Comics, Movies, Video Games, and More

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

~Ephesians 5:16

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Retro Review: The Mighty Thor #385

We read comics mainly for their interesting, world destructive, and sometimes strange stories. The other reason is for the fights, the battles between these many characters. I've noticed that today in comics the fights have been, well, short. Fights barely last over a few pages these days, the last good one I read was Venom vs. Cap in Venom #9. It was a good, detailed fight, but was extremely short. I can't even remember the last good one-on-one fight in Amazing Spider-Man. It's sad. The fight in this issue I gotta say is the definition of a 'battle' in comics. Blows are felt, it's of epic proportions. This is definitely the greatest fight I've ever read in a comic.

In terms of story, there isn't really any. It's a complete filler issue, but that's okay. We're here for the fight on the cover. Putting two popular characters fighting on the cover is a marketing strategy. Sometimes the fight itself doesn't last more than four pages, it's pure marketing sometimes. This issue, however, provides exactly what's on the cover: Thor vs. Hulk. These two are some of Marvel's biggest rivals, it's been debated by fans who would win for years. They've had a lot of great confrontations in the past, I've chosen this issue. The cover is pretty iconic, it stood out while browsing for issues. Very classic poses, the simple white background was perfect. It gives the two characters more of a focus.

Remember the animated film Hulk vs. Thor where Hulk completely beat Thor to a pulp? Yeah, Thor fans are still sad over it. That's not how it would go down, this issue is how it would be. You can never tell who's going to win, it looks like Hulk has the upper hand, then Thor makes a comeback. Evenly matched, with such detailed blows. I'm not going to pretend this comic is deep or anything, cause it's not. It's a battle, it's not world-changing or a status quo update, it's just a darn fun comic. It's also interesting cause Hulk at this time was apparently was separated from Bruce Banner. So he's back to being a cold beast, but not mindless. He actually takes a hostage and tells Thor to fight without his hammer. Wow. I especially liked the beginning where Hulk runs into a family and they're like "Don't! Please! we--we've done nothing to you!" Then Hulk replies "Hulk needs no excuse!" A great scene is when Hulk seemingly wins by smashing Thor with a train. Then Thor's arm emerges and punches him. Good stuff.

The dialogue between the two titans is just great. (The script was done by Stan Lee after all.) Trash talking the whole time, it really makes the battle more fun. (It just adds to the scope.) It was great seeing Thor fight WITHOUT his hammer for a bit. At first, it seemed like Hulk was going to win, but Thor kept coming through with his strength. Thor may not be as powerful without Mjolnir, but he's still the Thunder God, he could still fight well without it. So many great attacks from both characters, there's this great scene where Hulk emerges from a fire looking like he merged with the Human Torch. And what's with the beginning where a robber thinks he can beat Thor with a gun? Strange, very strange.

Overall, The Mighty Thor #385 is a simple issue. But whoever said simple can't be epic? This comic has one of the most epic battles in comic book history. The whole issue is a fight between titans. You want a REAL Hulk vs. Thor? This issue has it. The fight is detailed and 'awesome.' The only thing I didn't like was the ending. As you probably guessed, there is no winner. It's not a total cop-out, but it would have been nice for a victor. It doesn't ruin the comic however. If you're looking for a real comic book fight, this is what to get. If only today's comics could be almost as epic in the fights department.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Spider-Man 3 Review

Ah, Spider-Man 3. It's been two years since I've last seen it, this would be my sixth time watching it. I was one of the few who came out of the theater satisfied, saw it on Blu-Ray, and loved it even more. I remember back in 2006 when it was the most hyped movie of the decade. Ah, the memories of me scouring the internet day in and day out searching for updates on it. I remember seeing the first trailer and thinking "The Symbiote? That means.......VENOM!" My dream of a film. Spider-Man and Venom together on the big screen, that's what I was looking forward to. I kept searching 'Spider-Man 3 Venom' in hopes of finding some info on what our favorite Symbiote would look like. I went through pages and pages of fan-art, it wasn't until the last trailer when we got some Venom action. Best. Trailer. Ever. I wanted to go see it opening day on May 4th, but I ended up seeing it eight days later on May 12th. I went in there in a "unbelivable, I'm actually about to watch it" mood. I enjoyed it, my friend whom I was watching it with thought it could have been better. I don't remember my exact feelings, I just remembered liking it. It wasn't until I got it on Blu-Ray two years ago when I realized just how great it is. Now that I consider myself a pretty good reviewer, I decided to check out this film again. Reading all the hate within those two years made me think "Was it really bad, did I just WANT to like it?" Now that I've seen it again, I can safely say nope. I still loved it. It's still my favorite comic book movie. I'll state my reasons and logic in the coming paragraphs.

Is it really necessary to mention the plot? By now everyone knows what it is. I guess I should mention it anyway. The story follows Peter, who is more upbeat than ever. Spider-Man is known to New York as a hero, and he's going to ask Mary Jane to marry him. Life is good. Until it is found out that the man who everyone thought killed Uncle Ben didn't. It turns out a man named Flint Marko did it, and he's currently on the run. Meanwhile, a small object from space has crash landed. In it, a black symbiote comes out. It eventually attaches itself to a sleeping Spidey. When he awakes, he finds himself on the side of a building in a black costume. He finds that he's stronger and faster with it and goes after Marko, who now has sand powers. Spidey manages to beat and seemingly kill 'Sandman.' Eventually, after a scene with Mary Jane, he realizes the suit is evil. He goes to a church and attempts to take it off. At the bottom floor, Eddie Brock, a fired photographer due to Peter calling him out on a photo-shopped picture, is there watching the whole thing. Peter manages to free himself from the symbiote, and the ladder goes down and attaches itself to Brock. They are bonded and become (you guessed it) Venom. On top of all this, Peter has to deal with Harry, who blames Peter for the death of his father, the Green Goblin.

I remember back in an interview for the now deceased Spider-Man 4 an actor said something like "My character is not dead." It was never known who it was, but it was probably Venom. Originally, Venom wasn't going to be in this film, it was the studio that wanted him in. I've read probably thousands of reviews saying all the negatives of the film. "Too much happening" being a main thing. Let's get one thing straight: I agree. There are too many plots. Sandman, Harry, the Symbiote, and Venom. Venom should not have been in the film, he should have been set up for the sequel. (Of course, now that there is no sequel, I'm glad they used him, imagine seeing Venom after the credits and then finding out Spider-Man 4 was canceled in favor of a reboot.) Sometimes the focus would be on one thing too long, and then another would be lost. Like, the Symbiote appeared, but was forgotten for sometime. And yes, the actual Peter-with-the-Symbiote plot should have been expanded. With all that said, I want to talk about why despite all that, it's still a solid film.

For a film with all that happening, it does a darn good job with making it feel not too rushed. The whole Harry against Peter thing was wrapped up nicely. The first fight between the two was wonderfully executed, everything about it was epic. The second fight between them was appropriately gritty. It's good stuff. In fact, the  fight scenes in this film are some of the best I've ever seen in a comic book movie. The effects and CGI overall are step above from the previous films and still holds up great four years later. (Especially in Blu-Ray.) However, it's the cast that make this film solid. Very interesting cast of characters in this one.

A lot of people consider Toby Maguire's portrayal of the web head to be good, but lacking the character's trademark wisecracks. I agree, but in this film, he gives off the upbeat outlook on things Peter does in the comics. Gotta say, his portrayal in this film was spot-on. He brought the upbeat, humorous outlook portrayal from the comics. And I don't care what anyone says......I liked Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane. She had a very 'sweet' outlook, the first couple of scenes with her is proof that she's a good Mary Jane. Her portrayal matches more of the late 80's comic version. It's a stretch, and I'm not saying she was perfect, but well enough. James Franco as Harry Osborn does a very solid job. One of the best in the film, his hatred toward Peter matches the comics well. (And the few scenes with Norman talking to him is amazingly done.)  The 'New Goblin' design I found was cool, but would have been better if it actually had some Goblin features. Thomas Haden Church as the Sandman was superb. I especially liked the scene where Spidey came in and said "I'm the sheriff around these parts." And then Sandman just says "Okay." Now, for the main reason why I wanted to see this film in the first place, Venom.

Topher Grace was a rather interesting choice for Eddie Brock. When I watched Spider-Man 3 for the first time, I hadn't read much, if any Spidey comics with Venom from the Mcfarlane era. It wasn't until later that I realized how inaccurate the portrayal was. What incarnation was Raimi trying to do? The Eddie Brock from the mainstream universe was a rough, weight-lifting guy, not some puny person who gets threatened easily. It gave off more of an Ultimate universe impression. (And even then, it didn't match that.) With that said, the actual performance was mixed. On one hand, this version of Eddie Brock matches the comics 0%, but ignoring that, the performance was solid. (Of course, it's pretty much impossible to ignore that.) The actual transformation into Venom still ranks as my favorite movie scene ever. It was wonderfully executed. (I remember how amazing it looked on the big screen.)

A lot of fans complain at how Venom looked. He didn't match the bulky, Hulk-like look from his first appearances in the comics. While that is true, what a lot of fans don't realize is that in the Howard Mackie run, Venom wasn't his bulky self. In that run, he was thinned down and given more of a horrific look. I think the film's Venom was based on that run's version. So I'm alright with the look. My problem is that when he's Venom, Brock spends more time talking without the Symbiote covering his face. C'mon, that gets annoying. As for Venom's actual portrayal, I thought it was actually pretty good. I mean, I love the part where he has Spidey on the web, then he transforms into Venom, roars, then Mary Jane drops a brick on him, then he roars again and then he Spidey fall and start battling it out. (All of this is executed wonderfully with outstanding effects.) Look, I think the actual Venom portrayal was spot-on, he gave off that horrific feel, it was Topher Grace who brought it down. There is one scene that to this day I still don't like. Venom would never ask anyone for help in defeating Spidey, it just doesn't go. As for the other charaters. Gwen Stacy was one of the big announcements back in the day. After watching the film again, I can say that her character was not needed. She could have been cut off the film, not to mention that the actress who portrays her wasn't that great. Not a horrible job, but not great. J. K. Simmons did another great job as J. Jonah Jameson, and the French guy at the restaurant stole the show. (No joke, every scene he was in was priceless.)

The majority of soundtracks in comic book movies could be better. The soundtrack in this film stands above a lot of comic book movies, it has some great themes. (Spidey's theme never stops being so catchy.) I especially liked the theme where Peter battled Harry in the ladder's mansion, and Sandman's theme was dramatic. One of the big things with this film was the revelation that Flint Marko was the one responsible for the death of Uncle Ben. I still don't like how they did that, but it fits for the film. Then there's the infamous dance scene. Really, the majority DESPISE this scene. What do I have to say about it? The Symbiote plays on emotion, namely anger. I didn't mind the scene all that much, it was slowly turning Peter into an evil entity. Could the scene have been done differently? Of course, but it didn't ruin the film for me.

Overall, Spider-Man 3 is a very solid film. Some parts are rushed I'll admit. The whole Symbiote plot should have been expanded, and Venom needed a heck lot more screen time. Gwen Stacy shouldn't have been added, and there should have been a better Eddie Brock. However, none of it hindered the experience. I've seen this film six times now, and I've gained a better respect for it each time. It has lots of action to keep the viewer entertained, yet still keeps a good, emotional, and dramatic story. The effects are top notch, and looking back at it now as the final film of that continuity, it's a fitting end. I understand all the hate this film gets, but to call it one of the worst comic book movies is absurd. While I was disappointed at how underused Venom was, the film did give us Spidey and him in the same film, with good and decent portrayals of each. (Would have been nice if we got the "We're Venom!" quote.) Spider-Man 3 may be known as infamous, but it will always be my personal favorite comic book movie.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Black Fire Review

Graphic novels are an interesting bunch. They aren't comics, they are novels told with comic visuals. Black Fire is a pretty good example of a graphic novel. It's pretty long, and has a lot of backstory. Usually there aren't much details about graphic novels before they're released. So going into Black Fire, a graphic novel from Archaia Entertainment due for release tomorrow on the 28th, I didn't know what to expect. It looked like a gothic horror tale. It is that, but has quite a few surprises.

The story follows two soldiers who get separated from their unit in the cold, dreadful Winter. They are pursued by the Cossacks, but the ladder gives up once the two enter a strange town. They are greeted by a man who lets them into a building. Inside are survivors, the rest of the village had apparently been wiped out. It is a ghost town, haunted by a dark god.......

This graphic novel is pretty much the complete opposite of the last one I read, Everlast. Whereas that one was constantly on the move, this one is slower paced. It takes its time to develop the story. It doesn't get dull thankfully, the story is too interesting to get dull. It will engage you from the start. You know what the story reminded me of? John Carpenter's The Thing. The atmosphere of Black Fire is very similar to that of The Thing. You never know what's going to happen, there's something lurking in the background, and you never know what it'll do next. The fact that it takes place in the cold is also reminiscent of The Thing.

This being more of a slow paced story rather than the fast-paced-summer-blockbuster-feel of Everlast, the book relies on two main things: The characters and plot. Talking about the characters, they're good for the story. Nothing special, the only one out of the humans that stood out was Joaquim Do Santos, an apostle of Czernobog, the dark god. The only woman in the book, Julia, was an interesting addition. The two soldiers were good, easy to root for. It's the actual plot, however, that makes the book worth buying. At first, it feels like a war tale, but it slowly becomes fantasy gothic survival story. The good part is that it still retains a certain realism to it. There's a lot of fascinating backstory told in the middle act, it's good stuff.

The antagonist of the story is Czernobog, (Also called Black Fire.) In his few appearances, he resembles the demon Blackheart from Marvel Comics. Truly the best character and part of the whole thing. The backstory of how he was captured in the first place was just intriguing. There are some other very interesting plot points. A monster called the Lesi is pretty awesome and its backstory with Czernobog is interesting. (And a very creepy design. But that's nothing when compared to the insanely creepy Golem you'll see later in the story.) My only criticism is the art. It fits the atmosphere well, but often it's hard to tell who's who. I found myself losing track of the who the main characters were at some parts.

Overall, Black Fire is definitely the most interesting graphic novel I've read in awhile. Very intriguing premise, which greatly executed. It's a chilling tale, you will be engaged from the start until the end. If you're looking for an original story told in comic visuals, give Black Fire a try. It's a good story.


Rebirth of Mothra III Review

What would it be like if you saw a Godzilla film with an King Ghidorah and Mothra but no Godzilla to lend a helping hand? You get this film. Rebirth of Mothra III is the final film in the 90's Mothra trilogy. It had been some time since Mothra got a solo flick, her most recent appearance before the first Rebirth in Mothra was in Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla. So two years later, and one year after Godzilla was destroyed in his series, Mothra would get a trilogy all to herself. The trilogy itself had gotten mixed reviews, I myself haven't seen the first two, so I was going into this not knowing what to expect.

The story begins with Belvera (apparently there's a third Cosmo) seeking the power to  the Cosmos' ancestors. The other two manage to stop her, shortly after that a meteorite shower hits Japan. However, a strange object comes along with it. A rather large meteorite. When the two sisters analyze the fallen meteor, they realize what was inside: none other than KING GHIDORAH himself. It is said that the beast had destroyed the dinosaurs millions of years ago, now he's back. The Cosmos call in Mothra, who is quickly defeated by the Three-Headed Terror. The defeated Mothra tells the Cosmos a plan: Journey millions of years into the past and destroy King Ghidorah before he becomes fully grown. Of course, even when he wasn't fully powered, the King of Terror is still a force to be reckoned with.....

This is one interesting movie. See, I went into this thinking it was going to be a Godzilla movie with no Godzilla. It was kinda like that, but it's different. A good way to put it is a combination of a Heisei Godzilla film, and a Showa Gamera film. Yes, so expect a lot of kids. Thankfully, it doesn't go the cheesy route. For the most part, it's a pretty engaging science fiction story with lots of monster action. It's not part of the Godzilla films, it's its own thing.

The Cosmos being a central focus was both cool and interesting. Instead of being identical and chanting at the same time, they have individual personalities. Some fans don't like the idea of that, I think it's a pretty good concept and it's handled wonderfully in the film. There's this third Cosmo apparently, Belvera. I'd probably have to watch the other two films to understand who she is. With that said, she's an interesting character. A complaint however, is that in the beginning, she seems to be more toward the evil side, then later in the film, she turns a new leaf. That's fine, but the transition isn't smooth and just felt odd. The other focus was on this teenage kid. My gosh, this guy just had no emotion. The kid from Godzilla's Revenge had more emotion. The most unbearable character in the whole thing. He's just plain dull. His lines felt forced, it isn't good stuff.

Regarding the monsters, I'd say this is more of King Ghidorah's film than Mothra's. The King of Terror completely stole the show. My gosh, he was just awesome. Truly the best part of the film. His look in this film is by far his best. He's never looked more fierce and evil. A lot overlook his appearance in this film, he had previously appeared in the 1991 film Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, and many would count GMK as his next appearance. Speaking of that, I think his GMK look borrowed some ideas from his look in this film, they look a bit similar. Mothra gets a nice design, looking more powerful than ever. However, one of the best parts of the film was when she got a super-form: Mothra Leo. The futuristic look is just epic.

The soundtrack is nothing special, no tunes stood out. However, the Mothra song gets a disco remix, that was nice. The effects for the most part are very good. The buildings exploding from King Ghidorah was pretty amazing. The dinosaurs are stop-motion, but they do look a little fake, especially when Cretaceous King Ghidorah picked up a Tyrannosaurus. The pacing is very good, it doesn't get dull. (I'm looking at you Godzilla vs. Biollante.) Just when you think it's over, then pop, Grand King Ghidorah returns. Talk about unexpected, I love it when a film could surprise you. The fights are pretty good, I never was a big fan of aerial fights, but they were pretty good. The final fight with Mothra Leo and Grand King Ghidorah was climatic. (I love how Ghidorah returns in a fire form first, homage to when he first appeared back in 64.) One thing that wasn't fully explained was why King Ghidorah was capturing all the kids. It was never truly explained what was the purpose of that.

Overall, Rebirth of Mothra III is a fun little film. You will feel like shouting "Where's Godzilla?! Mothra's getting creamed out there!" But this is Mothra's film, her own world. King Ghidorah stole the show, it's worth watching it just to see him in action alone. I've always liked the Cosmos in the Godzilla films, and they are really cool in this film.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Retro Review: Avengers #22

There are many big turning points in every comic book series. There's always that one big issue at the end of an arc when an important villain is killed off for awhile. This is one of them, the big final battle with the Avengers' greatest (sorry Kang) villain, Ultron. This robot has plagued the Avengers a bunch of times in the past, always finding a way to come back. This arc, Ultron Unlimited, would be the big, final Ultron story for awhile. I've read this issue probably a thousand times in the past, cause it came with the Marvel Legends Ultron action figure. I had known Ultron previously from the 90's Avengers show. (Great show, never understood all the hate.) That show introduced me to Ultron, and this issue would be my first comic with the 'evil robot.' I don't think I've ever seen the Avengers on the verge of losing this bad. This issue had it all, the perfect closing to the arc.

Ah, it's hard to not compare this era of the Avengers to the current era. In this era, quality stories, excellent character portrayals, it was great. Today there's this comedy undertone, and the art is just lacking when compared to this. Back to the story, it's probably the most dramatic issue I've ever read in that you're actually thinking "Wow, there's no way they can win, they're actually going to lose." The issue really gave that incentive, that doomed feeling. You could see in the narration boxes as it said "Even if the Avengers had been fresh and rested, they still wouldn't have had a chance. And they know it." I like how in the very first part of the issue, the narration boxes slowly explain the situation, and them boom. A giant splash page with thousands of Ultrons against five Avengers.

Ultron is at his finest here. My personal favorite scene was when Vision approached him giving him a chance for redemption, then Ultron pretends to about to shake his hand, then blasts him. "You're a greater fool than I ever imagined! You're soft, pathetic if you thought such a sentimental ploy would work!" Gotta love the dialogue, A+ stuff here. (Unlike in the current book.) I mean, it could be both great and slightly amusing. Like, I like the scene where Thor is shouting his godly things while taking on hundreds of Ultrons and Iron Man saying how those are admiral sentiments, but more poetry than truth to it. Good stuff. The drama is high in this issue, cause the only shot at winning they thought they had was Scarlet Witch. And in a surprise turn of events, she accidentally BOOSTS his power. Wow, that's probably one of the must unbelievable scenes I've ever seen in a comic. Thor attacking Ultron, saying how he was built my man and against a god he will shatter, and  then Ultron grabbing the Hammer saying, "Oh, I don't think so Thor." My gosh, this is good stuff.

The greatest scene however was when Hank Pym comes and says to Ultron "I created you and I'll be the one to stop you!" Ultron looks and says "Are you still here, father?" Then he slaps Hank away like a toothpick. That scene had me laughing a bit, it's a really great scene. Ultron, the 'son' has surpassed Hank in every way possible. The cover is fantastic, it features Ultron standing in triumph over the defeated Avengers. Good stuff making it all red except Ultron. And adding the Ultron logo at the top left was a great touch.

Overall, this is my personal favorite Avengers issue. My second favorite Marvel villain is nothing but pure awesomeness in it. The dialogue is top notch, it's hugely dramatic, and the art is great. It's the perfect end to the Ultron Unlimited arc. This isn't known as a 'classic' or 'legendary' but I'll always treasure it. Nonstop action, great story, real drama, and a fantastic villain to top it off. Avengers #22 is an example of how to do an Avengers comic.


Dragon Ball Z: Broly - the Legendary Super Saiyan Review

I have been looking forward to watching this one for a couple of reasons. One, fans seem to favor this one a lot, and two, the debut of fan favorite Broly. I've heard so much about him, how he's super cool, ultra powerful, and all that. After watching it, I can say that the hype is true. This was a solid entry, easily beating the last two I watched, Return of Cooler and Super Android 13.

The story begins with the destruction of an entire part of the galaxy by an unkown force. It is later revealed to be a being called "the legendary Super Saiyan." On earth, a saiyan called Paragus comes and tells Vegeta that he wants to rebuild their home planet, calling it 'New Vegeta.' Vegeta goes, but is unaware of a sinister plot....

After a dramatic beginning, (with a very unnecessary narration) the film deters a bit, but becomes solid again. This film had a high quality feel. It actually felt like a movie as opposed to a two-part special. I like the backstory they give, it's fascinating. The film gets better once the heroes head to New Vegeta, before that, we get Goku in a suit. You read that right. Gotta admit, it was priceless. My major complaint this time is how useless Krillin, Oolong, and Master Roshi were. They always are, but they could have been cut out of the second act completely, it wouldn't have affected anything. They were nothing but cringe-worthy comic relief on the planet, it was unbearable. (I did find the scene where Master Roshi powered up amusing however.)

Broly is an interesting case and fits perfectly into the DBZ universe. Arguably the most cold and sadistic of them all, I could see why he's a fan favorite. His backstory is interesting and well-plotted. Loved the flashback to when King Vegeta ordered Broly to be eliminated, then they fit Frieza into the whole thing, it's good stuff. Broly comes off as a crazy, and I mean crazy. He doesn't have any deep motivations, but it's fine here. He's the perfect villain for this kinda universe. His dialogue is nothing special, but it fits. Gotta say, the most dramatic scene in the film was when he blew up the planet of the slaves IN A SINGLE BLAST. Now that's dramatic, I mean wow. Good stuff. Broly's father Paragus is well-developed and interesting. The film did a very good job with the shift being on him then turning completely to Broly. Good stuff. Goku comes off in this film as a little too cheerful. I do like the scene where he's yelling for Vegeta for power, such drama. Speaking of Vegeta, he's a bit different here. In it, he actually shows fear, and I mean fear. It's interesting how he knows about "the Legendary Super Sayian" and fears him while the other heroes know nothing about it. Some really good dialogue from ol' Vegeta. However, I didn't like how he took so long to give Goku his power, I mean really? After stating how it's impossible to win, and then there's a chance, and he's reluctant? I mean really?

The soundtrack was very good, on par with Cooler's Revenge's. Finally, hardcore music that fit the movie atmosphere, good stuff. The fights were very good, easily beating both Super Android 13's and Return of Cooler's. Each blow is felt, the final battle on the planet is amazing. There were some scenes were Broly just kept pounding and pounding, it made me think "Wow, he might actually win." Piccolo gets a very nice appearance once again, and it was good to see Trunks. Four Super Saiyans against Broly, what more can a DBZ fan want?

Overall, Broly - the Legendary Super Saiyan is a high note in the DBZ films. It features an interesting plot, a great villain, amazing fights, spectacular soundtrack, and has the high-quality feel Cooler's Revenge has. Truly a great DBZ film, I can only hope that Broly's return in Second Coming is as good.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Demon Slayer Prologue

Demon Slayer is title of the novel I've been working on for the past couple of months. To sum it up, it's about a teen who goes on journey into Hell to save his friend's soul. Below is the prologue, check it out and tell me what you think.

    Demon Slayer

The door to Apartment Three Eighty-Five opened. Peter walked in and turned on the lights. He was exhausted; he had a long, hard at the campus. He settled into the recliner on the left wall. Above it, a digital clock read 6:06. Peter had his eyes closed, but then he sensed something and opened them. A light was coming from down the hall. Peter got up and walked toward the light. It was coming from his room. He pushed open the door with his hand. Standing in the dark room was a man. He had long blond hair, a white robe, and very large white wings. Peter knew about angels, he had learned about them in Sunday school, but he never thought he’d meet one like this.

Peter Vanguard, age nineteen, born January 6th, 1992.” The winged-man said.

What….what can I do for you?” Peter asked.

You have been called into service. Peter Vanguard, you have been chosen.” The angel said.

Peter’s eyes widened.

What do I have to do?” He asked. The angel reached into his robe and pulled out what looked like some sort of document.

The chosen always write sign their name onto the sacred piece.”

He gave Peter the blank document. A small part of him thought something was off here, but the rest of him accepted it wholeheartedly. He reached into his jeans pocket and pulled out a pen. He wrote his full signature onto the document. The angel broke into a devilish grin.

Heh heh heh. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!”

He started to morph into a red color. His wings turned black and broken, with his robe disappearing. Gone was the innocent face, replaced by sinister yellow eyes, a sharp nose, and an evil grin. This was no angel; it was a demon….and Peter had realized it too late. His soul, the very essence of his life, was cast out. His body, now an empty shell, fell to the ground. The only thing that was heard was the demon’s maniacal laughter.

Dragon Ball Z: Super Android 13 Review

Super Android 13 is a stereotypical DBZ film. It features the fastest fights you'll ever see, unbelievably powerful characters, trash talking, comic relief, and a character who borrows power from mother nature. Some stand on top of the norm, such as Cooler's Revenge, and some, like this film, tend to be nothing special. Super Android 13 does feature some unique concepts, and the villain gets a pretty cool super form, but the film suffers from the flaws of Return of Cooler.

The story follows Dr. Gero,well, a computer built to think like him that is. Unknown to the world, a powerful android has been in stasis, not any more. In the city, Goku and friends are out shopping and having lunch when two mysterious figures appear. They are revealed to be Androids 14 and 15, and when 13 arrives, things get crazy.

This film was slightly different from the ones I've seen. We actually get to see Goku shopping and eating out. It's easy to forget that this powerful character lives an ordinary life. So that was interesting and fun. I also liked how the first fight took place in the city, they usually take place over empty lands. One of the main flaws, like with Return of Cooler, is that is doesn't feel like a film, it felt like a two-part special. It's just lacking a dramatic atmosphere that Cooler's Revenge had. The fights are even less fluid than Return of Cooler, and again, the soundtrack pales to Revenge's.

Android 13 is definitely more of a 'different' villain for the films. Like the other androids, his only goal is to destroy Goku. I like how he openly says that, it makes the generic goal bearable. His southern accent may get annoying after awhile, but it's unique for this film. And I gotta say, I really like his super form. Perfect climatic battle with the heroes and him. I mean, the dramatic atmosphere went up a notch when the Super Saiyans were doing NOTHING against him. Good stuff. It was also great to see Trunks. I am a fan, (future version anyway) so I was glad to see him in action, even if he gets beat up the whole time. Goku is great, (like always) and Vegeta makes this film more fun. It's great to see the three of them together. Sadly, the other characters are even more useless than in Return of Cooler. Both Gohan and Krillin were there just for comic relief. It's sad.

The soundtrack is good as always, but just pales, *PALES* to Revenge's. I don't get it. That film had an amazing soundtrack, the others I've seen, while good, don't even come close. Gotta say I'm liking Piccolo's cool appearances in these films. While the dialogue is often cringe worthy between Goku and friends, the dialogue between him and #13 is great. Also, Androids 14 and 15 are surprisingly pretty good. They aren't total one shot minions of the main villain like in other DBZ films. Their intro near the beginning was both cool and amusing. Good stuff.

Overall, Super Android 13 is nothing special. It suffers from the same flaws as Return of Cooler, but still isn't bad. The fights were disappointing, but some of them, namely #13's super form against Goku, was spectacular. The other side-characters are sadly more useless than ever, especially Krillin, who is the object of comic relief in this film. The final act of the film is truly epic however, showcasing #13's super form as an invincible threat. Gotta say, the impending doom level went up when he transformed, and the film did a great job showcasing it.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dragon Ball Z: Return of Cooler Review

Having recently watched Cooler's Revenge, I was in a DBZ mood. Thanks to the wonderful folks at Nicktoons, the sequel, Return of Cooler, was airing the next day. I had originally seen this film three years ago, before I had actually read the manga. In short, I didn't know too much about the franchise at that time. Now it's much different. Three years later, I've read the whole manga and seen two films. Now I had the chance to re-watch this film as a fan of the franchise. While I did enjoy it more than I did then, there's still a lot of flaws.

The story begins when Big Gete Star goes on top of New Planet Namek. The Namekians are soon captured by robots with unbelievable power. Back on earth, Dende becomes aware of the situation and asks Goku to save his people. Goku agrees of course. He and some of his friends head to New Namek. Once they arrive, they realize tat the robots are working for a being. Goku instantly recognizes the reincarnated, Cooler, now with a metal lok. Can Goku stop Meta Cooler? Maybe with the timely arrival of Vegeta, but even two Super Saiyans may not be able to stop the monster from destroying the planet.

The main problem with this entry is that it doesn't feel like a film. It feels like a two-part special. It's lacking the high quality feel of its predecessor. The dialogue is worst, there's more comic relief, and the fights aren't as fluid. (They still are excellent, just not comparable to the ones in Revenge.) The music score, while good, is no where near as awesome as Revenge's. This film is just lacking the dramatic atmosphere that Revenge had. It has its moments, but its a far inferior film.

This film marks the return of Cooler, Frieza's brother. Gotta say, love the new sleek 'meta' look. His intro is dramatic, definitely one of the best scenes in the film. His script is the best, love the scene where Goku uses an attack and then soon after Cooler says "Of course, it is one of my favorite techniques." Brilliant. Goku is great as always. We also get a nice appearance by Vegeta. Gotta admit, him being in it makes things a lot more interesting. Always fun to watch the two team up. Unlike its predecessor, the other characters are pretty much useless. (Aside from Piccolo.) They're pretty much played for laughs the whole way through.

The music, as I've said, is good. But after watching Revenge, the music here is just inferior. It's better suited for the episodes, which is fine, but for a movie, I'm going to need more dramatic tunes. Don't get me wrong though, the music is still great. DBZ always has great music, but Revenge has far superior tunes. The final battle I have to say was climatic. Loved how Cooler at the end turned into one more form. Truly one of, if not the best film villain.

Overall, Return of Cooler is a disappointing direct sequel to the far superior Cooler's Revenge. It lacks the scope and dramatic atmosphere of the ladder. Still, it has some solid fights, good (but inferior) music, and some great character moments. Return of Cooler is disappointing, but still not a bad entry in the Dragon Ball Z universe.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #10 Review

Before we get started, I just want to say how much I love that cover. My gosh, that's the best main cover of this series, and one of the best covers from any Godzilla comic. Anyways, this is Jason Ciaramella's second issue of Kingdom of Monsters. With the impressive Issue Nine, does the writer continue to bring the series into a good spotlight? Yup. Spoilers ahead, skip to the last paragraph if you've yet to read the issue.

The story continues with the EPIC BATTLE ROYAL OF MECHAGODZILLA AND GODZILLA! And when KING GHIDODRAH awakes, things get insane.

Short description, but it describes the comic perfectly. It's pretty much a big fight, like with Issue Eight. The difference here is that the fight is less "messy" and more fluid. This is what I'm talking about. There are zero real-world references, it's all about the monsters. Steven Woods continues to be a character we can root for, though his change of heart seems a bit sudden. It makes sense, but the transition feels rough. Allie is a bit too whiny and negative in the issue.

My two problems with this issue are Godzilla and Ghidorah. Let's talk about Godzilla first, its more of a general problem. He has virtually no character, he's just a walking event thus far. In the films, he usually has a reason for destroying things. I'm not saying he should be a defender here, but I need to see more of a personality. Now, for King Ghidorah. Gotta say, I was truly wide-eyed when he awoke. I mean, that was one amazing scene. Then we get three panels of the two monsters and mecha looking at each other. Epic. However, King Ghidorah is quickly taken down by Mechagodzilla soon after. He's been nothing but a joke in this series. It's sad. He got some great screen time in this issue, attacking Godzilla full-force, but is taken down again. Yeah I know he awoke battle weary, but still. This isn't how the King of Terror should be portrayed.

Still, the issue is leagues ahead of the earlier issues. It has Godzilla characters fighting it out, and that's all we could really ask for. In this issue's cliffhanger, the Twins arrive with Rodan, (who has been nothing but a joke this whole series, aside from his intro) and Battra. Their main monster, Battra, has had a lot of screen time over the course of the series. Rodan has had barely any, and it looks like he's going to get fried in the next issue. That is sad when thought about.

The art is still the only thing holding back this series from perfection now. The fights look fluid, but some shots of Godzilla's head look weird. Ghidorah has some pretty great shots however, loved the scene where he's in the background all black. The covers are pretty spectacular. I've already said how amazing the main cover is, so onto the Matt Frank variant. This time, the Smog Monster known as Hedorah takes center stage. As always, an amazing job.

Overall, there isn't much story in this issue. However, there is non-stop fighting, and that's a good thing. The earlier issues were lacking in the fight department, this is making up for it. The fight between Godzilla and Mechagodzilla was great, and then when Ghidorah rises, it becomes even more insane. The only problem is that the ladder is portrayed as a chump rather than the world-destroyer he should be. But, this comic was a thrill. It is a good day to be a Godzilla fan.


Justice League #4 Review

Justice League has been the definition of "epic" all-star" and "comic book." A world-destructive plot, great characters, top notch art, and blockbuster dialogue. I have never given such positive ratings in a roll like this, each issue has gotten a 9/10 for me. The $3.99 price feels worth it. It is definitely the best series I'm reading currently, only rivaled by Marvel's Venom. Now, onto the review.

The story continues with Victor, now Cyborg, waking up and realizing he isn't human. Meanwhile, Aquaman decides to put himself in charge of the group, but that's quickly changed when hordes of the mysterious creatures from the last two issues appear. They are vanquished, but when a portal opens and Cyborg jumps out saying "He's coming," that could mean only one thing....

It's easy to forget that this first arc takes place five years earlier. The solicitation for Issue Seven reminded me of that. With that said, this issue does a good job with the heroes' characterizations. Aquaman is especially portrayed well, showcasing what it means to have the title of king. Green Lantern comes off as rather, how do I put this.....annoying. Okay, he's the Wally West of the league, but man, his lines are just corny and unbearable. Wonder Woman seems, like I said in my previous review, a bit cardboard, having only one line in the whole issue. Superman I'm happy to say is actually showing some character. I liked how he was the one to ask Aquaman who he was, but the best part was when he said to Flash "You seem like someone who wants to do the right thing, but the same can't always be said for everyone in positions of authority." Epic. The best quote of this entire series yet.

At first, I thought Cyborg came off a rather too impulsive. Yeah I know he woke up not being human, but him fleeing the scene like that was rather brash I thought. But looking back, it made sense. I can see why he was angry. To him, his father said he would never go to one of his games, and then he was turned into a machine, so I get it. Still, he doesn't really belong on the league, he's better suited for Teen Titans. Batman doesn't have that much scenes in this issue, I do like the part where Aquaman says "You've obviously gathered to fight them. But I don't see a leader. Then Batman says "Then you're not looking at me." Good stuff.

The art is just amazing. This is the definition of comic book art. The characters look great. The cover is pretty spectacular, showcasing a powerful looking Aquaman over a defeated Green Lantern. Though Superman and Wonder Woman look a bit odd in the ocean, but nothing major. There are some pretty awe-inspiring splash pages at the end, truly epic. Oh, and Captain Trevor is just as amazingly naive like his last appearance. Does he doubt Wonder Woman's strength? It's quite annoying.

Overall, another blockbuster issue. The characters are getting developed, especially Superman. The action is fast-paced, yet there's plenty of dialogue. The balance between fighting and talking is perfect. Justice League #4 is an all-star buy, if you aren't reading this series, then what are you waiting for? With its great characters, triple A+ art, and jaw-dropping cliffhanger, Justice League #4 is another must-have.


Dragon Ball Z: Cooler's Revenge Review

There's a term for anime-based-on-manga films. They call it 'a filler episode with a bigger budget.' In many ways, that's true. A film can't really affect the show, cause it would most likely cause contradictions. Dragon Ball Z has arguably the most famous anime films. Take the fights from the show, but put in a lot of cringe-worthy dialogue. Cooler's Revenge is no different, but it's step above the average DBZ film.

The story begins with a flashback to when Frieza destroyed Bardock and the rest of the Saiyans. A little pod carrying a being who would grow up to become Goku is the only survivor. From his ship, a being called Cooler, who happens to be Frieza's older brother, is watching the events. Years later, after the death of Frieza, Goku, Gohan, Krillin, and Oolong go camping. However, when Cooler realizes that a Saiyan destroyed his brother, he heads to earth to destroy Goku for humiliating his family.

Ah, this is how it should be done. The opening featuring Bardock and Frieza was definitely one of the most interesting scenes in the DBZ universe. I like how it fills the gap of back-story in the universe. The intro captivated me, and I was set for the rest of the film. That's how you start a DBZ film. The introduction of Cooler was amazing, I love the differences between him and Frieza and how he dislikes his brother. The beginning itself is worthy of five stars. (The music in the intro is also equally amazing.) After an amazing intro, we head back to earth for some generic dialogue between Gohan and Chi-Chi. Nothing too awful, just your run-of-the-mill DBZ film stuff. The scene with Cooler explaining how he wants to eradicate Goku makes up for it.

The DBZ films have some memorable (Cooler, Broly) and some unmemorable (Slug, Garlic Jr.) villains. Unlike the villain in the previous DBZ film I saw, Fusion Reborn, the villain here has actual character and great back-story. Him being related to an established villain is a great concept. His differences between him and Frieza is both interesting and fun to watch. I especially liked the scene where he's watching his brother destroy the Saiyan planet on the screen and he says "Look at him gloat, his arrogance will be his undoing." Goku is great as always. The other characters, such as Gohan and Krillin are fine. I liked the scene where Cooler's henchman Salza destroys a bag of senzu beans then Krillin goes all crazy on him. Piccolo is especially cool in the film, defeating every single member of Cooler's henchmen. (The scene where Cooler shoots a beam right through him is definitely the most dramatic scene in the film.)

However, probably the greatest thing about the film is FUNimation's dubbed soundtrack. My gosh, the music really carried the film. It brought the term "dramatic atmosphere" to a new level. It's just amazing. The music brought the character's intros and fights to a whole new level of awesomeness. The music itself is triple A+. DBZ has always been known for it's great music, but this film takes it up a notch, easily beating its sequel's, Return of Cooler, soundtrack, or for that matter, DBZ films in general.

Overall, Cooler's Revenge is a step above the average DBZ film. It features an interesting plot, amazingly fluid fights, a great villain, and a stellar soundtrack. It's no masterpiece of course, but it's good stuff when you're a fan of the franchise. Though the only thing I didn't get is why Goku waited until the very last second to transform in Super Saiyan. Considering he's able to transform into it easily, it didn't make sense why he waited so long. Also, Cooler's final form is probably has probably the most awesome appearance from any character in the franchise. Cooler's Revenge is better than its sequel, Return of Cooler, and is far superior to the last one I saw, Fusion Reborn. Cooler's Revenge is definitely a worthy entry in the Dragon Ball Z franchise.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Retro Review: Amazing Spider-Man #316

There's something a lot of media tend to follow. When a character is a big hit, they usually bring him/her back sometime later. This issue is a classic example of that. I don't know if David Micheline had long term plans for our favorite Symbiote, but sixteen issues later, he returned. Or as the cover puts it, "Venom is back!" Technically, he appeared in the previous issue escaping from prison, but this issue was his next big appearance in the Spidey world. While this issue isn't known as a modern classic like #300, it's still an amazing issue and demonstrates how the Spidey comics should be.

Interesting enough, I wasn't exposed to the Todd Mcfarlane era until not too long ago. I liked Venom through the 90's cartoon, I mean, how do you not like a crazy evil Spider-Man? My first Spidey comic with Venom, wow, I can't even think of what it is. I believe the first single issue I got was Spider-Man Family #2. I had read a few Spidey comics from the Mcfarlane era, but the comics I mainly read were some from the 70's and late 90's to mid-2000's. It wasn't until I bought the Todd Mcfarlane Visionaries when I realized that was the definitive Spidey era. I had actually read this issue before, I had rented the trade paperback "Birth of Venom" a couple of years back. But I decided now was the time to add it to my collection. #316 is an example of how to bring a villain back and keep things fresh.

It's interesting to see how Venom was portrayed early on before becoming the most used character in the 90's. The scene where he suffocates a rat to explain something was something else. It was creepy. It was brutal. It was Venom. None of that Lethal Protector nonsense, this is what Venom was meant to be. A hardcore villain. It makes me a bit sad to think that they made him a bit of a joke in some of his mini-series later on. (I'm looking at "The Madness" and "Sign of the Boss" specifically.) Same with Spidey, looking back at these issues, the comparison to the current series is too unbelievable to do. This Spidey is sure of himself, knows what needs to be done. He doesn't act like a wisecracking fool like nowadays. His wisecracks back in this day, were genuinely funny. For a dollar, you get a main character you could root for and is likable, great art, and stories that define the character. Today, for four dollars, you get a juvenile character, inconsistent/inferior art, and sometimes good stories. How sad.

Talking about the issue, it features everything the Spidey comics at the time had. There's a lot of drama since Peter and MJ lost their condo. Wow, these two are just a perfect match. If Peter ever gets married again and it's not MJ, there will be a problem. I love the scene where Peter walks into Aunt May's house and the ladder telling him that MJ seems upset. Then when Peter walks in to see what's the matter, she says "He's back." I love the little box where it says "horror has a name." However, the most dramatic and brutal scene of the comic was when Black Cat had an encounter with our Symbiote friend. Wow, even reading it now sends a bit of a shudder down my spine when Venom smashes her face against the wall. You're thinking at that moment, "Did he just...." I still cannot get over that scene. That is what Venom does. Not to mention the great dialogue, "Tell me where he is! Now! While you still have a face!" Venom's obsession with Spider-Man can't be better explained, that scene is proof enough in showing how crazy he is. I think the whole scene should go down as one of the most dramatic and brutal in all comics.

Overall, #316 is one of the greatest Spidey comics I've ever read. I actually enjoyed it more than #300. Venom was back, and would be back a thousand times, but this issue is special. The dialogue is top-notch. The current series has plain bad dialogue when compared to this. I especially liked the scene where Spidey was on the search for Venom, and just when he's about to give up, Venom comes in saying "Quitting so soon?" Spidey replies. "Er, f-finally found me, eh?" "Find you? We've been following you! For hours!" That line goes to show you how he just likes to mess with Spidey like no other villain does. However, the second most dramatic scene in the issue was when Spidey threw some heavy machinery on top of Venom, then escaped, saying, "I just can't beat Venom one-on-one. I'll need a plan, maybe some help!" Spider-Man rarely flees a fight, but he did here. It's something else. Then the final scene where Venom emerges finding a paper saying where Peter and is staying and his gruesome smile at it is just one heck of an ending. Amazing Spider-Man #316 is great issue, I am proud to have it in my collection.


Mothra vs. Godzilla Review

Mothra vs. Godzilla, once known to American audiences as Godzilla vs. The Thing is the fourth Godzilla film, and one of the most fondly remembered of the Showa era. New fans may not be aware that this was a crossover film. Mothra had a film a couple of years before this believe it or not, so this would be her first appearance with Godzilla. Both Mothra and Rodan had their own films before heading into Godzilla's film series. Anyways, it's been maybe about eleven years since I've seen this one. This film takes place right before Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, so Godzilla would play the role of an antagonist. Let's see what this real fan of the franchise has to say.

A mysterious egg has washed up in Japan. Some see it as a great money-making opportunity. Some smart ones believe there's something deeper going on. Their thoughts are right when the Mothra twins, the Cosmos, come and say to release the egg back onto Mothra Island (Later known in the films as Infant Island.) The fools who are holding the egg refuse, and the twins heads back to the Island. However, when Godzilla emerges from the ground, some of the people go to the Island and ask for Mothra's help. Will she help? Let's hope so, otherwise Japan is going to be turned to rubble.

This film surprised me. When I say that, don't think I thought it was going to be bad. Just not this impressive. The film feels "complete." There's a good story, pretty good human characters, and some really great monster action. Definitely one of the higher class of the Showa movies. This being directly before Ghidorah, there are many similarities between the two. The tone, and some of the actors are the same. They're both pretty even, I enjoyed Ghidorah more, but that's mainly cause of the great monster fights and Rodan.

Post DESTROY ALL MONSTERS is when the human characters started to become a bunch of duds. (I'm referring to Vs. Hedorah, Vs. Gigan, and Vs. Megalon.) Like Ghidorah and Monster Zero, great emphasis was placed on the human characters. Thankfully, they are bearable and dare I say it, pretty interesting. You have the all-around good guy news reporter, the female who isn't an average damsel in distress, and two villains. They aren't as good as the ones from Ghidorah, but for human villains in Godzilla film, they aren't bad.

As always of course, we are here for the awesome monsters, and they deliver. At first, it feels like a Mothra movie, but when Godzilla appears, the shift turns completely to him. It's good when a story could shift easily like that. Godzilla doesn't appear until a little after the thirty minute mark, but he makes up for it by having such a dramatic appearance. His rising from the ground still to this day is one awe-inspiring scene. Talking about his look, I really like the suit used. Definitely one of the most evil. In some closeups, his eyes are like white as death. It actually reminds me of his GMK look. His atomic breath looks good, I love when his spikes glow, really adds to the effect. There are some really memorable scenes, like when he appears out of the blue over a hill looking down upon the fleeing humans. Mothra is looking mighty impressive, considering that this movie is over forty years old, the prop holds up really well. Her wings flap with glory, it's just great. The Mothra Larva look pretty good, no complaints there.

The monster fights were surprisingly pretty good and very fast-paced. In fact, the fight with Godzilla and the adult Mothra was very similar to the fights in Godzilla Raids Again. The footage is sped up, or at least it looks that way. It's good stuff and works for this film. The fight between Godzilla and the adult Mothra is climatic, love the scene where she grabs Godzilla's tail and drags him down the ground. The fight is brutal and satisfying. The final fight in the film, Godzilla vs. the larvae, was well choreographed. Love the scene where one of them grabs hold of Godzilla's tail and the ladder's reaction to that. Though is it me, or was the intention was to make Godzilla look more of a joke? I'm using the wrong word, but in one scene Godzilla gets his tail stuck in a structure, then in another, he trips and falls onto the Osaka building. It's like they were purposely portraying him as clumsy or something. I guess it was to prepare us for when he starts to turn good in the next film.

Overall, Mothra vs. Godzilla is a true classic. It has a high-quality feel. It has a good story, good human characters, and satisfying monster destruction/action. The only thing that annoyed me was the dub's calling Mothra "The Thing" all the time. In some scenes, it just sounded plain weird. But that's a minor thing. Mothra vs. Godzilla is a gem, and a proud entry in the franchise. It has real heartfelt drama, and I believe I didn't mention how great the soundtrack is. Akira Ifukube is a music legend in this franchise, and the themes here fit the supremely well. This is also one of the most heartfelt entries of the franchise, the scene where the adult Mothra dies is both dramatic and climatic. The Cosmos do a great job here, being the best of the human (technically not human, humanoid is a better word) characters. Mothra Island is definitely one of the greatest set pieces of the Showa films, having the perfect look and atmosphere, Mothra vs. Godzilla is not to be missed.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Godzilla: Legends #2 Review

Godzilla: Legends is a mini-series that Godzilla fans like myself have dreamed for. We get to see monsters that have never battled fight, and solo stories with different monsters. The previous issue was probably the most fun comic I've read all year. It wasn't a deep story, featured generic summer blockbuster characters, but it delivered a fun and entertaining tale with the two monsters. That's all we can really ask for. Me being a big fan of Rodan, I've been anticipating this issue for awhile. Based on the description, it seemed to be going the opposite route from the previous issue. It appeared that it was going to have a deeper story. It does, but is that a good thing in this case? Nope. (Skip to the last paragraph if you've yet to read it, there will be spoilers.)

The story follows Dr Holder, who has gained possession of a Rodan egg. The flying monster is aware of this, and continues to attack Okinawa every year in hopes of retrieving the egg. One day, the Japanese and US governments deem the egg too dangerous and takes it away from Dr. Holder into a chamber for eradication. The Doctor's son has a plan, and together, they go to get the egg out. Rodan can't be far behind.....

Dull. That's the word that describes this issue. Legends #1 is no masterpiece, but it was a comic you could pick up and enjoy. This comic focuses on characters who are just dull and hard to care for. Especially the son, we're supposed to care for him, but it's just impossible. He's not realistic, just horribly written. Seriously, the issue ends with him hopping on Rodan who is flying back to Monster Island. (Not sure if he's heading there, just assuming.) What kind of a thing is that? And Doctor Holder, he comes off as mentally insane. None of their actions make much sense.

The good thing about this issue is Rodan's appearances. There are some really awe-inspiring splash pages with him. The issue DOES have a bit of good drama. The scene where he picks up the baby Rodan with his beak is heartwarming. The destruction is captivating,and the story moves at a good pace. It's just the actual story that isn't good. To be fair, the concept is good, it's just the unbearable characters who ruin it. If the writer could have squeezed in a monster fight, it would have been better.

The art is pretty good. Rodan actually looks like Rodan, whereas in Kingdom of Monsters, he looks like a brown Gyaos. The covers are both impressive. Cover A by Arthur Adams, featuring a Showa-style Rodan stomping over some buildings is very good and has a retro feel. Cover B by Chris Scalf, featuring a Heisei-style Rodan flying toward us beak opened is also a very good piece.

Overall, I want to like this issue, but just can't. It isn't awful, but was really disappointing. Rodan has some very nice splash pages, but it can't save the issue from the mediocre characters. This issue is an example of what not to do for this series, it needs to be more monster-focused with the entertainment value from Legends #1.


Avengers: X-Sanction #1 Review

This would be considered the countdown to next year's Avengers vs. X-Men event. X-Sanction has been getting a considerable amount of hype over the past couple of months, but no over-hype like with Fear Itself. This event marks Cable's return to the Marvel world. (Remember when this event was code-named Cable Reborn?) The premise seemed interesting, and after the failure that was Fear Itself, I was eager for something new. Rather than being a world-changer, this event seems to more quiet, focusing on Cable's mission to eliminate the Avengers. I haven't been too fond of the current Avengers series, so I went into this event very skeptical. All my skepticism was washed away after reading the first couple of pages. If you've been waiting to jump into the Marvel universe, now is the time.

This issue is basically proof that Bendis shouldn't be writing Avengers. Jeph Loeb should write the Avengers from now on. There was no "street humor" in this issue, it feels like an Avengers tale from the mid-2000's. It packs humor with the heroes' quotes, but it's all good. (At least Spider-Man isn't a wisecracking fool, whereas in the current Avengers series.....) The issue does a perfect job of bringing new readers up to speed with it's simple dialogue, this is how you get new readers with events, not like Final Crisis where you're lost in the opening issue.

I haven't been following X-Force, so all this Hope and Cable stuff is new to me. The issue does a good job of bringing the reader up to speed, but it's still a bit confusing. It doesn't get in the way of the story, but it probably would have made more sense with prior knowledge. Cable comes off as rather 'insane.' Now, I don't mean Joker insane, just not thinking straight. Wiping out the Avengers? It just doesn't seem right. The two main stars in this issue are Cable, (of course) and Cap. Gotta say, it's great to have Cap back in the uniform. He's looking great with his scripting, being the best in the issue.

The art is great. See, another thing the current Avengers series fails in is the art department. It just isn't good. This is how the book should be drawn. Cable especially looks good, the art succeeds in giving him a menacing look. The fight between him and Cap is both satisfying and greatly drawn. (Love the scene where Cable punches and Cap blocks with his shield.) It's truly a sight when Cable is seen with Cap's shield, then Cap picks up Cable's gun, I love these moments.

Overall, I was genuinely surprised by this issue. The story is great, interesting, and succeeds in captivating the reader. The art is great, (the cover is awesome, but Cap's face looks a bit off) and the action is fast-paced. The cliffhanger ending is pretty ambitious, I'm curious how the writer will get himself out of this one without it being too cheesy. You'll definitely want to pick up Avengers: X-Sanction #1.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Everlast Review

Sometimes it's good to go into something without knowing a single thing about it. When I saw Spider-Man 3 for the first time back in 2007, I knew practically everything about it beforehand. Nothing really surprised me since I knew almost everything. If I hadn't known the information beforehand, would it have been a more rewarding experience? Probably. The point is, going into Everlast, a graphic novel by Archaia Entertainment due for release tomorrow on the 14th, I didn't know too much about it. I knew about the general concept, the pre-End of Days world, but that was about it. So going in, I had no clue what to expect. First, the plot of the book, then my review.

The story follows Derek Everlast, a 'soldier' who's mission is to rescue people from the end of the world event: The End of Days. In the center of the earth lies Eden, known as 'Haven.' 144,000 people are destined to be saved through this event, and it's Derek's job to locate them. However, things become harder when a former soldier named Stavros comes in saying Haven is nothing but Hell in disguise. He has supernatural monsters under his control, and is determined to make Derek see what he calls "the truth." Derek on the other hand is concentrating on getting his next save, a girl named Melissa, into Haven.

At its core, the concept of this graphic novel appears to be similar to other end-of-the-world things. The atmosphere reminds me of the movie Priest. There are some similarities between the two. Derek reminds of Priest, and the villain, Stavros, betraying the team is similar to what happened in the film. Similarities end there. Generally, Everlast may appear to not be that different, but there's a lot of very interesting story points. The beginning with all the famous history figures was great and adds to the realism. The concept of Eden (which is said to be the Garden) being in the center of the earth is a very interesting idea and makes sense when you sit down and think about it.

The main character is what drives the story. Well, sometimes you could have a bland character but a very interesting plot to keep the reader invested. Fortunately, the main character of the story, Derek, is interesting and likable enough. It's hard not to like him, he's easy to root for. In comparison with another character, I'd say he's similar to Johnny Blaze from the 90's Ghost Rider comics. I like his thought boxes, it's what carries the story. The villain, Stavros, is really well written. Some of his lines had me smirking, the best character aside from Derek. The bar tender, Naomi, wasn't fully fleshed out. She wasn't horribly written as a one-shot, but could have used a bit more development.

At first, I was confused with the story. Things were happening a bit too fast and nothing was being explained. As the story progressed, things were explained, I actually like this way of story telling. It doesn't work for everything, but it works here. Some parts do feel a bit rushed, but overall, it's well-paced. The art is pretty good, consistent. The characters look fine, but the creature designs were what grabbed me, they would make even H.P. Lovecraft proud. (There's a scene where this giant Venom-Cloverfield monster thing appears, it's truly epic.) There's this one page where it takes place in Haven showcasing a bunch of white doves, it's probably one of the most beautiful pages I've ever seen in a graphic novel.

Overall, Everlast takes a used concept, but puts a unique spin on it. I was greatly entertained by it, the action doesn't stop. There's no scenes that drag on, it's a fun ride throughout. The ending makes me want to read more, so hopefully we'll get a sequel. With its great premise, interesting main character/villain, non-stop action, and good script, Everlast makes a great buy.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Retro Review: Spider-Man and Batman

When I was smaller, the idea of a Marvel and DC crossover was a dream. Little did I know that there had actually been quite a few crossovers from the 90's. I found out one random day on the internet, and immediately the next day I went to Jim Hanley's Universe to purchase the DC Comics vs. Marvel Comics trade paperback. Wow, seeing these guys on the same page itself was almost too much. I went and bought some of the crossover classics, such fun reads. (The best being JLA/Avengers.) I am not here to talk about those however, I am here to talk about a one-shot from the 95 featuring two unlikely partners: the amazing Spider-Man and the Batman.

It's funny, these two are quite the opposite. They're both heroes, and believe in a strong sense of morality. Spidey definitely has more fun with the job, and actually seems to enjoy the job of being a superhero. Batman on the other hand, is a deadly serious vigilante who isn't afraid to really get down and dirty. It's not so much as he enjoys being a superhero, it seems like he takes it as more of a commitment. So pairing these two clashing personalities would be very interesting. It would be more fun than a Spider-Man and Superman one, mainly cause those two would make more of a lighter story. As fun as it is to see these two guys together, the choice of villains is equally important, and the writers did an amazing job with that.

The two villains are the most ruthless psychopaths from their respective universes: Venom's spawn: Carnage, and the Clown Prince of Crime: the Joker. Very interesting choice of villains, I would have thought that they would have chosen the Green Goblin rather than Carnage. But, I'm happy with the pick, I prefer Carnage a thousand times to Goblin. Anyways, the two characters are pretty much portrayed accurately. The writing is top notch, I love this quote by Carnage: "Go home to your wives and children, tell them you stared Death face-to-face, and he gave you a second chance." The pages where Carnage explains how he's been impressed with Joker is just priceless. Then when they start to have conflicting views on how to accomplish mass genocide is both amusing and triple A class writing.

I noticed that Batman is slightly more livelier and sarcastic than usual. One scene I didn't like all that much was when Batman was saying that he doesn't want Spidey to "get hurt." Really? If Carnage is any indication, he should know that Spidey deals with problems as big as Gotham City's. Also, "I don't need your help, or want it." Uh, Batman doesn't have Spidey's knowledge of Carnage, he does need him. He came back later to ask for Spidey's assistance, but still. I do like the head-shots of the two heroes right before Bats says "Or want it." Such great drama. This issue is packed with great comic book drama, the dynamics between the heroes and villains are priceless. I also like how Bats referenced Maximum Carnage.

I don't know about you guys, but I just love the art in this comic. My gosh, this is how Spidey should be drawn, he looks perfect. I prefer the big eyes on the mask than the smaller ones we're getting right now. Carnage looks plain crazy and evil, such a great depiction. I mentioned this already, but the writing in this comic has such a high-quality feel. There's some moral things here that make you think. Is it right to pull the plug and erase a person's character when it appears there's no decently left in them? That's the main question in the beginning, good stuff.

Overall, don't think this is a cash-in on two of the most popular heroes. It has a very compelling story, I was surprised at how impressive it was, one of the best comics I've ever read. (Just look at the gorgeous embossed cover.) It's definitely worth the buy, I think this comic is a bit underrated. The dynamics between the characters is amazing, sometimes amusing, and just plain awesome. Look up the comic and purchase it, it's not too expensive and it's worth it.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Detective Comics #4 Review

Well, this is the end of the first arc. It's been an amazing ride so far, one of the best series I'm currently reading. Dark? Check. Gritty? Check. Mystery? Check. Batman doing what he does best? Check. Definitely an all-star series, great for new and old fans alike. For those that grew up with the 90's series, you'll feel right at home with this book. Anyways, I've been giving high praise to this book, the lowest score I've given it was an 8, back in Issue 2. So, the trend must continue with a positive score for this issue, right? Of course.

The story continues with Batman battling a bunch of Joker fakes from the last issue. Eventually, Doll Maker is offered a deal for Batman alive. Where is this deal coming from? A certain crime lord with a bird for a name. Can Batman make it out? Get ready for an explosive finale.

The thing that makes this series great is the thinking boxes with Batman. I always find it very interesting to see what's going on his mind as be battles the scum of Gotham City. Reminds me of the late 90's Spidey Howard Mackie run. Batman is a very interesting character, and this series has been taking everything interesting about him and putting it on every page. Tony S. Daniel knows how to make a gritty, but intriguing story. It's fast paced, but at the same time, still a detective story, amazing.

Alright, I have to say this. I don't find Doll Maker interesting at all. I just don't find him threatening, or particularly engaging. Heck, Professor Pyg from the 2007 Batman and Robin series was more interesting. Since the start, the main thing I wanted to see resolved was the Joker plot, not this guy. I liked how they introduced Penguin without showing him, it was very, very good how that happened. Olivia comes off as rather generic, will she have a bigger role later? It's hard to tell. Commissioner Gordon didn't have much of a role in this issue surprisingly.

The art has always been top-notch. It's fits the grim tone well, especially in the scene where Batman is interrogating the messenger. Everyone looks great, it's just hard to complain when Marvel's Avengers art is so inferior. It's just dark and moody. Impressive cover, so far all the covers have been very good. And wow, that final page is so iconic, it really gives the reader a bit of a shiver. Though is it me, or does the Bruce Wayne scenes seem out of place? They seem to be there just to fill the space.

Overall, an excellent issue and a fine closure to the first arc. This book has succeeded in being a definitive Batman series. I have a feeling it will only get better. DC has done it, go check out Detective Comics if you haven't already.