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Pick Of The Week

Review: Man Of Steel

man-of-steel-logoI woke this morning on Father’s Day with a special gift from not just my kids and wife, but my brother as well. They took me to see Man of Steel, because as my daughter and son say “Daddy, you’re the real Superman.” While I love their passion for seeing their dad as a superhero, I’m not sure I can live up to that comic book icon. That being said, I will always try my best. Now that the sentiments are aside, let’s get on to the movie. Be warned THERE ARE MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. If you want to know my rating, skip to the last paragraph. AGAIN, YOU ARE WARNED. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.

This movie begins on Krypton, and honestly, I think I could have watched an entire movie the way this was done. A two hour war on Krypton movie might not appeal to the major audience, but the way that Zack Snyder and company portrayed this race of beings and their planet was so outstanding and exciting. We finally got to see some creatures, the way they lived, and their technology. Russell Crowe in my mind was a far superior Jor-El than we’ve ever had before. Don’t get me wrong, Marlon Brando was great when I was growing up, but the comics always made me think of Jor-el as something better, and Man of Steel gave it to us.

Once we get to earth, there is a lot of flash back sequences that just jump right in, and while complaints so far are that it is hard to follow, my response to that is that those people really haven’t ever paid attention to a movie. There were perfect transition points, and I am glad that they went this route. I didn’t want to see Clark growing up for a third of the movie. I got that on Smallville. No, this was a smart origin movie that focused more on the dilemnas that a man of steel would have to face. It was a moral and ethical presentation, and for that I am happy.

Along the moral lines, I understand that many people are upset that Superman killed Zod at the end. WTF is wrong with you people who complain about that? Have you ever read a Superman comic? No, he didn’t kill, but there were plenty of times where he went berzerk. Prime example? In 1992’s Death of Superman story, he tried to kill and succeeded in killing Doomsday. Of course this was retconned, and they ended up reviving the creature for further story, but that was the case. Also, in Superman the animated series, he went crazy after Darkseid killed Detective Turpin. He tried to kill Darkseid. This doesn’t mean that he was not the hero he is known to be. Look at the other factors on screen here. Superman’s battle with Zod was a losing one. Sure, he had Zod in a headlock, but look how many people already died at his hands. If Superman didn’t kill Zod, the family before him would have died as well. Superman had enough. He would not allow another death if you could help it, and one death was better than five more. He cried before doing it, and once he finally snapped Zod’s neck, he mourned more. The look on his face showed his sorrow for this, and I feel it is the perfect closing to the whole “finding his place in the world” theme. He knows now, what it is like to kill, and will make sure to never do it again.

The story was action packed and compelling, albeit a few one liners that were just out of place or really bad dialogue, but those were few and far between. Amy Adams as Lois Lane would not have been my first pick mainly because of hair color, but I’m so glad I was wrong on my first impressions. She gave a fresh take on Lois, and now we won’t have to deal with her being so dumb not knowing Clark was Superman all along, because she knows up front. (I don’t think we will be seeing a kiss like in Superman 2… that was a stupid film power that made me lose respect for the Donner films at that point.) — don’t worry, I still love the Chris Reeve films, but Henry Cavill was more convincing. He literally looks like the comic book Superman, and I hope he does Clark Kent justice in the sequel as well. I want to see him portray the clark we all know and love.

Faora and the other Kryptonian baddies were done well also, and were shown for their loyalty to Zod. I am curious as to what Snyder’s vision of the Phantom Zone is however. It was mentioned, and not that Clark knows about it, this will be interesting to see if it ever comes back.

Visually, I had two issues. Although I’m glad they were unique in the heat vision portrayal, I didn’t like that it looked like fire coming from their eyes. The glowing eyes were good enough, and that optic blast beam seemed too much to me. I also hated the shaky handheld camera in spots. Other than that, I had no problems.

The entire cast, which is too many to mention, really did a superb job, and the acting seemed flawless for me. I also really enjoyed the easter eggs. I saw the LexCorp fuel truck, as well as the Waynetech satellite, and I’m not sure if that was the intent, but Zod’s ship really looked like Brainiac’s ship, so I’m wondering if his computer’s name was in fact Brainiac. Only time will tell. I also hear that there was a Booster Gold easter egg as well, but I personally missed this.

Sequel? Well they could go many ways. I see them bringing in Lex Luthor, but I’m hoping as a man that pulls the strings. I don’t want to see the Lex’s we’ve seen in the past. if anything, the only Lex done right, was in the animated series and parts of Smallville. Brainiac? Bizarro? Those could all be taken from this movie, but who knows. Only time will tell.

I do NOT want to see them follow the exact same format as Nolan’s films. While they have their own place in history, I hated what they did… origin story, his main nemesis, and then the final film being far from comic book continuity.

We have an origin story here with Man of Steel, and he doesn’t have a name yet, so I’m assuming Lois will call him Superman in the sequel. Lex will most likely be in the sequel, but as I said, I want to see him in a new way. Don’t make him the main villain. Make him the one behind it, and only Superman knows this. Done right, this could be better than most comic book series of movies.

It is rare when I give a movie a perfect rating, but I’m giving it to this one. 10 out of 10 stars from me for this movie, and I dare say that I enjoyed it as much if not more than the Avengers. Chime in with your thoughts below. I’m eager to hear what you all think.

Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

star-trek-into-darkness-poster-691x1024Review by Rick Pipito:

SPOILER ALERT!  Turn away now if you don’t want to know anything about this movie… or you can skip down to the final paragraph for my rating.  With that being said, let’s begin.

First off, let me say that there were three villains in movies in the 1980s that were the best villains of that decade.  They were: The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (Ghostbusters), General Zod (Superman 2), and Khan Noonen Singh (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan).  Now in 2013, I am getting 2 of those villains on the screen again!  Is this good or bad?  Well, the Zod topic is for that review when the time comes, but now I’m focusing on Khan.

We all knew that when JJ Abrams mentioned Benedict Cumberpatch is playing “John Harrison” that this was all a bunch of BS.  Yes, he does technically play Harrison, but that is only a cover for who he truly is.  The reveal of his true name (Khan) was surprising.  I was hoping for another classic villain like Gary Mitchell, because to take Khan and redo him seemed like blasphemy.  Here’s why:  Ricardo Montalban was perfect as Khan.  From his TV appearance in the classic Star Trek “Space Seed” episode, to the movie Wrath of Khan, he portrayed a likeable villain.  He was just badass and cool, yet you still wanted to see him brought to justice.  THere is also the fact that Khan was originally supposed to be of some Indian descent.  Cumberpatch looks nothing like this at all.

Now that my complaints about him are out of the way, let’s talk about the movie was.  Cumberpatch took my skepticism and threw it out the window.  This after all, was a rebooted timeline, so the events of the original movies don’t necessarily have to take place in that way.  Into Darkness takes place before the original five year mission of the crew, so we are meeting this character at a much earlier stage in the game.  Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) as the secondary villain, and reason for Khan’s release from cryosleep, is just as good in the role.  In fact, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Anton Yelchin, and Simon Pegg all played the parts well.  I have to give special props to Karl Urban, whose Dr. McCoy is still dead on with DeForest Kelley’s.

Visuals, plot and humor were all executed with perfect precision.  I didn’t find any of them out of place or unbelievable.  My only problem is when Carol Marcus is seen in her bra and panties.  Don’t get me wrong, she is absolutely beautiful, and I could spend hours staring at Alice Eve half naked or with even less on, but as pleasing as she is to the eye, there was no place for this scene.  It didn’t fit.  It was thrown in as eye candy.  Eve did however do a superb job as well, and even looks like a younger version of Bibi Besch’s Carol Marcus.

I really like how they placed Khan back in cryo at the end as well.  He and his 70 some other followers could come back as a threat at some point, and I really hope they do.  Setting up the Klingons as the villains in the next movie also played out well.  It seems war will be declared on earth by the alien species, but I could be overspeculating.

The various nods to the original timeline, and Leonard Nimoy having a surprise cameo again as an older Spock were spine tingling.  I was excited to say the least.  The reversal of deaths between Kirk and Spock, as well as the famous “Khaaaaaaannnn!” being shouted, were only the icing on the cake.

Maybe I’m praising it too much.  Like I said, I had a few slight problems with it, but all in all it was an outstanding movie.  It so far has only grossed just over 100 million dollars in one weekend, but I’m hoping this changes.  My brother saw it with me, and his reaction was very similar to mine.  Dan prepped himself by watching Space Seed and Star Trek 2 before hand, while my inner geek knowledge kept me aware of the original story.

All in all, I might have to admit that this could very well be the BEST Trek movie to date, and I think I have a new favorite.  Star Trek Into Darkness gets 10 out of 10 stars from me.  I’m hoping Dan chimes in the comments below as well, and am hoping for my dad to see it soon, as he was a big fan of the original.  So, what did you all think?


Review: Arrow Season One

ARROWWell here we are, a full season of the CW’s Arrow has passed, and it is time for a review.  I’ll address the season as a whole with only some minor spoilers.  Arrow grabbed me from the beginning, and my interest only continued to grow.  My wife is now a fully commited Green Arrow fan as well, and though we only got a hint at the name “Green Arrow,” I’m sure they will stop calling him the vigilante soon.

When the season first started, I felt that Stephen Amell was very stiff in his acting.  He corrected this right before the midseason break and when the show started again, I saw not just an actor playing a part… I saw Oliver Queen.  You can tell that the nervousness went away, and he became the character, and enjoys playing the part.  Overall, the acting has been done well, though I feel like the Huntress needs a little work, but she’s just a guest star.

Plotwise, this can’t be beaten.  Sure there are some cheesy moments, but it somehow works.  The CW hasn’t made this a full on soap opera like it did with Smallville.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Smallville fan, but Arrow has it beaten by a million miles.  Someone asked me what makes it so good?  I said this…  “It is DC Comics, meets Law and Order, meets 24, with a slight touch of humor and romance.”  It is a show that can be watched and enjoyed by both men and women, and has pleased many comic book fans despite the lack of superpowers.

Each episode ended with a conclusion to that story, but an overall continuing story arc that makes you want to come back for more.  If any of you have read my novels, you know why I enjoy this approach.  When they announced their approach, I was skeptical, but overall pleased at what we were given.  Green Arrow (Oliver Queen), Roy Harper, China White, Deadshot, Merlyn (Dark Archer), Firefly, Count Vertigo, Deathstroke (Slade Wilson), Shado, Brutale, and other mentions like “Speedy” (Thea Queen), “Black Canary” (Laurel “Dinah” Lance), Ferris Aircraft, Bludhaven, Ted Kord, and “getting to Central City in a Flash” were awesome, but even the original characters were welcome additions.

I realize that we will never get “Star” City, and I will have to accept the “Starling” name, but if we continue to get the goods, I will ignore that.  In season two I have a few hopes…  At this point I feel that with the Black archer, the green archer, and of course a soon to be Red archer sidekick, I think it is time to call Oliver’s alter Ego by his appropriate name.  It would get too confusing to those characters in the story not to.  I also want to see more DC appearances, and for the creators of the show to give us characters with powers (despite claiming they won’t).  I also get that Stephen Amell is in great shape, but we don’t need to see him shirtless in every episode for no reason at all.

My review is 8 out of 10 arrows.  If you haven’t seen it or only gave it a one time shot, then give it another chance.  It will be worth your time in the end.

A Trek into the Past with Star Trek

star-trek_original_series_cast_wallpaper_-_800x600With the newest Star Trek movie about to be released, I decided to go back and look at the Star Trek phenomenon in each of its incarnations.  I’ve been a fan of Trek movies since I was a kid, and have seen all but the first few in the theaters.  I also have loved most of the series on TV.  Let it be known, that I am not a Trekkie, but consider myself a fan.  What’s the difference?  I have not seen EVERY episode ever made, but respect and am intruiged by the lore and universe that has been created.

I AM really excited about the new movie, as I believe JJ Abrams has given a new light to the Trekverse, and gained the respect of people who were not fans prior to the 2009 reboot/sequel.  What I love is that although it rebooted the whole universe, it did it through time travel, so that all of the prior movies did happen albeit an alternate timeline.  Fine by me.  If it blatantly disregarded the past 50 years of story telling, I’d have been angry.  Let’s take a look at the series first.

STAR TREK THE ORIGINAL SERIES: Gene Roddenberry had several attempts, but finally hit the mark with this series.  It brought William Shattner as Captain James T. Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as Commander Spock, DeForest Kelley as Dr. McCoy, James Doohan as Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura, George Takei as Lt. Sulu, and Walter Koenig as Ensign Chekhov in as the main crew of the Enterprise NCC-1701.  This ran for 79 episodes and an additional 22 in animated format.  While the first episode takes place in the year 2254 AD, the rest of the series revolves around the crew’s five year mission to explore new worlds and life forms (2265-2270 A.D.)  After being cancelled with only a short run on network television, this crew gave birth to everything in the Trekverse today.  Sure it had its low moments and campy episodes, but for the time it was made, it gave hope and inspiration for a technologically advanced future where racism would be gone, and everyone would be perceived as equals.  I rate this series at a 6 out of 10.

STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION: Its 7 seasons took place a generation after the original crew.  From 2364-2370, this new crew was welcomed with open arms by a new generation of fans.  Patrick Stewart as Cpt Jean Luc Picard, Jonathan Frakes as Commander William Riker, LeVar Burton as Geordi LaForge, Michael Dorn as Worf, Gates Macfadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher, Wil Wheaton as Ensign Wesley Cstar%20trek%20next%20generation%20cast%20family%20guyrusher, Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi, and Brent Spiner as Data were the crew of Enterprise NCC-1701-C.  New tech and explorations abound, this series showed that even enemies can become allies, and handicaps could be treated.  This is the series I grew up watching, and rate it at an 8 out of 10 as a whole.

STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE: Taking a new route with space exploration, this series took place aboard a space station in the Milky Way Galaxy.  There was no exploration at all, but it continued to bring in the fans.  Criticized by many hard core trekkies, but then welcomed in the end, this spanned 7 seasons (during the years 2365-2379 AD).  The difference in this show was that it showed what a war would be like in space.  It was a darker take on the mythos that included Avery Brooks as Commanding Officer Benjamin Sisko, Nana Visitor as Officer Kira Nerys, Rene Auberjonois as the shapeshifter Odo, Alexander Siddig as Dr. Bashir, Terry Farrell as science officer Dax, Michael Dorn as Worf, Colm Meaney as Chief O’Brien, Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko, and Armin Shimmerman as Quark.  I could not stand this show in the beginning and I dropped it quickly, but toward the end, it regained my viewership for a half season.  Based on what I saw toward the end, I’d rate this show a 5 out of 10.

STAR TREK VOYAGER: From 2371-2378 AD, the crew of the USS Voyager tries to make its way home, 75,000 light years away.  Also lasting 7 seasons, this series gave us a female captain and yet another approach to the Trekverse.  Kate Mulgrew as Captain Janeway, Robert Beltran as Chakotay, Tim Russ as Tuvok, Robert Duncan McNeill as Medic Tom Paris, Roxann Dawson as Engineer B’Elanna Torres, Garret Wang as Ensign Harry Kim, Robert Picardo as the Holographic Doctor, Ethan Phillips as Neelix, Jennifer Lien as Kes, and Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine rounded out the main cast.  The crew had to put aside differences in the hopes of seeing their families again, and though tensions were high at times, it was exciting to see a whole new quadrant of unexplored space.  I didn’t stick with this show either, but popped in here and there to check it ds9out.  My enjoyment level came at about a 6 out of 10.

STAR TREK ENTERPRISE: A prequel to the orignal series, this took place from 2151 – 2155 AD, and lasted 4 seasons.  I thoroughly enjoyed this show, as I felt it was very close to the original in terms of hardships and personalities of the crew.  It was often criticized for being a rip off, but I did not feel that it was.  I DID hate the theme song though, which most people would agree with.  The neat thing about this incarnation was that humanity was just beginning everything.  They were testing their first real travel worthy exploration ship, the Enterprise NX-01.  Scott Bakula played Captain Jonathan Archer, Jolene Blalock was the Vulcan T’Pol, Connor Trinneer as “Trip” Tucker, Dominic Keating as tactical officer Reed, Linda Park as linguist Hoshi Sato, Anthony Montgomery as Travis Merryweather, and John Billingsley as Dr. Phlox made up this fun cast.  I’d rate this series at a 7 out of 10, but I’m sure people will disagree because it did sort of stray toward the end, from the format that made it work.

And now, let’s move on to the best part of Star Trek… the movies:

STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE: The original crew have ranked up and return to stop an energy cloud in space.  Three years after the end of their five year mission, this begins (2273 AD).  Along the way, they find NASA’s first Voyager probe from the 20th century, and realize that it has become a new lifeform.  It grossed 139 million dollars, and though I found it to be slow and boring at times, it was still fun to watch.  I will only rate this with a 4 out of 10 just because of the slowness.

STAR TREK THE WRATH OF KHAN: In the year 2285, Ricardo Montalban returns as Khan, and he is deadlier than ever.  The crew face their biggest challenge yet and Spock dies to save them all.  I can watch this movie a hundred times and never be bored.  I give it a 10 out of 10.  I am still trying to figure out how it only grossed 97 million at the box office.

STAR TREK THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK: Spock’s corpse has been launched to the Genesis planet, and its regenerative structure brings him back to life as a star-trek-voyager-cast-2000child.  An accelerated growth forces the enterprise crew to find him before the whole planet dies along with him.  With Klingons back as the main villains, this movie picks up right after its predecessor.  Despite a mere 87 million at the box office, it still gains a 6 out of 10 from me.

STAR TREK THE VOYAGE HOME: In 2286, the crew returns to earth to find that a mysterious probe is searching for an extinct species of whales.  With only a damaged Klingon Bird of Prey, they travel back in time to 1986 to bring the species back to their own time.  Sure, it is silly, and the time travel plot had some people shaking their heads, but this ranks right up there with the second one.  The Enterprise NCC-1701-A first appears at the end of the movie.  At 133 million box office gross, it gets a 9 out of 10 from me.

STAR TREK THE FINAL FRONTIER: I was worried that this would be the last we’d see of the crew when it was released, not just from the title, but the critical reception.  In 2287, the enterprise crew is held hostage by Spock’s half brother.  They are to take him to a planet where it is believed God exists.  It turned out not to be the case, but its 63 million intake showed that the viewers didn’t really care much.  I’ll rate it at a 4 out of 10, but still find moments very enjoyable.

STAR TREK THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY: Tensions are high in 2293 as a Klingon moon explodes, and a peace treaty with the Federation is underway.  Sulu now captains his own starship USS Excelsior, and is needeenterprised to prove Kirk’s innocence in a heinous murder of Klingons.  It made 98 million at the box office, and earned a 10 out of 10 from me.

STAR TREK GENERATIONS: As the Enterprise NCC-1701-B is taken on its maiden voyage, an accident forces James T Kirk to save the crew, and sacrifice himself.  78 years later, the Next Generation crew discovers that someone is destroying suns in the hopes of redirecting a nexus cloud.  As the crew works to stop this terrorist, they enter the nexus and find a surprise.  James Kirk works with Captain Picard to stop the madman at large.  In the end, Kirk truly does die, and the movie torch is officially passed to the next generation.  It earned 118 million at the box office and 9 out of 10 stars from me.

STAR TREK FIRST CONTACT: This movie introduces the Enterprise NCC-1701-E, and brings in the Borg as the main villain.  The collective travels back in time to the day humanity made first contact.  Their mission is to stop it from ever happening, as humans have proven to be a nuissance time and again.  The next generation crew goes back to stop the Borg Queen, and Data is shown a whole new world of sensation.  With 146 million at the box office, and another 9 out of 10 from me, you shouldn’t miss this one.

STAR TREK INSURRECTION: Picard and his crew in the year 2375, must rebel against a superior officer when they find out he plans on stealing the inhabitants of the Baku planet’s very life force.  The most entertaining aspect of this movie is Data malfunctioning.  It is arguably the most forgettable of the series, and brought in 112 million.  I give it a 3 out of 10.

STAR TREK NEMESIS: In 2379 a clone of Picard is bent on destroying the federation and the real Picard.  Dark, useless, and only slightly better than its predesessor.  Only bringing in 67 million dollars, and 4 out of 10 stars from me, it was time to let a dead horse go.

Star_Trek_2009_Wallpaper_by_delusionzOFgrandeurSTAR TREK: A Romulan commander named Nero travels from the year 2362 back in time to 2233 to destroy Earth and starfleet.  Luckily, Ambassador Spock also travels back to warn his younger self and rookie original crew.  Bringing in Chris Pine as James T Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Simon Pegg as Engineer Scott, John Cho as Sulu, and Anton Yelchin as Chekov, this movie literally erases all previous incarnations (with the exception of STAR TREK ENTERPRISE) and gives the franchise a fresh new start.  It made nearly 386 million at the box office, and brought in new fans as well as old.  Definitely one of the best, and a great way to reboot.  10 out of 10 stars from me.

So there you have it.  With Star Trek Into Darkness releasing today in the States, I continue to hope for a bright Trek future, and will bring you my review of this new 12th movie once I see it.  I hope you enjoyed this look back.  What are some of your favorite and worst moments from Trek history?

Review: Once Upon a Time Second Season and Finale

I can officially review this show now, as it has a graphic novel spinoff coming in the fall, and I’m excited, as it is oneOnceUponaTimeS2DVD of my favorite shows on TV at the moment… but did its finale work well for the second season?  Warning SPOILERS AHEAD!

First off, let me say that Season one was amazing.  From start to finish, it had me on edge, wanting to see what was going to happen next.  Then the finale came for the first season, and I was even more intruiged.  Now let’s get on to season 2.

It begins with Once’s take on the Sleeping Beauty tale.  A wraith hunts down Prince Phillip, while Princess Aurora and Mulan are left to fend for themselves.  Emma and Snow have arrived here as well in the Enchanted Forest.  At first the meeting does not go well between them, but Mulan eventually learns to trust Emma and Snow.  With Magic now present in Storybrook, Emma and Snow do what it takes to return there.

Throughout the season we see a theme.  During the first half of season 2, Emma and Snow make it their mission to return to storybrooke, even when it means teaming up with the famed Captain Hook and tackling a Giant at the top of a beanstalk.  The twisted takes on fairytales continues to excite me throughout the season.  Things like Lancelot, and Frankenstein being incorporated into it as well as Cora being revealed to be the actual Queen of Hearts from Wonderland were a lot of fun.

Things I didn’t like too much were the following:  Tamara and Greg… Although I liked the reveal that Tamara was Greg’s “her” I feel that these characters were annoying as hell.  I was beginning to think that Tamara was really a witch of Oz, but it just turns out she was a pawn of something bigger (we’ll get to that).  She was the true bitch of this season.  While true evil like Cora is wrong, she is still likeable.  Tamara has nothing about her that I like, and Greg is just as irritating.  Greg’s father was lost in Storybrooke long ago, yet he doesn’t seem to care at the end.  It is all about the mission.  Even if Regina did kill his father in the past, it doesn’t matter.  A personal vendetta just seemed to be dropped for the twist at the end.  I also didn’t like Belle losing her memory.  I didn’t feel it drove the story any until she had fallen for bad boy Rumple, but even the effects of that were short lived.

I also felt that this season had no ups and downs.  Is this a bad thing?  No.  It just didn’t have me waiting for the next episode as much as I was in the first season.  High points to me were Cora… Regina’s struggles with good and evil…  Neil being revealed as Baelfire… and the mystery of other people finding out about Storybrooke.

As for the finale, and inclusion of Peter Pan lore, I thought it was done well.  I really like that they are making Pan out to be a bad guy, because in the original novel, he was really a selfish prick of sorts.  Not sure to what degree this will hold up, but I can’t wait to find out.  The only other complaints I have are that I have to wonder what kind of taser can electrocute a wooden Pinnochio.  Also, how does the group know that the magic bean will take them to the realm that they want?  Did Rumple control that?

Next season I’m hoping we get a little Mermaid inclusion, but I’m looking forward to seeing Neverland and actually Peter Pan himself, not just his shadow.  Rumplestiltkin, the Evil Queen, Emma, Snow White, Prince Charming and Captain Hook are all now teamed up to save the one person that they all care about… Henry.  They have no idea if Neal is even still alive, and it appears that they are going to bring Prince Phillip, Mulan and Aurora back into it again.

Still love this series, and am looking forward to the spinoff Once Upon a Time In Wonderland.  I’m curious as to whether the writers will do a crossover episode or two.  Can’t wait til the fall.  Season 2 gets 7 out of 10 stars from me.

Review: Ironman 3 (and Speculation)

Iron-Man-3-Iron-Legion-Poster-Official-570x845I was finally able to catch Ironman 3 last night, and this is perhaps one of the most difficult reviews for me.  Why?  You ask.  Well, It was so out of what I was used to seeing from our past Ironman/Avengers movies, that I didn’t know how to take it at first.  Is this a bad thing?  Most certainly not.  However, there are a few things with which I have issues.  Warning, there will be some spoilers in here, so if you’d like to avoid seeing them, scroll down to the last paragraph for my rating.

I must say, that the Extremis story arc was a good pick with which to go, but I wasn’t sure how they were going to do this.  I’m very glad that we weren’t seeing just another Ironman vs an armored villain.  In fact, we didn’t see much Ironman at all in this movie.  For me, that was a breath of fresh air.  To an extent.  I feel that Don Cheadle should have had more screen time as James Rhodes.  War Machine / Iron Patriot was barely present at all, and I’m still torn on the whole Iron Patriot thing.  It bothered me with comic continuity, but I accepted it.

Gwenneth Paltrow was wonderful as usual.  And although we couldn’t actually call her “Rescue” I think there was a nice homage there.  Pepper Potts kind of freaked me out a little in the end too, as I saw the whole “Dark Phoenix” thing happening, and I still wonder how she emerged from the fire with only her under garments on.  How do your clothes get burnt off (remember it is a 3000 degree celsius fire) and yet your bra and panties don’t get marred?  Hmmmm.

RDJ was once again Tony Stark.  Glad to see the emotional strain he’s gone through as well as his obsession with Ironman.  I feel that his role in this movie was most realistic of the 3 (4) movies.

I’m also glad to see that Jon Favreau was back as Happy Hogan, though for a minor role, and Stan Lee’s cameo was in my mind the worst of all his cameos, but still fun.  (Keep in mind, I don’t really think that he’s had a bad cameo, but this one was not his best).  Yinsen was also a pleasant surprise in the beginning flashback.

Other than the Mandarin, which we will get to in a second, the other comic book villain to make an appearance was Coldblood.  Eric Savin was Killian’s right hand man, and I thought he was intimidating to say the least.  Still, my comic book fan self was irritated slightly.  It was almost as if they combined Coldblood and Radioactive Man into something else.  Another thing that Ironman movies do best is Amalgamate characters.  Regardless of the lack of truth to the comic world, it did not detract from the movie, and James Badge Dale played the part well.

And now onto the more controversial roles… Ty Simpkins plays Harley, a child sidekick of sorts to Stark.  Many people have had an issue with the way Tony treats him in this movie, but I did not.  Remember, Stark is stressed, and a child with a billion questions would get on anyone’s nerves.  I think that Simpkins did an amazing job and has a promising future as an actor.  Here is my first Speculation:  I believe that Harley was just a nickname.  Since we already know that Guardians of the Galaxy will take place in the future, I’m wondering if this “Harley” is really going to end up being Starlord or Nova.  It is just too much of a setup to not be the case.

Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin…  Okay, so they say that he wasn’t the real Mandarin, and only an actor.  I’m not buying it.  I believe that he really was the Mandarin.  Why would Killian and his AIM scientists continue to call him the Master instead of Trevor if this were actually the case?  They wouldn’t.  Killian is in charge of AIM.  There is no reason for this to be.  Also, keep in mind if he were just an actor, would he really shoot someone live on TV?  Not buying it.  Speculation #2: I think it was all a twisted cover up, and that he really was the Mandarin.  Also, we know now that Avengers 2 will have a subtitle, and that Thanos is not the main villain for that movie.  Could we be looking at Avengers: Masters of Evil?  Hmmm.  Master is what they called him.  Mandarin was a master of evil.  It would be a welcome thing to see.

Now Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian.  Pearce is by far one of my favorite actors.  He knows how to properly execute any role, and he did so again in this movie.  So was Killian really Mandarin?  I doubt it, like I said.  Aside from that, it didn’t matter.  He really was the driving force in this movie.  Sure he seemed indestructable at times, but that was part of it, and it worked well.

Finally, Ironman (Ironmen)…  The Mark 42 armor was almost useless in my mind.  I know it was just a prototype, but what did it do?  Tony remote controlled all of the suits of armor from a headpiece, so that remote capability tied in to Jarvis should have been considered the Mark 42.

All in all, the action, plot and suspense of this movie was perhaps the best of the three.  I’m still partial to Ironman 1.  I feel that the first was still the best, but I believe this came in a close second, while the second movie fell behind more.  I do recommend this breath of fresh air.  I think criticism coming from people is because they are used to what Ironman movies have offered.  Shane Black took this in an entirely different direction, and it worked.  Sometimes change is better, and in this case it was.  Ironman 3 gets 8 out of 10 stars in my book.  I think that there is a lot that has been unrevealed with my speculations, and that once some of that is explained (if at all) then this will be appreciated more.

Review: Superman Unbound

Superman Unbo60-superman-unboundund was flat out in my opinion the best DC animated movie to date.  The animation was superb throughout most of it, the story was solid, and the voice acting and action were outstanding.  I’ll break it down for you in some detail, but be warned there are SPOILERS ahead.

We begin with the credits rolling and perfect orchestral music to go with it.  During the credits it shows the origin of Brainiac.  This is the real Brainiac in my mind.  Many incarnations show him as a supercomputer from Krypton, but growing up I always knew him as an alien who became computer.  He is by far one of my favorite villains of all time, and because of who he is and how he thinks.  I never knew of an origin for him, so this was nice to see although quick.  As fast as it was shown, it was effective, from ripping out his real eyeballs to drilling holes in his head.

Then our story begins.  While Superman is in Belize helping fix earthquake damage, Supergirl is filling in in Metropolis.  Using Lois as a catalyst, the writers decided to explain to the audience that Kara is as super as her cousin, but a teenager and filled with teenage emotions.  Without being too spoilery and going into unnecessary details, we’ll skip ahead a bit.

When Brainiac’s first drone arrives at earth, Supergirl knows all too well what it is.  She explains to Superman who Brainiac is and how he shrunk the entire city of Kandor on Krypton.  The animation showing this was pleasing to the eye, but I feel at parts (and during this whole movie) that it shifted slightly.  It seemed in areas (and only briefly) that a few series of frames were rushed with shading.  It was almost a different style in areas that threw me for a loop, but didn’t impact the movie negatively.  It was just a little confusing as to why they did that.

Superman goes to find Brainiac in space and he helps a planet defend against the alien machine.  Here you get to see how helpless even Superman is against him, as the man of steel eventually gets captured and placed inside the Kryptonian shrunken city on Brainiac’s skull ship.  BTW, the skull ship animation and design was nearly identical to the one in the comics from the 80s.

Eventually escaping and returning to earth where the battle has moved, Superman and Supergirl fight off the invasion to prevent the shrinking of Metropolis.  They fail!  I never expected to see metropolis shrink, but it was done here, and though it was restored in the end, it was refreshing to see how dangerous Brainiac really is.

In the end, Kara races to stop a rocket from making our Sun go Supernova, and Superman faces off against Brainiac on Earth.  The way Superman defeats Brainiac was by far the BEST battle I have seen in a long time, and it isn’t as action packed as you might think.  I just don’t want to spoil it that much.  Trust me, it is awesome!  My only shocker in this movie was Lois Lane flipping the bird with both middle fingers to the alien machine.  While I tried to distract my kids from that scene, I was giddy inside with delight.  Damn right, she’d be saying F*$& off in that situation.

There was also an underlying theme to go with this story.  Lois and Clark have been dating for a long time, but still keep it a secret.  Their relationship is being tested because he refuses to go public with it.  This causes dispute between them, but in the end all is right.

So is there room for more?  Absolutely, and I’m really hoping to see a continuation of this story.  Kandor was restored on a new planet that I can only assume would be called “New Krypton” like in the comics, Clark asks Lois to marry him, and Brainiac, although his body is destroyed still has active components.  I’d love to see the machine version of Brainiac from the 80s Superpowers cartoon appear as a villain.

All in all I’ll rate Superman Unbound at a 8 out of 10.

Review: Hannibal TV Series

Hannibal_key_artI typically only concentrate on comic book related material on this site, but since sCrypt Comics is involved in creating HORROR graphic novels, I had to make an exception here.  Hannibal the TV series is a delightful dish for any fan of the Hannibal Lecter movies/books.  So far on screen, we have seen “Hannibal Rising,” “Red Dragon,” “Silence of THe Lambs,” and “Hannibal”, in chronological order.

This takes place between Hannibal Rising and Red Dragon, and though I don’t believe this is part of the movie continuity, it so far has not interfered.  I hope it remains that way, but I don’t really care as long as it keeps my interest in the way that it has.

We are only three episodes in, and I’m captivated.  I admit however that at first I was a skeptic.  The series premiere’s first 20 minutes confused the hell out of me, but I finally understood what was going on.  Special Agent Will Graham (portrayed by British actor Hugh Dancy) empathizes with the killers he is trying to take down.  He is a recluse of sorts, and is placed into the psychological evaluation of Doctor Hannibal Lecter.  Lecter (portrayed by Madds Mikkelsen) is secretely a cannibalistic killer, hired for his psychological expertise by Head of the FBI, Jack Crawford (Lawrence Fishburne).

I don’t want to give away too much because it is too early on, but if you are a fan at all of any of the above movies or the novels, then I highly recommend giving this a chance.  It is a visually stunning work of art, that is not handled like other cop dramas.  Instead of a killer of the week, it looks like we are going to get episodes dealing with the ramifications of what each killer has done.  We get to see an inside look at how things work inside the character’s minds, and we get disturbing imagery that makes you cringe.  Mikkelsen, Fishburne and Dancy do wonders portraying the characters.

If you thought that noone could ever replace Anthony Hopkins as a disturbing killer, then you were wrong.  This captures the best elements of Silence of the Lambs, and looks to be a very promising series.  I give it an 8 out of 10 so far.  Chime in with your thoughts.

Review: Injustice Gods Among Us

injusticegodsamongus-1The moment has arrived.  I had reviewed the prequel comic previously, and now that the game is here, I am following up.  In the words of the Mortal Kombat announcer, “Excellent!”  Okay, it isn’t Mortal Kombat, but this is a damn good replacement for this year.  Netherrealm took the same engine as Mortal Kombat 9 and made it better.  This time, each character has their own unique set of abilities that make playing with each character different.  You literally need to learn individual characters, as button mashing won’t really help you here (much).

It is fun, the story is perfect, and the STAR LABS missions are a blast.  Let’s start with the bad….

The story, as I mentioned, was amazing.  It takes place in an alternate universe, where the main universe of DC is brought into it.  This works really well, BUUUT I feel it was anti-climatic.  The final boss fight with the Evil Superman seemed just like the others.  Doomsday was more of a threat, and I was hoping for some surprise boss  (ala Dark Kahn from MK vs DC).  I’m not saying that Dark Kahn would have been good, because he would never have fit.  What I’m saying is that the final battle should have been a tag battle or something.  Fighting Superman alone was easy.  They could have had Superman and Doomsday as a tag match or something.

The only other bad thing I can say is that in the STAR LABS missions, there are some near impossible levels that you have to hit the button combinations in a certain order really quickly.  I found my blood pressure getting up on more than one occasion with these.  I love a challenge, but when a game has me angry that I can’t do it, I get discouraged slightly.

…On with the good.   There is nothing else bad I can say about this game.  It has taken me away from playing Halo 4 online with my friends, and Bioshock Infinite.  I can’t get enough Injustice.  Other than the few impossible levels, STAR Labs is perhaps the highlight of this game.  In addition to the overall story mode, each character gets ten levels of their own separate story.  There are minigames gallore, and a replayability that seems to have no end.  It is well worth the money.

Even if you defeat story mode and ALL the Star Labs missions, you still have the battle matches.  Under the classic ladder, each character will be rewarded with their own story ending.  But there is more.  There are different types of ladder matches.  Also, like the classic Krypt from mortal Kombat, there is a reward system that allows you to gain character art, alternate costumes etc.

Design of the main and alternate costumes is fantastic, and while I hope they bring in the classic skins, it is more than enough for me the way it is.  Cameos gallore in the backgrounds, as well as some great DLC coming our way, you cannot miss out on this one.  If you are a DC comics fan, if you are a Mortal Kombat fan, or if you just like fighting games, this is the game for you.  Did I mention that the first coming DLC character is Lobo?  :)  Can’t wait.

I give this game a 9 out of 10.  It was a near flawless victory.  Kudos to Netherrealm!

Review: Ironman Rise Of The Technovore

IronMan-Rise-of-TechnovoreI love when a good story comes to fruition in some amazing animation.  While Ironman Rise of the Technovore had out of this world animation, it’s story could have been better thought out.  Don’t get me wrong.  The plot for the movie was a decent one.  I just feel that the writers could have had better execution with it.  I will keep this pretty much spoiler free, but I will mention a few minor things that are spoilerish.

It was almost as if they wanted to fit as many characters into this story as they could.  The Punisher, though always a welcome addition to any marvel story in my mind, felt out of place here.  He was forced into the story, and to an extent, I feel that Hawkeye and Black Widow were as well.  SHIELD also felt like the underdog here.  I’m not buying that in their hunt for Ironman, that Tony Stark was able to best them.  Nope.  Not with their own tech and savy, but hell who am I to judge?  I did love seeing Frank Castle and Tony Stark team up, but still not thinking it worked well.  While those characters were over used here, I think War Machine should have been used more.  He is basically another Ironman, so I don’t see why he was used the way he was.

Okay, now that I got the bad out of the way, lets talk about the good.  Animation, voice acting and Sound was outstanding!  They were perfect.  The Technovore villain was a great villain whom with I was unfamiliar.  Wait, now we’re about to go negative again.  Correction… he COULD have been a great villain.  The moment he arrived on screen, I thought “Wow, this guy is going to do some serious damage.”  Well he DID do some serious damage, but by the time it got to that point I had mostly lost interest.  The story dragged, and I felt myself nodding in and out of it.  I even found it hard to make notes for a review.

On a scale of 1-10 I give it a 5, and if it weren’t for the animation a few saving factors, then it would have been less than that.   Maybe I’m being a little too hard on it.  I don’t think it was a BAD movie.  I just think that it was poorly executed.  Tell me what you think.

Review: G.I.Joe Retaliation

gi-joe-retaliationI’m going to give a virtually spoiler free review here.  As a fan of the G.I. Joe Real American Hero cartoon in the 80s, I was never an avid reader of the Joe comics.  Because of that, I can’t really give a detailed argument for or against this movie.  I DO however remember the characters and the toys.  So as brief as this is, perhaps some of you can chime in with your own thoughts and expertise.

First off, let me say this…  On a scale of 1 – 10, the first G.I.Joe movie was a mere 2 in my book.  I found almost nothing enjoyable about it.  It was campy, and god awful with plot.  Duke and Snake Eyes were the only redeeming qualities of that one.  The sequel however scored a few more points.  By all means, I would not recommend it as a theater pick, but would say to wait until it is available for home rental.

Retaliation pretty much rebooted the entire thing.  They failed to mention what happened to certain characters from the last movie, but I didn’t care.  Channing Tatum was good to see back as Duke Hauser, but I was surprised at how minor his role was.  The Rock as Roadblock was a perfect pick, and Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye was both beautiful and played the role well.

Minor Spoilers here…. I was surprised that Zartan was really the main villain.  Cobra Commander’s role was only secondary.  I also wasn’t sure about the way Storm Shadow was played out, but anything was better than the first.

I like the casting in this one.  Everyone did a great job, and I almost even forgot about Bruce Willis being in it until halfway through the film.  I love Willis as an actor, but I’m beginning to think he is starting to play many of his roles a bit too cheesy.  Still, love the guy, but in this movie it was eh… okay.

Main thing I did not like… Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes fight in the hallway.  There is no way an automatic weapon being fired down a narrow corridor to break chinese stars was not going to shoot the standing ninja at the other end.  Somehow these are magic bullets.  I did forgive this though because I remember in the cartoon no one ever got shot.  EVER…  (except in the animated movie, but that is different).

Mouse and Jinx were welcome additions, but for me, the highlight of this movie was the Hasboro aspect.  What do I mean?  They recreated half of the toys I remember from when I was a kid, and they made them work onscreen.  Jonathan Pryce was also a great villain, who made the threat seem real, and quite on a scary level.  Ray Stevenson is always an intimidating presence onscreen, and his role as firefly was both hit and miss.

All in all, I’d say if you saw the first one, then you should see this one.  Why?  Because you wasted 2 hours of your life on the first, so what is another hour and a half going to do?  I’ll tell you what… It will redeem some of your hatred for the first one.  That being said, it is still far from being a great movie.  They left it open for a sequel and I’m willing to bet that the third one will be better yet.  At least I’m hoping.  My rating?  I give it a 5 out of 10.  The nostalgia and the Rock saved this movie.  Otherwise, it would have been another one for the poop pile.  Thoughts?

Review: Smallville Season 11 Episode 3 “Haunted”

smallville #9Well, 4 more months have passed, and that means that it is time to review another episode of Smallville’s season 11 prints.  Episode 3 is contained within the pages of Smallville Season 11 #9 – #12.  Major SPOILERS are contained in this review, so turn away now if you don’t want to know.

#9 Part one:

Let’s start with the cover art.  I’m not impressed.  Superman looks like a manga character (which I wouldn’t mind if it was supposed to be that style).  The concept is nice, with him and Impulse zooming at the viewer, but it is the art that I don’t necessarily enjoy.  And what is with Bart Allen (Impulse’s) redesign.  I’m not digging the bleached blonde look, but his new suit on the other hand is not that bad.  Thankfully, the art within this issue is much better than the cover.  The shading and ink is especially nice.

Now on to the story.  There is a brief flashback in Lex’s mind of when Tess was being brought in by Granny Goodness.  For anyone who had seen the final season on TV, Granny ran a foster home for girls.  These girls became her Furies.  This flashback scene was great in the way that it reaffirmed Tess’s presence in Lex’s mind.  The “dream” sequence here shows both an adult Tess and her child self running away from Lex.  Luthor here is telling Tess that he knows she knew things, and he plans on unlocking those memories.  As they run from door to memory door, there are a few sights of season 1 flashbacks as well as others when Clark had saved people.  Remember, Tess knows that Clark is Superman.  Lex finding this out could be disastrous.  Tess finally manages to lock a memory door temporarily, which wakes Lex from his “dream”.

Again, the intro was perfect.  Evenso when he woke to find Otis before him, Lex was obviously irritated.  To top off the failure he just had in his dream, his assistant tells him that Superman is handling a situation outside.  I won’t go into this battle in detail, because it speaks for itself.  DC villain Psimon is duking it out in the streets with the Man of Steel.  Psimon’s design is quite different from the comics, whereas instead of a fully exposed brain, he has holes in his head.  Apparently he was another of Lex’s experiments before Luthor lost his memory.  Threatening to kill Luthor for what he had done, Psimon is thwarted by Superman saving his nemesis.  I like that Psimon could stand toe to toe and do battle with Superman.  One thing I always hated was that minor characters seemed to never be able to hold their ground.  Psimon did so, at least for a little while here.  The best part is that it wasn’t Superman who stopped him.  It was Bart.  Impulse is back for a visit, but we do not yet know why.

In the next scene, we get a great angle from the artist.  They emphasize Lois using her attractiveness to her advantage.  She puts the heat on Otis, and then Luthor.  Lex is witty with this confrontation, but as cliched as it sounds, his right hand doesn’t know what his left hand is doing.  Tess is writing “Help” on a note, and Lois sees this.  She does not yet know what it means, but she knows that something is not right.  The duality continues to be played well here.

After a brief romp around the world, and some catching up, Superman and Impulse have a discussion about how Bart has gotten faster.  Emil Hamilton has told Bart that he worries about him turning into raw energy because of how fast he has become.  Their conversation is interrupted by a call from Watchtower telling them about a break in at an art gallery.

As the heroes race off, Lex pays Psimon a visit.  Locked in a cell, the psychic villain has a bicycle helmet of sorts holding his powers at bay.  Lex wants his help unlocking the secrets of his own amnesiatic mind, but Tess wards the psychic off.  With no cooperation, Luthor leaves.  I’m not sure I like this scene.  Why would Psimon back off, just at the sight of Tess?  I get that he hates Luthor, but it just doesn’t add up.

Next, we get to the art gallery scene, and we find out that Mallah and the Brain are using an army of monkeys to do the dirty work.  Again, I lovedSmallville #10 the cameo villains, but I’m not sure we would have ever seen this in Smallville.  If we did, we would have gotten some kind of origin, which here we didn’t (at least not enought of it) so it was a bit misplaced.  For the last few frames of this issue, we have Superman taking out the army of apes, while Bart is haunted by a mysterious dark figure.  It races towards him wanting his speed.  Can you say, “Black Flash”?  Yes the death racer appears for the first time, but other than a slight demonic silhouette, you don’t get much of a view.  And of course we are left wondering what this means.  Out of 5 stars, I give this issue a 2.5.  To me it didn’t seem like Smallville as much as the others, but let’s see where it goes…

Issue #10 part 2:

And another crummy cover.  Still, the concept was awesome, but the anime style doesn’t fit.  It is not conveying the “realism” that the stories are trying for.  SMH.  It somehow even translates into the first few pages of this issue, and I hope that it doesn’t continue on this path.

Anyway, Chloe is working on her archery accuracy as Oliver is drawing up a blueprint.  After his meeting with Batman in the previous issue, Oliver decides he wants an arrowcar.  Okay, it is cheesy, but a well deserved laugh moment was needed.

We then skip to Superman carrying Bart.  Bart explains that this Black Racer or Speed Demon first arrived when he was locked in a trap by Luthor in one of the previous seasons.  That little room, where he had to run in circles for hours, caused him to hit a new tier of speed, attracting this thing.  We see more flashbacks to the previous seasons here, and it was reinterpreted quite well.  Actually it was accurate to the point of me remembering those scenes the exact same way.

Many more flashbacks continue, and we get to see that the Black Racer is there to steal the speed force.  It is what fuels him.  While Clark takes Impulse to Hamilton, Bart’s speed has affected areas around the world, causing some kind of kinetic disturbance.  The disturbance is beginning to take lives due to the Black Speedster.

The next few pages tell us a little more info, but all in all it becomes very bland.  Then we get to see Bart and Clark racing on treadmills in STAR Labs.  The goal here was to get up to speed so that Clark can see the Black Flash with his own eyes, and that he does.  We finally get a full shot of it, and like I say “it.”  They don’t really explain in this episode WHAT he is.  He is very demonic looking however, and I love the design they did for it.  Black Flash tells CLark that his speed is not “puuuuururrrrrreeee”.  I get the feeling from the text that the dark one speaks like a whisper.  Kinda cool in my opinion.  He clocks Clark across the room and then vanishes.

smallville #11While Clark and Bart head off to the old Justice Society’s headquarters to find Jay Garrick, Chloe is linked to Chloe of Earth two’s mind.  In this way, Hamilton can show her the last few moments of Chloe 2’s life, and what she was trying to warn them of.  All we get to see is a large ship and destruction, and Chloe 1 screaming at the sight.  End of part 2.  My rating?  Still, I can’t go above a 2.5 out of 5.  It was great in spots, but there was a lot of buildup with no real satisfaction.  Don’t worry it gets better.

Issue #11 Part three:

Okay now I’ve given up.  Cover number 3 I have to give credit to only because it sticks with the crappy art theme.  Let me reclarify… I don’t think the art is bad, but WTF is up with the Manga style for this?  It doesn’t make sense.

Then, the highlight of this episode happens… Jay Garrick is shown.  His attire, though is not convincing.  The design is great and perfect, but would we really see him sitting around his house in a red jacket with a lightning bolt on its front?  Not in reality.  The retired hero is not happy to see his visitors and explains a little bit more about being a speedster.  Finally, we get some answers about the speed storms and Bart’s stalker.  The answer though is that Jay says Bart has to die in order for the Black Flash to be gone, and the storms to stop killing innocents.

Chloe begins having more visions of Chloe 2’s memories.  These are more violent.  Here we see Ultraman (Clark of Earth 2) literally killing people.  He is unrelenting and very brutal in his search, but is deterred by Chloe 2’s Kryptonite.  We get some more Earth 2 action with Chloe 2 and Oliver 2 talking about how to kill Ultraman, and then another speed storm occurs, which rips Chloe back to the here and now.

In this world, Lex fires his staff, including Otis, and Clark dons a new Blue suit.  If you look back in DC comics, after Superman died in 1992 Death of Superman, there was a brief period where Superman was a red energy and a blue energy.  This suit is very reminiscent of that Blue suit.  It is explained here that Hamilton says it can collect energy.  In this case, if Superman were to move fast, the energy would build and accelerate him to an even faster pace.  I’ll accept that.  There is a quick cameo by Barbara Gordon (always welcome) and then the battle begins.  Blue Superman and Black Flash collide.

While we don’t know what happens from this collision, we do know that Jay explains a little more to Bart, and mentions the other flashes by name “Max Mercury, Barry Allen, and Wally West.”  I give this issue a 4.5 out of 5 stars.  It was well rounded other than the art in places such as the cover and first few pages, but overall pleasing.  Now for the final part

Issue #12 Part Four:

Although still cartoony, this is the best cover of the 4.  We have a clear image of Black Flash, Superman in his Blue suit, and Impulse in an epic smallville #12battle.  While the depth of the image is not all too perfect, it is nice to see it fully presented.

Beginning on Earth 2, Oliver 2 presents the citizens of Metropolis with Kryptonite rings, but in return, Ultraman snaps Oliver 2’s neck completely backwards.  This was unexpected, but done well, and it was reiterated that here, his Ultraman’s real name is Clark Luthor.

On our Earth, Superman in his Blue attire continues to battle with Black Flash, who is beating the Man of Steel.  No worries, Bart shows up, and grabs Superman to race off.  He uses the speed collected by Superman’s Blue Suit and accelerates himself literally out of existence.  Before he evaporates into the Speed Force, Bart has some flashbacks to when he and Clark first met.  Again, this was reinterpreted well from the early season.  As a result of his speed, Black Flash is gone in the same way.  Now that that threat is over, I want to mention that this was very touching.  The battle was epic for Smallville and Impulse was shown as a true hero.

With that threat over, we are given some answers about Earth 2.  The Crisis is still a mystery to the Smallvilleverse, but the cause is revealed as a race of “Monitors”.  For any DC fan, this reaffirms that they are going to presenting in some way, the Crisis storyline.  With Earth 2 now destroyed, and Chloe 2 dead, the only remnants are in Chloe of Earth 1’s mind.

And we are presented with the end of the issue.  Clark no longer has to fear Lex finding out who he truly is for two reasons… 1: Bart’s acceleration destroyed the radiation tracker in Clark’s bloodstream, and 2: Green Arrow, Lois and Superman confront Lex and Lois knocks him out.  While he is unconscious, they use a device to collect Tess’ consciousness from Lex’s mind.  Tess Mercer is then reborn as a hologram in the watchtower.  With her there to be the oracle figure, Chloe finally announces that she and Oliver are leaving Metropolis for Star City AGAIN.  I would assume that we won’t see any more of Green Arrow and her maybe for the rest of the series.  They were written out in a way that they want to be parents to their soon to be child.  Clark wishes them luck, and the episode is over in a Smallville finale type of way.  I give this issue a full 5 stars.


Overall I was pleased with how this episode ended and what it opened for future storylines.  It started out rough, but was done well.  Still, I feel it wasn’t the best episode this season, but had some great aspects to it.  All in all, my rating is a 6 out of 10.  I know that doesn’t gel with my other ratings, but I am also factoring in the entirety of the episode here.  I hope you enjoyed this review, and I’ll keep bringing them to you as well.  Chime in with your thoughts.

Review: Age Of Ultron Book 1

aouDid I buy this comic because I’m interested in the new Age of Ultron story arc that Marvel has going on?  Well, yes and no.  I have to admit, I’m a fan of Ultron, but with the Avengers vs X-Men and Superior Spiderman stories recently, I’m not sure that there is room for another major story.  I am a big Ultron fan though.  What made me buy it is that I’m a sucker for first issues.  Since this had a nice special edition cover, I figured I’d fork the few bucks for the comic, and pass it down to my son when he’s old enough.

This review will be brief, and will have Minor SPOILERS.  Let’s first address the artwork.  Detail and design in this issue are very well done.  I was impressed by the realism it portrays, though it seems to detract from the Avengers I like to see.  This combined with the setting and story seem more like a post apocalyptic Mad Max type of story.

Nit picking aside, I am intruiged by what we are given.  I want to know how Spiderman is put in the predicament he is, and why he is unable to break free of his bindings.  Hawkeye coming to the rescue is a welcome highlight on a great character, but the Owl and Hammerhead seem a little misplaced.  That battle that feels like it should have been fought by the Punisher or Daredevil is executed well despite the misplacement.

Ultron is already in control of the area based on his duplicate drones and cyber city built in New York.  Even with characters such as: Luke Cage, She-Hulk, Ironman, Emma Frost, Wolverine, Beast, Sue Storm and Captain America, it looks like this will be an extremely difficult uphill battle for the heroes.  It also appears by Tony Stark scanning Hawkeye, that Ultron is placing nanomachines or some other form of control into humans.

I am captured.  I want to know what will happen, and although this wasn’t that great of an issue and read more like a prologue, it did what it was supposed to.  By the way, I HATE She-Hulk’s butch look.  It is definitely not fit for a character I always found underrated.  I give it 5 out of 10 arrows out of Hawkeye’s quiver.

Review: Oz The Great And Powerful and Predictions for a sequel

Oz-The-Great-and-Powerful-poster-3Sam Raimi and Disney’s latest outing has come in with mixed reviews.  So how was it really?  First off let me say this.  I am a TRUE Oz fan.  I have read all fifteen original L. Frank Baum books, as well as a handful of short spinoffs that were considered continuity.  I own Skottie Young’s graphic novel interpretations, as well as the original special edition of MGM’s Wizard of Oz, and the sequel Return to Oz by Disney.  I consider myself an expert on the world as far as a fan can be.

Though I wish that the original 1939 movie had stuck closer to the book (ala the silver shoes being ruby slippers, and origins of tinman etc) I don’t think that that movie should EVER be redone.  Judy Garland IS Dorothy, and while I’d welcome sequels and prequels I just don’t think anything should be done with that movie.  It is TOO classic.  So all of that aside, where does Oz the Great and Powerful come in.  I will say this… I’m giving it a 9 out of 10 flying monkeys.  That’s right, As an Oz fan, this really pleased me well, (as well as my wife and 2 year old boy, and 4 year old girl who sat through the whole thing without issue).  There’s my rating.  Now I will get into some of the MINOR SPOILERS.  I won’t reveal too many, but if you don’t want to know, then come back after you’ve watched.

The story begins with credits and music by Danny Elfman.  The man knows how to make a theme song, and while this one won’t stick as well as his Batman 1989 theme, it still gives you this fantastical feel that immediately brings you into the movie.  I saw this film in standard format, but I wish I’d have seen it in 3D.  I may still go back to do that, because I felt immersed in the world of Oz nevertheless.  I could tell that the 3D was done properly, and from what I’ve heard it was amazing.

Then, in tribute to the original 1939 film, Oz the Great and Powerful opens in a square format black and white setting of 1905 Kansas.  This story is a prequel to that classic movie and Baum’s first book.  It really does well explaining the back story of how the Wizard got there, as well as the origin of a few other characters.  James Franco, while I find is either hit or miss in his acting, did a great job as Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs (or to make it short, he just goes by Oscar Diggs).  I was glad to hear why he was called Oz.  The novels do mention his full name, and Franco recited the nine names as if they were his own.  Oz is a circus magician who is egotistical, pompous and a womanizer.  He is a selfish man who will eventually have to make choices and find the good within him.

Zack Braff as his assistant and Finley the Monkey was one of the highlights of the movie as well.  The circus shows Oz’s act, and him escaping from the wrath of a strongman.  You’ll see why, I just don’t want to give away everything.  There are a few hidden Easter Eggs lying around.  You’ll notice that the name of the circus is Baum Brother’s circus.  A tribute to the author and creator of this fantastic world.  Zach Braff’s character was referred to by Oz as a baggage carrying monkey (which he portrays in Oz).  Glinda has a counterpart in Kansas, and a crippled girl is recreated in Oz as the China doll princess.  This all of course is in tribute to the 1939 film, where real characters end up in Oz being something else or having similar dopplegangers.

Once Oz makes it to the Land of Oz, the black and white as well as the square format, expand into a beautiful world of color and widescreen.  You really feel as if you are in the Land of Oz during the whole story.  Immediately we are introduced to Theodora the good.  From anyone who is familiar with Oz lore, Theodora eventually becomes the Wicked Witch of the West.  The cool thing is that you find out why, and actually see her transformation from the stunning Mila Kunis into the hideous witch in this movie.  Is she the main villain?  no, but she is definitely a perfect and welcome addition.  Her tranformation from sweet Theodora into the Wicked Witch is truly frightening and amazing.  They even address the whole water being harmful thing.

A few things I noticed that I didn’t like.  1) there are parts of the CG world that seem a little too cartoony, but I’m sure they look better in 3D.  regardless, they are stunning visuals.  Most of the visuals blend well though.  2) Mila Kunis as the witch of the west was not as wicked seeming as Margaret Hamilton’s 1939 version, but keep in mind that this story is probably a good 30 to 40 years before that movie.  The reason I say this is the age of the characters.  Oz, Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda are much younger looking in this movie, and it shows sort of how much time is between the two.  Mila’s voice in parts was spot on, but not as convincing in others.

Evanora on the other hand (Played by Rachel Weisz) was truly evil.  She is the Wicked Witch of the East (you know, the one who gets splattered by Dorothy’s house in Wizard of Oz.)  She is manipulative and cunning in her ways.  A brief cameo by the Cowardly Lion made me tingle with excitement, as well as a pre-origin to the scarecrow.

As I mentioned earlier Finley the monkey was a great character, but the China doll princess was touching to say the least.  Her animation was flawless, and you really cared for the character.  She was a welcome addition, and so was China country, which was a major focus in a few of the Oz novels.  How Oz comes to find the good within himself, as well as Glinda’s use of her bubble transporting, and the final battle to defeat the witches was really great.  I was on the edge of my seat.

Michelle Williams as Glinda the good was very believable.  She seemed like a true force for good, and to see her actually face off in a magic battle with Evanora was a perfect ending.  Other mentions are the munchkins with their musical number, as well as the people of Oz.  They were perfect recreations from the books, and needed in this story.

As emotional as the ending to the Wizard of Oz made me when I originally saw it, the emotions are cued in here as well.  Oz giving the main characters “gifts” and how it is done, is touching.

It was announced the other day that Disney had greenlit a sequel based on how projections would be.  I will own this movie on DVD, and highly recommend to any fan of books or the films, to go see it in the theater as well.  So what could they do in a sequel?  I think it would still be another prequel to Wizard of Oz.  Here are my reasonings.  Much seems to still happen between the end of this movie and the beginning of the original.  There are decades in between.  So what could happen in the sequel/prequel?  Here are my predictions/suggestions:

1) Evanora is in her true witch form now, but she hadn’t had the Ruby (silver) slippers.  How did she get them, and what did she do with them to be a threat to Oz.  Where in the East did she settle?  2) Theodora is now in charge of the Winkies, and in control of the Flying Monkeys.  How did she get them out of the Poppy field?  Did she build her wicked castle in the West?  What did she do in those years between?  3) China Country in the books was a major setting.  How did it get rebuilt?  4) Showing the origin of the Tin Man, and how he rusted.  I actually believe that if a sequel was made, he’d be the central character as a human.  In the books, a witch (assumingly the witch of the East Evanora) was jealous of his love for a Munchkin.  She enchanted his axe which ended up cutting off all of his human parts, which ended up being replaced in tin by the tinkerers (who were introduced in this movie).  Oz doesn’t need to even be in a sequel, as the story of Tinman could be the focus.

If Disney needs ideas, they should contact me. haha.  Or Skottie Young, whose interpretations of the books in graphic novel form are flawless.  Not to mention that he is doing these comics for Marvel, which Disney owns, so he’s already in the family.  Bottom line is:  Ignore those who are critical because they have no idea what they are talking about.

One other point to mention.  There is an animated sequel to the Wizard of Oz coming out later this year called “Dorothy of Oz”.  I can’t wait to see what they bring in, but I can’t imagine it will capture the classic feel that this one has.

Review: Injustice Gods Among Us #1

Injustice_Gods-Among-Us_1_Full-665x1024Review by Rick Pipito

Since the first Mortal Kombat game came out in arcades in the early 1990s, I’ve been a huge fan. The series had its bad moments, but in my opinion has redeemed itself and more with its last installment “Mortal Kombat (9)”. Though I enjoyed Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe a few years ago, I found it lacking that true darkness that this particular fighting franchise has had. Needless to say, when they announced the upcoming Injustice Gods Among Us game, I was ecstatic.

I did have questions however. What was going to make hero characters such as Superman become downright violent and in some cases evil? Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait until the April release of the game to discover this partially. DC comics and Midway teamed up and released a prequel comic, that had me grinning like a true fan of both DC comics and Mortal Kombatverse.

I am going to review the comic here, and it will have SPOILERS. Regardless of whether you actually read the spoilers or not, I recommend picking up the issue just for the fact that the cover art is downright amazing. I also won’t touch on some minor details in the issue, which are worth seeing. That being said, let’s begin.

The first page begins in Gotham City. Batman is watching this now crimeless town, but not how he had wanted it to be. This city is villain free because it is ruled by a regime created by Superman. To explain this better, the scene cuts to five years ago, where our issue truly begins. Clark and Lois discover that she is pregnant with his super child. There is some classic Lois and Clark banter here, which makes it feel “right.”

Parting ways, Lois goes to investigate a story, while Superman finds Batman in Metropolis. As the two meet on the rooftop, Batman being the world’s greatest detective figures out that Lois is pregnant. Superman also asks Batman something from the bottom of his heart that makes even the Dark Knight smile. This interaction was done perfectly. It truly showed the human sides of these characters, and that although they disagree at times, they are truly friends.

Switch scenes to where Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are following a supposed contact. The contact turns out to be the Joker (along with Harley Quinn). Joker pulls a gun out and literally puts a bullet in Jimmy Olsen’s head. Yes, that’s right. In this alternate universe, Joker kills Jimmy, and when Superman arrives, he is distraught. The blood and Jimmy’s body are enough to make him upset, but finding out that Lois has been kidnapped by the clown prince of crime and his sociopath girlfriend drives him into a panic. He begs Batman to help him find Lois.

Bats, realizing that this is not a situation checks out Star Labs, and discovers that a small trace of Kryptonite has been stolen. He then calls in the Justice League: Green Arrow, Cyborg, Wonderwoman, Green Lantern and Flash. Flash finds the body of Jonathan Crane (aka Scarecrow) with Joker’s grin on his face.

Superman and Wonderwoman find a submarine where Joker and Harley are holding Lois. As Superman enters, her sees that Doomsday is there as well. As he begins to struggle with the massive monster, Joker and Harley escape to the docks. The League stops the nefarious couple, and while Superman is in epic battle with Doomsday, Joker explains to Batman. He operated on Lois, and the nuclear warhead from the sub is now linked to her heartbeat. Oh, he also grins and says, “Did you know she was pregnant?” Batman punches him in the face and realizes the horror of what he said.

The fear serum from Scarecrow and Kryptonite combined could…. Yes, that’s right, Superman thinks he is fighting Doomsday. As he flies the creature in to outer space, Doomsday’s heart stops, and a nuke goes off. In that final second, Superman realizes he was beating Lois, and that Doomsday was never there. The issue ends with Joker smiling, the league distraught, Superman emotionally and mentally scarred for life, and a nuclear explosion.

End SPOILERS. My thoughts on this issue. 1) the artwork, though lacking in many areas is acceptable because of the redesigned characters. 2) dialogue and script for the pages are probably the best that they could be, and this is a good thing. 3) we now know why there would be a fighting game based on this story, and why superman would be a threat in the future. 4) It set the tone for the game, and though there are unanswered questions, I am now anticipating the game even more.

Sure, this is a different story altogether from the comics that we know, but that is what makes it interesting. No one is coming back from the dead here. People die and stay dead, so the stakes are raised. I give the comic 8 out of 10 stars. The only reason that I don’t give it 10 is because of the artwork. It isn’t bad art, but for some reason it screams too cartoony for me for such a dark issue. Call me “sold.”

So far, the list of characters released in game for Injustice Gods Among us includes: Aquaman, Bane, Batman, Catwoman, Cyborg, Deathstroke, Doomsday, Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Harley Quinn, Lex Luthor, Joker, Nightwing, Shazam, Solomon Grundy, Superman, and Wonderwoman.  There will also be more characters released as it comes closer, as well as 3 already announced DLC packs that will give new outfits and extra missions.

What are your thoughts on this franchise?  I’d love to hear your input.

Review: Batman The Dark Knight Returns Part 2

batman-the-dark-knight-returns-part-2-poster1review by Rick Pipito

Where do I begin?  I had the opportunity to see an early release of Batman The Dark Knight Returns Part 2.  If you have been with me for a few months, you may have caught my review of the first part.  In that review, I gave it many compliments and more than my seal of approval.  So what did I think of the second part?  There are SPOILERS AHEAD, so if you want to judge for yourself, skip down to the last paragraph for my spoiler free rating.

I’m not sure what happened with this, but it is definitely a case of “the sequel didn’t stand up to the standards the first one set.”  Voice casting was horrible.  I still enjoyed Peter Weller as an older Batman, and even the Joker had his moments, but overall it was nothing to write home about.

Portrayal of the Joker was wonderful, aside from the fact that he barely laughed.  He was a psychotic maniac killer with no remorse.  Other than him though, everything was wrong (and like I said, the voice could have been better – he’s no Mark Hamill).

The story begins with Batman disguised as an old hag in a store.  A thug boss named Bruno robs a convenience store.  Bruno was drawn horribly.  The design was terrible.  She wore no shirt with only swastikas over her nipples, and looked like a man.  In fact, every female in this cartoon looked transgendered.  At the same time, most of the men could have been drag queens.  I’m not sure why this was done, but it was annoying.  So Batman as the old hag takes out the goons and Bruno, but for some reason never takes a second to remove his old lady disguise.  hmmm.  Wierd at that.

Then we get to a scene with Clark Kent meeting with Bruce Wayne.  Of course Clark hasn’t aged because he is Superman, while Wayne is old.  Anyway, Clark is standing on a hill with an eagle on his arm and his shirt unbuttoned.  Hair blowing in the wind, this iconic pose makes him closely resemble Fabio more than the hero he is.  It is so cheesy, it forced me to shake my head.  At the same time, Clark is now working for the President of the United States.  By the way, this story is taking place in the 1980s with Ronald Reagan as president.  President Reagan’s portrayal is downright awful.  From voice acting to design to seeming like a dimwit, it is off on all accounts and downright offensive for some viewers I’m sure.

Finally, we get to a great scene.  When the Joker appears on a television talk show, he murders everyone there.  I can’t express how great this scene was, and you really get the feel for who the Joker really is.  On another note, Batman is a fugitive and facing off against the Gotham City Police Department.  On the roof of the building where the murders are happening, the real heroes can’t work together for five minutes, and they just leave the scene without investigating below.  Oh, did I mention that Gotham police department is terrible.  They can’t hit the broad side of a barn, and never catch their targets.

Apparently Selina Kyle, who is old and obese at this point, is running an escort service.  Her cameo here was a little misplaced, but nice to see.  While the GCPD is more focused on taking down Batman, he is chasing Joker into a tunnel of love.  The amusement park sees its share of death.  Joker killing everyone by shooting everything that moves is awesome.  Robin’s battle, though short lived, with Joker’s goon ends greatly as well.

Now we get to the battle between Joker and Bats.  When Joker gets a batarang in his eyeball, he barely flinches.  No pain at all for some reason, and he continues on as if he were wearing an eye patch.  At the end of the battle, Batman breaks Joker’s neck, but it doesn’t kill him, it only paralyzes him.  Somehow even though he can’t move, Joker manages to finish himself off by making his own neck break sideways.  Batman burns his body and is losing his grip on who his is because Joker stabbed him a dozen times in the stomach.

BATMAN SHOULD BE DEAD!  but somehow he is immortal and manages to live only to fight Superman a few days later.  That’s right I said Superman.  After being caught in a nuclear explosion (the animation here is amazing by the way), Superman has not fully recovered.  Bats and Supes duke it out, and with a little help by Green Arrow (who now has one arm), Batman beats Superman.

There is a lot I’m leaving out here, because the build up to this moment is great, but I’m not sure how he can even stand against the man of steel since his guts are still sewn together.  Ridiculous and useless fight that proved only that Batman is still a force with which to be reckoned.

What really gets me is that Alfred dies of a stroke, which makes sense, and the Wayne manor is burned to the ground.  Oh, Bruce Wayne also dies of a heart attack, but at his funeral we find out he faked his death.  Not sure how he did this cause it doesn’t explain it.  In the end, Wayne, Robin, Oliver Queen and the leftover mutants from part one build a new hideout/cave underground as a Bat-army.

SPOILERS ENDED.  Okay, so I skipped a lot of detail, but didn’t want to waste any more of my time talking about something that really disappointed me.  Bruce Timm in my opinion is the king of superhero animation, but sadly this interpretation of the graphic novel is not worth the time.  Granted, this is only my opinion, but I’m a HUGE fan of ALL the DC animation series and films, and this one has officially replaced “All Star Superman” as the worst one yet.  So here I sit, disappointed in something I had very high hopes for.  I still recommend checking out part one, but with my rating of 3 out of 10 stars, I can’t say many great things about part 2.  Please chime in with your thoughts if you check this one out.

Review: Dredd (2012)

Dredd-1I’ll admit.  My familiarity with the 2000 A.D. comic book character, Judge Dredd, is not a lot.  Before watching this movie, I did a little research to try to get a feel for the characters themselves.  When the movie Judge Dredd came out in the 90s, I went to see it because I’m a huge Stallone fan.  That being said, other than some cheesy entertainment, that film was very subpar to what I felt a comic book movie should be.

When they announced Karl Urban would be playing the title character in a 2012 remake (completely unassociated with the Stallone movie) I was both excited and worried.  I feel that Karl Urban is one of the best actors out there today, and I knew he could pull off the role.  What had me worried was that people would remember the movie from the 90s and associate that with this new one.  Apparently that happened in the U.S..  Overseas, Dredd made a decent amount of money for what it was.  Here, in the States, it flopped.  Unfortunately, that is sad, and after watching this movie, I realize that it didn’t get a fair shot.

To begin this review, I will warn that there WILL BE SPOILERS!  If you want my thoughts without spoilers, scroll down to the last paragraph.  When I saw the trailers, they honestly didn’t do much for me.  Even up until the moment I went to watch this movie last night, I had concerns.  I’m glad that I didn’t read too far into them.

Let’s begin with the casting.  I’ve already mentioned Karl Urban and my thoughts on him.  His performance was Judge Dredd, from what I know.  Lena Headey as the villain Ma-Ma was completely believable.  I enjoy Headey’s work, and don’t think that a better person could have been chosen for the role.  Some minor castings that were notable were Wood Harris as Kay and Domhnall Gleeson as a computer techie.  Harris was not very impressive in his performance, but there were a few moments where he was decent.  Gleeson on the other hand was extremely creepy, and deserves credit for pulling off the role well.

The most impressive of performances, and one that I feel carried the movie was Olivia Thirlby as Judge Cassandra Anderson.  Maybe it was the fact that her character had psychic abilities, so she was forced to have more emotion, but the wave of positions she took in the movie was impressive.  She had a compassionate side, a disturbed side, and definitely proved to be a badass when she needed to be.

Plot decisions:  The story chosen for this movie was a smart move.  Instead of going with an origin, they went with a typical day in the life story, which skipped all of the nonsense that we didn’t need to see.  The voiceover by Karl Urban in the beginning is all of the back story we need for this film.

Having Dredd and Anderson in a locked down building with thousands of people targeting them (or having reason to) was an instant burst of adrenaline and palm sweating material.  The whole time you had to wonder how the hell they were going to survive.  My only real complaint is that when the four “bad” judges showed up toward the end, they didn’t seem like much competition for Anderson or Dredd.  I also felt that when Dredd and Anderson both got shot, it was too easy of a repair.  The blood lost didn’t even weaken our heroes.

Visual and Sound effects:  Wow!  That is all I really have to say.  Mega City One was amazing.  Not many movies can pull of 3D or slow motion.  In fact, I feel that those two effects are way overused in movies as a gimmick.  Most of the time, it doesn’t even work right.  Dredd pulls it off.  Of course, the slow mo was used more in the drug induced scenes, which made it have a purpose.  The gore factor also gave it a realistic feel as well.  You know Dredd is dealing with criminals with complete disregard for human life, and he is there to judge them appropriately.  If this movie didn’t have the blood and guts, there would be no point in making it, because it wouldn’t be believable.

The sound was also notable in that I don’t think it could have been mixed any better or planned differently to make it more impressive.

SPOILERS END HERE with final thoughts.  Dredd is FAR underrated.  The way it ended made me want more, and I hope that a sequel is greenlit.  If you haven’t seen it, and are a comic book or action film fan, then check it out.  If you still are unsure, then let me put it this way.  ROBOCOP + THE PUNISHER + MAD MAX + better plot = DREDD.  I definitely believe that in 2012 it ranks right up there with The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, and in fact surpassing the latter in some aspects.  For 2013, I’m redoing my ratings, so instead of a scale of 1-10, I’ll rate things on a five scale.  Dredd gets 4 out of 5 sCrypt seals of approval in my opinion.  Chime in with your thoughts below!

Comic Book Deaths of 2012

ripAt the end of every year, the media plays a montage of famous people who have died that year.  I decided to put together a little list of characters in comics that died this year.  Of course, with comic books, characters often never stay dead, but they still deserve mention.  Unless of course it is sCrypt Comics, because whoever we kill STAYS Dead… :)  Here is the list.  If you have any others that you can think of, please list them below.  (information aqcuired through wikipedia)

In DC Comics:

Boodikka was killed by the corrupted Alpha Lantern, Varix, in Green Lantern Corps Vol 3 #12

In Marvel Comics:

Black Talon was shot in the chest by The Punisher in The Punisher vol 8 #11

Daken was killed by his father, Wolverine, in Uncanny X-Force #34

Death Adder had his neck broken by Venom in Venom Vol 2 #20

Demolition Man was killed by a brainwashed Sharon Carter in Captain America vol 6 #14

Echo was killed by Count Nefaria in Moon Knight vol 4 #9

Fantomex had his heart ripped out by Skinless Man in Uncanny X-Force #27

Gateway had his neck broken by Ultimaton in Uncanny X-Force #27

Hybrid was shot by Eddie Brock in Venom vol 2 #15

Mandarin was killed by Zeke Stane in Invincible Ironman #526

Master Of The World had been killed by Alpha Flight in Alpha Flight vol 4 #8

Megatak was killed by Toxin in Venom vol 2 #21

Professor X was killed by a Phoenix Force possessed Cyclops in Avengers vs Xmen #11

Scream was stabbed in the head by Eddie Brock in Venom vol 2 #15

Ultimate William Stryker was killed when Kitty Pryde phased through his organs in Ultimate Comics X-Men #6

In the sCrypt Comics Universe (includes the novels):

S.H.A.N.E. 2.0 had his body destroyed in Souls 4 Supper the novel

Fox, Liz Powers, & Snake were all killed by terrorists in Souls 4 Supper the novel

Detective Hwong committed suicide in Souls 4 Supper the novel

The Lycan Queen was killed in an alternate future story called “What If…” in Bones At Breakfast: In Case Of Werewolf

Hector Alvarez died of starvation in the short story “Salty Dog” in Bones At Breakfast: In Case Of Werewolf

Pandora, Gilgamesh, Simeon and Miriam had their souls devoured by Cain in Souls 4 Supper the novel

Djinn was crushed out of existence in Souls 4 Supper the novel

Zed was destroyed by a house fire in Souls 4 Supper the novel

Review: Smallville Season 11 Episode 2: Detective

5The moment in Smallville history that I’ve waited eleven years to see has finally arrived.  So the question is, was it worth it?  Here is a breakdown and review of issues #5-8 of the Smallville Season 11 comic, that make up episode 2.  This review will be FILLED WITH SPOILERS.  Here we go.

The episode begins with Lois and Clark in a playful bedroom setting in the Fortress of Solitude.  As I mentioned in the previous review, I love how they captured Lois’ personality, and Clark’s slightly more serious side.  He is so focused on his work as Superman, that he sometimes doesn’t realize how vacant toward their relationship he can sometimes be.

Meanwhile in Gotham city, a group of thugs is in negotiations with Intergang.  While waiting for their meeting, they get their asses handed to them by Nightwing.  The hero takes down the whole high tech weapon armed group single handedly, but as one man flees, he is stopped by The Batman himself, and Bats wants answers.  Here is what I think.  Gotham city is drawn the way it should be.  It’s rainy and dark, and looks like scumbags would be running the streets.  When Batman speaks, I can hear Christian Bale’s barking voice.  The way the artists made the word bubbles show that he is growling in his darker tone.  It works very well for this comic too.  The action and way that Batman and Nightwing take down the group feels just like Batman.  Here are the differences… Batman and Nightwing are wearing slightly different attire than what we are used to seeing, but it is close enough to the source material to still be true and exciting.  At first I had an issue with Nightwing not being Dick Grayson or Robin not being Batman’s sidekick, but I actually don’t mind it now.  Barbara Gordon is the one behind the Nightwing mask.  I like this for the mere fact that it gives Batman a counterpart, and adds to the variety of interactions he has to deal with.

After a brief showing of Lex and Otis speaking at Luthorcorp, and Lois at the Daily Planet, Superman discovers that a thug’s laser weaponry was manufactured by Luthorcorp.  The writers brought back Detective Dan Turpin for a few frames, and then we are brought to a lunch meeting between Lex and Bruce Wayne.  The wealthy business men are discussing Waynetech’s building of a Supercollider in Antarctica, which he is looking for partners.  When Lex declines, they are both relieved.  Barbara and Otis sit at an adjacent table eavesdropping on the conversation.  I love the business meeting, as it was necessary to explain why Bats would be in Metropolis, even though he was there to track intergang’s weapons to the same source Superman found.  What I don’t know about is how they portray Barbara here.  We know Otis is a loof, but they almost have Barbara as a little quirky and goofy.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it just seemed off in this setting.  Not to mention, they don’t explain who she is to Mr. Wayne.  Is she just another woman he is using as arm candy?  We don’t get to find out because Superman interrupts the lunch to discuss his findings with Luthor.

A small cameo by another Smallville/DC character in his jail cell is shown, and then Batman is interrogating Bruno Manheim in a different jail altogether.  Superman appears to show his distaste for Batman’s methods, but Batman is prepared with a defense.  Yes, his chest emblem is harnessing red sun energy.  The Dark Knight won’t have interference, and cracks the Man of Steel in his jaw, sending him sprawling on the floor.  —-end part 1smallville-season-11-6

Begin part 2—–The cover for this comic is definiely world’s finest at its best, but what is inside is better.  Chloe and Oliver briefly discuss the Earth 2 issue, and are still trying to figure out what is coming.  I have to say, this is killing me.  They are talking about this Crisis, and I know I will have to wait for months to find out the answer.  As long as they keep teasing it little by little, I’m fine, but I really wish they would just publish the whole episode in 1 large part instead of 4 that lasts for months.

Batman and Superman are still duking it out, but it seems to be more of a test on both their parts as they don’t really try to hurt each other.  Batman uses kryptonite centered batarangs and his red sun effect to even the odds.  As the battle escalates to the rooftop, Superman discovers what the fight really is about.  Batman uses it as a distraction.  He wanted Manheim to escape, so that Nightwing could pursue.  A quick reference to Checkmate in a few frames, and the Batwing overhead get the fanboy in me going, but even better than the World’s finest duel is when Oliver shows up to take on Nightwing.  I won’t spoil how that battle goes, but it is worth seeing.

When Superman successfully interrogates Manheim, where Batman could not, the Bat is impressed.  He is shown here in the batwing with nightwing, and apparently when he has his mask off, Batman paints the lower half of his face with black makeup in this version.  It makes his cowl appear all the darker.  I’m not sure how I feel about this either.  I get it, but what if Wayne had to show up really quick after a battle.  Does Batman really have time to put on makeup and take it off during transitions?  I doubt it.

We get a few pages of non costumed interaction, which fills in the minor plotlines nicely.  This is probably one of the best parts of this issue as far as story goes.  Okay, well that is until Superman and Batman meet again on a rooftop (I won’t spoil how Bats knows to meet there).  When the two agree that their methods are different, but they will work together, an epic handshake seals the deal.

Oliver further investigates Lex for some harassing emails that he is getting from him.  Little does he know that Tess is still in Lex’s subconscious attempting these methods of communications.

As Joe Chill, who is old, in a wheelchair and needs an oxygen tank, is confronted by Batman, the Dark Knight keeps his temper in check.  After all, this is the man who killed his parents.  I love the flashback frame here.  They made the young Joe Chill really look like Jack Nicholson in the frame where he aims at Mr. and Mrs. Wayne.  I don’t know if this is coincidence, but it is really interesting to think of an easter egg like that.  As the heroes discuss happenings with Joe Chill, a pair of villains 7shows up.  It was the perfect way to end an issue, but killed me to wait another month. —-end of issue #2

Beginning of part 3——  Lois Lane, drawn in the sexiest way with Erica Durance’s likeness confronts the Toyman, Winslow Schott, in his jail cell.  She believes he is behind some of the criminal activity, but he points her in a new direction.  The man he accuses is Oswald Loomis, who goes by the name Prankster.  So, Smallville changed his costume, but this is one of the cases where I think it works for the better.

As Prankster and Mr. Freeze (who looks awesome) attack Batman and Superman, their partenering appears to be too much.  Chill is taken out, Batman is frozen solid, and Superman is shot with kryptonite bullets.  Oliver and Nightwing help the two to get away from the authorities, but now the police believe that Batman is the one who killed Superman.  I just need to say, that I missed what the Batmobile is supposed to be.  While I enjoyed Nolan’s version, the badass car is always my preference.  This entire issue is dedicated to showing how Batman is able to get away from the authorities in order to save Superman’s life.  It is action packed, and in my opinion is the best of the four parts.  The final frame reveal is Loomis and Victor Fries in a sub zero room, where the Prankster informs Mr. Freeze that his kryptonite bullets have tracking devices in them.  Sure, Bats and Supes may have escaped, while hanging onto life’s thread, but with the villains knowing their location, we are left to wonder how they could possibly succeed. —–end part 3

Begin part 4—– Lex and his subconscious conversation with Tess is entertaining, but I wonder how long they can keep this8 up.  It seems like it is going in circles a bit.  The only real progress we’ve made at this point is that Lex tells Tess that since she is in HIS mind, he plans to find a way to access her memories, and anything he used to know before losing his own.  This would mean that he’d know EVERYTHING about Superman and his past with Clark, Oliver and everyone else.  Bad News, but good for the suspense.

Superman has had successful recovery thanks to Batman, and when he awakens, he is approached by Barbara and Lois.  Oh, and by the way, I forgot to mention in the previous part.  Superman did figure out who Batman is just by hearing his voice.  He distinguished the vibrations of his vocals and remembered hearing Bruce Wayne’s vocals in their brief meeting during the billionaire lunch.  This was a unique way to do it, and yet careless in a way on Clark’s end.  Why?  Well Lois is there, because Clark just flat out told Batman and Nightwing who he was and who Lois was.  Its good on the trust factor, but a little risky in my opinion.

During Clark’s recovery, Batman was hard at work.  He built 2 suits of armor, and tracked the villains to their hideout.  How much time has passed here?  It doesn’t say, and I wonder how he could possibly do something in so little amount of time.  I’d only assume that weeks have gone by.  Superman’s new suit is a golden colored lead suit with his “S” on the front.  This is to protect him from Kryptonite, while Batman’s new armor will shield and keep him warm from frigid temperatures.  Neither suit has a cape either.  I do enjoy the designs and variety too.

Green Arrow is questioned by police in the meantime, and Prankster betrays Mr. Freeze.  Now, Freeze is being controlled by Loomis, and is literally a walking nuclear freeze bomb that will detonate and kill everyone within a mile radius.  There is also a very creative and cool “toy” here that is a Captain Carrot action figure.  Another geek out moment on my end.

Now for the final showdown.  Superman takes on Prankster in a giant robot that sort of resembles an oversized Megaman likeness.  I’m not for the look, but the battle is pretty cool.  Of course, Supes’ new suit is destroyed, but he bests the Prankster.  In the meantime, Batman works to save Mr. Freeze’s life and those lives of the people in the city.  We get to see a real quick use of Green Arrow’s Boxing glove arrow.  It had been mentioned earlier in the series as a joke, but has since come to fruition.  Batman of course makes fun of Arrow’s new toy, but it was effective.

And what about Nightwing and Lois?  Well, they team up to kick some armed bad guy butt, and boy do they hold their own.  Well, that is until there is an explosion, that literally rocks the boat.  Superman lifting the whole yacht out of the water was nice because we got to see Batman’s reaction to such an amazing sight.

At the end, Bruce is shown in Crime Alley.  Superman finds him, and there is a brief mention of Alfred.  They basically thank each other here and Bruce offers his assistance whenever Superman might need him.  Clark says he’d offer the same, but knows Batman would never ask.  They shake one final time and part ways.

Oliver thinks about training Mia Dearden to be his full time sidekick, Speedy, but as he talks about this with Chloe it begins to snow.  This is all courtesy of Mr. Freeze’s gun which Clark is flying high over the city.  It is implied that this happens around Christmas time (and perfect because it was released in December).  As the perfect final Christmas gift, Chloe announces to Oliver that she is pregnant.

All in all, it was what I would expect from Smallville.  They created their own versions and story based on what we all know and love.  There were some down moments, but for the most part, it was everything I wanted it to be.  I’m not sure if they modeled Bruce Wayne and Barbara Gordon after any specific actors, but they fit right in with the CW “pretty person” syndrome, if you know what I mean.  I recommend picking up these issues, but do it as all 4 parts.  You will want to read straight through instead of waiting for the next issue.

Episode # 3 review of “Haunted” will come in 4 months.

Review: The Stars #1 & #2 by Earthbound Comics

stars 1Kurt Belcher, writer and an artist from Earthbound Comics, was gracious enough to send me the first two issues of their new “The Stars” comics for review.  I will do my best to keep spoilers to the minimum, but as with any review I have to warn that there are a few ahead.

Let’s begin with issue #1.  There are two covers for this comic.  The first is very colorful and eyecatching, but for me, I prefer the second cover.  It just appeals to my darker tastes.  Those statements alone convey where this comic goes in tones of color and art form.  The vibrant colors within the pages are done tastefully.  The story begins telling a flashback origin of sorts of their main character, John Century.  The flashback is done with old western monochrome tones to show that a flashback is what it is.  This is brilliant in my mind.  I was drawn in to this John Century immediately.  The down side is that when I expected more of his story, I was left hanging on.

As a writer, I understand the need to do this because it is often used to bring people back for more, but as a first time reader of Earthbound lore, I desired a little more.  From there, we are introduced to a colorful team of heroes who are thrown into action against a Middle Eastern terrorist organization.  At first I wondered if the characters were just wearing superhero like costumes or if they really had abilities.  I was more than happy to find out the latter was the case.  It makes the costumes work hand in hand.  By the way… the character designs are for the most part outstanding.  There are a few of them that might stir a bit of “cheap knock off” thoughts in your head, but the writers made sure that the personalities and abilities of those FEW characters distanced themselves enough from better known characters from other companies.

The story then briefly introduces another team who we are left to assume are heroes as well with a different agenda, but that may not be the case, and I am eager to find out what their deal truly is.  From there, we travel to Japan, where a third team is taking down a giant breakdancing robot.  Sound silly?  Even the characters think so, as one of them points it out.  When it is revealed who the person controlling the robot really is, then it all makes sense.  This child who has claimed he is a supervillain gives more originality to the plot.

At the end of the issue, we see a small group of villains attack a hero called “Panzermannen,” in Germany.  I won’t say why they did it, but their reason is evil enough.  The hero is literally torn limb from limb, and inside his armor is a limbless body left to die in an alley.  Being as we never see him perish, I am holding hopes that we get an explanation in a future issue.  Panzermannen seems like a hero with a jock’s mentality, and though that douchiness may be conveyed, his heart is true, from what I can gather.  We are then shown John Century entering a strip club to attempt another recruit for his “Stars” team.

Bring in issue #2.  The cover on this one gives no hints as to what the story inside will be.  Is this a good thing?  Yes and No.  Yes because it is eye catching enough for me to be curious about it.  No because it may not draw in enough readers with the lack of telling designs.  The artwork is very good however.

This volume does a better job of conveying a fluid plot.  The prior issue had jumped around a bit, but that is to be expected in an origin edition. Here we pick up where the end of the previous issue left off, but are also introduced to “The Three.”  These would be earth conquering villains are shown with an origin story that dates back to the 1970s in Russia.  Again, the artists used colors to convey the flashback.  As they The stars 2discuss their plans, it skips around with brief introductions, and in the background it shows that The Stars are being watched.

What is great here is that in the next few pages is content that the reader can relate.  The Stars have disagreement and conflict within their ranks.  They have love and relationships.  They have family.  They are doubtful of their own abilities, but in the end they will do what it takes to be true heroes.  The President of the United States is also featured within the pages, and even though they never claim that it is Barack Obama, the art is a dead on likeness.  Now here is something that is extremely intelligent of the writers.  You might think that a political side might be taken here, but in fact, it is shown that the characters are quite neutral, and that the only reason the President is there is because the heroes work for his country, and he is necessary in such a situation.  Also it is revealed that one of the characters is homosexual.  This shows that the writers are not biased to any particular group, and they can use ALL people equally in their material.

Once the proverbial “$#!+ hits the fan,” all hell breaks loose.  Suddenly the earth is under attack, as well as The Stars live in satellite in space.  My question is where did the funding for this massive and star shaped satellite come from, and how does it stay in orbit at that size?  Another question is what the heroes use to deflect the villainous UFO attack led by The three.  They refer to something called Red Mercury, and one of the heroes looks to be dying from her saving efforts.  The impact of the attack is shown in a few frames from different places in the world, so that the reader can once again relate to the aftermath of the events.  In no way is the story over, but the issue ends here, making me want more.

All in all, my most critical point would be that I really do not like the pages where the frames are turned sideways. I thought this was the case throughout the actual whole issue, but apparently it is an Adobe issue.  The digital reader views the pages this way, but I have been reassured that the print versions are not shown like this.  I read them in a digital file and was forced to turn my head sideways 90 degrees.  It got old fast, but I didn’t want to miss what was there.  Because of this, I recommend it in print over digital.

The Stars is intruiging, action packed, thoughtful, and mysterious all in one.  Earthbound Comics even offers information at the end of their issues on free digital downloads of some of their other works.  I recommend checking them out at www.earthboundcomics.com .  I personally will continue to keep an eye on their releases, and who knows… maybe one day their will be a crossover event between Earthbound and sCrypt.  Here’s to hoping.

Review: Prometheus

review by Rick Pipito

Ah, where do I begin?  Ridley Scott promised us answers with Prometheus.  He delivered.  What he failed to tell us was that a whole new batch of questions have come about.  If you don’t want to know any spoilers, then you should probably scroll down to the last paragraph now.  Otherwise, spoilers will be discussed.

First off, let’s talk about what this movie does to the existing universe of movies.  Because of the revelation of where the xenomorphs from the Alien movies originate, this story discredits both Alien Vs Predator movies.  Not that they were really considered canon, but they take place in modern day, whereas Prometheus takes place in 2092.  Of course this could be explained further in another Prometheus movie as to it happening before.  This also makes Alien Ressurection a much better movie.  The thought of the crossbred human/xenomorph was considered ridiculous by some, but now it would make more sense.

Another thing this movie does is really bring an origin to Alien.  This planet is obviously the planet that Ellen Ripley visits with her crew in Alien.  It also would explain a lot more about what happened, and we see a dead engineer in a chair.

Some people might be confused by the genetics questions.  Here is a little cheat sheet I came up with:  Engineers created the black ooze as a biological warfare weapon.  Engineers + Ooze = human;  Human + ooze = giant squid thing; Giant squid thing + Engineer = Alien xenomorph;  Xenomorph + Human = hybrid from Alien Ressurection.

That being said I have drawn a conclusion.  The squid thing, when it first came out, made me think of the face hugger from the Alien movies.  In Alien 1, the face hugger hatches from an egg, which starts it all.  Perhaps the squid thing laid the egg before these events.

What about the Weylands?  Take into account that Alien vs Predator happened.  Charles Bishop Weyland was in that movie as a human, and it is indicated that the android “Bishop” from the Alien movies was designed on his likeness.  That would give some credibility to the events in AVP then.  Confused?  It gets even worse.  We have to assume that Peter Weyland (Guy Pierce) in Prometheus is a descendant of Charles Weyland.  Since we know the fate of Bishop in the movies, then we have to ask about David’s (Michael Fassbender) fate.  He and Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) are seen flying to the Engineer’s homeworld in the end.  What happens to them?  This needs to be explained in another movie, or else what is the point?

Why did the Engineer commit suicide to create us in the beginning of the movie?  This is not explained, but what we can conclude is that they were dying as a race, and knew that to preserve their own legacy, they could create a new race of beings (human) on Earth.

So, if they created us, then why would they be planning to destroy us with the black ooze?  This is another moment where we have to wait for a potential sequel in the hopes of an answer.  In the same vein, why would the last Engineer try to kill us?  It is unclear as there are no subtitles as to what David says to the Engineer that makes him go berzerk.  By doing a little research online, I found a quote by Dr. Anil Biltoo, of the language center in London.  He claims that the language is based on a proto-Indo European dialect.

In Prometheus, David says: /ida hman?m a? kja nam?tuh zd?:taha/…/gh??vah-pjorn-?ttham sas da:t? kredah/

The serviceable translation to this is: ‘This man is here because he does not want to die. He believes you can give him more life’.

Okay, so I gathered that the Engineer became angry at this statement.  Why?  Humans were created by the Engineers.  They gave us life, and yet we ask for more.  Even worse is that we get our own creation (The android David) to ask for us, instead of doing it ourselves.  To the Engineer, this could be like a slap in the face.  It would be equivelant to us asking God for immortality.

Since I mentioned God, would extremely Religious people be pissed off about this movie?  Possibly, but they shouldn’t because Elizabeth Shaw has a moment where she is speaking about the crucifix she wears around her neck.  She is asked why she would still believe in God if they discovered otherwise.  Her response is the simple statement, “Well someone created the Engineers.”

One more issue I had was that the guy with the mohawk who owned the mapping orbs, was unable to make it back to the ship because he got lost.  It really makes no sense at all for this to happen.

In the end, what is my overall review of this movie?  I need more.  Sure, I’d welcome Alien 5 or even another AVP movie, but we NEED Prometheus 2.  There were just too many plot holes to leave it be.  Ridley Scott claims that he designed it as a two parter prequel, so hopefully it is in the works.  All in all, it was a really fun and interesting movie, that I give a 7 out of 10.


Review: “Arrow” series premier

As a fan of the often criticized CW show Smallville, I was still left disappointed by many things in that series. When Arrow debuted last week, my expectatuons were Neutral. I knew it could go for better or worse. It did that on both ends, but I was pleased with the way the show looks to be headed. SOME SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Good:

The action sequences were outstanding.  Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/(Green) Arrow, really portrays the part well.  He’s cocky and badass with a cause.  Thea, his younger sister seems to have the nickname “Speedy”.  Whether this is a nod or a possible setup, her drug addiction and attitude could eventually lead to her being his sidekick.  Tommy Merlyn is a nice add as well.  Overall, the suspense, action, and the way the plot is revealed in pieces really drew me in.  I have to do further research into Oliver’s list of names, because I’m sure there are a few on there that are related to the comics.

The Bad:

Katie Cassidy fits well in the role as Dinah “Laurel” Lance.  That being said, I’m not sure I like her being called Laurel.   The take of the no superpowers world and change of Star city into Starling city is ridiculous in my opinion.  Why is it so unbelievable to have a city named “Star”?  Of all the things, the name changes aren’t too serious, but really annoying.  I only hope that the “Arrow” name is upgraded to “Green Arrow” as the series goes on.  Who knows, maybe once Merlyn decides to take up a bow and arrow, they will need the color to distinguish the two.  I can’t imagine Dinah Lance being a great part of the show without having her vocal abilities like in the comics.  Black Canary is Black Canary.  Take that away from her, and we just have a woman who can handle herself in a fist fight.  They could have made up a role for that.  There were also moments that felt like it was a CW show.  Bad dialogue, and trying to fit in that soap opera esque feel at times.  They are going for a darker feel, but to me I only saw that with Oliver’s first kill.  Yes, he only killed once, but was it justified?  Would Green Arrow kill?  I’d say in that situation he did what he had to do, but I really hope the series doesn’t continue on making him out to be the Punisher with a bow and arrow.

Final thoughts:

All in all, it was really decent and fun to watch.  The inclusion of the Deathstroke mask and what I’ve seen online as trailer material so far really has me thinking this will be a great, fun watch.  Bottom line is, don’t knock it until you see it.  I won’t review every episode, but I will make sure to do a post season report once the first season is over.

What did you think of the show?  Let’s get a Green Arrow discussion going.

23 horrifying comics for Halloween time

It’s the month of October, and that means we are all gearing up for some Halloween fun.  So, what horrifying stories in comics should you include in your collection?  Here are the top 23 horror based comics that I own, and of course I highly recommend the top 3 for your collection immediately!   Enjoy.

#23: THE SHADOW OF THE TORTURER #2 (Innovation Comics).  This is based off of the novel by Gene Wolfe, and although it was cancelled after only 3 of 6 planned issues, the artwork within is outstanding.  It has a very gothic feel, and is very plot based.  Dialogue is intellegently written, and the frames laid out accordingly.

#22: THE FURY OF FIRESTORM THE NUCLEAR MAN #12 (DC Comics).  When Firestorm is affected by the same thing as the Hyena, he finds himself fighting off a horrific transformation.  As he races to stop the Hyena, he doesn’t know whether he will make it in time, or turn into a beast before he stops her path of infection.  This is a great werewolf story for this time of year.

#21: TALES FROM THE CRYPT VOLUME 1: Six classic horror stories from the Crypt keeper himself round out this must own issue.  Whether a fan of the series from years back or the comic, you are sure to get a fright or delight.  Witches and ghouls are just a few of the terrors within these pages.

#20: GHOSTRIDER WOLVERINE PUNISHER HEARTS OF DARKNESS (Marvel Comics).  I did a review of this one a few months ago, and still find that it holds up to a horrifying story.  Blackheart calling out three of the most violent anti-heroes in the Marvel universe becomes thrilling as the battle goes to hell and back.

#19: CLIVE BARKER’S THE HARROWERS RAIDERS OF THE ABYSS #2 (Epic Comics).  Anything by Clive Barker is pretty much established in the horror world.  As our group of heroes attempt to rescue some lost souls, they are met with possible failure.  Classic artwork, creepy designs, and Pinhead himself (from the Hellraiser movies) are all included.

#18: ALIENS #1-6 (Dark Horse Comics).  This is a direct spinoff sequel to the second Alien movie.  Xenomorphs are at it again, trying to replicate and dine on humans.  There is no color inside the covers of these issues but that lends to the horror feel.  Keeping it a simple black and white portrays the darkness of the movies into the pages of a great comic.

#17: CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED EDGAR ALLAN POE THE RAVEN AND OTHER STORIES. This reads more like a storybook as the text is written that way and you get approximately one piece of art per page, but it is worth it.  The character designs are creepy, yet childish in a way, yet give that awkward feel that you need as you read some of Poe’s greatest works.

#16: MIDNIGHT SONS UNLIMITED #4 (Marvel Comics). Blade really shines in these issues for the first time.  Dr. Strange, Johnny Blaze, Morbius, Ghost Rider and Blade form the Midnight Sons.  From their base in a cemetary, they attempt to track down the demons Lilith and Zarathos, but doing so will prove to be a difficult task.  The cover art drew me in to buy this when it came out twenty years ago, and I’m glad I did.  The interior art is notably colorful for a horror comic, but it is the story that really is the strongpoint.

#15: SUPERMAN AND BATMAN VS VAMPIRES AND WEREWOLVES (DC Comics).  I purchased this a few years ago as I couldn’t believe seeing it on a shelf.  The thought of vampires and werewolves is horrifying itself, but add the Batman who is a master of instilling fear, and Superman being weak to the magic that caused the horrors.  Then you get a fun, not to be taken too seriously issue.  Story lacks, but the action here is really where its at.

#14: THE WALKING DEAD VOLUME 1 DAYS GONE BY. By now, most of you are familiar with The Walking Dead from Television, but the comics are where it all began.  Zombies, zombies and more zombies litter these pages as their victims attempt to escape and survive.

#13: 30 DAYS OF NIGHT #1 (IDW).  Maybe the movie didn’t quite live up to what fans of this comic expected, but that shouldn’t keep you from checking out this issue.  If the cover itself doesn’t send a chill down your spine, then just open it up.  If you are looking for a good vampire story, then this is one to go for.

#12: HELLBOY DARKNESS CALLS (Dark Horse). Until the movies with Ron Perlman, I had only been familiar with Hellboy by name.  After my brother gave me this issue, I immediately knew why he was so popular.  Sure his actual look is a bit silly and cartoony, but everything else is pure gothic.  Loaded with action, suspense and a gripping story, it is worth a look.

#11: RUNE #1 (Malibu comics).  What?  An alien vampire that not only drinks his victims blood but eats his victims entirely?  Cursed with the deformity of what made him what he is, Rune seeks out superpowered teens in this issue only to be confronted by the government and more.  I chose this issue because of how unique the character is as well as the plot.

#10: BATMAN #524 (DC Comics).  Batman facing off against the Scarecrow.  Hmm.  Okay we’ve seen it before, but what if just about every frame in the issue made it feel as if you are the one infected by Jonathan Crane’s fear serum?  Each one is drawn slightly different so that character design continually changes making this story’s art much more interesting than its actual text.

#9: THE VICTORIAN HORRORS OF OLD MAUCH CHUNK.  If you don’t know about Mauch Chunk, then you need to do a search right now…  Okay, did you do it?  Well, anyway, living in Philadelphia and having an uncle who owns a bed and breakfast in Jim Thorpe, PA, this comic hits close to home.  Knowing the history of haunted lore from both locales, the author of this comic created a world that makes you want more.  The art is black and white, and compliments the story perfectly.  By the end of the issue you will be hoping that the author will continue making further issues.

#8: RESIDENT EVIL COLLECTION ONE (Capcom).  This is the first incarnation of comics dedicated to the Resident Evil Series.  Not much in the way of plot as compared to the games, but there is some noncanon fill in material here, that is fun for any fan.  Familar characters in dire situations escalates further as even a werewolf is brought into the mix.  Complete with lickers and more of the flesh eating undead.

#7: MARVEL ZOMBIES VS ARMY OF DARKNESS. (Marvel/Dynamite).  This is a crossover comic that got my inner geek excited.  Ash from the evil dead movies (complete with Bruce Campbell likeness) battles the entire Marvel universe as they turn into the undead.  Complete with his cheesy one liners and constant attempt to sleep with every hot female he comes into contact with, I only wish for a sequel.  Why?  Well, after Ash escapes he ends up in a new marvel universe.  Only this new universe contains a new horror that should be expanded upon.

#6: SPIDERMAN UNLIMITED #1 THE MAXIMUM CARNAGE SAGA. (Marvel).  Possibly the most popular story in the early nineties, this shows the origin of Carnage.  With Demogoblin and the doppleganger assisting in the massacre, Spidey teams up with many allies within this storyline.  Some may not consider this horror, but Carnage is the ultimate violent villain who personifies terror.  Nothing about this story happening in real life would fall short of creating mass panic and slaughter.

#5: BLACKEST NIGHT #1 (DC Comics).  Imagine all the dead heroes and villains of the universe rising again only to be controlled by the most evil force in the universe.  Sure it’s got a similar feel to Marvel Zombies, but Blackest night goes to the very ends of the universe and back as the Black Lantern corp reanimates bodies into its collective.  The decayed faces and morbid look within these pages is just as the cover depicts.

#4: ANNE RICE’S THE VAMPIRE LESTAT (Innovation Comics)Whether or not you are a fan of Anne Rice novels or not, there is no denying their popularity.  The Vampire Lestat may have been one of her weaker books, but this comic makes up for it.  The artwork is VERY detailed and interpreted well.  You have to look to believe it.

#3: LEGENDS OF VAMPIRE (sCrypt Comics).  The spinoff of my novel “Blood, The Second Helping” is complete with ten vampire stories illustrated by 8 different artists.  The variety of artwork, and additional fill in details from the novel stories, make this the single best vampire graphic novel to ever exist.

#2: ZOMBIE INCIDENTS (sCrypt Comics).  The spinoff of my novel “Flesh And Leftovers” contains ten zombie stories drawn by 9 artists.  Not only does it expand upon the universe established by the novels, but it is sCrypt Comics’ very first issue.  If you claim to be a zombie fan, and do not own a copy of this graphic novel, then you do not have a complete arsenal, as this is the best zombie comic to ever be sold.

#1: IN CASE OF WEREWOLF (sCrypt Comics).  In just under two weeks from now, this spinoff from my novel “Bones At Breakfast” will be available for purchase.  Complete with ten stories from ten different artists, and an amazing concept art page, this is the most unique and interesting werewolf graphic novel ever.

And there you have it folks.  My top 23 comics for Halloween time.  Sure, I’m a bit biased about the top three, but that goes without saying.  Hope you enjoyed the post, and if you have any of your own top comics, you should comment below.  I’m interested in seeing recommendations or what you have in your collection.  HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Review: Batman The Dark Knight Returns Part 1

Review by Rick Pipito

I have had the pleasure of watching one of the most unique Batman stories come to life in animation.  Some die hard fans may criticize me for reviewing this movie or even think about watching it without reading the original comic that it was based upon, but I did so because I know how things often don’t translate well from page to screen.  Now that I’ve seen it, I can go back and find the miniseries and read it to see the similarities and differences.  Warning SPOILERS AHEAD!

First, I’ll list the things I didn’t like:

1) Without a shirt on, I’d think Bruce Wayne should have visible scarring.  This isn’t there or even implied.

2) When the Mutant leader calls him out of the safety of his Batmobile Tank, Batman doesn’t hesitate when he is clearly outmatched.  This isn’t very Batman like to not use his brains, but since he is much older (55 years old), I can understand his wanting to prove himself to his inner thoughts.

3) Robin / Carrie Kelley suddenly decides she wants to put on a cape and save the day with Batman.  She’s naive and young, I get that, but that is not my issue.  The problem I have is that her acrobatic and medical skills are not really addressed.  I guess they will leave this for part two since, Batman did flat out ask her.  Still it would have been nice to know.

4) IF we were to assume that this story is in modern day, then it would make Commisioner Gordon around 90 years old.  I know this because he referenced World War Two and his old war stories.  A 90 year old Commisioner would not still be active.

Okay, that’s it.  There was nothing else that I didn’t like about this feature.  So here is where I really enjoyed the movie:

1) Peter Weller was a welcome addition for Bruce Wayne/Batman’s voice.  He sounded older, and his lack of emotion rounds out the feel of who Batman is.  I admit, I was skeptical at first, but for an OLD Batman, he was perfect.

2) Gordon sitting with Wayne in the diner in the beginning established their relationship.  It was obvious that Gordon knew Wayne used to be (Batman), and addresses that he couldn’t believe he was fooled by Bruce Wayne who acted drunk while drinking Ginger Ale, even though everyone thought it was Champagne.

3) Wayne drinking actual alcohol was interesting.  This showed his human side.  Without Batman, he didn’t know how else to cope.

4) The status of his relationship with Dick Grayson was mentioned as being nonexistent, and references to Jason Todd’s death were nice as well.  (Continuity wise with the comics, this wouldn’t gel however, as Jason is now alive in print).

5) The way that Bruce decides to be Batman again is a great buildup.  His dreams, memories, newspaper headlines, two muggers trying to mug him (which he scares away, as he begs them to try to mug him), and a drunken stupor that he drank himself into were really great story points.

6) Harvey Dent.  That is all I have to say.  Two-Face still existing even after his face was surgically altered to make him look presentable again was good, but when they showed a brief glimpse of what he’d look like with his entire face mangled, that was downright frightening.

7) Batman’s age shows.  He has to use a brace to repair his broken bones, but he also hits his victims repetetively.  A younger Batman could have taken them out in half the punches.  His willingness to use guns, and his rifle grapple gun are just another point to show that he knows he’s no longer in his prime.  Climbing a rope was too much for him at one point, yet he managed.  All of this combined made it that much more interesting.

8) At one point, I really though Gordon was dead.  I was shocked, but it worked well.

9) The easter egg in the convenience store was particularly for comic fans as a copy of “Sandman,” “V For Vendetta,” and “Swamp Thing” were on the magazine racks.

10) Batman still instilled fear in his old age.  One person even committed suicide after a brief confrontation.  That is how intimidating he remained.

11) The Batmobile/Battank reminded me of the Tumbler from the Chris Nolan trilogy, only cooler.  He took on an entire army of mutants with this vehicle and although I thought he was killing everyone, it seems he still kept true to his own morals by using rubber bullets.

12) The second battle between the mutant leader and Batman redeems Batman from his first.  This really shows that Bats fights with his brain.  The whole battle is strategically planned, and he takes his enemy down one limb at a time.  In my opinion, it was the most entertaining animated or live action fight I’ve ever seen in a Batman toon or movie.

Other notes of interest.

1) Lana Lang apparently has eaten way too much (not that I have a problem with overweight people because I don’t).  Lana was just known as this smallville girl who later did some journalism and fashion work.  She was shown here as the acting editor of the Daily Planet.  This is definitely a setup for Superman to appear in part 2. (he did in the comic)

2) James “Jimmy” Olsen was mentioned briefly.  (just another hint at part 2 I guess)

3) Before the bat signal was reactivated, Gordon got ahold of Batman on an old, red rotary phone.  This HAD to be a tribute to the Adam West Batman series, as that was how Gordon used to call him.

4) Batman wears 2 outfits.  The first is his classic Blue and gray when he first comes back.  After being beaten by the Mutant leader the first time, Batman dons a darker (black and gray) outfit that is more modern.

My review? Bruce Timm continues to bring us genius work.   I’m going all out and giving it a 10 out of 10.  Even with the things I slightly disliked, I can’t say they bother me that much.  I also have  to hope that those things will be addressed in part 2.


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