Comics, Movies, Video Games, and More

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

~Ephesians 5:16

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Justice League #6 Review

By now everyone should be used to The New 52. Justice League has been the flagship title. I really have been enjoying the series, it's a fresh thing when you've been reading Marvel for awhile. Straight 9/10s, with the exception of the last issue. The book started to lose its 'epic' feel. Why? The minor complaints with the previous issues were becoming major. Sometimes some of the members had zero lines in an issue, and the writing was getting bad. In the beginning it was good, but then  I realized something in the previous one: the writing now just wasn't good. So Issue #5 broke the role of 9's to an 8. I was now a bit worried for this series. That worry was destroyed after reading the first couple of pages of this issue, it was just fantastic.

Official description from DC:

The Justice League is united at last against Darkseid! The awesome consequences of this high-stakes battle will resonate within the series for years to come! Geoff Johns and Jim Lee end their historic first arc with a bang!

There's this really amazing splash page of Superman zooming into Darkseid. That alone makes the comic, I was wide-eyed looking at it, Jim Lee just went all-out in the art department this time. There's a great tension with the battle against Darkseid, it's all thanks to the brilliant art. The writing was actually strong in the beginning and middle, Wonder Woman actually shows some character, and even Green Lantern is decent. (For the beginning and middle, it all falls apart during the end with him, which I'll address in the next paragraph.)

The writing was actually pretty good in the beginning and middle, but not during the final part. Green Lantern just comes off as a jerk. "We're not a team." "We're not friends." "This was just a one-time thing, okay?" Yes, those are his actual lines. Superman once again barely shows a shred of character, he doesn't advance at all. Batman doesn't do much besides encourage Cyborg. It's generic stuff. Now, for Darkseid. He seemed to have an interesting motive, but his plot felt rushed and his demise too fast. His dialogue is rather shallow, he just comes across as an angry brute with no character. His demise as stated just happened too fast. Too much build up and hype, he is finished off quickly.

Those criticisms aside, the issue is fantastic. It has some of the greatest splash pages I've ever seen in a comic. The action is great, and the dialogue between the League while fighting Darkseid was very good. They actually sound like a team. The cover is another strong one, showing a very well-drawn Darkseid looking down on the League. The human reaction to the League winning felt robotic and unrealistic, the writing could have been much better there. However, the majority of the issue actually feels like a Justice League comic in that they're a team and working together. We see that for the first time here.

Overall, Justice League #6 is one epic comic. Your jaw will drop at the amazing splash pages. It proves to be an epic finisher, albeit a bit rushed. Darkseid's role could have been swapped with another villain pretty easily with some minor changes. The writing was strong in the beginning and middle, it actually looks like they're acting like the Justice League. I am intrigued with how the next arc will go, since it takes place five years later in present day.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Godzilla: Legends #4 Review

The Godzilla Legends are back with this ambitious issue. Here we have the Smog Monster's (Hedorah) debut in IDW's Godzilla comic universe. This issue is similar to the first Legend, in that it's basically a summer blockbuster condensed into a comic. The previous two Legends were pretty story driven with the monsters uses as more of a plot device. So this issue was a nice change of pace, nothing beats an action-packed comic with Godzilla monsters as the stars. This issue is a fun little comic that Godzilla fans will like. It's lacking the punch the first Legend had, but remains a fun action-packed issue.

Official description from IDW:

An epic single issue story shining a light on another terrifying Toho monster! This issue sees the debut of the one and only Smog Monster— Hedorah! G-Force is sent to battle the blob-like beast as it lays waste to China. But another monster's presence might make this an even more chaotic conflict! Don't miss the mayhem!

This is exactly the kind of stuff I've been wanting to see from this mini-series. Concepts that fans always wanted to see that never happened in the films. Battles between monsters that never happened before, stuff you might read in a fan-fic. So here we have Hedorah, the infamous Smog Monster trading blows with Mechagodzilla II. As a Godzilla fan, it's just fun watching these two battle. (Why is it they don't recognize Hedorah? If they recognize Anguirus, they should recognize the Smog Monster.) Soon Godzilla shows up for a spectacular fight with Hedorah. It's good to see the Smog Monster getting the respect he deserves, he looks extremely powerful in the comic.

However, the main attraction of this comic is the spectacular art. MG looks great, and Godzilla has a menacing appearance. Hedorah looks good also. (I think more detail could have been put into Hedorah, but that's just me.) The fights look nice and fluid. The writing is basically your stereotypical summer blockbuster dialogue. However, whereas likable lead character(s) was established in Legends #1, this issue doesn't really establish any characters. The issue presents their code-names, but really, the reader forgets them by the middle of the issue. The human characters just weren't all. I know it's just a one-shot issue, so there really isn't any time to make these characters engaging, but they were just dull. Of course, the fabulous monster action makes up for that, it's great to see these characters revived in this fashion after all these years.

Overall, Godzilla: Legends #4 is a really fun comic. It features the most 'different' monster of all time in the form of Hedorah. It's good to see the Smog Monster back in action, and looking pretty tough I have to add. Ity's good that Chris Mowry 'gets it,' Hedorah is one tough cookie. However, Mechagodzilla II's arsenal is something else, since its from the Heisei era. So it's interesting to see a Heisei character using its arsanal against a practically unbeatable Showa character. While the human characters weren't engaging at all, the spectacular art by E.J. Su and fun monster action makes this issue worth the $4. It's a good day to be a Godzilla fan.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Godzilla 2000 Review

On May 20th, 1998, TriStar Pictures released GODZILLA into American theaters. It was also the same year American audiences were alienated to Godzilla movies. So one year later, TOHO released a brand new Godzilla film: GODZILLA 2000 MILLENNIUM. Think about this for a second. TOHO retired the Godzilla franchise four years earlier in 1995, when the big G was killed off after battling Destoroyah. So after Sony blew it with their film, TOHO must have been pretty angry with how America treated the license. So they quickly rushed into production a new film to show us how to make a new, modern Godzilla film. Then the following year Godzilla: Millennium stomped into Japanese theaters. (It came to American theaters the following year, hence the title change to GODZILLA 2000.) This film holds a special place in a lot of fans' hearts. This was the first Godzilla film a lot of fans saw in the theater. (Ah, if I could bring myself to that time to watch it on the big screen.) Thirteen years later, it still stands above the rest of the Millennium series in quality, it's THE definitive Godzilla film.

Official description from Sony:

Get ready to crumble! The king of all monsters is back and bigger than ever! The action heats up when a UFO reveals itself as a massive alien monster with awesome destructive powers. The alien monster heads straight for the behemoth GODZILLA who's just crushed the entire city for the battle of the millennium. But GODZILLA's furious heat beam may not be enough to destroy the death-dealing alien, and the future of humankind is in jeopardy. Now, it's a bang-up, threeway, no-holds-barred brawl as GODZILLA, the alien monster and the courageous citizens of Japan fight an unprecedented battle for survival in this earth-shattering new sci-fi action adventure that will blow you away.

I remember many years ago on Christmas morning when I turned on the TV. I was flipping the channels until I hit what I believe was the Sci Fi (now known as SyFy) channel. I stopped there cause a very dramatic scene had caught my eye. This giant thing was attempting to swallow Godzilla whole. That was captivating, I had never seen anything like that before. It was dramatic seeing the big G being, well, about to be swallowed. I turned it off after he blew up the thing because I was eager to open these gifts. So anyways, that was the first time I was witness to GODZILLA 2000. I don't remember exactly when I first saw the whole movie through, but it must have not have been long after. I just can't help but enjoy this film every time I watch it. It's a simple, straightforward story without any complex side-lpots thrown in. (I'm looking at Godzilla vs. Biollante and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah specifically.) This film is easy and enjoyable to follow. It doesn't reference any past Godzilla films, it does what the 98 film attempted to do: make a perfect modern way to jump into the franchise.

There are a few a main characters this time around. There's Yugi Shinoda, his daughter Io, reporter Yuki Ichinose, and Mitsuo Katagiri. Shinoda proves to be a simple, yet compelling focus. His fixation on Godzilla is simple, yet makes sense. His relationship with his daughter is realistic. Probably the best relationship between parent and son/daughter in a G film. The child costar was pretty solid, which isn't something you see every day in a G film. (Godzilla vs. Hedorah, I'm looking at you.) Now, the reporter, Yuki, was by far the worst character in the whole thing. She definitely had a certain spunk, but the writing, (or in this case, the dubbing) was awful for her. Now, Katagiri. The first couple of times I saw the film, I didn't think much of him. Now, after watching it again, I can see the brilliance in his character. He isn't like previous commanders in the franchises, he seems to genuinely want to protect the public. And while other leaders usually sit at their desk watching things from a monitor, this guy is on the scene firsthand.

Ah, the monsters. First up, Godzilla. The look is just FANTASTIC, it's my personal favorite. The exaggerated spikes make the giant lizard look even more menacing. They also don't flap around as much as previous incarnations, making it even more realistic. And I really liked how in the American version they gave him different pitches of roars, really gave him emotion. Orga is the opponent this time around. He has a very interesting backstory that should have been explored more. Orga has a pretty interesting appearance, with his huge hands being his main thing. No complaints with the suit, it just needed more screen time to realize its true effectiveness.

The soundtrack is a bit different that ones from previous films. It's good stuff, it fits the atmosphere in the film. Maybe not as dynamic as some of the other soundtracks, but some great tunes stood out. (The Millennium's theme, transformation into Orga, and the final battle theme, we also get the classic Godzilla theme, that was a nice touch.) The thing that separates this film from the other G films is its 'realism.' The opening with the van and Godzilla was just fantastic and had a very interesting perspective. It felt reminiscent of  Cloverfield, such as the scene with Godzilla stomping on the tunnel while the van was attempting to escape. The effects are very good, aside from some bad CGI. Godzilla swimming in the ocean was fantastic, however, something like that had never been captured before in the G films. Now, the best part worth the price alone was the final fight. It was EXCELLENT, very climatic. There's no boring 'beam wars,' (sorry Heisei era) it's realistic giant monster brawling. The stakes are set high, and is just plain dramatic. The way the film rolls about gives it a dramatic feeling, when Godzilla falls down, we feel it. It just feels like a well put together film, something some previous films can't say they did.

Overall, GODZILLA 2000 is a simple and straightforward G film. And that's a good thing. It has a very different atmosphere when compared to previous entries, it just felt 'real.' It features a great Godzilla look, and the effects are top notch aside from some CGI shots of the Millennium UFO. Orga proves to be an interesting foe with a great, but unexplored backstory. The pacing is excellent, but that's mainly thanks to the solid cast. We actually care about these people, and the human 'antagonist' stands above other human characters in the G series. Aside from some strange comedic moments with cartoony music playing during them, it's hard to find fault with this film. It's the perfect jumping on point, you do not need any knowledge of the previous films to enjoy this one. If you've never watched a Godzilla film before, I urge you to head to the video store after reading this review to pick up GODZILLA 2000.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

RETRO REVIEW: Ghost Rider: Vicious Cycle

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was released into theaters this past Friday. Ghost Rider is the type of concept that when you look at it, the word 'cool' comes to mind. Prior to this series, the Rider hadn't had a comic book in awhile. He had a miniseries prequel called Road to Damnation a year before, but the last ongoing was the famous Danny Ketch series, which ran from the 90's to the early 2000s. Sadly, the book was canceled due to low sales. So the Ghost Rier character was in limbo for a few years. Then a year before the 2007 film came out, Daniel Way and Mark Texeira unleashed a new ongoing series with Johnny Blaze. So at that time, Ghost Rider was re-sparked. In the coming paragraphs I talk about the first arc, Vicious Cycle.


It's the Devil's favorite poison.

Those are the first words of this arc, while Ghost Rider is zooming toward the 'exit' of Hell. Then it turns out to be a fake gateway. Issue #1 is one of the single best starts to a Marvel comic series I've ever read, and the second best Ghost Rider comic. (Only behind the legendary Tony Isabella #9 one.) It's Johnny blaze in Hell, literally. This is how you start a Ghost Rider series, this is where the films should take cue on how to do the character. The villain is Lucifer, the Devil. No, none of that Mephisto nonsense, this is the ACTUAL Devil. Yes, I never really liked that plot twist of Johnny making a deal with Mephisto who 'pretends' to be the Devil. This brings the Ghost Rider series to its very early roots. Daniel Way's portrayl of Lucifer is jusr spot-on. Evil of course, but a hint of sarcasm. It's a great portrayal.

Many prefer Jason Aaron to Daniel Way on the title. Not me, I prefer the latter a lot more. In my opinion, the book fell flat when Jason Aaron took over at Issue #20. So here we have Johnny, who is stuck in Hell looking for a way out. Meanwhile, the Devil is in his castle, watching, manipulating him. I find it really interesting how Way portrays Hell and how it works. The Devil is the king, and then there's the Lake of Fire section for the souls that don't make it to Heaven. So he just watches them burn, it's a really interesting perspective. Ghost Rider eventually runs into this little demonic thing who claims he can help him get out of Hell. It turns out, however, that the demon was Lucifer in disguise. In today's media world, it's hard to surprise a reader/viewer, cause everything has been done before. Like, in a lot today's horror movies, the 'scares' are so cliche, it's hard to be surprised by them. But that scene was truly unexpected. What follows at the end of the issue is Johnny making it back to earth, but he brought the Devil along with him.

Issue #2 is a real highlight. We get a great confrontation between the two near the middle with great splash page of Ghost Rider standing in front of Lucifer. The most dramatic scene in the whole arc was when Ghost Rider was inches apart from Lucifer, and the latter had a bunch of matches to blow up a van full with people. Meanwhile if Ghost Rider takes another step, he will inadvertently blow up the van. It's a lose lose situation. And then one person in the van decides to take matters into her own hands and hits the ignition key. That in turn blows up the van. Ghost Rider falls to the ground in sorrow and having failed to be a 'protector of innocents' while the Devil rides away in a car smiling and laughing, it's a truly dramatic and emotional moment. Then at the end of issue #2, Doctor Strange decides to make an appearance.

Now this is my only real complaint. The writing and battle is very good, (let's just say that if anyone said Doctor Strange could beat Ghost Rider, this issue would set you straight) but the problem is that they don't seem to know each other. Doctor Strange says his name, but Johnny Blaze doesn't give recognition to him at all. Why are they fighting you ask? Well, he thinks the Doc is Lucifer in disguise. It's a valid thing to think, but in the end after he does the Penance Stare, he says, "This man is innocent." It's like he never met or heard of Doctor Strange. Look at that fantastic cover to Issue #2. I mean, I think that is one of the best comic book covers of all time. Texeira is a monster with these covers, not to mention the art inside is great. Especially in Issue #1, it gives Hell  a 'cool' yet terrifying look. It looks like how we all picture it, but at the same time, giving it a new edge never before seen in any type pf media.

Overall, Vicious Cycle is a definitive Ghost Rider story. If you've ever been curious about the character and looking for an entry-point, this story is the way to go. If you just came back from watching Spirit of Vengeance and looking to read about the character, this is the way to do it. Or maybe if you left the film disappointed, thinking the character and his universe is nothing but mindless action and corny writing with no plot, read this story, it will change your mind. The story features Johnny Blaze, the true Ghost Rider. It features a great story, Hell, and the Devil, the actual Devil. The writing is solid and the art is great. Vicious Cycle is a great story for old and new fans alike.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Green Lantern Review

Green Lantern came out a year ago. It was DC attempting to break out of the norm. See, they really don't like to venture past Batman and Superman. (They tried a few years ago with Jonah Hex, and you know how that turned out.) Well, Green Lantern was I'm sure supposed to be the start of the DC 'Cinematic Universe.' That idea was quickly destroyed when it bombed. Negative reviews all over the place, it was just a mess and DC was probably extremely disappointed. They're probably like, "Well, we have an upcoming Batman and Superman film, we'll just forget about that Justice League movie." So unlike a lot of people, I didn't go to the theater to watch it. In fact, this review is coming right after watching it. For some reason, I tend to like a lot of movies people don't like. Spider-Man 3, X-Men 3, Jurassic Park 3, Clash of the Titans (2010), and even X-Men Origins. I don't consider any of those to be 'bad' films. However, despite what you might think, I know there are 'bad films out there. (Super Mario Bros, the worst film ever made.) So going into Green Lantern, I wasn't expecting an awesome film. After watching it, I can definitely say it's far from being awesome, but it's still a pretty good comic book movie that gets more hate than it deserves.

Official description from Warner Bros:

In a universe as vast as it is mysterious, a small but powerful force has existed for centuries. Protectors of peace and justice, they are called the Green Lantern Corps. A brotherhood of warriors sworn to keep intergalactic order, each Green Lantern wears a ring that grants him superpowers. But when a new enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the balance of power in the Universe, their fate and the fate of Earth lie in the hands of their newest recruit, the first human ever selected: Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds). Hal is a gifted and cocky test pilot, but the Green Lanterns have little respect for humans, who have never harnessed the infinite powers of the ring before. But Hal is clearly the missing piece to the puzzle, and along with his determination and willpower, he has one thing no member of the Corps has ever had: humanity. With the encouragement of fellow pilot and childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), if Hal can quickly master his new powers and find the courage to overcome his fears, he may prove to be not only the key to defeating Parallax.... he will become the greatest Green Lantern of all.

One must question why exactly Warner Bros. would want to bring Jonah Hex to the big screen. I mean, he's not even b-lister, he's a C-lister. So DC wanting to bring Green Lantern to the big screen was a pretty great idea. It was just going to be like what Marvel did with Iron Man. He was never an A-lister like Spider-Man or Wolverine, but thanks to the film, he's now an A-lister liked by the general public. (He's seen on everything from shirts to lunch boxes.) So Green Lantern was meant todo  just that, only it didn't. Green Lantern is a stereotypical summer blockbuster. Average acting, generic 'immature but in the end becomes a serious hero' character, lots of special-effect driven sequences, and a bit of a cardboard romance. (Though the latter isn't as generic or forced like many others.) This film was going to do what Iron Man did for Marvel, but failed with the general public and fans. Now before I begin this review, it's fair to say that I'm not a huge of the Green Lantern franchise. I know the characters and origins, but that's about it. With that said, I thought the film did a pretty good establishing the character and his universe. Simple and straightforward, it's the 'Star Wars' of comic book movies, like how Thor is the 'Lord of the Rings' of comic book movies. Green Lantern suffers for some scenes feeling too rushed and mediocre acting. It's attempting to be 'epic' but that just doesn't happen. A little bit above average would be the term.

Ryan Reynolds plays the title character. He actually had some experience in the genre, he played Deadpool in X-Men Origins beforehand. His portrayal of Hal Jordan was mixed. Sometimes he's alright, but sometimes he's just corny. Granted, I expected a lot worse, but the portrayal wasn't that bad. I could see a great improvement if the film ever gets a sequel. Blake Lively plays the love interest, Carol Ferris. Now I really expected an awful portrayal, but she wasn't that bad. Whereas the romance in Thor felt completely rushed, this feels natural and not just 'put in.' Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond plays the secondary main villain. Now his portrayal could have been better. However, some scenes he was admittedly menacing. (The scene were he yells to Hal to "Sit down" being a prime example) Mark Strong as Sinestro was spot on, like he was lifted straight from the comics. He needed a lot more screen time.

Parallax plays the central villain. I thought he was very good, and the backstory with the Guardian was fantastic. Granted, his design (mainly his head) could have been better, but his voice and everything else was great. Kilowog was spot on, also lifted straight from the comics. Tomar-Re was also great, these two really needed to appear more. The soundtrack is above average, it had some really great themes that fit the atmosphere. The special effects are mixed. There is A LOT of CGI in this film, maybe a bit too much. Usually I wouldn't say something like that, but a lot of it would have fit better as a CGI movie rather than a live action film. Now, Oa looks fantastic, rivals Asgard for most glorious looking place in a comic book movie. The Guardians and Green Lantern Corps all look fantastic. The Green Lantern costume looks a bit too cheesy. I'm sorry, but the mask just doesn't look that great. I must say, the beginning was the best part of the film. It really gave you an impression that this was going to be an 'epic' film. Sadly, the earth scenes couldn't keep up.  In fact, it's very similar to Thor in that matter. Both are really good when they're in Oa/Asgard, but mediocre on earth. The difference is that Thor had a better main actor and story.

Overall, Green Lantern isn't a great film. It could have been better. With that said, it's still a watchable flick. I went in there not expecting much and left thinking "That was actually pretty good." While it had some mediocre acting, it still does a good job establishing the Green Lantern universe. It's worthy of a sequel. It could have used a bit more time to explain things, the whole Sinestro after-credits thing was just forced, he needed more screen time and motivation within the film for that. Green Lantern is a pretty good film, it doesn't deserve the hate it gets, and is definitely not even close to being one of the worst comic book movies of all time.


Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #12 Review

This is the final issue of Kingdom of Monsters. However, this is NOT the end of the story. There had been a lot of confusion over the past month over what was happening with this series, now it's settled. Now, this is a review, not a news article, so let's talk about the issue. Kingdom of Monsters might just be the most mixed series I've ever read. At first, Eric Powell wanted to portray a very gritty 'real world' with monster Armageddon. Eventually it proved too much with the pop-culture references, and soon Jason Ciaramella was hired. Now he knew what the fans wanted: kaiju action. So we got that, but at the same time, a lot of the plots established in Powell's run was lost. So yeah, it has been a mixed series. This issue is an epilogue of sorts, with the only highlight being the amazing ending.

Official description from IDW:

The evil twins are gone. Godzilla lies dormant. The monsters that roam the earth are wounded, battered, exhausted… if mankind has any chance of recovering from this disaster, now is the moment. But with the world in ruin and civilization in total disarray, can anything still be salvaged? The fate of humanity is determined in Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #12!

It's not really a spoiler to talk about the ending since it was basically confirmed in the last issue's letters page. So without further ado, SPACEGODZILLA has arrived. I must say, this really made the comic for me. He's watching earth like an evil mastermind, it's good stuff. Now bringing logic back, how exactly is SpaceGodzilla there? How did G-Cells get into space? How was Godzilla cloned? How is any of this possible? Besides logic, it's still a pretty amazing scene. Now, the other 31 pages are nothing but an epilogue. In a nutshell, it's basically impossible to spoil the issue, because there's nothing to spoil. There is no dialogue, only those thought boxes. It does a nice job being realistic about the whole thing and has solid writing, but it just doesn't warrant the $4.

Well, this will be the last time we have Santos doing the art. I've gotten use to it over the past couple of issues, it fits the gritty story it was telling. Some pages really stood out this time around, namely the Mechagodzilla one. SpaceGodzilla also looked fantastic. Regarding the covers, both are dynamic. The main one is pretty nice, aside from the obvious trace drawing of the Rodan. (Google Rodan, first row second image.) Matt Frank does a very dynamic job once again, SpaceGodzilla looks fantastic.

Overall, Kingdom of Monsters #12 is exactly what you expect: an epilogue to the story. It did a great job of that, but felt underwhelming. Granted, it is an epilogue, but didn't feel worth the $4. The final page made the comic, however, it gives the reader (if you're a Godzilla fan of course) chills. So in closing, I look forward to the upcoming sequel in May. This series has been mixed, but overall a good read with some great kaiju action in the later issues. So I look forward to May, but until then, we have Legends #4 next week.


Monday, February 13, 2012

ADVANCED REVIEW: Star Wars Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm #1

Star Wars is one of the most popular franchises of all time. Indeed. you probably won't find a franchise with more fan clubs. The original three films are beloved in American culture, with the three prequels being successes. (Though not in a lot fans' eyes.) Star Wars has a heavy backstory within the films, plenty of untold stories. That's where the comics come in. There have been lots of Star Wars comics over the years, Knights of the Old Republic, Tales of the Jedi, etc. However, this new mini-series by Dark Horse will go down in history. It's going to tell how the franchise began. This could go down as famous or controversial depending on how it's handled. Truly, I'm surprised this hasn't been done before. Dawn of the Jedi, this is where it all begins. What you get is a very intriguing start to this legendary franchise.

Official description from Dark Horse:

On the planet Tython, in the center of the galaxy, an order of warrior monks strives to maintain peace and to balance the mysterious power known as the Force. But a stranger is coming--one who will destroy both peace and balance, and open the galaxy to exploration and conquest. This is where it all begins!

The majority of the issue is an explanation of how the Jedi came together. It's simple, but effective. It doesn't bore or confuse the reader with explaining all the alien races deeply, it simply explains how this whole thing came to be. It's also a good way to get new fans. It's a simple, yet intriguing story. There are no lightsabers, or the 'Dark Side,' it's the beginning of Star Wars. Character wise, the story has some pretty interesting ones. Xesh, whom I'm sure will become a fan favorite, looks to be the Darth Vader of this story. Then there's these commanders with the title 'Predor.' There's an interesting backstory going on here that I hope will be a little explored in future issues. So far, no central 'good guy' has been established. Usually that would be a bad thing, but the story carries itself. Granted, it's not exactly known what the 'bad guys' want yet.

The art is solid. It's standard comic book art, it fits the story. It's not dynamic like Jim Lee's, but solid. The fight looks nice and fluid. I must give praise to the script, it's good stuff. Since this is an advanced review, I'll refrain from using any of the good quotes. The whole explanation of the 'Force' was interesting, I'm sure hardcore Star Wars fans will be intrigued. New fans can also jump in, some parts may be a bit confusing, but it's a good place to start if you've been waiting to pick up a Star Wars comic.

Overall, Star Wars Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm #1 is a very good comic. Simple, but effective. However, the main reason why you should pick this is up is because THIS is how it all began. THIS is the first chapter in the Star Wars saga. THIS is how the Jedi form. If that's not reason enough to check this out, I don't know what is. It features an explanation of how the 'Force' came to be, and managed to squeeze in a sold fight and story. Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi #1 releases this Wednesday on the 15th.


Battlezone: Godzilla vs. Gamera

Battlezone is coming to a close. It's been fun doing these little fan fic fights, but I have plans for a new category to replace it. Granted, I'm not going to say that this is the FINAL fight ever, but it'll be the last one for awhile. I've been in a Godzilla and Gamera mood lately, (then again, I always am) so I thought I'd pair these two up. This is one of the most wanted crossovers ever, so it's truly a pleasure to write how I think a meeting between the two would go. So onto the final (for now) addition of Battlezone.

Godzilla vs. Gamera

THE PLACE: Japan. To be more precise, Tokyo. Usually there would be people by the hundreds walking around, but it was a ghost town. It had been evacuated completely hours before. Why? Stomps that shook the whole city answered that question. Three years after Operation: Final War, somehow a very ignorant man was put in charge of the government and decided that Godzilla was too much of a loose canon. They had devised a plan to destoy Godzilla with a device very similar to the Oxygen Destroyer. It had failed, and now Godzilla was angry. He had thought he had a pact with the little humans, that there would be no more destruction. Apparently not. So Godzilla was there to destroy Tokyo. As he made his way toward Osako, he heard some kind of noise. It was coming from behind him, in the sky. He turned around. In the the distance, he could see some round thing twirling around.

It resembled a shell.

The shell came toward the ground. There were five holes which was used for the flames that propelled it. Out the two holes on the bottom popped out two large feet. Then in the other two, hands, and finally a head. It looked like a turtle.

Gamera had arrived.

Godzilla sensed no malicious intent from this monster, something he sensed all too often. He roared at Gamera to back off. Gamera roared back. He wasn't going anywhere. Godzilla shot a blast of atomic radiation. It went over Gamera by a few inches. A warning shot. Godzilla began to turn away. However, a giant fireball that struck his spikes made him turn around. Gamera stood and roared. Godzilla clenched his fists. He was in the mood for a good fight.The mosters glared at each other. Gamera knew that he was no match for Godzilla, but he wasn't going to let him destroy all of Japan. The monsters got ready.

Then they ran toward each other.

The monsters collided. The force sent tremors which destroyed buildings for miles. The monsters were wrestling, trying to push each other back. Eventually Godzilla succeeded and pushed Gamera to the ground. He looked down at the turtle. The latter then surprised him with a fireball. It struck Godzilla's head. He was stunned, then Gamera forced himself up. The turtle landed a powerful blow at Godzilla, then another, and another. Godzilla had enough and shot a direct blast of atomic radiation. It struck Gamera at the center. The blast sent him backward until the monsters were distanced apart. Gamera then started to go into his shell. It started to twirl around at an incredible speed. Godzilla watched, he had never seen something like that before. The shell was then twirling toward the King of Monsters. The shell was about to strike Godzilla, but he countered with his tail. The tail struck the shell. The shell went off course and struck against a large building.

Gamera was down.

The turtle attempted to get up, but Godzilla was there, stomping on his head. Gamera attempted to shoot a fireball, but Godzilla kept crushing his head. Godzilla then shot a blast of atomic radiation, knocking Gamera unconscious. Godzilla then walked back and look down at his fallen opponent. Godzilla decided that he wasn't going to kill him, for he had no malicious intent. Godzilla started to stomp away. Moments later, a giant moth with two tiny ladies appeared. The moth shot some kind of yellow spores at Gamera.The latter's eyes opened. The moth with the ladies then flew in the direction of Godzilla. It's up to the reader to decide if Mothra will be able to convince Godzilla not to destroy Japan, but Gamera had lost, and felt empty. He was the Guardian of the Universe, but couldn't come close to beating the King of Monsters.

WINNER: Godzilla

Yes, I went with Godzilla on this. Gamera is a tough monster, but not quite in Godzilla's league. Obviously the fight would have been longer in real life, but I wanted to showcase the power differences. Godzilla would take this fight pretty easily.

NEXT WEEK: A new category!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Gamera: Revenge of Iris Review

Gamera: Revenge of Iris is regarded very highly in the kaiju fanbase. Even on the Blu-Ray cover, a quote from Stomp Tokyo's review is there. "...the finest monster movie made since the original Godzilla." This marks the final film in the Gamera Heisei trilogy. This is legendary, one of the most highly rated kaiju films of all time. After watching it again after all these years, I agree 100%. Revenge of Iris is a definitive kaiju film, one that you could look too and be supremely proud of.  It's one that give a good name to the genre. This film has it all. A very compelling story, interesting characters and back-stories, excellent monster action, and just everything about it This film takes all the positives of the previous two films, and improves upon them. Revenge of Iris is a gem, an emerald gem.

The story begins in a village where a dead Gyaos lays. It turns out that the birds are back, now evolved into 'Hyper Gyaos.' Gamera's on the scene to eradicate all he could find. The military is getting fed up with the damage he causes however. Meanwhile, in a cave hidden in the woods, a pod has hatched. Inside crawls out a creature dubbed 'Iris.' Eventually this cute creature grows into an evil giant monster. This mutated Gyaos may prove just too powerful for the Guardian of the Universe....

Wow. That's the first word I thought of once the end credits started to role. I was very impressed with this film, more so than the first two times I viewed it. It has that cinematic feel, it felt 'down-to-earth.' Some scenes really reminded me of Cloverfield. This is probably the most realistic kaiju film I have ever seen. One of the most fantastic scenes you'll ever see in a kaiju film was when Gamera battled Gyaos in the city. It was just amazing, the angles and scope of it all. Director Shusuke Kaneko really knew what he was doing, it was great to see the super turtle showing off his true power. And once again, the human characters prove to be an interesting force when there's no monster action.

Mayumi returns from Guardian of the Universe. Again, she is the best human character in the whole thing. A protagonist you could root for. However, the central focus is on Ayana. This girls makes a bond with the title opponent, Iris. (She names it that by the way.) Her backstory on why she hates Gamera is actually interesting and makes sense, it isn't a generic revenge thing. Asagi returns for an even smaller role than I remembered. Truly, her character and link to Gamera should have been explored better in the three films. Osako returns once again. Granted, he isn't as bad as in the previous two, but is still the worst written character in the whole thing. (He was given a major role later in the film, but then written off as if he didn't matter at all to the story anymore.) Then we have Kurata and his girlfriend. Kurata was written pretty well for the most part, but his death toward the end came kinda sudden, then it felt like he had no significance in the film. Those two characters could have explored better, I really didn't get what they were trying to accomplish. They had an interesting plot, but needed to be explained better.

The next paragraph will be talking about how amazing the kaiju were this time. First up, Gamera. Alright, he looked AMAZING. This might be the greatest and most realistic suit I've ever seen in a kaiju film, it's an improvement over the already great look from the previous two films. He looks fierce, he just means business. See, suits could work in modern day film-making, this is a prime example of that. Iris is the new opponent here, it looks just fantastic. Truly a unique and 'cool' appearance. The CGI, when used, is fantastic. See, this film doesn't rely on CGI that much, and doesn't look fake when it does use it. My only complaint is the backstory. Iris is never truly explained, or its intentions after it was going to fuse with Ayana. Besides that, a fantastic 'final' opponent for Gamera. Oh, and some Gyaos appear. A major improvement over their Guardian of the Universe counterparts, they look really realistic. (It's also great to hear their classic roar.)

The soundtrack is actually an improvement over the previous two films. Dynamic, especially the opening theme. And the theme that plays when Gamera battles Iris is very dynamic also. First of all, the monster fights are just fantastic. One of the best scenes in the film was the aerial fight between Gamera and Iris, it was amazingly well-done. This also might just be the most emotional and dramatic kaiju film I have ever seen. I still get goosebumps at the scene when Gamera destroys his own hand to save Ayana and destroy Iris. The final battle is just intense, and pretty bloody. Probably one of the more violent kaiju films out there, and also was part-horror sometimes. When Iris does away with its victims, the remains are are pretty horrific. (I remember being creeped-out by those scenes when I was way younger.)

Overall, Gamera: Revenge of Iris is a great film. It succeeds in being something everyone can enjoy. This film has it all. A compelling story, good characters, excellent monster action, near-perfect special effects, and is just an all-around great film. It brings the Heisei trilogy to a climatic close, it's just dramatic and dynamic from the beginning to the very end. I'm a huge Godzilla fan, but the Gamera Heisei trilogy are some of the finest in the genre. Seventeen years later, and these films still hold up. Revenge of Iris is thirteen years old, yet it features better special effects than some of today's movies. (Journey to the Center of the Earth.) There's not much else to say about it, if you haven't seen the trilogy, buy the Blu-Ray triple feature off Amazon. You will not be disappointed.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Gamera: Advent of Legion Review

Sometimes in a trilogy the sequel is less popular than the first and third. Take the Gamera Heisei trilogy for example. When you hear about it, people usually talk about the first one and the third one, Advent gets left out. Why? Well, Gyaos was always the fan favorite, along with Iris. Somehow Legion never became a favorite, it's quite disappointing. Advent takes some new and old concepts to make a fantastic follow up to Guardian of the Universe. It's similar, yet completely different. Advent of Legion takes some of the faults from the previous film and improves upon them. No more bad CGI or fake looking props, we have a kaiju film with near perfect special effects, and a good story to back it up.

The story begins when a meteor shower comes to Japan. As expected, these aren't ordinary meteors. Soon in the sewer people are getting killed by one-eyed insectoid creatures. The military is sent in. What they find is something growing, and a bunch of these insectoid creatures dubbed 'Symbiotic Legion.' The soldiers are quickly taken out, and soon the building above is covered in a giant pod. Soon after Gamera rises out of the water to destroy the pod. After he destroys it with a fireball, the 'Big One' rises out of the ground. This adult Legion may prove too powerful for Gamera.....

The last time a kaiju film used insectoids was in the original Rodan film I believe. This time these insects are from space. Alien insects, that's a good combination. (You're probably thinking of Starship Troopers right now.) This might be a stretch, but I think Godzilla vs. Megaguirus borrowed some concepts from this film, such as all the smaller insectoids going all over the title monster. Anyways, this film is different than the previous one. Gamera has been established, and appears when there's trouble. The first fifteen minutes or so are painfully slow, but gets better later. This film has some of the best fights in any kaiju movie, a good mix of slugging around and projectiles. The final battle feels climatic, not slow, and just very well done. The characters once again do a good job carrying the film when there's no monster action happening, though I gotta say that I preferred the characters from the previous one.

Mayumi is replaced by Midori as the central human main character. While she can't compare to Mayumi, she's still pretty well-written, something the majority of the Heisei Godzilla films can't really say. Asagi returns, but got a smaller role than I remembered. She almost had no significance other than to reassure people that "Gamera is coming" and "Gamera is alright." The whole link thing still doesn't make much sense. Other characters are well enough, though Osako returns for another awful role. Truly the worst written character in the whole thing. I have to question some of the writing. In the third act, a commander says "Why should we help out a monster?" while Gamera is getting beat up by Legion. Besides that, the writing is solid.

Gamera is looking once again fantastic. It's just an amazing suit, truly one of the best from any kaiju film. It's just fluid, menacing, yet not too menacing, it still gives off his heroic demeanor. Legion is the new opponent here. Her design is one of the most unique I've ever seen, truly a highlight of the film. She has some really interesting abilities, and a cool, yet creepy roar. Something this massive could have been not displayed well, but the film does it, and does it well. The CGI sequences with it look fantastic, especially when she rises out of the ground. Its just a treat to watch this massive creature on the screen. The Symbiotic Legion soldiers are also very good, some of the best props I've ever seen in a kaiju film. Legion is probably one of the most underrated kaiju of all time, which is disappointing since she is the toughest opponent Gamera has ever faced.

The soundtrack isn't much different from the previous one in terms of quality. That' means it's a solid soundtrack, but could have been better. Granted, it has some thematic themes, but can't compare to any of the Heisei Godzilla films' themes. Even though this is a giant monster movie, there are some intense scenes with the humans This is probably one of the grittiest Japanese kaiju films ever. To this day I find the train scene near the beginning brutal. Whoever said Japanese monster movies can't be this hardcore hasn't seen Advent of Legion. Both Gamera and Legion have personality, it's good stuff.

Overall, Gamera: Advent of Legion does exactly what it set out to do: be a worthy successor to Guardian of the Universe. It took some of that film's faults, (some of the bad special effects) and improved upon them. It features one of the most interesting kaiju of all time in the form of Legion, fantastic monster fights, and a good story. Truly, this film is one of the best in the genre.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gamera: Guardian of the Universe Review

The Gamera Heisei trilogy are known as some of the best Japanese kaiju films, right up there next to the original Gojira. The first film came out the same year Godzilla 'died' in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah. This trilogy would set Gamera on the map, no longer as a Godzilla cash-in. Let's face it, I enjoy Gamera vs. Guiron as much as the next kaiju fan, but the Showa Gamera films really weren't that good. The ones post Gamera vs. Gyaos were really laughable. Gamera 'died' in Super Monster in 1980. So fifteen later, he was revived for a new series of films. The super turtle was back, and seventeen years later, the film series still shines. This review will be on the first one, Guardian of the Universe.

The story begins when a ship runs into something big. Soon after two people are attacked by something. One of them manages to send a message before being killed. Apparently they were attacked by a 'bird.' It is later revealed that this bird is a creature called Gyaos, the Shadow of Evil. The scary part is that there are more than one of it. All is not lost, however. Rising to the occasion is Gamera, the Guardian of the Universe. His mission: Destroy all Gyaos. His power will be put to the test when he battles the enormous Super Gyaos toward the end of the film.

Gamera was never big like his movie rival Godzilla. Sure, a lot of people heard of him as the super turtle, but that's it. Gamera was always treated as a joke back in the day. The 'hero to all children,' remember that? The Showa films are so outdated that it's almost not even funny. The Heisei trilogy changed everything about Gamera, starting with this film. What a great start, everything is established. Gamera has an interesting back- story along with Gyaos. They could have made him darker, but stayed true to his roots. Gamera is a heroic monster, and the film displays that well. One cannot forget to mention the compelling story and characters that go along with it.

One of the best scenes in the film, awe-inspiring 

If the characters of this trilogy were flat, there would be a problem. The problem with the Heisei Godzilla films was that there were hardly any interesting characters to root for. The focus is divided between Mayumi, an expert on birds, and Asagi, a girl who gets linked to Gamera later in the film. First off, Mayumi. Definitely the best character in the film. Reminded me a bit of Miki from the Heisei Godzilla films. She's definitely a protagonist you could root for. Asagi, well, when you have a kid/teen as a focus, it could go either way with these type of films. If you've seen any post Gamera vs. Gyaos film, you would know what I mean. Thankfully, she's interesting enough. Granted her character isn't explored that well, she was good. The link between her and Gamera wasn't fully explored. So this thing got her to be linked to does that work exactly? It's one thing that should have been explained better. Other characters such as Asagi's dad were well enough. The worst character was Inspector Osako. He was put for comic relief, but just fell flat, really flat. Besides that, the characters hold up the film well when there isn't any monster action, something the majority of the Heisei Godzilla films didn't do.

Let's get on with my favorite part of this review, the monsters. The Gamera suit is just fantastic. I will repeat, FANTASTIC. The detail is amazing, and the shell looks great. Gyaos on the other hand is more mixed. The prop looks really fake sometimes. Other times it looks really menacing and convincing, such as the cage break scene. The Super Gyaos is definitely an amazing sight to behold, but it's Gamera who shines in this department. The final fight between the two was climatic, a very good fight. It didn't rely on beams, (Heisei Godzilla era) but brought back the classic Showa slug-fest with a modern look. It's fantastic stuff. Thanks to modern special effects, some things really shine. Gyaos' cartoony beam from the retro days is gone in place of a more realistic one. There are some bad special effects sequences, such as the missiles, they looked way too CGI. Gamera's fireballs look fantastic however.

The soundtrack as expected was pretty good. Could have been better, it has nothing on any of the Heisei Godzilla films. The most stand-out theme was near the beginning, the Jaws-like one. The film succeeds in having a dark atmosphere, even horrific sometimes. (The scene where an unseen Gyaos attacked two men was amazingly horrific.) One must stare in awe at Gamera's first appearance in the city. It feels like a Godzilla film, but the overall destruction is better and more satisfying than the majority of Godzilla's destruction scenes. I like how it doesn't focus fully on the buildings getting destroyed, something a lot of the Heisei Godzilla films do too much.

Overall, Gamera: Guardian of the Universe was the beginning of what was to be known as the greatest Japanese monster movies ever. Gone are the days of being a mere cash-in to Godzilla, the turtle was now fully his own character. The film succeeds in having a dark, dramatic atmosphere, compelling characters, and excellent monster action. It doesn't feel slow or dragged out, it's a solid film. It's the weakest of the trilogy, but  still the perfect start to reviving everyone's favorite giant turtle.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Battlezone: Goku vs. Superman

Ah, Goku vs. Superman. This is a fan favorite in the fan-fic world. Many think of these two as some of the strongest beings in all of existence. I've read a bunch of fan-fic fights with these two, it's interesting on how diverse everyone thinks. Both are strong, both are fast, and both are extremely powerful. So in this addition of Battlezone, I'm going to say who I think would win. I probably won't change anyone's minds, but I'm here to establish my opinion on the matter. Let's get on with it.

Goku vs. Superman

THE PLACE: A simple grassland toward the West. It is quiet, dead quiet. That is changed when a blur of blue and red zooms across the land. Superman was use to the loudness of the city, since he resided in the famous Metropolis. He did, however, prefer the quiet. It reminded him of Smallville. His super hearing detected something. He stopped flying and saw a blur of orange and black zooming toward him. The figure stopped a few inches in front of him. He had a orange karate-like suit, and large spiky black hair. His muscles told Superman that this was no ordinary fighter.

Goku had arrived.

The Saiyan held out his hand and spoke.

"You must be Superman! You're a legend even out here, my name is Son Goku."

Superman shook the hand, it was refreshing to meet a warrior as who didn't look obsessed with fighting, or was just in it for the fun.

"The honor is all mine Goku."

Both warriors were ready, Superman had his arms crossed while Goku was entering his battle stance. Superman could see that Goku was going to give it his all, he was ready, he had been in big fights before, he remembered his battle with Thor.

Then they went at it.

Superman did a punch. Goku teleported behind him.

"What?!" Superman thought.

Goku slammed Superman to the ground. The latter got up quickly.

"So he has teleportation, there's more to this fighter than meets the eye." He thought.

He then zoomed toward Goku. The latter was taken off guard by how fast Superman was. He knew all about 'faster than a speeding bullet,' but it had not done him justice. Superman had tackled Goku. They both went flying, with Superman landing some good blows. Goku then head-butted Superman. The latter was stunned. Then Goku telepoted a few feet behind himself. He shot an energy blast.

"He can shoot energy blasts too?!" Superman thought.

He evaded the blast, then he saw Goku pull his hands back.


Superman at first didn't get what was happening, then he saw some kind of energy emitting from Goku's hands. He zoomed toward him.

"HAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!" Goku shouted.

He unleashed his Kamehameha. Superman was struck by it. Suddenly it was silent. Goku wondered if maybe he shouldn't have used such a powerful attack. A blast of heat vision answered that. Goku was struck by it, but wasn't fazed. Out of the smoke came out Superman, who then laid a punch that sent Goku banging against the ground. He stood up. Superman was in the air. Goku smirked.

"It looks like base form won't be enough, I'll have to use Super Saiyan."

"Super what?"

Goku answered that by transforming. A yellow aura surrounded him. Superman sensed great power emitting from it. Goku's hair turned bright yellow. He was now in Super Saiyan mode. He teleported in front of a surprised Superman and sent him flying against a hill. He was stunned by how powerful the blow was, then he saw Goku teleport above him. He shot an energy blast. Superman flew to the side, then Goku tackled him. This time Superman was ready. He grabbed Goku and threw him to the ground. Superman then shot a blast of heat vision. Goku teleported behind and grabbed him. Superman countered with a backwards headbutt. Goku let go, but didn't attack. Superman turned around. The Super Saiyan spoke.

"I've got to hand it to you Superman, the stories were right, you are tough. I'm going to have to use Super Saiyan 2, something I thought I wouldn't have to do. Let's do it!"

Yellow aura surrounded Goku. The ground shook beneath them.

"Great Caesar's ghost! Is there no end to his power?" Superman thought.

Goku's hair had grown longer, he was now in Super Saiyan 2 mode. Superman knew that he was going to have to use his full power. He hardly ever uses his full power, for he fears that unleashing it could harm people around him. Alas, there were none for many miles, it was just him and Goku.

He got ready.

Goku sensed a great power rising in Superman. That's when he realized it: Superman had been holding back the entire time. Goku shot an energy blast. Superman slapped it aside and flew toward Goku. Goku did the same. They both punched. Both fists collided, creating a huge tremor that was felt for miles. Goku punched, Superman blocked. The latter kicked. Goku grabbed it, then Superman shot heat vision. It took Goku off guard for but a moment, but Superman took it to lay multiple blows. Goku was quick too, and began to counter them.

Punch kick punch grab punch kick grab headbutt grab back-kick beam block slam heat-vision energy-blast EXPLOSION.

After the smoke cleared, two tired warriors stood standing. Superman's cape was destroyed, and his costume tattered. Goku stood, panting, with his costume tattered. Goku stood up, then a large yellow aura surrounded him. His hair grew even longer. He had entered Super Saiyan 3 mode. Superman couldn't believe it. Here he was, exhausted, yet this being just got over twice more powerful than before. Superman knew he barely had any strength left, but he wasn't going to give up. He zoomed toward Goku. The latter didn't move. Superman pulled back his fist, and let Goku have it. The latter wasn't fazed at all by the blow. He then hit Superman with a punch of his own. Superman went flying and banged the ground.

He was defeated.

Goku reverted back to base form. He was exhausted, but had enjoyed the fight. Superman was a tough opponent. Goku would head head back to get a Senzu Bean for Superman in a few moments, but this second, this day, he was the victor.


Yes, I went with Goku with this. If you would have asked me this question a few years ago, I probably would have said Superman. But that was before I read Dragon Ball Z. I don't see Superman competing with Goku's power. First of all, let's look at it deeply. If Frieza could blow up the planet in one blast, that means Super Saiyan mode can do that with ease. Then look at Super Saiyan 2. The power increases very much, he could probably blow up three planets with one blast. Then when you look at Super Saiyan're looking at a universe destroyer. So no, I don't see Superman standing up to that.

NEXT WEEK: The King of Monsters battles the Guardian of the Universe.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

RETRO REVIEW: Godzilla Color Special

Godzilla! Godzilla!!!!!! You might have heard of the 70's Godzilla comic book series by Marvel. Yes? No? Either way, it doesn't really matter. Fans who read it don't like it. Why? Well, Godzilla looks like a larger and meaner version of Barney. However, it did have Godzilla battle the Avengers, something that will never happen again. (I'm not joking, the big G trades blows with Thor.) Now we all know Dark Horse, famous for their Star Wars and Conan comics. Did you know that they had done a Godzilla series in the 90's? Today it isn't that well-known, only the fans really know about it. Unlike the Marvel one, (that one had Godzilla shrink down to the point where he wore a hat and trench coat) this one was well-received. You can see what I thought about the whole series in this review Here.

Back on target, the Color Special. Funny little title. The reason I believe it's called that is cause (aide from the Marvel one) the Godzilla comics were black and white. Dark Horse did a few comics before this, mainly putting the Japanese adaption of Return of Godzilla into English. All were black and white though. So then out of nowhere, the Color Special arrives, which would pave the way for the short-lived series. The Color Special is about a group known as G-Force who comes to an island to warn the inhabitants that GODZILLA is coming. These islanders have no plans to leave, however, they're going to defend their sacred ground. But how, how will they defend it against the unstoppable beast that is Godzilla? Well you see, there's this ancient statue known as Gekido-jin. Legend has it that a demon inhabits it, and that it lies dormant due to another spirit constantly locked in battle with it. So the solution is to sacrifice another to awaken the statue. No one seems to believe this legend however, and Godzilla doesn't care either way.

The Color Special is regarded as the greatest Godzilla comic of all time. And yes, for once I agree with popular opinion. Unlike the sometimes messy Kingdom of Monsters, this issue takes its time explaining the situation, with an actual plot. The thing with Kingdom of Monsters was that there wasn't much of a plot. Maybe, maybe if the monsters were more of a focus in the earlier issues with less real world references, I wouldn't be mentioning it in a negative manner right now. This comic was released in 92. The 90's were the 'Heisei' era of kaiju films. (Also known as the Vs. series.) So rather than invent a new Godzilla, they did the smart thing. They used the same Godzilla from that era of the films. They also manage to squeeze this into the Heisei timeline, making it even more of an incentive to read.

Back to the actual story. Randy Stradley's writing is a bit mixed here. The G-force group is an interesting bunch. They come off as rather cardboard, but aren't bad. Like, when one of their members is stomped on, (pretty impressive scene by the way) the other characters barely show any emotion. (One of them even refers to Godzilla's atomic breath as 'flame.') The best human character would be Ookii'mune, priestess of the island. However, it's not the human characters that carry the story, it's the interesting plot, Godzilla, and Gekido-jin that do. Godzilla plays a more antagonistic role, he looks fantastic. This is the single best drawn Godzilla in a comic ever, it matches the Heisei look perfectly. The cover is fantastic, Godzilla looks great. Arthur Adams is a master with drawing G. It's disappointing when an older series has *much* better art than a modern series, that's not how the system is supposed to work.

The opponent is a statue inhibited by a demon called Gekido-jin. It's backstory is very good, very well thought out and interesting. Basically, some of the concept is similar to King Caeser. The battle between the two is very climatic. It has a 'final battle' feel, the dark background in the pages really give the fight an 'epic' touch. Each blow is felt, and I love the little narration boxes, they really complement the fight. A shame Gekido-jin never returned, the possibilities with it are endless, could have made some interesting stories in the future.

Overall, the Godzilla Color Special is the definitive Godzilla comic. You won't find a more accurate portrayal and look. There are many stand out scenes, one of my favorites was when the islanders and G-Force were looking at a looming Godzilla roaring in the background. The writing is very good, aside from G-Force being a little too cardboard. It's like a Godzilla film told in forty pages. This is what writers should look at for reference on how to do a Godzilla comic series. Excellent portrayal of the title character, interesting opponent, great art, and a good story above all else.


Friday, February 3, 2012

ADVANCED REVIEW: Mass Effect: Invasion TPB

What's the best science fiction game series? Some might say Halo, others might say Metroid, and then there's the Mass Effect series. Mass Effect uses two of the things that make a great game: a compelling story and amazing gameplay. Over the years, comics would be released to compliment a game series. While some are fan favorites, some fall flat and earn the term 'cash in.' I had recently completed Mass Effect 2 on the PS3, (never played the first one cause I don't have an Xbox) and it's by far one of the best games I've ever played. So as the hype surrounding the upcoming third game continues, Dark Horse released a four issue mini-series called Mass Effect: Invasion. In two months the trade paperback will be released. If you haven't read the issues before, I highly recommend pre-ordering this. It does exactly what a game comic should do: Complement the game with using the pre-established universe and characters.

The story follows Aria, the leader of Planet Omega. At the start, a docking area is invaded by creatures of Reaper design. It turns out that Cerberus was experimenting, and these 'Adjuntants' escaped. Now the Illusive Man and Aria hold an uneasy alliance. However, expect some interesting plot developments, this is the Illusive Man after all.

Mass Effect 2 introduced a universe full of untold stories. Every planet had its own story and characters who have different motives. A Mass Effect mini-series is a sound idea, it could explore the characters and world that Commander Shepard had visited. Planet Omega is one of the most popular planets of the game, featuring the tough-as-nails Aria. She's definitely interesting, then again, all the characters from the game are. So using her as the focus I found would be good. She's a compelling main character, the mini-series did a good job with making her a lot more than just the tough-as-nails profit holder of Omega.

After playing Mass Effect 2, it was great to see all the familiar alien species, you'll appreciate the mini-series more knowing the universe behind it. Not to say newcomers wouldn't enjoy it, it's a compelling science fiction story anyway, fan or not. The two other main characters are Cerberus general Oleg, and Colonel Ashe. Oleg was very well-written, loyal to the Illusive Man, yet not a mindless drone. Ashe comes off as rather generic, the mindless drone of being too loyal. Other than him, all the characters are well written, which makes sense, since this was written by Mac Walters, the writer of Mass Effect 2 and 3.

The story is the classic case of a government experiment gone wrong. Of course, this is Mass Effect, so even though you might have read a thousand similar stories, this one stands above. For just four issues, it tells a really well thought out story, and doesn't get dull. It's fast paced, it's aliens, it's laser guns, it's Mass Effect in comic form. The art is solid also. (It's kinda disappointing when a mini-series' art beats an ongoing series' art like Amazing Spider-Man.) The character dynamics are fun to watch, some top notch writing. "Give up Omega? I AM Omega." It's also interesting to see the Illusive Man interact with people besides Commander Shepard. Mass Effect 2 players will find the references to the game very intriguing.

The paperback also comes with a bonus story by Mac Walters, previously only readable online. A good companion story with an intriguing ending. Also the book comes with a preview for the upcoming Mass Effect art book. I've had the chance to look that over also, Mass Effect fans will definitely want to pick that up, it's due on the 8th next week.

Overall, Mass Effect: Invasion is a great story. Mass Effect fans will get more out of it, but non-fans are still in for a treat. This is how game comics should be done, using the pre-established universe and characters to tell a compelling story. Not to mention it's canon and leads in to one of the most anticipated games of this year. Mass Effect: Invasion will be available in stores on April 4th, it is worth the pre-order.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Detective Comics #6 Review

The problem with Detective Comics #5 wasn't the story. In fact, it was quite good. It was the overly long backup story. I don't mind backup stories, but I buy for the main story on the cover. $3 for only eleven pages for the main story? I don't think so. Thankfully, that doesn't happen with this issue. As expected, we get a quality Batman story. Though it's lacking the pizzazz of the previous arc.

The story follows Batman, who is on the trail of a man known as 'Snakeskin.' Meanwhile, Penguin has assembled a group of villains. What could this mean for Batman?

My problem with this issue is that the Penguin and Batman plots aren't mixing. Batman doesn't even mention Penguin once, it's like two different stories happening at once. I find myself not really interested in the Penguin part. He himself is well-written, but his plot hasn't been explored really well. The best part of this issue is Batman. He is really well written, some fantastic lines. "Some people don't need their faces kicked in. They just need to feel their insides move." I also like the scene where he's chasing someone, then in the dark, he simply says "Boo." It scares the living daylights out of the guy. Batman knows he scares the average person, he's Batman after all. I love how he plays on that in this issue.

Bruce Wayne has been absent from this series, aside from a few scenes here in there. The problem is that they just feel like filler. Thankfully, it doesn't feel like filler here. It's good to see Alfred outside helping out. It felt like an episode from The Animated Series. Something I didn't like was when Batman let his emotions get the better of him in the latter part of the issue. Yeah I know what happened affected him, but the Batman I know wouldn't let that get the better of him in that he 'loses' to an average criminal. Besides that, there are really no major complaints. The writing is solid, especially for Batman. (Really like the part where a once convicted person says, "Hey, I'm bleeding out over here. Help me!" Then Batman replies, "Help yourself.")

If the art was bad, the issue would have gotten a lower score. However, the art is very good. Some parts look appropriately gritty, really like the spread of Batman on the fourth page. The cover shows Batman and Penguin battling while falling. It's a good, dynamic cover. Sad part is that they haven't confronted each other yet. But yeah, the art is high point in this issue.

Overall, Detective Comics #6 is a normal issue. It's simple, it's Batman, but it's lacking the punch the first arc had. The writing, (except for the scene I mentioned) is very good. I was this close to giving it a 7/10, but it barely made the 8. Something really exciting needs to happen in the next issue, otherwise this series will start getting 7s. All we really care about is what's up with Joker, this arc appears just to be 'buying time.' Let's have something really exciting happen in the next issue, shall we?