Monday, August 31, 2009

News Flash! Disney Acquires Marvel Entertainment!

Here's the announcement... BRACE YOURSELVES...

Yes, you heard right... DISNEY ACQUIRES MARVEL... and the source of this announcement can be read from the good folks at Comic Book Resources and Newsarama.

The news is as shocking to me as it was to a friend of mine who shared this BREAKING NEWS. Now that Walt Disney's company has acquired the rights to "Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends", will we see them holding hands and singing kumbaya together in a boy scout bonfire? Most likely, the answer may be yes. Disney has a reputation to keep of being a family friendly entertainment conglomerate, and now that Mavel's under them, expect waves of censorship to ensue. Personally, I think this move was done in order to compete with Warner Bros., who own the rights to Looney Tunes and DC Comics. The same company that owns Bugs Bunny and friends are also responsible for the creation of the widely successful DC Animated Universe, which has created top and entertaining superhero shows such as Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League.

For $4 Billion Dollars, this is a sweet deal for Disney. They'll be the ones leading the charge for the next wave of Marvel goodness coming in the next few years, including much anticipated Marvel flicks such as Iron Man 2, Thor, The First Avenger: Captain America, and The Avengers! Since they also have a stack full of policies to enforce on their media, including "No Smoking" on any of their films, looks like Marvel's going to be doing a lot of censoring for their material... including the comics. Gosh, I hope that isn't the case... DC's got no problem with censorship (see The Dark Knight), but Disney does... I'm not too excited about the news at all.>_<

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Comic Review: Batman and Robin #3

It's been a while since we've heard from Batman and Robin, but thankfully, the new issue finally came out this week, and with Arkham Asylum making the waves in the videogame industry, fans have more bat-action to read up on and enjoy.

Batman and Robin #3
Written By: Grant Morrison
Illustrated By: Frank Quitely

Concluding the first arc of the brand new ongoing series by acclaimed writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely, the new Dynamic Duo finally crackdown on the mastermind behind the attack on the GCPD and murder of Toad. Almost two months since the last issue hit store shelves, does book three justify the long wait, or does it present a miserable conclusion fans will be sorely disappointed with? Read on and find out my thoughts on the matter.

Damian Wayne is going to find out just how tough being Robin The Boy Wonder is going to be firsthand. After diving straight into Pyg's hideout, he unwittingly gets captured and is about to be subjected to intense experimentation by the crazy criminal himself. What both of them don't know, however, is that the new Batman is on his way save his sidekick, and after last issue's falling out discussion between Dick Grayson and Damian, can the new Dynamic Duo still work together as a team?

With three issues done and more to come, I'm really beginning to love the new Batman and Robin team-up presented in this book. Like Grant Morrison promised prior to the beginning of this series, the whole dynamic between the Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder is reversed, and instead of the mentor being the dark and brooding figure, it's the sidekick who comes off as intimidating. Unlike the other Robins that came before him, Damian really shows himself to be a the kind of kid that people will immediately dismiss as a mere brat, not knowing how dangerous and scary the boy can be when he lets himself go. I never really liked the concept of his character when was introduced to him during the Batman and Son arc a couple of years ago, but I'm beginning to warm up to the lil' guy; he's tough, different, and defiant to the very end. It's also great to see Dick in action as the new Batman. Years of experience and practice have shaped this guy to be a perfect replacement for Bruce, and even if he doesn't want to admit it, he can be as scary as his mentor, as seen in the opening page of this issue when he "questions" someone on the whereabouts of Pyg. Speaking of that guy... he's quite a mental case here. I'm sure that this won't be the last time we'll be seeing this guy, and after all he's done, he already a prime candidate for incarceration in Arkham once it's rebuilt. Morrison's coming up with all of these new villains for the book, and reintroducing some old faces at the same time as well. I can't wait for the next issue now. That's when the new Red Hood makes his debut, along with a female character who made quite an impression in this concluding pages of this issue.

I'm still loving Frank Quitely's art here. His visuals are compelling as ever and tell as much of the story as Morrison's writing does. I know he's scheduled to take a break in the next few issues, but I sure hope he comes back and brings the kind of A-game seen here along with him. In terms of the book itself, overall I didn't find it as strong as the first two, but it's chalk full of enough action and story to bring this three-part tale to its epic conclusion. It also manages to bring things full circle with the epilogue presented in the final chapter of Batman R.I.P by presenting the new Batman and Robin taking down a prominent baddie from that story arc, firmly establishing the new dynamic duo's place in Gotham as its full fledged protectors. I said it before and I'll say it again - this book rocks. If you're not down with the whole Batman: Reborn concept, this should be good series to collect by itself even if you avoid the rest of the other bat titles. It stands alone, and is a good Batbook to tide you over until Bruce's eventual return (we all know he'll be back sooner or later).

Score - 8/10

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Videogame Review: Batman: Arkham Asylum

I'm finally done, and I must say "I AM BATMAN"... well, in this game at least.

In what may be THE BEST SUPER HERO VIDEOGAME EVER MADE, Batman: Arkham Asylum has exceeded my expectations of what a true Batman game should be. That's not just a personal opinion... IT'S A FACT, especially since the Guinness Book Of World Records has cited this game as the "Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever". Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, DC Comics, Rocksteady Studios, and Eidos Interactive have crafted the best Batman experience known to mankind, and I can't help but feel overwhelmingly pleased with the results. I've promised a review once everything was said and done, and since I've finished the game, here it is. Welcome To A World Without Rules...

Batman: Arkham Asylum
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Released: August 25, 2009

This is the game. THIS IS THE GAME THAT WILL TOTALLY IMMERSE YOU IN THE DARK KNIGHT'S WORLD. Forget about all the other games that came before this one... Batman: Arkham Asylum is the DEFINITIVE BATMAN EXPERIENCE no fan of the comics should miss. As someone who has collected everything Batman for almost his entire life, Arkham Asylum is just perfect. If Christopher Nolan succeeded in blowing everyone away with The Dark Knight last year, Arkham Asylum will do the exact same thing, only in video game terms that is.

The Story is pretty simple - Batman apprehends The Joker (again) and personally brings him back to Arkham Asylum, the home of the criminally insane (again). Once Joker makes it to the island, he springs out of his shackles and brings the entire Asylum under his control, taunting Batman in the process. Without any hesitation, Batman dives in and makes it his personal mission to stop and capture the Joker once and for all. However, the Clown Prince Of Crime has other plans in store for the Caped Crusader and Gotham, and if he gets his way, it may spell massive damage for the entire city.

The first thing that is praiseworthy about Arkham Asylum is the graphics. It's just absolutely amazing to look at, and the work and craftsmanship put into this game really does justice to the entire Batman legacy and the world that resides in it. Arkham is a dark, and gritty looking place, almost devoid of sanity and full of all the lunatics one would hardly want to be locked inside with in a cell. The facility has the best security and most sophisticated tech to keep the inmates at bay, but this didn't stop The Joker from wrecking havoc and reducing Arkham to a shell of its former glory. Fortunately, you are Batman, and no matter what obstacles you may face, there's always that driving force and willpower to keep you focused at capturing the criminal mastermind behind the chaos. Speaking of the Bat and all the characters here, the texturing and modeling of their likenesses is so topnotch, and all of this was possible thanks to the power of the "Unreal Engine 3"graphics engine. Everything just looks absolutely flawless, and the rendition of it all brings credence to the comics and the legacy of the characters in it.

Gameplay itself is like an amalgamation of Metal Gear Solid 4, Resident Evil 4, Grand Theft Auto 4, and Fallout 3. It's like the best elements from these games were taken out, used, and combined with the Bat factor, giving us one very impressive game. There's a little bit of stealth and surprise, which you can use in a variety of ways, and this helps in taking down foes if the number's game is upon you. Exploration is also an integral part of Arkham Asylum's gameplay, and as any would expect from Batman, he uses his Detective Skills to solve any obstacle that may hamper his way. While the game is limited to Arkham Island and progression can only be done through the story's narrative, Players can still feel free to explore the wonderful Asylum and its residents, and backtracking will be a necessity too, especially to find hidden items and secrets.

Playing as Batman is no walk in the park, but with enough time and practice, you'll find that he's a smooth crimefighter who's crafty and tech saavy to boot. He beats up opponents fast and flows like water at the same time, countering punches and making the Matrix like moves look easy. If there's one thing that everyone knows about the guy, it's that he's a normal human being like everyone of us. Unlike Superman or everyone else in the entire Justice League, Bats has no superpowers, and he relies solely on his own skills and abilities to get the job done. Over the years, he has trained his body to its physical and mental peak, and he has acquired vast knowledge and mastery over the art of deduction, hence giving him the title of "The World's Greatest Detective". However, The Dark Knight's most powerful weapon may very well be stealth and the fear he instills in others. With careful timing and precision, enemies can be subdued in a variety of ways, from chokeholds to inverted takedowns over gargoyle statues.

While the suit and body make the man, the tech Batman uses boosts his warfare against crime, giving him an edge when the situation calls for it. There are several gadgets he can use to combat villainy, ranging from his trademark Batarang to an explosive gel gun that can blow walls open. Some of these can be also used to traverse obstacles and expose hidden items, and amplifying his puzzle solving skills is "Detective Mode" - a sonic device attached to the lenses of his cowl, giving him infrared and x-ray vision (ala The Dark Knight). This is pretty useful throughout the course of the game, and you'll be using it extensively to see "sight beyond sight". Out in the open, Batman's cape can be used to spread and glide in the air when falling from high places. He can also get past walls and borders via the bat rope, which shoots a straight line and retracts him to the surface. All of these just amplify and turn Batman into the formidable force he already is. Anyone standing toe to toe with the guy better be prepared. He's your worst nightmare.

Arkham Asylum isn't just about The Joker alone, he's brought along his henchmen and allies from Blackgate Prison as well. These grunts serve as the main nuisance you'll have to beat senseless over and over again, and while that's fun, it can also get boring and repetitive at times. Since the game is set on the madhouse itself, expect a lot of villainous appearances from your other favorite Bat-villains besides the Clown Prine Of Crime himself. From the deranged and vicious Killer Croc to the beautiful and deadly Poison Ivy, a lot of rogues from Batman's past make a prominent appearance in this game, and do what they can to exact revenge on The Dark Knight for putting them there in the first place. Also, Joker's girlfriend Harley Quinn is here to give you the hots for her, so watch out and be careful, or she'll be dying to kill you to please her puddin'. That said, if you're expecting al the baddies in his rogues' gallery to showup, you'll be sadly disappointed. However, some of them make cameo appearances, and for the most part, they'll be in places you'll never expect.

Think it's all about beating The Joker? Think again. On the sidelines, Edward Nigma, aka The Riddler, has done what he can to make the entire Arkham experience worthwhile for fans. To this end, he has left several "challenges" for the player to do, practically leaving a treasure hunt in which you can engage in. Successfully solving his riddles will yield prizes and secrets being unlocked for the player to enjoy. These range from bio data to extra levels being unlocked in the game's Challenge Mode. Arkham Asylum has got a chalk full of stuff to find around, and in order to beat the Riddler's game, one must be patient and observant of everything around the island. Next to the prizes, points are given, similar to the ones earned in defeating baddies, which replenishes life and fills up an upgrade meter.Once the latter is full, the game will prompt players to upgrade a new skill for the Bat to use throughout the game. These will definitely come in handy, especially during the combat segments of the game.

If Campaign mode doesn't fill up your gaming appetite, there's the ever reliable Challenge Mode to reflect on in the main menu if you're itching for more Bat-action. Several of the challenges are there to test your skill, and ranking high can earn you more rewards and achievements, especially online with the game's leaderboards keeping track of the score. Oh, and as for downloadable content, The Joker is a playable character that's exclusively available only for the Playstation 3 version of the game. He's only available in Challenge Mode, and you'll have to redeem him using a special validation code that comes packed with the game. How does he play? Well, I haven't had time to try him out, but seeing online videos of him in action, I can definitely say... HE'S INSANE.XD

Well, that's all I have to say about this "most excellent and totally narly made game dudes"! Batman: Arkham Asylum, once again, IS THE BEST SUPERHERO GAME EVER. With DC Comics writer Paul Dini handling the story and A-List voice actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill returning as Batman and The Joker, HOW CAN YOU GO WRONG? It's THE Batman game we've all been waiting for, and I alreayd want a sequel to it, this time in Gotham City. If you want to know what all the fuss is about, go and do yourselves a favor - pick up this game NOW, especially if you're a true Batman fan! It's a can't miss experience that will truly change your perception of the whole Bat-Franchise. Now that I'm done, I can get on with the show and watch the Behind-The Scenes Blu-Ray Movie that came along with my Collector's Edition package (which I reviewed a few days ago, and I must say, ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT). As The Joker would famously say whenever he makes a daring escape - T.T.F.N (that stands for Ta Ta For Now!)!

Again... The best Batman game ever? YOU BET!

Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 10/10
Gameplay - 10/10
Replay Value - 10/10

Score - 10/10

Friday, August 28, 2009

Iron Man Spotlight: The Diminishing Intellect...

A few days ago, I posted a little update on the current status of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, in today's Dark Reign infested Marvel Universe. Once a brilliant and calculating force in the superhero community, Tony's now on the run and his genius intellect has been reduced to a pathetic state. His woes have only intensified as of late due to his inability to control complex machinery, forcing him to constantly downgrade his armor, with his current model being the classic Red and Gold. For all the lowdown on his pitiful situation, you can refer to my previous Iron Man Spotlight Post: the Rise and Fall of Tony Stark.

Cover to Invincible Iron Man #17. Stark's days are surely numbered...

For this post, I decided to focus on just how dire the consequences of Stark's actions were after deciding he decided delete the information contained in his brain and prevent it from falling into Norman Osborn's hands. The process in the past few issues has been a handful for Stark, and now, we see the full effects of the devastating mind deleting process come to fruition. Newsarama provided a peek into the latest issue of IM due next week, Invincible Iron Man #17. It is with this next page that makes Tony's plight all the more grieving:

Using an internet cafe in the middle of Russia, Tony Stark tries to send a simple email to Maria Hill, although with great difficulty. His grammar is obviously suffering at this point as he has difficulty composing words into his message. How the mighty have fallen.

This, and the last two issues of World's Most Wanted, will finally see how disassembled Tony's gonna get when he encounters Norman once and for all (I think). What will his fate be in the next chapter, Stark: Disassembled? Let's hope for the best that he'll pull through as he always does. After all, he is Iron Man... right?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Batman Update: A couple of specials to tide things over...

Batman, Batman, Batman... it's all about Batman this week! I'm still on my Arkham Asylum playing binge, and the game's still kicking ass. It's gonna take some time until everything is said and done, but before it's all over, here's a couple more videos that will keep the excitement up and will probably convince you guys to pick this game up while it's still fresh and hot:

Spike's Batman Arkham Asylum Special! Watch this one, it's a doozy!

Ok, the next two videos aren't exactly Arkham Asylum related, but it's a great piece on the Batman videogames of the past, courtesy from none other than Screwattack's resident shitty game reviewer - The Angry Video Game Nerd!XD

AVGN Batman Episode Part I - Find out what the Nerd thinks of the Batman games of the past. He's all dressed up for the occasion.

Hilarious classic episode.XD Think that was fun? Here's Part II:

AVGN Batman Episode Part II - Guess who's got The Batnerd trapped and playing shitty games?

Now back to my regularly scheduled Bat-playing. See ya soon folks.XD

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Batman Update: Arkham Asylum thoughts and then some...

Why is Batman: Arkham Asylum such a big thing? Because IT'S THAT DAMN GOOD. After a couple of hours into the game, I find myself utterly stunned and bewildered by everything going on around me. Being inside the madhouse where Batman has incarcerated almost every insane rogue he has fought over the years is as spooky and scary as it's going to get, but as The Dark Knight, you've got the strength, skill, and technology to instill fear and combat these monstrosities, ultimately working your way up to do battle with the Clown Prince Of Crime himself, The Joker. Plus, you got A-List voice actors voicing the roles, including the return of Batman: The Animated Series veterans Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, reprising their roles as Batman and The Joker respectively. Indeed, I'm already convinced of the game's superiority, and it's definitely the true Batman experience of this console gaming generation.

Getting a grip of the game isn't as easy as it looks... but it's helluva lot of fun, I tell you.

Since I'm still enjoying the game and the goodies it has to offer, the review will have to wait for now. However, there were a few things online related to the game that caught my attention, and since we're on the subject of Batman and Arkham, here's a looksie on what they are:

Arkham Retrospective - by

Videogame site Gametrailers posted this beautiful retrospective on the history of Arkham Asylum. Of course, the game itself is based on current comic continuity, so it should be a no-brainer that we get a refresher course on how and why the madhouse was made. From its early origins to the groundbreaking and seminal work of Grant Morrion and Dave Mckean's graphic novel Batman: Arkham Asylum - A Serious House On A Serious Earth, discover the purpose of its existence, as well as its most haunted secrets that still echo within the confines of the institution.

Batman: Arkham Asylum - A Serious House On A Serious Earth by Grant Morrion and Dave Mckean. This is where the craziness started...

Speaking of the graphic novel, it's a classic in itself, and as a profound inspiration for the game, it's definitely must read... no matter how crazy it looks.

The legendary Batman NES game by Sunsoft. This was one of THE best Bat-games back in the day...

Arkham Asylum may be playing top videogame dog now, but let's not forget those that came way before it even made a dent on society. For the nostalgic Batman fan, gamesite 1UP has posted an article reflecting on the good, and the bad, Batman games. It's worth a look at, especially to reminisce on some of those awesome games that have defined your childhood, like Sunsoft's Batman game for the NES. Oh, and beware the most diabolical ones that will remind you how awful some translations can be. Batman Forever for the SNES, I'm looking at you.

Oh, and there are rumors circling that The Dark Knight and upcoming movie Inception director Christopher Nolan may shoot his third Batman film entirely in IMAX! If this proves to be true, I can just imagine all those juicy action scenes in one colossal mega screen.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Batman: Arkham Asylum Collector's Edition Review

Today, 8/25, marks the official release date of Batman: Arkham Asylum. Yes, that's right, the long awaited game that's been the talk of the next generation community is finally here, and with its release comes a package you may want to consider before purchasing the game. What am I talking about? THIS:

The Arkham Asylum Collector's Edition. Preeetttyyyy...

This, my friends, is the Batman: Arkham Asylum Collector's Edition - meaning it's a more pricey version of the game with extra stuff packed into it. Boasting a $100 price tag, it's enough to make any bat fan think twice about choosing this over the standard edition, but doing so would reap benefits and goodies the likes of which you may never see again. Here's a couple of pictures, accompanied with descriptions, to show you guys what's inside this beast of a video game release.

A blurry shot of the contents in the CE.

From this picture alone, you'll see all the cards laid out and out for the public eye to see. The CE contains a number of trinkets that completes the entire Arkham experience. First off, the case is shaped like a Bat Briefcase (I'm not kidding), and once you swing the top lid open, you get your first peek at Batman goodness - a replica of his signature weapon: The Batarang!

"It's Time My Enemies Shared My Dread..."

The gadget made famous by the Dark Knight is now an exclusive goody for this package. It's exactly like the one used in the game, and it's 14" tall, held in position thanks to an accompanying stand that comes along with it. After removing the Batarang, a layer of foam covers what's underneath it, with a compartment that can be removed from the middle to show what else is inside the Bat Briefcase.

Arkham Doctor's Journal *cues Resident Evil music while reading document*

Taking the section off reveals a Arkham doctor's journal, which contains notes, pictures, and data on all the freaks and inmates living in the confines of Arkham Asylum. It's 48 pages of pure insanity reading, and something that will make you realize just how much of a hell Batman is walking into throughout the entire game (not that he's not used to it already).

Well, the rest of the goodies... all so sweet looking!

Next up are the last few items on the list - a postcard containing the game's cover; a sticker of the game's logo that contains the access to an exclusive map in the game's challenge mode - Crime Alley itself; finally, the game itself... packed in a nice slip on Blu-Ray case with the initial case being a representation of one of the doctors' video reel collections. That's not all... there's a second disc too, containing behind the scenes footage of how the game was made and done. If this doesn't tell you that your entire Arkham experience is complete, I don't know what will.

All the cards laid out in the open...

So there you have it. Arkham Asylum is finally here, and it's time to journey into the madhouse... for real. If you can't bring yourself to get the CE package, at least get the game. It's practically a must have after all of the stellar reviews and raves its getting from various gaming websites everywhere. Like I said before in my review of the demo, this is THE Definitive Batman Experience that will make you feel like the Dark Knight, and once you're in, there's no turning back... I know I'm not. I'm ready...

Score (CE Package) - 10/10

Bring It On...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Iron Man Spotlight: The Rise and Fall of Tony Stark...

The Invincible Iron Man soars high.

Iron Man. Love him or hate him, we all know he's coming back to the Big Screen next year... but what's happening to armor clad hero in the comics nowadays? I'll bring you guys up to speed with what I know so far, and trust me, Tony Stark's life isn't all fun and games now.

As one of the most iconic heroes in the Marvel Universe, The Invincible Iron Man has endured a lot of pain and sadness in his life that many would have considered torture to go through. He's fought the good fight for the sake of humanity as a armored adventurer, and used his genius and intellect to construct powerful suits of armor to aid him in his crusade. That power, however, came at a price, and he's always been forced to make decisions that compromised his beliefs and friendships over the years. Recent events have led him to do what many readers would see as "The Ultimate Sacrifice", but will his actions be the death of him? It sure looks that way with the way writer Matt Fraction is handling things.

Things go south for Tony Stark... Literally

With the ongoing storyline World's Most Wanted, Iron Man's life has turned upside down. If there was any way to describe Tony Stark today, the word "Pitiful" comes to mind. In the last few years of his superhero career, he's literally become a man who had everything... and then nothing. Rising to the top of the hill as a figurehead of the Super Hero Registration Act during Civil War, IM won the fight and became Director of S.H.I.E.L.D, changing the landscape of the Marvel Universe and dividing the superhero community altogether.

After the events of Civil War, Cap perishes in a hit perpetrated by the Red Skull. This scene takes place in the pages of Civil War: The Confession, in which a tearful Tony regrets his actions which led to the loss of a dear friend and fellow Avenger.

His actions indirectly led to the death of Captain America, his long time comrade and fellow member of the Avengers. While he continued to promote peace and goodwill through registration, he failed to intercept a secret invasion by the alien Skrull race that quickly took him and the world by surprise. With the help of his fellow heroes, Stark managed to turn the tide and win back Earth, yet he was still held accountable for his mistakes. He literally fell down in disgrace when he was booted out and replaced by Norman Osborn after being blamed for not intercepting the alien threat right away. Not wanting his tech and data ending up in the wrong hands, Stark uploaded the SHRA database into his mind, and had the other remaining copies infected with a virus, much to Norman's chagrin. With the assistance of Pepper Potts and Maria Hill, he makes a run from the organization he led once, now reformatted and renamed as H.A.M.M.E.R.

Iron Man is losing his marbles... And Tony can't do a damn thing about it.

Adding to Tony's problems is he's systematically deleting the information he has stored in his brain, which is in turn affecting his intelligence and causing him to downgrade his armor... until he eventually becomes a far cry of his brilliant self. In short, Tony Stark was a made man... and now he's a wanted fugitive, trying to evade Osborn and his H.A.M.M.E.R. agents every step of the way.

A preview of the wraparound cover to Invincible Iron Man #20, which begins the Stark: Disassembled Arc. The Mighty Thor looks on at a shattered Tony Stark; a scene that eerily parallels Iron Man's private "conversation" to the body of the fallen Captain America in the pages of Civil War: The Confession. Pic from

Now, all that Tony has done has come crumbling down. In a sense, karma has come back to bite him so hard that he will barely get out of his predicament alive. While the storyline has a few more issues to go before it ends, we're already previewing the next chapter in what could be the end of Iron Man as we know him. Stark: Disassembled will chronicle what happens to Tony after the events of World's Most Wanted... and will he ever be the same again? Time will tell. For now, that cover from looks mighty familiar... An ironic reverse of what Tony did before everything hit rock bottom.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Iron man 2 Update: Beware Justin Hammer

Time for another Iron Man 2 character spotlight, and it's all going to be about an evil guy with the brains and riches to match our hero Tony Stark in the most anticipated Marvel movie next year! Who am I talking about? Well, here's a hint:

Sam Rockwell as Tony's rival, Justin Hammer, in Iron Man 2. Photo from

Superhero Hype just posted a new pic of multi-billionaire industrialist Justin Hammer
, played by talented US actor Sam Rockwell. Unlike the comic version, this Justin Hammer is young and the same age as Tony himself in the movie. How he poses a threat to him and his alter ego, Iron Man, remains to be seen, but his comic book counterpart has a legendary history that spans decades worth of stories. Let's take a brief look at the man who has given Tony a lot of headaches through the years:

The original Justin Hammer from the comics. Boy, he's old...

A rival of Tony Stark and a brilliant industrialist himself, Hammer was obsessed with achieving power beyond anyone's dreams. In addition to creating technology for his business, Hammer Industries, he secretly supplied villains with all the weapons and gear they needed, getting a big percentage in return for his services. At one point, he managed to gain control of Iron Man's armor through a device he created and forces the armored avenger to kill the Carnelian Ambassador with a repulsor blast. Tony manages to clear his name in the end, but the experience itself was traumatic. Later on, with the help of Iron Man rogue Spymaster, he steals Stark's technology and sells it off to the black market, sparking the storyline fans would come to remember as the "Armor Wars". Because of Hammer's actions, Stark felt responsible for his tech going AWOL, and he goes on a crusade to confront every armored or costumed individual using his tech, whether they be friend or foe. This brought about a lot of ramifications in his personal and heroic life that are still being felt by the superhero community today. Hammer even took control of Tony's former company of Stark International after Obadiah Stane's death, and this would trouble our armored avenger playboy for many years.

In the end, a final confrontation was born between Stark and Hammer after the latter discovers he's suffering from a terrible illness. He manages to infect Tony with mood altering nanites, but Stark eventually gets rid of them and confronts Hammer in his own space station. After a climactic battle, Hammer accidentally gets frozen in ice and thrust into the void of space. Where he is now is never explained, but his company lives on, under the control of his supposed daughter, Justine Hammer - aka the Crimson Cowl.

While Hammer was an old guy in the comics, he's now got the youth and experience to match Stark in the sequel next year. Can't wait for Iron Man 2!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Comic Review: Blackest Night Superman #1

It's been a while since I've read a Superman, and with the exception of back issues and occasional wikipedia browsing, I haven't been up to date with the character's current situation in the comics. All I know is that he's juggling between visiting Earth and "New Krypton", and he's placed his pal, Mon-El, in charge of protecting Metropolis while he's gone. From the look of things, the Man Of Steel's got his hands full alright. However, with Blackest Night happening, things are going to get a lot worse before they get any better, and in the Man Of Steel's case, he's going to deal with a figure he thought he'd never see again; one that can go toe to toe with him at any given moment. The cover alone is an indication in itself - ALL HELL WILL BREAK LOOSE IN SMALLVILLE.

Blackest Night: Superman #1
Written By: James Robinson
Illustrated By
: Eddy Barrows

Smallville is a quiet community, and a place that Clark Kent/ Superman lived and grew up in. It also happens to be the final resting place of one of the greatest heroes the multiverse has ever known - the Earth-2 Superman. Resting in a memorial dedicated to him and his wife, Lois Lane, all is peaceful... until Black Rings rain from the sky and bring the dead back to life. Now resurrected as a dark shell of his former self, Kal-L seeks to spread the word of death around his New Earth counterpart's home, stalking and preying every living being in the rural little town. Even as Superman and Superboy spring into action, they are unable to deal with the situation, and things become much worse for the Superman family when they all find out the grotesque plan the Black Lanterns have for their loved ones.

One of the more prominent comic figures I've come to respect and admire over the years is the Earth-2 Superman. An older version of the character we all know and love, he is also known to fans as "The Golden Age Superman", having a slightly different origin story and "S" shield logo as part of his costume. Before going into details with the story at hand, I probably should give a brief history lesson for those not familiar with the guy... it's kind of a doozy reading about him in wikipedia, so here's the short version of his story:

Unlike our world's Superman, Kal-L is portrayed as an older and wiser hero, happily married to Lois Lane and fighting the good fight... until the events of Crisis Of Infinite Earths happened. Together with his wife, Superboy-Prime, and Alexander Luthor III, they defeated the Anti-Monitor, and subsequently "exiled themselves" into a world akin to that of limbo. Life was peaceful for the quartet... until Lois' failing health, coupled with tragic events he witnessed in our Earth, force the older Kryptonian to take action and reveal himself at the beginning of Infinite Crisis. Believing he could save his wife by bringing back his own counterpart world called Earth-2, Kal-L was instead manipulated by the machinations of Alexander Luthor III, whose only interest was to recreate the Multiverse and find the "perfect earth". After Lois' death and a brutal fight with our very own Supes, Kal realizes his mistake too late, and is there to witness the death of Superboy (Conner Kent) at the hands of a now mad Superboy-Prime. Determined to right his wrongs, both Supermen join forces to stop Luthor and Prime, but he perishes after a brutal beating from the latter, dying in the arms of his cousin, Power Girl.

Over three years after his death, Kal-L finally returns... but as an undead minion of the Black Lantern Corps. Before it was spoiled, I never expected this to happen to the guy considering his heroic history, but let's face it - It was writer Geoff Johns who killed him off in the first place, and it's only natural that he brings him back... in a twisted manner though. I'm sure he'll be using the newest member of the Black Lantern family in the main Blackest Night book soon, but for now, we'll have to follow his adventures in the tie-in. Handling the writing duties of this book will be none other than writing veteran, James Robinson, who's no stranger to the Man Of Steel either. Prior to this tale, he's already done work with the Superman titles, especially with recent events on "New Krypton". He clearly tries to make Blackest Night happen concurrently with that time period, and even the denizens from that world are affected by the Black Ring invasion, as explored in a short, two-page segment I won't spoil here. Given the fact that he knows about all this and Clark's current predicament, I have faith that he can handle writing about Kal-L from Earth-2 and give a clear representation of his actions as this mini progresses. The book also has wonderful art by Eddy Barrows. While the quality is not as strong as Ethan Van Sciver or Ivan Reis' material, the artsyle fits in nicely with the tone of this book, and he draws one mean, ghoulish looking Earth-2 Superman to boot.

Definitely a must read for any Superman fan, Blackest Night: Superman #1 will get you back into the Man Of Steel's game if you feel out of touch with the character. Like the other BN tie-ins, it serves to expand the bigger picture of the series, aiming to please the Superman community if you really want to know how characters from that universe react to the invasion. It might not click with everybody though if they haven't read Crisis Of Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis. Given that this is a Earth-2 Supes story, they might be a bit confused. Putting that aside, the writing is solid and the art is fantastic, and even if the story feels a tad inaccessible at first, the action will carry you through. If the first page of the book doesn't convince that trouble's brewing, you bet your asses that things will be worse once the story's over. The final page says it all, and hopefully when the next issue comes, a backstory will flesh out and we'll find out the fate of Smallville and the entire Kent family.

Score - 8/10

Friday, August 21, 2009

Comic Review: Batgirl #1

It's been a LONG time since I started collecting books related to the Batman franchise outside of the main guy himself, but since Batman: Reborn kicked into high gear, I've been picking up three titles under its banner on a monthly basis. This marks the fourth book I've added to the list, and with it comes the debut of a new caped heroine to take up the mantle of Gotham's "Girl Wonder".

Batgirl #1
Written By: Bryan Q. Miller
Illustrated By
: Lee Garbett

With the apparent demise of Bruce Wayne, the entire Bat-family has undergone major changes to their internal roster. Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne have become the new Dynamic Duo to protect Gotham, while Tim Drake travels around the world to find his mentor under the guise of Red Robin. As the male proteges of Batman grow accustomed to their new roles in life, the same can be said for the new Batgirl, who has more than her fair share of problems to explore. After a random night of crimefighting with the previous Batgirl, Cassandra Cain three weeks ago, Stephanie Brown/ The Spoiler is surprised to see her friend take off abruptly, leaving her costume behind in the process. She secretly takes it home and begins adventuring as the new Girl Wonder, hiding the fact from her mother and allies who know her secret. Her "dirty little secret", however, soon comes to the attention of the Bat-family, and when Batman and Oracle realize who's behind the mask, they aren't pleased with the news... not one bit.

Finally, I picked up the issue I spoiled you guys over with because of the reveal yesterday - Batgirl #1. What can I say... it's looking like a pretty solid book. As one of the expanded titles of the Batman universe, I'm surprised to find myself collecting it, and maybe it's because of the new girl under the cape and cowl; a young and feisty girl named Stephanie Brown. Originally known as The Spoiler and the fourth person to wear the Robin costume, Steph has built up quite a reputation for herself, with an immense fanbase built from her years as a favorite supporting character to Robin/ Tim Drake. Her new role as Batgirl isn't much of a shocker or a surprise, but it's a great way to promote her character's growth considering the way everyone in the Bat-family is moving on and stepping up to take somebody's place in the grand scheme of things. Writer Bryan Q. Miller is evidently no stranger to writing stories about teen heroes, starting out as a writer for the TV series Smallville and moving on to comics by taking over some issues of Teen Titans. His work with Steph in this book is remarkable, showing how ambivalent and reckless she can be on the field as well as with her private life. He also seems to have a clear understanding of how the Bat Universe works nowadays with the changes incorporated by Reborn, and it will be interesting to see how the new Dynamic Duo interact with the new Girl Wonder in the coming issues ahead.

While Steph comes to her own as the new heroine of Gotham City, the book also shares the spotlight with another Batgirl veteran - Barbara Gordon. For much of the character's history, I've always associated the Batgirl name with her, and to this day I still find that costume sexy, (rawr). The one and only redhead daughter of Commissioner Gordon was beautiful as she was gifted when she was still active as the Girl Wonder, and even if she is confined to a wheelchair nowadays, her reputation has grown exponentially thanks to her new role as the legendary informant Oracle. Miller is evidently aware how Babs works inside and out, and fans will be pleased to know that she'll be a recurring character in this book for quite some time. As she did with Cassandra and many others who have tried to fill her shoes in the past, she'll be mentoring the new Batgirl, and it looks like it won't be a walk in the part session for Stephanie either. Babs is clearly pissed about something, and probably it'll be a subplot that will be further explored as the book moves on in the months to come.

Lee Garbett is just a wonderful artist to be tied to this book, and I hope he stays around for at least a year or so. He draws Stephanie and the other female characters so well that they're all so vibrant and colorful to look at. Heck, his Batman and Robin aren't bad either, and that's because he last worked on "Last Rites", a story arc that follows Batman R.I.P and leads up to Batman's ultimate fate in Final Crisis. Clearly, the guy knows his Batman so well that at one point of the book, he manages to draw every symbol associated with the character over the years, from the silver age yellow ellipse to the one used in the Nolan films.

With a great writer and fantastic artist at your disposal, it's hard to call Batgirl a hit or miss title. Fans of the character may or may not be thrilled with the new girl at the helm, but face it, it is Batman: Reborn after all, and it's time for a change. For $3.00, it's not a bad relaunch, and it's quite accessible enough to read, even without knowledge of who Steph, Babs, or any of the characters are. The story will guide you along the way, and as inexperienced as the new character is, it's a good way to see how "Batgirl Begins"... again.^^

Score - 9/10

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Batgirl's Identity Revealed... It's A Spoiler!

The New Batgirl... who is she?

The new Batgirl series has finally begun this week, and I have yet to pick up my copy since the books were delayed. However, thanks to the folks of DC, the whole world now knows the identity of the new Batgirl in town... and no, it's not Cassandra Cain or Barbara Gordon. The chick with the cowl is a girl who's never worn the costume, yet has fought alongside Batman and his allies for quite a long while now.


Literally, it's a Spoiler!!!

The new Batgirl is... Stephanie Brown, aka The Spoiler!

... yes, THE Steph Brown. Also known by her original costume identity as "The Spoiler", she was introduced as a supporting character to Tim Drake, the third Robin and currently the new Red Robin.

The Spoiler... Stephanie's original costumed identity

As the daughter of The Cluemaster, a low tier Gotham City criminal, Stephanie originally took up the identity of The Spoiler to stop her father from returning to a life of crime, which she succeeds in doing with the assistance of Batman and Robin. Afterwards, Steph and Tim began a relationship, as crimefighters and then as on and off lovers. At one point, Stephanie found herself pregnant with the child of an ex-boyfriend. With the help of Robin, she carried and safely delivered the child to term, but painfully had to give it away for adoption for the promise of a better life she couldn't provide as a young mother. Since then, Stephanie and Tim's relationship became even closer... for a while at least.

Stephanie as the fourth Robin

Eventually finding out his son's dual identity as the Boy Wonder, Jack Drake confronted Bruce Wayne and forbade Tim from donning the mantle again. A worried Steph wonders what has become of Robin, until Batman shows up and offers to train her himself. He gives her the Robin costume, making Stephanie the forth person to take up the identity. However, this is a short-lived change, as her recklessness and disobedience forces the Dark Knight to fire her. Wanting to prove herself again, Stephanie as The Spoiler steals and activates one of Batman's contingency plans to deal with the criminal underworld, not knowing any of the factors involved. This backfires and begins the "War Games" saga, placing Gotham under siege. In the ensuing chaos, the criminal Black Mask captures Stephanie and tortures her for information regarding Batman. She manages to escape, but is severely injured, and even with medical assistance from Batman's ally Dr. Leslie Thompkins, Stephanie seemingly dies from her wounds, with Batman himself at her side.

Later on in the War Crimes saga, it is revealed that Dr. Thompkins intentionally withheld medication that could have saved Stephanie's life. She did this in order to deliver a painful message to the youth who would follow Steph's example. Of course, all of this proved to be one big hoax; Stephanie was actually alive and well, and the patient who died was a girl who overdosed and looked exactly like her. Hiding with Leslie in Africa, she eventually returns to Gotham, reuniting with Batman and Robin and resuming her crime fighting escapades. At one point, she even worked as a freelance operative for the Penguin, but this too was just a temporary stint.

Currently, Stephanie's relationship with Tim is rocky at best. Under orders from Batman himself, she distracted Tim from his search of the Dark Knight after he went missing following the events of Batman R.I.P. After assuming the mantle of Red Robin, Tim has become more distant than ever, and his refusal to accept Batman's death has made him severe ties with his allies, Steph included. With her new future now as the new Batgirl, will Stephanie ever reconcile with the former Boy Wonder, or will her new identity alienate the two even more? Time will tell I suppose. For now, go and pick up Batgirl #1, available in stores now.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

GamesCom: Sony brings the PS3 Slim and more PSP Colors to gamers everywhere.

The new PS3 SLIM... Looks like a portable DVD Driver. Goes for $299, 299 Euros, and 29980 Yen. Photo by SCE Inc.

Announced at the GamesCom in Europe a few hours ago, Sony Playstation head Kaz Hirai formally announced the long awaited Playstation 3 Slim to the gaming world. It will be priced at $299 dollars, 299 Euros, and 29980 Yen, and available for the worldwide gaming consumer market on the first week of September. Additional details noted in Kotaku are that the new "PS3 Slim" will be blessed with a 120gb internal Hard Disk drive, and it will be 33% smaller and 36% lighter than its big, big brother.

Ah Old Faithful PS3... still as bulky as ever

Well, here is a look againat the original, and as you noticed from the Slim's look in the pic above, gone is the Spider-Man 3 inspired logo, with the new model sporting the simple "PS3" logo on the right side. More details were noted here, and one particular change is the exclusion of the "Install OS" feature, so there will be no more customization for people looking to install other operating systems in the new PS3.

My thoughts? It's about TIME Sony released this, as well as slashing down prices on the older models at the same time. Since my friends and I own the old PS3 units already, it looks like now is the time for those without one to pick it up. Unfortunately, the slim won't have the Backwards Compatibility the older PS3 units have, so PS2 games are a nada for this new and sleek release.

New PSP Colors. Prreeeeettttyyyy....

Also coming out of Sony's pocket are new colors for their well established PSP-3000 series. The new looks, Blossom Pink and Turquoise Green, are probably going to be marketed to those looking for some "happy PSP fun". Even with the PSPGo coming up, these new models are coming up this November, so anyone feeling a need for something Green... or Pink, you have options available to you.

Comic Review: Red Robin #3

Batman: Reborn continues. My previous review of Batman #689 got me a little jazzed up for the future of the new Batman, and we know that Gotham City will be safe under his watch. But what of Bruce's other protege, Tim Drake? Since leaving his comfort zone to travel the world on what many see as a fruitless endeavor, Tim's life has become more grim and darker than ever. However, he persists on with the belief that his mentor may be alive, making it his personal mission to find Batman... no matter the cost. Red Robin #3 illustrates this fact all too well, and clearly, Tim Drake feels he has nothing more to lose... or so he thinks.

Red Robin #3
Written By: Chris Yost
Illustrated By
: Ramon Bachs

Breaking in and stalking a museum in Germany for clues can be considered as "crossing the line" for some. For Tim Drake, that line was already crossed when he decided to begin the search for Bruce Wayne, alone and under the new alias of Red Robin. With his life turned upside down by circumstances beyond his control, he expected his journey to be all by his lonesome. What he didn't count on was "direct assistance" from one of his mentor's greatest enemies, Ra's Al Ghul. Sending his assassins to keep a watchful eye on him, Red Robin contends with the problems he has today, all the while reflecting on the past that seems to haunt him constantly and the decision he has come to make. Meanwhile, the League Of Assassins is slowly losing its best soldiers to a string of hits perpetrated by an unknown party. How this will affect Red Robin and his search remains to be seen...

Writer Christ Yost continues his angsty run on the new Red Robin's life. As the one Robin I have come to know since childhood, Tim Drake is a character I've come to admire over the years, and it's not because he bears the same first name as I do. Since his introduction in the late 80's, fans have seen the kid grow up and become more than just another Boy Wonder in the Batman Legacy. No, he was a dedicated student in the art of detection, and his talents showed so much promise that his first achievement was deducing Batman and Nightwing's secret identity all by himself. As time went on, he became a formidable fighter under the Dark Knight's tutelage, and his evolution from promising sidekick to a hero of his own gave Bruce the belief that Tim could eventually succeed him not necessarily as Batman, but as the World's Greatest Detective. Now, looking at those qualities and comparing the Tim before to the Tim now... they are two drastically different characters. From a quick thinking, light headed Robin, we have a brooding, Batman like "Red Robin", obssessed with his mission and becoming more introverted by the second... it's too sudden. Probably Yost knows what he's doing to Tim, but the transformation to someone isolating himself from his community sounds too harsh, and too much of a 180 degree turn.

Since the last review I did for Issues #1 and 2, not much has changed with the Red Robin status quo. The penultimate chapter to the storyline known only as "The Grail" doesn't clue in too much as to how Tim's search will end, but it does show more of his interactions with prominent figures in his life. In the present, his dealings with Ra's Al Ghul are likened to the proverbial "Deal With The Devil", while a past conversation with an old friend/ teammate/ love interest goes awkward, causing Mr. Drake to withdraw from his former life all the more. Honestly, I'm not sure where Yost plans to take Mr. Drake when all is said and done, but it's clear that he wants to give the lad a miserable journey staked with all kinds of nuisances. This set up and Tim's attitude still reminds me of Matt Damon's Jason Bourne and The Bourne Identity films, since he's a guy outrunning all kinds of danger to reach a certain goal, no matter what the consequences will be.

On the pencils, I'm starting to feel alienated with Ramon Bach's style. Like I mentioned in my previous Red Robin review, it's sketchy... maybe a tad too sketchy this time around. The coloring doesn't help matters either. It's acceptable art, mind you, but it doesn't fit too well with the dramatic scenes. With a new artist announced come issue #6, I'm kinda looking forward to how the illustrations go there.

With one more issue to go before the first story arc ends, there's not much to say about Red Robin for now. Unlike the past two issues, this one didn't do much for me save for being a filler. Obviously, Robin readers and Tim Drake fans will have to pick this up to know what the former Boy Wonder is up to, and how his search ends will probably impact the rest of the batverse for some time to come. He'll eventually return to Gotham though in the next issue, and he'll be mixing it out with the new Dark Knight himself, Dick Grayson. How that slobber knocker match turns out, I don't know, but I'll be sticking to this book for the foreseable future... if I like what I see as the series goes.

Score - 6/10

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Blackest Night Update: The Mastermind Revealed... (SPOILER ALERT!)

I've been enjoying Blackest Night a lot, and even did reviews for the main series and its tie-ins for that matter (check the archives for those). It's been one hell of a reading rollercoaster ride, and things have been so unpredictable for its part that there's no telling who's going to buy it and return as a Black Lantern in the months to come. I actually prefer it to be surprised that way, and while DC has been mum on most of the details, it had to be the mandatory comic solicitations that finally revealed who "THE BIG CHEESE" is. Yes, I'm talking about the brains behind the whole undead resurrection thing; the man who the rogue Guardian Scar worships; the force that trapped the Anti-Monitor in a Black Lantern Power Battery, and the deity whom Black Hand serves to spread the word that is "Death" itself.


I warned you...

The big bad mastermind behind the whole Black Lantern mess is none other than Nekron, Lord Of The Undead! This baddie from the GL Universe made his debut way back in Tales Of The Green Lantern Corps #2 in 1981, and served as the dark force who ruled over a place like Limbo and Purgatory, siphoning his power from all the souls and spirits of those who ever died. It has been speculated for months by several fans that this guy was the driving force behind Blackest Night, and now that the reveal is out in the open thanks to the cover of Blackest Night #5, their theories were proven right. Want to find out more about this guy? IGN discusses it in an article alongside the BN writer extraordinaire himself, Geoff Johns! And for more info on the DC solicits and BN tie-ins, visit Newsarama's Full November 2009 DC Solicitations link! All answers will be revealed in time, so keep reading Blackest Night as it marches onward!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Comic Review: Batman #689

The Bat-Universe has been pretty busy lately. A few days ago, I reviewed the first issue of Blackest Night: Batman, and that was a good tie-in by itself to get the new Dark Knight and his allies into the whole Black Lantern mess happening in the DCU. Still, we can't be distracted from what's going on in the main batbooks, and Richard "Dick" Grayson has more than his hands full there already. As we continue the saga of Batman: Reborn, a new Dark Knight continues to protect Gotham against familair foes. Even if the world has lost Bruce Wayne, his protege is holding the fort down nicely... even with a few headaches coming to him here and there.

Batman # 688
Written By: Judd Winick
Illustrated By
: Mark Bagley

Ever since he took up the mantle, being Batman was a challenge for Dick Grayson. He knew it wasn't going to be easy, but since he was a boy in the circus, he was born performer, and he relishes on delivering the best performance he can, even as a crime fighter. After a successful hit in one of Penguin's clubs, the new Dark Knight is feeling more confident than ever to continue his mentor's legacy and eliminating crime, but his movements are being monitored by Harvey "Two-Face" Dent, who uses the new Dark Knight to loosen Penguin's hold on his side of Gotham. Wanting to eliminate the pest once and for all, Oswald Cobblepot meets with "another mysterious party", who supplies him with "distractions" to keep the new Batman pretty busy.

For three issues straight, Judd Winick continues his game of presenting "the new and happier" Dark Knight to the comic fanbase. Like the last issue before this, it's already obvious that Dick Grayson isn't trying to imitate Bruce Wayne at all, and doing his own twist on the Batman legend is working well for the most part... almost too well. We now know that Two-Face is onto "Dick's facade" and is utilizing this discovery to rain in on Penguin's parade, leaking information to the new Batman intentionally so he can cripple Cobblepot's territories. At the same time, Dick's not stupid enough to realize he's being used, and he's just playing along until he can discover who the real mastermind is and end the game once and for all. Personally, I'm really enjoying this book. It's refreshing to see how Winick displays the new Batman working in the field, with Mr. Grayson contrasting his own actions to that of Bruce Wayne. While he doesn't use his mentor's methods to disable his prey, the former Robin and Nightwing makes up for this by "lighting up the stage with dazzling fireworks", beating up goons and getting the job done in timely fashion.

For those needy in emotion and dialogue, there'll be a lot more discussions between Dick and Alfred here. Like the last issue, similarities and contrasts can be seen on how Bruce and Dick relate with what many would call "Batman's Batman". Coping with the loss of Bruce must be painfully hard for the faithful butler, but Dick's presence and will to continue his mentor's work gives the surrogate father of the bat family the strength and will to carry on as well. I loved how Alfred summed his role up - "To stand in the Shadow of The Greater Shadow", and while he has gotten good at this with Bruce over the years, Dick Grayson's tenure as the Dark Knight has made things easier for him this time. It's a great moment of this book, and one that I look forward to in many more issues while Nightwing holds onto the mantle.

The big game coming is the war between the new Bats, Two-Face, Penguin, and a mysterious third party individual who hasn't revealed himself publicly (but for those who read Battle For The Cowl, it's pretty obvious who it is already). Harvey evidently is enjoying the new Batman, and while we don't know what kind of move he'll make later on in the next few issues, previews have already revealed what he intends to do. Penguin also stands out as an unintimidated force, and just looks more annoyed than angry at the whole mess Batman has created for him. His meeting with the shadowy guy foreshadows a greater threat in the works, and while they don't see to the pest problem personally, they have some hired guns to do the job for them, including the return of another familiar bat-rogue who uses his powers effectively to get the Dark Knight's attention.

Art again by Mark Bagley is superb. While I can't fault him for his work here reminding me of his stints back when he was doing Spider-Man, the effect is pretty much the same. Everybody looks so youthful and so vibrant with Bagley's sketches that it's hard to believe Gotham is a dark place sometimes, and while I have no problems with that, some people may not be too comfortable with the illuminated atmosphere given in this book. In fact, sometimes I can't hesitate to see Dick Grayson as a black haired Peter Parker wearing a Batsuit instead of the Spidey costume, a pretty amusing comparison that's only justified by the fact that Dick likes to talk and kick ass as Batman... a lot. Also, I'm starting to have a love/ hate relationship with the design of the new Batmobile. While it seems effective, it's not as sleek-looking as its predecessors and I kinda miss that part of having a ride like that. Hopefully since it's going the Batman Beyond route, it'll evolve to that, but until then, I guess I'll have to live with this for now.

Overall, it's another solid issue for Winick and Bagley, but I feel we can get more out of the new Batman creative team in the next issue. I'm not disappointed with this month's results, but I wouldn't call it a home run either. Still, great action flows in this book to make fans give it attention, so pick it up only if you want to see Dick Grayson come into his own.

Score - 8/10

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Iron Man 2 Update: Here Comes Whiplash!

This isn't much of a movie update, but it is Iron Man 2 related, so here we go with the new stuff Marvel is cooking up!
The old school Whiplash... back then, he was just a man in tights and a cape looking for fame and fortune as a criminal.

Whiplash... he wasn't much of an armored fellow now, was he? Don't let the outfit fool you though, this guy was still a devious pain in the arse for Tony Stark's alter ego, The Invincible Iron Man. Pursuits for luxury and fortune caused the man known as Mark Scarlotti to settle for the criminal life. Instead of being an armored clad enemy like Titanium Man or a magic oriented baddie like the Mandarin, he designed sophisticated metal whips and wore a costume to serve a criminal organization known only as The Maggia, taking up the identity "Whiplash". On his first adventure as a supervillain, he came to blows with Iron Man, but only settled things in a draw during their first fight. Subsequent battles had him paired with other known IM foes such as Blizzard and Boomerang, and at one point he came under the employ of Justin Hammer to don the new identity of "Blacklash". However, Scarlotti always came up short in the end, eventually falling to the might of ol' shellhead.

Mickey Rourke as the menacing Whiplash!

Next year in Iron Man 2, veteran actor Mickey Rourke will be taking up the role of one of Iron Man's well known rogues. Hearing the news before kinda felt awkward though. I always felt the guy was better suited to play Crimson Dynamo, and that would've been a perfect fit too considering the need for another Iron Man baddie that could whoop ass in another "armor vs armor" battle royal. Yet, after seeing these awesome production pics and trailer footage shown at this year's SDCC, I gotta say, I'm impressed. Mickey Rourke looks real badass with those whips, and with Iron Man still an up and coming superhero, he looks like he could give Stark a heck of a challenge. To top it off, Whiplash is using the same Arc Reactor technology and chest piece that keeps Tony alive and powers his suit... interesting.

Iron Man fights the new and improved Whiplash from Iron Man vs Whiplash #1! Pic from

In related news, just posted a article announcing a new IM title for one of their November releases - Iron Man vs Whiplash! It's going to be written by Brannon Bragga and Marc Guggenheim, with pencils done by Phil Briones. Not only is the book primed to reintroduce the character to new audiences, it has him sporting a new look too. Taking a cue from the movie, Whiplash will also power his whips via a chest piece, and he has a faceplate mask that conceals his identity. With a complete makeover like that, fans will have all the more reason to look forward to Iron Man 2 now. Can't wait for it!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy 20th Birthday, Sega Genesis!

One of my earliest childhood gaming systems celebrates 20 years of existence this week... in the US at least.

Via, I learned that way back in August 14th 1989, America welcomed the release of Sega's first console, the Genesis. Back then, it was the first 16-Bit system to be introduced to the gaming world, and stiff competition was rampant between Nintendo and Sega, the two big gaming companies at the time. When the Super Nintendo/ Famicom Entertainment System was released two years later, it gave rise to the "Console Wars", a new chapter where both consoles provided the power, but the content and preferences gamers had over the two systems varied greatly.

Since I live in Asia, I got access to the Mega Drive, the official name of the system in Japan. Why wasn't it called MD in the states? Trademark disputes and legal issues prevented the original name from being used, so SEGA of America went around the bush and decided to rename the console as the Sega Genesis instead.

I remembered owning this baby back as a kid, and through it I was introduced to the juicy world of 16-Bit gaming goodness. I played classics like Shinobi, Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, and Bare Knuckle in the black little console, and I had loads of shitty fun playing this thing until the wee hours of the morning back in my youth. Of course, let's not forget the most important thing the system gave us - Sega's blue, furry mascot - Sonic The Hedgehog. Sega released more add-ons for the Genesis that tried to boost the systems performance like the Sega CD and Sega 32X. They did poorly in the market, and eventually the Genesis died out, with the company deciding to concentrate on its next big system, the Sega Saturn instead.

Ahh yes... the nostalgia juices are kicking in again. I love SEGA stuff, and I had a lot of fun with the Genesis. It was a sad day when we sold the system to get a PS1, not realizing the value the system had. Thankfully, I was able to get a Mega Drive 2 a few months ago! All that's left now is to find the games... if I can.