that he's eternal as sin itself and will remember this day. The man is about to leave, when Ghost Rider asks who he is. The man simply replies, "I am a friend."

Well, that's the overall story. I've read a lot of Marvel stories from the 60's/70's, some good, some really awful and cheesy. This story, as you could tell from my synopsis, doesn't fall into either falls under "excellence." Indeed, this story packs a punch and a certain deepness not seen all that much in comics at the the time. I admire the writer of the issue, for going into deep boundaries as such.

This was before Mephisto, this was the actual Devil. He is portrayed as certainly evil, with some amazing quotes. "I'm the Devil, everything I say is a lie, including that." I really like how the Demon Lord was portrayed. (Though a rather generic look.) I like how Hell plays a role and how the Devil resides in it making plans, it makes the stories very interesting. However, the real deal about this issue, and its selling point, was the "Friend." He comes out of nowhere in the comic, having some amazing quotes, such as the one I listed in the synopsis. The dialogue between Him and Satan is just priceless, the ladder is just completely scared off by the first, it's just amazing stuff. The "Friend" if you didn't figure it out, is supposed to be Jesus, which makes this whole thing interesting. I love how they mixed in theology and comics, it works supremely well with Ghost Rider. So sad that an editor felt the need to do a little retcon.

I don't know the details, but apparently the public was too sensitive to read about anything Bible-based in comics, even though it's a positive thing in this case. So what happened, is that ten issues later, in issue 19, it was said that the whole "Friend" thing was nothing but an illusion by Satan. I bought that issue, mainly cause I was curious on how they would pull it off with the retcon. They did it so it made a bit of sense, but looking back at Issue 9, it doesn't go. The Devil's dialogue in the epilogue of Issue 9 completely contradicts it, therefore I'm saying that this retcon is invalid. I'd say that the Arch-Demon in Issue 19 was just saying it was an illusion just to mess with Ghost Rider, he is the Prince of Lies after all. It doesn't really matter, since apparently everything is Mephisto, so in that the 70's Ghost Rider series is pretty confusing. But the intent of the writer was this issue, he didn't intend for everything to get a retcon, that was the editor's decision. Some people think it was a right move, I support the writer in that "it was the worst editorial decision by an editor in the history of comics." It won't be undone at this point, but I still enjoyed this issue regardless.

What I'm saying here is that Ghost Rider #9 is one of the greatest comics I've ever read. It combines theology with a superhero-based tale supremely well. I proudly own it in very fine condition, it was worth every penny. I don't care about the retcons that came after, this story stands above them. It's a high quality issue with some amazing writing. If it's one back-issue you need to read, it's Ghost Rider #9.

An easy 10/10.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Green Lantern: The Animated Series Premiere Review

I guess it's fair to say this first. I am not a big Green Lantern fan. I've read a bunch of comics with him, and a few from his own series. So I don't know too much about the deeper aspects of the franchise. I have read Secret Origin, and watched First Flight. (Though I've yet to see the live-action film.) I've rented a few of the big arcs from my library. (Sinestro Corps War, Blackest Night, etc.) So I know the gist of things. Now we could move on.

I remember a few months ago when the promo for this show was released. I don't know about you guys, but I thought it looked pretty bad. Not the characters or how the story looked, it was the animation. Man, the animation looked like something from the Nintendo 64. (No offense to the legendary system.) However, since Bruce Timm, the guy who did the groundbreaking Justice League series, would be writing it, it was worth to give it a shot. I wasn't expecting anything spectacular, but wow, it was a lot better than I anticipated. I'm not a huge fan of the franchise, but I was captivated by the story, you are not going to want to miss this.

The story follows Hal Jordan, as he and Kilowog steal a vessel against the Council's orders to go into deep space to find out who or what are destroying Green Lanterns. They get a surprise when they run into beings calling themselves "Red Lanterns." They work for Lord Atrocitus, and will not rest until his will is served.

After a very interesting beginning, we head into some generic, cringe-worthy stuff with Hal, his plane, the dessert, and Carol. Watching that actually made me think, "Wait, is this going to be an origin story?" Thank goodness that was false when Hal powered up with the ring. Once he heads into space, that's when it gets good. I am supremely glad that this show is taking place in space, so we don't have to deal with human drama. (Which isn't bad, but in this show it is.) Once Hal and Kilowog steal the ship and head into deep space, it turns into a triple A plus show.

Like most non-fans, the Green Lantern I knew growing up was John Stewart from the Justice League show years back. So I'm use to the tough-as-nails, no joke one, whereas this one is very laid-back and comical. From what I've seen, it looks they are attempting to match him with his live-action counterpart. (Not half as bad mind you.) I think this would have worked out if this was his early days, in this show he acts a little TOO much like a rookie sometimes. ( He actually though he could sneak past Oa's security by making a Guardian from his ring.) He isn't awful, as the premiere went on, he slowly got more respectable. Kilowog, (who is voiced by the same guy who voices Bulkhead in Transformers: Prime and Pantro in Thundercats) makes this show a lot more fun. However, it's really the villains that stole the show.

I'm glad they didn't go for Sinestro, they didn't didn't mention him at all. This is all the Red Lanterns. The leader, Atrocitus, is one awesome character. What I like is that he's portrayed as evil, but at the same time, has reason. I'm liking the backstory. The followers, Razer, and Modok, um, excuse me, I meant Zilius Zox, are actually very good. They aren't your average run-of-the-mill minions, they're actually pretty cool with some good scripting. Razer is either a character you love or hate, he's going to be having a rather interesting role in the series.

Now that I've seen the animation, it actually isn't that bad. (I'll take it over the horror that is Armored Adventures any day.) The fights are fluid, and actually pretty epic. (Something Armored Adventures is lacking.) Both the voice acting and soundtrack are very good.

Overall, I was greatly impressed by the Green Lantern premiere. With an interesting plot, good characters, and epic action, Green Lantern: The Animated Series is definitely worth the watch, I will be checking this show out.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sonic Generations Review

Unlike most fans, I grew up in the 3D era. My first Sonic game was Adventure 2 Battle for the Gamecube, and I went from there. Heroes, Riders, 06, Unleashed, and Colors. Don't misunderstand me though, I have a great appreciation for the classics, thanks to Ultimate Genesis' Collection. Those were such fun games, I understand how legendary they are. The majority of fans constantly bash post Adventure 2 era, and I mean really bash. (You should see all the hate coming from the forums.) I don't agree with most of it, I have enjoyed every Sonic game I've played. (I can't speak for Secret Rings though.) I do understand where they're coming from, a lot of the newer games are lacking the "fun" that made the classics so enjoyable. Sonic Unleashed was a good game.....besides the Werehog. Apparently Sega decided it was time for a revamp, I remember in an interview they said that they will not make "any more bad Sonic games." I still think they they were just saying that to appease the fans, but I got it. They were going back to basics. Colors was released just last year, and has been universally accepted as very good. I myself greatly enjoyed the game. For Sonic's 20th anniversary, Sega wanted to something really special, and Generations was born. This game was meant to bring back the fan's lost faith in the franchise, to rekindle the lost fire. Well, I've had the chance to play it, so let's hear my take.

The story follows Sonic and friend's celebrating the blue hedgehog's birthday. The party is interrupted when a giant dark monster called the Time Eater appears and grabs all of Sonic's friends! Sonic attempts a rescue, but is slapped aside like a rag doll by the monster. It disappears into a dark void. Now Sonic has to journey through time to rescue each of his friends. Along the way, he gets help from a rather familiar figure.....

Yes, I thought Sonic 06 was a good game. However, I could see why fans dislike it so much. It was definitely more story-based, with the gameplay becoming a bit more like an RPG. I don't think the game deserves all the hate, but Sega really needed to bring something from the past back. After the failure that was Unleashed, (thanks to Werehog) Sega did a little revamp, changed the majority of voice actors, and unleashed Colors. That game was the start of how it was going to be, more lighthearted, less story-based, and supremely fast gameplay.While I do miss the good stories of the past, it's good to see the gameplay back to being less RPG and more Sonic. Generations improves ten-fold upon it, it might just be the greatest Sonic game ever released.

I don't even know where to begin in saying how great it is. Right when you drop into Green Hill Zone, you know you're in for a treat. Classic Sonic plays EXACTLY like the classic games, just with beautiful HD graphics! This is probably my favorite representation of Modern Sonic, his gameplay is so much fun, it's a blast. (No pun intended.) Seriously, I don't think I've ever had such fun pressing the square button. Classic Sonic is definitely harder in difficulty as it should be, such nostalgia playing through Chemical Plant Zone. However, the stage that really made me think of the old days was the City Escape stage, it was awesome how they re-made it, brought back such fun memories. (The modern remix could use a little work though.) But playing as Modern Sonic riding the sled down the street was just awesome.

Green Hill, Chemical Plant, Sky Sanctuary, Crisis City, Planet Wisp, the fan favorites from each Sonic game are here. I was a bit disappointed that they didn't include more than the one from each game. (Doomsday? Death Egg?! Where are you stages?) Each stage is rendered wonderfully, with such precise detail. It matches the ones they're based off perfectly, but different enough so it feels like you aren't essentially re-playing old stages. The rival boss fights, (Metal Sonic, Shadow, and Silver) were very good additions, but I would have liked them to tie in to the story more. I especially liked the Shadow battle, brought back memories of the battle against him in Adventure 2 Battle. (I just love how the music changes, first you got a remix from Adventure 2 Battle, then when Shadow gets powered up, All Hail Shadow Plays, while when Sonic gets powered up, Live and Learn plays. It's a fan's dream!)

The soundtrack is a huge part of what makes this game so enjoyable. Here we have remixes of all the favorites, it's truly a trip down memory lane. Hearing the City Escape theme in Classic mode is truly a treat, battling Perfect Chaos hearing Open Your Heart is also awesome. Honestly, this is probably the best soundtrack in any Sonic game, triple A plus right there. Hearing all the new voices makes me miss the old ones. I've gotten use to Sonic's and Tail's, but the rest need help. (Rouge in particular.)

The only major criticism is the length. I beat this game in three days, and that is unacceptable. Adventure 2 Battle, Heroes, 06, those games at least take about a month to complete. For $60, Generations is too short. After I beat the final boss, I felt disappointed that there wasn't any more new stages. Speaking of bosses, there only four in the game. (Not counting rivals.) We have two Eggman robots, Perfect Chaos and the Time Eater. There should have been more, I mean, with all the games, they should have included much more. (Biolizard, Dark Gaia, Solaris, etc.)

The concept of time travel is a cool concept, but underused in my opinion. I would have liked to see the old version's Knuckles for example, since he was a villain back in the day. Also, where is multiplayer? This is the big Sonic game, and there's no multiplayer? I mean, it would have added extensive replay value, to play over the stages with another person would have been supremely fun. Wow, now that I think about it, no inclusion of multiplayer is really, really disappointing.

Overall, Sonic Generations is more than a game. It's a tribute to one of gaming's greatest franchises. With the best Sonic gameplay I've seen, triple A plus soundtrack, and fun characters, Sonic Generations is a must buy. The only things holding it back from getting a perfect is the short length, only four bosses, and no multiplayer. Besides those things, Sonic Generations is the definitive Sonic game. While Adventure 2 Battle will always be my personal favorite, Generations is definitely the best Sonic game to come out in the last twenty years.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Thing (1982) Review

Ah, The Thing. This film is legendary, many call it one of the best science fiction films of all time. I know I know, I should have watched this a long time ago. I was actually going to watch Thor for the second time, but it wasn't working, so I hit up Netflix. I've had this film in my Instant Queue for awhile, so I finally decided to check it out. I haven't seen the original, or read the short story it's based on, so this review will be completely toward the film.

The plot follows a bunch of Americans in Antarctica. However, they soon realized that they are not alone. When a dog and a helicopter after it comes to the camp, it ignites a chain of events. Something sinister is lurking in the camp, taking control of its victims. The people don't know who to trust, because it could be in any of them.............

Wow, according to Wikipedia, this film did awful in the box office. Apparently it was released alongside the famous ET. (Which is a far inferior film by the way.) Since it's release on on home video, people began to appreciate it more. Me being a sci-fi alien film maniac, I had to check this out. I knew it was going to be well-made, but it really blew away my expectations, The characters are good, and the Thing is one unique creepy monster.

Kurt Russel plays the main character. While watching the first part, I thought he wasn't going to be that great, but as the film went on, he was truly very good. The rest of the characters are surprisingly more than the average side-characters, they really contribute, especially Doctor Blair. There are some really tense scenes with these guys, and it really, really felt suspenseful. As Russel was doing the blood test, my eyes were wide with anticipation. However, it wasn't the actors that gave the best performance, it was the dog in the beginning who was the best.

The Thing is very similar to Alien, both with plot and tone. I actually preferred this film, I actually found it more creepier, and I am hardly ever creeped-out by films. There are some amazing scenes in this film, the one where the Thing shows itself in the dog cage was truly something else. The scene where the Doctor is attempting to revive Norris and the ladder's torso transforms into a giant mouth which bites off the Doctor's arms is one of the most sinister and unexpected scenes I've ever seen in a film. The final scene where the Thing reveals it's true face was truly amazing, though sadly short-lived. The effects are truly spectacular, and you have to consider that this film was made over twenty years ago, yet the effects still hold up. Amazing.

I didn't like the ending. Sure, I know these type of films sometimes have open-minded endings, but it felt a little anti-climatic. There are some plot holes, like it was never revealed who messed with blood. The final scene with the Thing was awesome, yes, but it was rather disposed of TOO quickly. I would have liked it to do more for the climax. And I'm not sure if this was a goof, but in the scene where most of the characters were tied to a chair, one of them yells, "Untie me from this chair!" Then in the very next frame, he's un-tied, there was no scene with him being un-tied, it was a bit funny. Also, it was never said exactly why the Americans were in the Arctic, where they there for government reasons? Are they doing illegal activities? It's never said. The soundtrack is eerie and fits the mood, but could have been better in my opinion.

Overall, The Thing earns the title of one of the greatest science fiction films of all time, joining the ranks of Aliens and Cloverfield. With it's good cast, excellent monster/alien, tense/eerie scenes, and spectacular effects, The Thing is not to be missed.


Monday, November 7, 2011

The Top 15 Greatest Comic Book Covers

The cover of anything is the most important selling factor. Like, when you go to the comic book store and search those back-issue bins, you look for the most visually-appealing covers. The cover entices the buyer, so you'll find that the cover is usually better than the interior art. Here I present what I consider to be the most visually-appealing, iconic, and just cool covers from my knowledge. You've probably read thousands of lists like this, but you'll find mine to be a bit more diverse. (Heh, I'm betting no one will agree with me.) So let's get started on what I consider to be the top 15 greatest comic book covers of all time. (I am not counting variants, cause then all the variant Godzilla covers would take up the space. Speaking of Godzilla.....)

15. Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #1

Heh, what better way to start off? This cover is iconic in many ways. First, look at the way it's shown, it's as if the camera guy is looking up at Godzilla, making him look supremely imposing. Not to mention how great Godzilla himself is drawn, when compared to the later covers of this series. The way it was drawn, it's as if the artist is saying, "The King is back, baby!"

14. Spirits of Vengeance #10

 Wow. The main focus of this cover is on Vengeance, the spiky Ghost Rider on the cycle. You can tell that this guy is no Ghost Rider wannabe, just look at those fangs, it gives off the crazy vibe that this is going to be one heck of comic with this guy. (And it's true.) And the way everyone's getting slapped to the side by this guy adds to the cool factor. It's one awesome cover, it really stood out when I found it, that's when you know a cover is good, when it stands out.

13. Superman #87
It's not Bizarro himself that makes this cover special, it's the backwards lettering and the backwards DC insignia. That in itself is unique and really grabs the attention of a looker. (It did to me, when I found this back in the library years ago.)

12. JLA/Avengers #2

If the fact of Superman and Thor wrestling or Captain America and Batman battling it out doesn't make your jaw drop, I don't know what will.

11. The Invincible Iron Man #29

The Sentient Armor storyline is my personal favorite Iron Man story, (yes, I've also read Demon in a Bottle) and this cover describes it perfectly. You can tell that's the Iron Man armor, and the fact that it's crushing its helmet is symbolism. The looker can attempt to deduce what the symbolism is, but you won't guess until you read the story. Truly a great cover.

10. Avengers #22

The Avengers have had a lot of great villains over the years. From Kang the Conqueror to the Masters of Evil, the team have had a lot of great encounters over the years. However, one name stands above them all: Ultron. The evil robot is by far the greatest villain, and one of Marvel's greatest. (Indeed, he was the one that destroyed the team and took over the world.) This cover is truly a standout, featuring the Avengers dead on the floor and Ultron standing in triumph. What I like is the background is red with all of the Avengers blending in, which makes Ultron look all the more menacing.

9. Batman #497

All you Batman fans know this one supremely well. The actual story is one of the best, the Bat gets broken. The cover's main focus is the hulking Bane, and how he's breaking Batman's back. As you could see in the backround, that's the Batcave. So that means that Bane is in the Batcave, which is part of why this cover is iconic, because not many villains break in there.

8. The Mighty Thor #385

Ah, these two Marvel titans. A battle between these two is always something the Marvel fans anticipates. There have been a bunch of covers where these two are trading blows, but this stands out the most. It's one of the earliest, and the poses are one of the most iconic in the comic industry.

7. JLA/Avengers #4

I'm sure some fans will debate this, Superman is the most iconic superhero of them all. (And this is coming from a Marvel fan.) Apparently both Marvel and DC realized this, cause on the cover of Issue Four from the JLA/Avengers mini-series, showcases the Big Red S holding both Thor's hammer and Captain America's shield. It's truly iconic for that reason, and the fact he's battled ravaged makes it even more so.

6. The Invincible Iron Man #48

Wow, just wow. This cover when I saw it immediately grabbed my eye. Ultron has been on a bunch of different covers, but none has grasped his evil tyrant look as this one. The lightning in the background really helps this cover, truly an outstanding one.

5. Spirits of Vengeance #6

Our friend Venom here has appeared on plenty of covers, this one stands out among the rest. First of all, the art is taken up a notch when compared to the other Spirits of Vengeance covers before this, it's as if the budget went higher for this cover. Venom looks amazing, especially with Ghost Rider's beaten up skull.

4. Ghost Riders: Heaven's on Fire #6

Everything about this cover screams spectacular. You have to admire the painted background and the angle of everything, it really gives off the "This is the end" feeling. The renegade angel, Zadkiel, is drawn with such precise detail, especially those wings. I like the closeup of both Ghost Riders, this is one amazing cover.

3. The Amazing Spider-Man #375

That cover is just mesmerizing. The two battling, and look at that gold foil background. The words there, "Spidey vs. Venom: The Final Confrontation!" gets you thinking, "Oh man, this is it, only one of them will walk away from this." They had made many more encounters after of course, but the point is, this cover was the endgame. It was the end of an era between these mortal rivals, and this cover is perfect in delivering that message. Ah, how I miss the glory days of Spidey.

2. Ghost Rider #2

This cover is just amazing. Here we have Ghost Rider, (which is one of the best representations of him I've ever seen) and Lucifer, the actual Devil. (Not Mephisto, the REAL Devil.) I just love everything about it, Ghost Rider standing over the Prince of Darkness, it's just truly an epic cover. It was hard not to put this for number one, but that honor belongs to something else....

1. Amazing Spider-Man #339

Surprised? This cover has always been such a favorite of mine, let me explain. First of all, it's been years since he put on the black costume, it's symbolism. You can see as he looks down at the Venom insignia, that there's no going back, he's no longer your "friendly neighborhood" Spidey, he's out to kill. It's truly an amazing cover. It's Spidey as we've never seen him before, it captures the dark feel, and that is why I consider it to be the greatest comic book cover of all time. Not a battle sequence, just a stance.

Honorable mentions

So, do you agree with me on any of these? What's your favorite cover? Thanks for reading.