Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Destructoid Guide: How To STFU About Super Street Fighter IV

The title says it all, and I decided to share this one since it's a really well-made post.

Gaming blogsite Destructoid has released a nice little piece of writing that clearly shows why people shouldn't complain about Super Street Fighter IV getting a disc release instead of downloadable content. The article has a lot of good points to share to all the doubters and naysayers, so before anyone goes off complaining about Capcom's newest fighter, read up on the facts first and understand WHY the new game needs to be re-released. With that said, hit the link below to view Destructoid's Guide on "How To STFU About Super Street Fighter IV".

How To STFU About Super Street Fighter IV -

A New Super Street Fighter IV Trailer!

Super Street Fighter IV updates never stop! Discussion is already circling the fan community, and now more trailers have actually popped up to show us how deep this game is going to get. There's a new trailer now from the Capcom Line Up Press Conference that popped up from you tube, and with the addition of showing T.Hawk and new character Juri, we finally get to see Dee Jay in action! Check out the video below!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

First Look At Super Street Fighter IV In Action!

After all the teasers, trailers, and announcements, isn't it about time we see Super Street Fighter IV in action? Well, be thankful, because this video popped up in You Tube, and even if it's camcorded quality, all that matters is seeing it in motion! Take a look!

It's the old guard vs the new chick - T.Hawk versus Juri! Who will win? Watch and see the new moves in action!

Super Street Fighter IV - Capcom Makes It Official.

I've covered just about everything leading up to this announcement, but now I can finally assure you all - the word was made official by Capcom - Super Street Fighter IV is coming in 2010 next year!

With the word out now to the public, the game's official site is now live. You can view character profiles, the game's first trailer (it's a Ryu vs Ken thing... again), and a link to the game's official blog site. Of course, all of this is currently in Japanese, but not to worry, fans and other sites have already translated much of the info, including an exclusive first look at the game by Gamespot. So now that everything's been said, all that's left is the hardest part - the wait! Well, to tide things over for the moment, here's the trailer in all its fighting glory:

Super Street Fighter IV Trailer

I just can't wait. Street Fighter IV has just gotten Super, my friends, and we best prepare for the fight coming next year! Hadouken!

Dee Jay To Super Street Fighter IV!

This is just a follow up to my article earlier, but now that official word is out in most gaming sites, why not introduce another "new" member to the expanded roster of Super Street Fighter IV? Of course, I'm talking about the guy who would complete the original 16 fighters from Super Street Fighter II, and his name is none other than the Jamaican dancer, Dee Jay!

Via Kotaku, Dee Jay's reveal was shown in the latest issue of Famitsu.

With his inclusion and revelation of the other two fighters, T.Hawk and Juri, that brings the total number of fighters up to 3 now. I certainly hope we get more reveals as time goes. Watch out for more updates when information comes.

Gamespot has First Look at Super Street Fighter IV!

By way of Capcom Unity, gaming website Gamespot has released an article that confirms the announcement being made later today - SUPER STREET FIGHTER IV IS OFFICIAL FOLKS!

The article posted up is pretty detailed and comprehensive on what we're to expect on the latest update to Capcom's legendary brawler series. To sum things up, the new game's not going to be released as downloadable content. Instead, a new, separate disc-based game will be released in the future, so owners of the original game for the 360, PS3, and PC will have to shell out some cash once more just to play the new challengers, which include the veteran T.Hawk and the new girl Juri. Still, the post also goes on to say that Capcom has a special surprise waiting for owners of the previous SFIV, so fans may still want to hold on to their copies before deciding to throw them out.

Speaking of the new characters, SSFIV reportedly will feature as much as 8 new playable fighters for gamers to enjoy, bringing the tallied up roster from the original console version, which was 25, to 33. That's not too bad an increase in the number of characters, but hopefully we'll be seeing more as development on the game continues. Yoshinori Ono goes on to say that feedback from fans is an important factor in the changes we'll be seeing to this latest installment, so here's crossing my fingers for some legendary fighters to come back and balancing issues to be resolved.

As for the fighters revealed in the demo, it's confirmed that T.Hawk retains much of the same moves he used back in Super Street Fighter II, with some new additions of course to reflect his transition into the "new arena of SFIV", including an Ultra. The new fighter, Juri, is a Korean Tae Kwon Do expert, and emits the same kind of energy that M.Bison and Rose dish out when they fire off their attacks. These new fighters look promising, and so does the announcement of new moves for the existing fighters, including new Ultra combos, which should change the way we all play the game, offline and online. For more detailed info, just click the link provided above to Gamespot's superb first look post. New trailer's there too for the needy in visuals, so click that and check it out. Super Street Fighter IV is slated for a spring 2010 release. Can't wait!XD

Monday, September 28, 2009

Super Street Fighter IV! It's Official!

Word does travel around fast in the net... but then again, what's new?XD

Via a link at Destructoid, it seems we get an early look at Super Street Fighter IV! With the official announcement still arriving tomorrow, a gaming site has uploaded what appears to be THE actual SSFIV screenshots, with new characters in action! One of them is an old veteran, the native American warrior T.Hawk! And lookie here... a new female babe character named Juri!

Also, it seems the Ultra/ Revenge Combo meter has changed color... from yellow to green! Some of the cats may be out of the bag early, but let's just wait for the official announcement to come in tomorrow. Find more images at the gaming site JV247. Right now, I'm impressed! Again... BRING IT, CAPCOM!XD

"New Warrior" Appears Tomorrow...

2009.09.29 17:00 JST (or 16:00 HKT for us)- That's what you need to know.

Via Kotaku, a teaser website by Capcom has appeared to promote the coming of a "new warrior" on the said date tomorrow. If you haven't noticed the last post, that should be the official word many of us are waiting for regarding the arrival of the update to everyone's favorite Capcom brawler. Let's see how it goes...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Street Fighter IV Goes Super?!

This picture appeared in several gaming forums and websites, including

Is it what we all think it is?! SURE LOOKS THAT WAY. It's... SUPER STREET FIGHTER IV! In the pic, a writer from Gamepro Germany and Street Fighter IV's very own Yoshiro Ono sport a hadouken pose. What's behind them, though, is what's getting EVERYONE talking. There were already rumors of a new game being worked on by Capcom which MAY include characters from SF III and beyond, but there was also talk of the return of two characters who never made it to the initial release of SFIV, namely Dee Jay and T.Hawk. Well, if you look at banner next to the Gamepro writer, it clearly says Super Street Fighter IV. If you're still having doubts, concrete evidence lies in the TV display behind Ono. If you look closely, it's T.Hawk himself, pictured and rendered in SF IV graphics... and in the USA Drive By Theater Stage no less!

Seriously, WOAH. I'm holding my breath, and I have a feeling Capcom will make an official announcement soon. More power to the Hadouken!

After The Storm...

In light of the heavy rains and flooding that transpired yesterday in the Northern RP, I hope everyone is safe and sound and reading this. Typhoon "Ondoy" is finally leaving our shores, but there's much to do to help those affected by its onslaught, especially those who were victimized by flash floods, losings their homes and belongings in the process.

Foregoing the regular postings of this blog, this entry will simply state what you can do to help out during a time of crisis in our neighborhood. It wasn't a pretty day yesterday, and if you're reading this, you may be one of those people who want to do something, or are in need of help. If any of you have something to donate and pitch in for the relief efforts, don't hesitate to contact the local authorities and Red Cross. You can find disaster emergency hotline numbers and info via this link to GMA News here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wet Watery Weekend...

It's no ordinary day today.

For those living in the Luzon area, Tropical Storm Ondoy poured out rain like crazy and made its mark, literally crippling vehicles on roads, flooding various houses, and stranding people everywhere around the metro and beyond. I'm currently tuned to the news, and its not a pretty sight to see people evacuating their homes, with water levels so high that they've been forced to stay on rooftops and high places. One picture a friend of mine took saw an entire underpass flooded... a creepy scenario. For the whole story on this, you can check this news link.

Batman NES - Stage 3 Music

This piece of 8-bit sound came to my mind when I thought of the rain and the severe rainwater. It's old stuff, but given the watery situation we're all facing, I can think of nothing more appropriate that fits the wet mood we all have. I sure hope rescue efforts and attempts to cull flooded areas were successful. Rain's stopped now as of this post thankfully, but what we just witnessed today was no joke. Not one bit.

Comic Review: Captain America: Reborn #3

This has been out for over a week now, but I finally took some time off to write a review for the current issue of this must read series... Did I just say "must read"? Well, yes actually. It goes without saying that Captain America's return was eventually going to happen, but the execution in Reborn was met with lukewarm reception at best, due in part to the time traveling mumbo jumbo that's supposedly the springboard that launches the star spangled avenger back to the present. It's not a concept I'd totally embrace from the get go, but knowing Ed Brubaker, he's not one to be underestimated. He took us by surprise with Cap's death years ago, and after reading this issue, I'm convinced that things are starting to pick up, action wise at least.

Captain America: Reborn #3
Written By: Ed Brubaker
Illustrated By
: Bryan Hitch & Butch Guice
Variant Cover By: Leinil Yu

Still trapped in a time loop that makes him relive the early days of his life, Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, desperately tries to keep his sanity while looking for a way to reach his comrades in his own time. One pivotal moment provides him with the opportunity to do so without disrupting events in history, but will his message get across successfully? In the present day, Norman Osborn has played his cards right, successfully outing Sharon Carter to the public as "Cap's Killer" and capturing Bucky Barnes, the new Captain America, in order to execute his own plans of resurrecting the original. With the odds stacked against their favor, can Steve Rogers' friends find a way to save him and themselves before Norman and his allies have their way?

If the beginning of the series seemed a little too ostentatious, things finally become much more Brubaker like in Captain America: Reborn #3. The writer beckons long time Cap readers and newbies to bite the hook that is Steve Rogers' return, and whether he was successful or not in the first few issues, rest assured, this is where you should start paying attention to what's going on now. It feels and weighs more like a Captain America story now. Sure, the wheels are already turning with the "stuck in time" concept, but finally we're seeing results: Steve is self aware of his predicament and is looking for a way out; Bucky gets captured and confronts Norman Osborn's Thunderbolts; and Cap's allies are still busy trying to bring their friend back, with a few loose ends they need to take care of ASAP. It's a gratifying feeling to know that we're two issues down until the big conclusion of this miniseries, and once this is over, there's a special one-shot issue in December that will determine who will carry the shield once and for all. No duh it's always going to be Steve, but again, I'll leave the writer to decide what happens and, hopefully, surprise me.

While the twists, turns, and action Ed was known for in his regular Cap run are present in this book, I still find some irregularities and quirks that need some proper explanation before the series concludes in the way we think it will. For instance, in one flashback, Cap speaks to the Vision and asks him to "save, delete, and bury" information that his allies could find in the present. It's a pretty convenient way to get his location across, and somewhat impossible given the means and the situation. Also, Bru makes Steve body "mysteriously vanish into thin air", leaving Reed Richards and Namor stumped as to how it happened. I myself can't fathom how it just disappeared before their eyes, but again, it'll probably be explained in the next issue. It could be the work of the time loop concept... or a hidden agenda perpetrated by the Red Skull and his minions. Speaking of Cap's mortal enemy, he makes his big comeback here. Last seen in the monumental issue #600, Skull's not been himself lately, trapped in a new body that wasn't his choice to begin with. Fortunately, thanks to the machinations of Arnim Zola and Norman Osborn, he can finally make his move, and he's got his daughter Sin and trusted bodyguard Crossbones back with him. I'll admit, the Skull sequence is another cliffhanger that's making itch to read the next issue already, but its great that Bru's bringing him in now. After all, it wouldn't be a Cap book without good ol' Reddy to oppose the red, white, and blue.

If I wasn't aware that this was a Cap book, I'd still be mistaking Bryan Hitch's pencils here for his previous work, The Ultimates. Guaranteed, the art will blow readers away and does the story great justice, but for someone who has always appreciated Hitch's work on the Ultimate universe, it's still hard to think of this as an Earth 616 story. At least the book is getting the results it needs - flashy, spectacular art direction. I also have to commend Butch Guice for keeping up the pace when partner artist's hands are tied. His work is just as remarkable as Hitch's, and sometimes I can't really tell the difference between the two unless I take a clear and closer look. The variant cover art by Leinil Yu (pictured above) is stunning as well, and alongside the regular cover, it makes for great posters to buy in the future should Marvel ever release it.

Again, Captain America: Reborn delivers another solid read fans wouldn't dare want to miss. It still has a lot of confusing, Quantum Leap moments, but there are enough action scenes and funny bits that balances things out, which should give the Cap reader reassurance that things are going to be alright from here on out. I'm expecting a big pay-off for myself and everyone investing on this series, and I'm not just talking about the obvious return of Steve Rogers. As I said, Bru and company may have something up their sleeves, and we'll just have to bare with this time traveling rollercoaster ride until the big reveal shows itself and sees things through. So far, things are getting better.

Score - 7/10

Friday, September 25, 2009

Comic Review: Blackest Night Superman #2

With all the madness happening in the video game world this week thanks to the major Japanese gaming event that is the Tokyo Game Show, how could I forget my dip into this week's comic book goodness? Earlier, I had to chance to take a look at some new titles that are either beginning and ending some pretty classic runs this week. On the fresh-o-meter, we have Geoff John's take on the secret origin of the Man Of Steel with Superman: Secret Origin. Alongside that, Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev breath new life to the upside down world of Jessica Drew with the release of Spider-Woman #1. Finally, Mark Millar's epic run on the geriatric days of Wolverine ends with the final chapter to Old Man Logan, chronicled in the mega-sized Wolverine: Old Man Logan Special #1. All these books are solid buys... but I'll most probably get the trades instead. For now, I'll continue with the books I'm currently collecting, and for this week, it's Blackest Night: Superman #2.

Blackest Night: Superman #2
Written By: James Robinson
Illustrated By
: Eddy Barrows

It only took one night for all hell to break loose on the quiet town of Smallville. Resurrected as Black Lanterns, Kal-L, The Earth 2 Superman, and his wife Lois Lane have attacked the quiet suburb and have set their sights on Superman and his family. Digging up the coffin of Jonathan Kent and kidnapping his wife Martha, the undead couple intend to reunite the two in death. Fortunately, Superman and Superboy are able to stop the unholy process from occurring, only to have a more grueling battle waiting for them in the form of the newly resurrected Psycho Pirate. While Superman's hometown suffers from provoked emotional frenzy, New Krypton's fate lies in the balance, as Supergirl has to do the unthinkable: take down her undead father, Zor-El.

Lately, I've been enjoying the Blackest Night tie-ins more and more, as each issue delves into other people affected by the event at an emotional scale. It's no surprise that the major players of the Crisis Of Infinite Earths saga are "reborn" as Black Lanterns since many of them are dead, but what I AM surprised about is their new and radical ways of thinking. Recently revealed in Blackest Night #3, Black Lanterns feed off the emotions inside every individual and use it as a homing beacon to stalk their prey, in a manner most similar to Sharks attracted to the blood of their victims in the open sea. It's quite obvious that Kal-L and Lois Lane are perverse versions of their former selves, but I can't quite say the same for the Psycho Pirate. After getting his face blown to bits by Black Adam in the pages of Infinite Crisis, the manipulator of emotions is back, and his power has probably tripled after his resurrection, instilling every kind of twisted emotion on the helpless inhabitants of Smallville. To say that things just got worse is an understatement, this guy has made Supes' hometown his playground, and he's loving every second of it.

On the story itself, James Robinson's writing capabilities are enjoyable enough. It's neat, fresh, and straightforward action and terror all around. You won't find anything that you'll have to dig through other than some back issues pertaining to some of the undead faces involved. His take on Supes has some flaws though. Personally, I would think that Clark has enough experience as a hero to take charge when the situation looks intense, but here he feels a little too confused and naive at what's happening, and probably it makes sense since he and the rest of the world are dealing with the Black Lanterns for the very first time. I do enjoy his futile efforts to reach out to Kal-L, since it makes the latter look so powerful and manipulative at the same time. Those reading Adventure Comics and Supergirl may be more familiar with what's happening to the boy and girl of steel, but as someone who hasn't touched on recent facts related to them aside from wikipedia, I only have this book to follow and bring me up to speed. Still, everything's fleshed out and going so smoothly. The bad guys are kicking ass, and the good guys are on the way to getting retribution... hopefully.

Art is without a doubt one of the book's highlights. Eddy Barrows does his magic and shows just how pretty and ugly Smallville is during the events of BN, and for his take on Superman and company, I can't think of a better artist to handle the story other than him. Probably the most eyecatching scene for this issue is the triumphant return of the Psycho Pirate. Barrows illustrates how deadly his powers of emotion manipulation can be, from the moment one person clips his neighbor to the time Superboy falls under his spell and attacks his mentor. The only drawback I can think of is how Kara is portrayed when she confronts her dead dad. Her teary-eyed demeanor is understandable, but did that have to tie in with that dreadful looking "emo-punch" she landed to her parental unit? That didn't look good there at all, but that aside, the pencils are all good here, especially if you're one to look for explosive art and visuals.

With a month to go before this series wraps up, BN: Superman's second issue is a strong follow to the previous book and a good tie-in for those hungry for more Blackest Night goodness. Like I mentioned with the first issue's review, it may alienate those not familiar with the Crisis Characters, but follow the narrative enough and you won't even have to research on these guys. The book can stand on its own, and it just presents itself as another sticky situation the Man Of Steel and his allies have to get out of before they end up dead meat. Sure enough, something bad's gonna happen later and beyond this book, and I'm keeping the suspense up for the climactic battle between good and evil (dead). The price tag alone is not bad at all, and it has enough action and drama to keep you interested, especially if you're a Superman fan.

Score - 8/10

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pre-TGS Madness: Some Exciting Gaming News...

Oooh gaming news... Lots and lots of gaming news.

Hot on the heels of this week's Tokyo Game Show, a couple of announcements made by various gaming companies suddenly fueled my expectations and made me more hopeful for what's to come in the next year or so. Most of these were reported by the good folks from Kotaku, so read away and get pumped before we hear more major announcements in the next few days:

Resident Evil 5's getting a director's cut? That's what Patricia Ja Lee, the voice of Jill Valentine in RE5, is saying. Speculation still up in the air, and it could just be a new DLC the game's getting, but the word is out via Kotaku, so you check the news link here.

I'm still crossing my fingers about Yakuza 3 making it stateside, but SEGA already promises to show the next installment in the series in the TGS. A sneak peak of the trailer has already made its way to Kotaku, so take a looksie at the vid above if you're curious about what Mr. Kiryu's going to deal with next in Yakuza 4.

We all know about that God Of War Collection coming out at the end of this year, but did you know that Sony's bundling a voucher along with it that will allow you to download and play the exclusive demo of God Of War III? I find it hard to believe myself, but it's about damn time we get a taste of Kratos' new adventure before the game hits next year.

Kotaku has an article up showcasing more characters that will be appearing in Hideo Kojima's new and upcoming Metal Gear game for the PSP, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. While most of them are relatively new, one of them is an old face that makes his long awaited return (or debut to be chronologically precise) in the series. I'm talking about none other than McDonell "Master" Miller, FOXHOUND's Survival Trainer who was killed and replaced by Liquid Snake during the events of MGS1. It's good to see the expert back in an MGS game, but what will his role be? Time will tell for sure.

Arc Systems has announced a new expansion to Blazblue, their latest fighter and the spiritual successor to the Guilty Gear series. Entitled "Blazblue: Continuum Shift", the expansion will include the once unplayable character Tsubaki Yayoi as the latest addition to the game's growing roster. New stages and a refined HUD are also expected with the new release, so am looking forward to this update by next year.

That's about it for now. Here's to more major announcements to come in the TGS. I hope to get blown away by the surprises... if there's any.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Comic Review: Batman and Robin #4

Batman and Robin... it's a must read for everyone, and no, I'm not exaggerating at all.

The first arc, masterfully woven together by writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely, introduced the DC readership to the new faces behind the Dynamic Duo. Richard "Dick" Grayson takes over as Batman, while the hot-tempered Damian Wayne fills in the open sidekick slot as Robin. In a reversal of roles, we have a light-hearted Dark Knight and a dark natured Boy Wonder, so you imagine the possibilities open to showcase fresh new adventures for Gotham's guardian angels. Their first case together was somewhat of a rocky start, but both managed to work together in the end to successfully capture a sick and twisted criminal mastermind going under the alias of "Pyg". Now that he's behind bars, you'd think the new "Bats and Bobin" could rest easy. Alas, there's another team making their presence known in "the war against crime", and they're literally going to paint the town red... with one criminal at a time.

Batman and Robin #4
Written By: Grant Morrison
Illustrated By: Philip Tan
Cover By: Frank Quitely

With their first case solved successfully, the new Batman and Robin continue to protect Gotham by cracking down other criminal elements plaguing the city. Unfortunately, someone else has beaten them to the punch, leaving a trail of blood and dead criminals on their feet. The mysterious Red Hood has returned, and this time he's not alone. Accompanying him is his enigmatic new female partner named Scarlett, who's traumatizing encounter with Pyg has left her emotionally scarred and attached to a twisted doll-like mask. Taking the mantra "Let The Punishment Fit The Crime" to heart, the new and twisted "Dynamic Duo" of Gotham intend to leave their mark on the criminal underworld, and if Batman and Robin get in their way, they may just be the next to go as well.

Having established his new Bat-team through the first three issues of this book in a convincing manner, Grant Morrison leads the charge in Batman And Robin #4 by beginning his second Bat-arc in the title and introducing the return of the "new and improved" Red Hood. Obviously, long time Batman readers like myself will immediately point out that it's the return of Jason Todd, but is it really the black sheep of Bat family under that hooded ornament? I want to be surprised, and hopefully Morrison has some tricks up his sleeve in the next two issues before this story reaches its conclusion. Still, Red Hood shows some Todd like behavior, including his twisted take on how crime must be dealt with: severely and painfully. His views on vigilantism are the polar opposite of Batman's, and that leaves one to wonder how effective Dick Grayson can be in Bruce Wayne's stead. Granted, the former Nightwing shares his mentor's vision and mission on dealing with crime, but he's not the same kind of Batman we're used to. However, he has proven himself effective time and again, and there's no doubt in my mind that if we ever needed a good replacement to the cowl, it would definitely have to be Dick.

Amusingly, Morrison makes good use of Scarlett, the confused "Papa's girl" from the Pyg arc who's now turned into a blade wielding killer. As innocent as she is, Scarlett's become just as repulsed by crime as anyone brought to the brink, and through the manipulations of the Red Hood, she's striking fear to the hearts of criminals... and carving them out at the same time. I like the fact that she actually "tweets" her adventures in Twitter via an iPhone, and shows no remorse or guilt for her actions at all. There's also a moment in the book between her and the Red Hood that leaves one to wonder if her mask is permanently attached to her face, or that she's simply too delusional already to remove it, convincing herself that doing so would only make things worse. In either case, these two share a partnership that's just as effective as the Bats and Bobin, so I'm looking forward to more "crimefighting" escapades from these two in future issues. They serve as the perfect foil, willing to cross the line and make a statement at the same time.

In regards to the Batman and Robin team up, we get plenty more funny moments with Dick and Damian. During a stakeout to crash into Penguin's meeting with elements of the criminal underworld, more dynamic is shown between two opposing sides of the partnership. Being impatient as ever, the new Boy Wonder wants nothing better to do than to kick ass and take names, while the new Bats does what he can to show the ropes, no matter how irritating his new bratty sidekick can be. Again, Morrison is good at showing off the goofy moments this team up can have, especially during its humble beginnings. As far as addressing the Bruce Wayne situation is concerned, that was tackled in the other ongoing series, Batman: Streets Of Gotham, and is quickly reflected here during a party scene in Wayne Tower, which introduces another new character that could be a key figure in the next few issues.

In the art department, a rotation finally occurs, as Philip Tan steps in to take over the pencil duties for this story arc. Needless to say, his work is fantastic. I like Frank Quitely's sketches, don't get me wrong, but Tan's work is a great change that goes well with the dark and gritty action found all over this book. He draws a pretty mean Batman... but he makes more of an impression with his work on the Red Hood and Scarlett, particularly during the first and last scenes of the book. Tan's a natural, and even after he's done with this tale, I look forward to more of his works involving the Bat if DC decides to get him again.

Once again, DC makes a statement with their new flagship Bat-title, and I couldn't be more impressed with the results. Even if you didn't pick up the first three issues, this is a good jumping in point for the needy Batman fan. It's got enough heart-stopping action and suspense, plus colorful and memorable characters you won't be forgetting anytime soon. It's back to basics for Grant Morrison, and before he puts Bruce Wayne back in the mantle of the Bat, I'd like to have some more solid new adventures like this one keeping me freshly satisfied. Indeed, The Fight For Crime Grows Up... Literally.

Score - 10/10

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Spotlight: Bio Hazard 3: Last Escape/ Resident Evil 3: Nemesis

Today marks another anniversary in the world of gaming. As someone who's been to hell and back with several titles over the years, probably one of the most series that capitalized on my hyper Playstation days was the entire Resident Evil franchise. Better known as "Bio Hazard" in Japan, Capcom sparked what would be known as the "Survival Horror" genre by creating a game that featured zombies, biological monsters, and an environment that seemingly had no intention of letting you survive. Better yet, you had protagonists players actually cared about, tooling them with all kinds of weapons you could scavenge around to help their chances of escaping and blowing off monsters without losing your head in the process. That was the endearing aspect of the games thus far, but one installment made you realize you couldn't just run-and-gun the way you want to. Capcom learned from Resident Evil 2's Mr. X that a predator stalking its prey was the ideal way to go, and for its next game, they blew the shit out of the fan by introducing a new monster that was just as relentless as the game's main protagonist.

On September 22, 1999, Capcom released Bio Hazard 3: Last Escape, a game that sets itself before AND after the events of Bio Hazard 2. Once again, players take control of Jill Valentine, a member of S.T.A.R.S (Special Tactics And Rescue Service) and one of the few people who escaped "The Mansion Incident" chronicled in the first BH game. Two months after that incident, Jill resigns from S.T.A.R.S and decides to pursue the ones responsible, the Umbrella Corporation, alongside her teammates. Unfortunately, she remains in Raccoon City a bit longer than expected, and she is one of the unfortunate people to be present when the T-Virus Outbreak hits the entire populace. With no time to lose, Jill makes a break for it and does what she can to leave the city in one piece (making it her "Last Escape" as the title of the game implies in Japan).

This game does bring back a lot of memories for me. I actually played the import version since I couldn't contain my excitement any longer, and it was the very first Resident Evil/ Bio Hazard game to incorporate a feature not replicated in any other installment thus far. What I'm talking about is none other than main bad guy himself, aptly called "Nemesis". A Tyrant hybrid that was made using existing samples of the G-Virus, Nemesis is one guy you don't want to mess around with. He stalks Jill at every turn, and appears out of nowhere most of the time, breaking walls and doors by just ramming through them. The black trench coat he wears isn't just for show, for deep inside that oversized cloak of his houses lots of weaponry, primarily a rocket launcher he uses to try and blow Ms. Valentine to bits. Yes, Nemesis was one tough SOB to kill, but facing him and putting him down (provided you had the ammo for it) yielded lots of rewards, including some custom ammo for Jill to use in the game.

Brad gets killed by Nemesis. Ouch.

Ironically, Nemesis is also responsible for killing Brad "Chicken Heart" Vickers, the helicopter pilot from BH1 who mysteriously returned in BH2 as a zombie. Now we know how he bought the farm... what a way to go.

Similar to previous installments, players had to guide Jill around Raccoon City, collecting weapons and fending off hordes of the undead and all kinds of monstrosities from Umbrella. Unlike previous games, however, RE3 was a single player campaign once more, only allowing players to play Jill's adventure and removing the Zapping System from the game entirely. However, there were new inclusions that made the game as iconic as the rest of the series. For one, Jill could make a quick 180 degree turn, and she was equipped with an item that allowed her to mix, match, and create all kinds of ammo for her existing weapons in the game. Adding to the RPG elements was the ability to make "split decisions" via Live Selection Mode, which would get Jill out of sticky situations and change her path for the better... or for the worse. Jill could also move up and down stairs freely without pressing the action button, but enemies could follow her in the process, ESPECIALLY the Nemesis.

Gameplay from The Mercenaries - Operation:Mad Jackal

While the game was still primarily Jill's, players still had someone assisting them throughout the course of the adventure In this case, a man named Carlos Oliveira, a member of the Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasures Service (UCBS), was there to assist Ms. valentine when the situation called for it, even allowing players to control him when Jill was incapacitated for a few days. Other members of Carlos' UBCS unit also managedto survive, notably Mikhail Victor and Nicholai Ginovaef. The latter was, in fact, the villain of the game, and did a lot of dirty work in the shadows to eliminate evidence and get back combat data to Umbrella. These three soldiers are also playable characters in the unlockable minigame called "The Mecenaries - Operation: Mad Jackal", a great survival game that reaps a lot of rewards that can be used in the main game if one actually succeeds.

Bio Hazard 3/ Resident Evil 3 Intro

In the end, Bio Hazard 3 was another milestone achievement for the series 10 years ago, if not one of the best games in the series' long but well documented history. There were two endings one could get depending on the decisions made in the game, but the end result was the same: you got out alive. Upon completion, players got ahold of several items they could use in the next game, including a special key Jill could use to enter a shop early in the game that had tons of outfits she could change to and use throughout the game. Most notable among these is her original outfit from the original Bio Hazard, and another which has her dressed up as Regina, the protagonist from another Capcom game that also celebrates 10 years of existence: Dino Crisis. Yeah, there were lots of games produced by Capcom back then that were iconic, and to this day, many of them still are, including this one. Oh yeah, the game also inspired the plot of the second live action RE movie, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, the second non-canonical Paul W.S. Anderson directed movie that stars Milla Jovovich. Jill and Nemesis were there too... talk about inspiring figures, hehehe. The game also saw subsequent rereleases for the dreamcast and gamecube, the former having just celebrated 10 years of existence earlier this month as well, whoo! Overall, Bio Hazard 3: Last Escape is a classic, and continues to serve as an inspiration to other survival horror games. One of them, Left 4 Dead, actually pays homage to the game via a mod that beautifully recreates the first area of the game. Check it out!

That was beautiful! Happy 10 years, Nemesis!

"You're An Amazon Jill!" - Brad Vickers to Jill Valentine as he drops the Rocket Launcher to kill the T-002 in the final battle of The Mansion Incident.

Movie Review: Gamer

It's been over a month since I saw a movie in theaters, and with the exception of Distict 9, I haven't felt compelled to see anything lately. Sure, there was UP... but that film was LONG Overdue, and while I still enjoyed watching it in the big screen, I really wanted to see it at its official launch date. Still, no new movies have come up in the horizon save for one or two I find a bit interesting, and while I like some concepts, they don't really make me want to jump and rush into the mall just to see a movie immediately. Fortunately, I finally took time to catch a flick I did want to see, but only saw a limited release in selected theaters. It's a film that sees 300's Gerard Butler back to what he does best - kicking ass and sounding like a major tough guy who means business. For my 100th post here, this will do nicely:

Movie: Gamer
Starring: Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall, Logan Lerman, Kyra Sedgwick
Directed By: Neveldine/ Taylor

Gamer has gotta be one of the most whacked up and brilliant concepts ever made into a film. It has humanity falling head over heels with video game concepts we've come to know and love in this era, only it's become much more realistic in the year 2034. A self-made billionaire named Ken Castle has bestowed the entire human race with a game that allows them to fulfill their hearts desires at the comfort of their own homes - Society - an online game that has the users controlling real people in a pseudo community. This has sealed Castle's reputation as a certified genius, but his next game is one that truly gets the fans into a frenzy. Slayers, his latest creation, is a game wherein the most sadistic criminals and convicts in deathrow get thrown in to do battle against each other, using guns, explosive devices, and their own physical attributes in a Battle Royal-esque death match. Winning 30 of these "games" gives the winner a full release and pardon from the government as a reward, and only one person has come close to this goal - a man named Kable (the role played by Gerard Butler).

Needless to say, the movie is full of nods to a lot of video games, past and present. The highlights, of course, are FPS (First Person Shooter) and Action Games that Slayer bases itself on, most notably the Call Of Duty and Gears Of War series. Like these games, a user guides the actions of a Slayer, and in Kable's case, it's under the control of a spoiled rich kid named Simon (played by Logan Lerman). As a 17 year old, he sees the world as a gaming paradise, while Kable has to go through lots of shit to satisfy the audience. In Society, Players "customize" real life people and have them interact with one another in a "virtual world" that's more of a restricted area dedicated to the entire game. It's pretty much a world where society depends on technology a lot... and loses any semblance of free will at the same time. That's where the activist group called Humanz comes in, attacking Castle and his games to spread the word that human life is being manipulated and controlled by the nanotech without them knowing it.

In addition to the gore deathmatch concept found influenced by Battle Royal, the movie also reminds me of the futuristic film, Blade Runner, with so much people depending on technology that it actually breaches everything we know about morality. Having someone literally controlling your actions through the power of nanotechnology is a real creepy concept, and while it may look fun from a user's perspective, it sure is a life in hell for the convicts and society avatars putting their whole lives and reputation on the line. Fortunately for Butler's character, he gets his chance to escape his Gladiator-lifestyle and deal with personal issues that got him into the mess in the first place. Keen eyed viewers will be pleased to see other well known Hollywood personalities in the film, like Dexter's Michael C. Hall playing Ken Castle, and The Closer's Kyra Segdwick as a talk show host and reporter Gina Parker Smith, who's determined to expose the truth. Legendary actors John Leguizamo and Keith David also make an appearance in this movie, so fanboys may want to watch out for that.

Despite the B-movie like atmosphere, Gamer is a great film to watch if your cravings for an action movie get the better of you. It's not the most mind-blowing action movie ever, but for a Lionsgate product, you can bet it's just as bloody, if not more gruesome, as John Rambo or the Saw series. Video game lovers will definitely want to check this out, not just for the gaming references, but the totally rad concept as well. Since it's directed by Neveldine/ Taylor, the guys who did Crank and its sequel, you can expect all the action to hit critical levels and make you go "Wow" at every explosion. Guaranteed, it's a complete must see for the heck of it.

Score - 4/5

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Greater Threat Than Zombies...XD

If there was one game that brought my inner zombie hunter to life in the best way possible, it would be Valve's undead shooter, Left 4 Dead. It's the kind of First Person Shooter that leaves a satisfying taste on one's mouth after mowing through legions of the infected and doing what you can to survive and come out in one piece. Now, we know that L4D 2's coming around soon... maybe a little bit too soon for one's comfort, but there are still tons of fans who play the original game, and are anxiously tweaking and modding it to better satisfy their cravings while waiting for the next update with more official scenarios to play through. One such mod I came across in You Tube surprised the HELL out of me... and gave me a really good laugh at the same time.XD

Combine L4D and this:

What do you get? THIS:

Face it, what would you consider as the greater evil? Zombies or the Teletubbies? I'd gun for the latter anyday, bwahahaha!XD Good job to Flameknight7 for making a wonderful mod that speaks volumes... and tubby carnage.XD

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Games I WILL Be Able To Play! Yakuza 3... and a new Street Fighter?!

Thank the Dragon Of Dojima! More Gaming News!

News from gaming site
just brightened my day and served me an excuse to wait for some new action game goodness next year! Apparently, Sega has seen the light and has announced that the 3rd installment to the popular Ryu Ga Gotoku series will be localized. That's right, Yakuza 3 WILL be making it to the US, and for fans of the series, including yours truly, that's really something to look forward to. There's been no official word on a release date, but knowing SEGA, they may just announce it during this year's Tokyo Game Show, which happens only a few days away. If it does happen there, it will be quite ironic on two counts - firstly, because Yakuza 2 for the PS2 was announced for the states back in 2007, and finally because the next installment in the series, Yakuza 4, will make its debut!

Oh yeah, Mr. Kiryu's getting the spotlight once more, and I can't wait to see him kick ass, paint the town red, and date more sexy ladies! Huzzah!

Speaking of the Tokyo Game Show, many game sites, including 1up, are reporting that Capcom's teasing a "new Street Fighter" on the works. If that's the case, then will we see a new installment in the series already, or another traditional upgrade that's become a staple of previous installments before? Can anyone say Street Fighter IV Dash? Street Fighter IV Hyper Fighting?! Here's my fingers crossed for whatever happens, and I want more characters! So far, there are lots of speculations as to WHO might appear. Well, anyway it goes, I just want to hear the word... FIGHT!XD

The Game I'l Never Be Able To Play...

We all know about the legendary Manny Pacquaio vs Rick Hatton fight... but what if we could play it in a real fighting game? No, I'm not talking about Fight night Round 4. No... something better that I wish was an actual game!

Now you know why.XD FIGHT!XD

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Comic Review: Blackest Night #3

When all hell breaks loose and you find yourself right smack in the middle of a situation with zero chances of winning, what would you do? That's exactly what's on the minds of several DC heroes who are experiencing first hand the brutal assault of the Black Lantern Corps. Friends, foes, and the dearly departed have risen and become perverted beasts that lust for the hearts of the living, and as the situation gets more intense, more lives are being lost to the blackness. Awesome is the word, and I'm glad Geoff Johns is writing this.XD

Blackest Night #2
Written By: Geoff Johns
Illustrated By: Ivan Reis

As the Blackest Night continues to consume the entire universe, things become even more desperate for the heroes of Earth. Green Lantern and The Flash continue to battle their former Justice League comrades turned Black Lanterns, and even as they are joined by a friendly face, their efforts prove to be futile when they learn their enemies can't be incapacitated. Fortunately, hope arrives in the form of the Indigo Tribe, who finally make their presence known in the War Of Light. As Hal Jordan and his surviving allies regroup in the Hall Of Justice, they reassess the situation and learn about the history of Light and how to fight back the darkness consuming the cosmos. Unfortunately, as Indigo-1 explains that the solution isn't as easy as it sounds, Black Lanterns invade the Hall and attack in full force.

I am pleased, Geoff Johns, very very pleased indeed.

If anybody needed reassurance that Blackest Night would deliver on its promise to be a hot book each month, Blackest Night #3 just flew off the charts and created more buzz than anyone could ever anticipate. Johns is clearly on a role here, and he's not playing for keeps either. No... he plays a deadly game with casualties involved and plenty of "What The Heck" moments to make readers jaws drop. We're just in the third issue of BN, and already we're looking at earth on the verge of annihilation from the Black Lantern Corps! Their power levels are increasing exponentially, and even with heroes bravely fighting the dead to turn the tide, nothing penetrates these suckers... until the cavalry arrives in the color of Indigo. This issue doesn't mark the tribe's full fledged appearance (that was chronicled in Blackest Night: Tales Of The Corps), but it certainly shows how POWERFUL they can be. In the nick of time, they save Ray Palmer, the Atom, from being skewered and destroy two of the Black Lanterns. Yes, Johns is finally showing signs that these guys can be defeated... but it won't be an easy process. Hardships are still evident, and the fact that emotion plays a big role in how the Black Lanterns attack makes things even worse. Like anyone in real life, the heroes are confused and lost, and this was nothing they could have prepared for. Even heroes like Hal and Barry, who have long experience in the field of heroics, are going heads and tales over things, and when it comes to disagreeing and agreeing over things, these two are truly the Brave and The Bold of the DCU. There's still plenty of carnage going around though, and even if by some chance the Emotional Spectrum pools their efforts together to combat the common threat, it may be too late already. I just love anticipating the worst that could happen in major comic events like these.

Speaking of the worst that could happen, it certainly did for one hero who's the highlight of this book: the new Firestorm. Anyone not familiar with the guy at all can piece together his history through the fantastic script Johns has put together, and when everything is said and done in Blackest Night, trust me, he's not going to be the same again. The fact that Ronnie Raymond, the original and now undead Black Lantern Firestorm, was brought back is a clear indication of that change, and in this issue, he enforces it big time. I'm not going to spoil what happens, but let's just say it will leave a bitter taste on your mouths after reading the whole book. This is one of the many plot devices used in BN that certifies Geoff Johns as a true, evil mastermind. He brought Green Lantern back from hell... and now he's brought hell to the entire DCU. Way to go Geoff.XD

Art, once again, is just WOW. I mean, I always thought that Ethan Van Schiver should be the only one paired alongside Johns for this project, but I was proven otherwise by Ivan Reis, who shows he can be an imposing force in the penciling department himself.
The issue's standard cover art alone is a testament his creative talents, and his ability to capture how creepy Black Lanterns are is projected beautifully in a spread that's just a clear picture of hopelessness. In fact, the cover kinda reminds me of the other album cover to Michael Jackson's Thriller, where a group of Zombies huddle around MJ as they pose for a group shot. Black Hand and his "posse" are just frightfully scary, and the image of him smiling should send chills and warnings of impending doom to the DCU. He doesn't make an appearance in this issue though, but the second chapter of his journal", "The Book Of Black", more than makes up for his absence. I'm loving how Johns explains his twisted understandings of life, rage, and death in this chapter, as well as his thoughts on certain "entities" that may play a major part in future events.

Once again, another issue of Blackest Night has arrived, and there's room for more suspense to come in the next five issues. Anyone who questions their investment on the monthly series should be fully aware how great this book is. It's not just another superhero crossover event... it's THE crossover event that will leave a dirty little mark in DC History, literally. Geoff Johns promised to explain the impact of death in the DCU and how people perceived it. Well, he's doing just that... and he's going to be wrecking the yard a lot to get his message through. Trust me, this is solid, A class storytelling folks. Nobody does it better than the man who resurrected Hal Jordan and Barry Allen, and he's got a talented team to back him up and deliver what is already shaping up to be "Epic".

Score - 10/10

Friday, September 18, 2009

Spotlight: Street Fighting Nostalgia!

I love Fighting Games, and to this day, I still compete in local arcades, gaming tournaments, or just friendly competition through the console via local or online matches. The first brawler I ever laid my eyes on was the original home version of Street Fighter II for the Super NES. My cousin who owned the console literally schooled me in the ways of Ryu, Ken, Guile, and Sagat, and since then, I've been hooked to the series like an eagle targeting its prey. Every iteration and chapter of the SF series was a must play on my list, and I even went as far as to collect the merchandise, to show my support and dedication to Capcom for producing such a wonder product that was the ultimate test of skill and competition. For me, if you wanted to settle the score with someone, take them on old school and battle it out in Street Fighter.

These days, Street Fighter isn't as dominant in the fighting game market as it used to be. Even with the newest release that is Street Fighter IV, a lot of other noteworthy titles like Blazblue and Tekken 6 have begun to share the spotlight with Capcom's prized fighter, taking the competition further by enhancing gameplay dynamics and making the transition to 3D. It's true, SF isn't as energetic as it was during the 90's, but many old school fans like myself persevere, remembering the roots and appreciating the game that brought us into the genre in the first place. One presentation I found in the net shows just what it means to be a true Street Fighter fan and understanding it. This has "YOU WIN!" written all over it.

Divided in to 7 chapters, the Street Fighter Retrospective by the Nostalgia Gamer has to be one of the most comprehensive series of videos ever put together that tells the complete history of Capcom's beloved fighting game franchise. Honestly, it's quite rare to see someone take the time to dig up every SINGLE dirt on a game and turn it into a complete documentary, but after watching this, you'll just be remembering the good old days and thanking the power behind the show for doing such a spectacular job. Here's the list of this grand tale of Hadoukens and Sonic Booms. Click on each part to view the video at the You Tube link.

Street Fighter Retrospective:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 2.1
Part 2.2
Part 3.1
Part 3.2
Part 4.1
Part 4.2
Part 5.1
Part 5.2
Part 6.1
Part 6.2
Part 6.3
Part 6.4
Part 6.5
Part 7.1
Part 7.2
Part 7.3

Heck, I'm especially intrigued by Chapter 7's focus on "Street Fighter merchandising" through the years. We all know about the animated movie and "legendary" 1994 live action film starring Jean Claude Van Damme, but do you remember the spin-offs, toys, and dreadful parodies during the series' golden years? Nostalgia Gamer took me waaaayyyy back, and I praise his efforts big time. Heck, he made me remember this!

"Straight To My Feet" by M.C Hammer and Delon Sanders! I remembered singing and dancing to this as a kid! With me being the ever-loving fighting game addict, I enjoyed this trip back to memory lane, and I'm still playing the SF series, especially its latest installment SF IV, to this day! It's REAL GOOD to be a Street Fighter fan, and I'm looking forward to every single battle in the future! Hadouken!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Marvel Zombies... Animated?!XD

While browsing the web, I happened to catch these interesting youtube vids from a fellow pop culture friend of mine who found them on the web. Anyone familiar with the 1966 Marvel Toon's will remember that infamous Captain America show with the catchy music.

Now, imagine that paired together with Colonel America from the Marvel Zombies universe, and what do you get?

Colonel America throws his Gory Shield!XD

EXACTLY.XD Here's the Marvel Zombies version of the Mighty Thor intro. Goryific!XD

The God of Hunger, Mighty Gore!XD

The Dark Reign Smackdown's coming!

The picture link from Newsarama and says it all. Norman Osborn, aka the Iron Patriot, and his Dark Avengers will square off against the mighty dictator of Latveria, Dr. Victor Von Doom. Reuniting the creative duo of Avengers: Disassembled, Brian Michael Bendis and David Finch are brewing a story no Marvel fan following the events of Dark Reign should miss. Will Doom be the one to bring Osborn's dark hold on the Marvel universe to a screeching halt? Time will tell...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths coming next year!

Looks like there's more DC Goodness to look forward to.

Enewsi has just reported the next big DC Animated Movie coming next year. While many are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the animated adaptation of Superman/ Batman: Public Enemies later this month, Bruce Timm and the folks from DC are preparing to launch a new animated project that's slated for a Spring 2010 release: Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths.

Based on the legendary 'Crisis' storyline from DC Canon, Crisis On Two Worlds pits the DC's famous heroes against their mirror world counterparts. Arriving from an alternate earth, a good Lex Luthor seeks the help of our world's Justice League to stop the diabolical plans of his world's villains, the infamous Crime Syndicate. As the leage battles it out against foes that have similar abilities, the fate of the multiverse hangs in the balance, as the dreaded Owlman launches a nefarious scheme that could have dire consequences for the entirety of existence itself.

Ah, the JLA will be facing off against their evil Earth-2 counterparts... awesome. Sounding exactly like the classic 'Crisis' tales from the comics, Crisis On Two Worlds will be a superhero smackdown of epic proportions to look forward to next year. With an all star voice cast assembled that includes James Woods and Chris Noth, it's another exciting tale from DC Comics that's worth seeing in animated form, especially when it involves earth's mightiest heroes from the DCU. More details can be found on the link above, so stay tuned for more updates in the future.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Watch out for The Expendables!

As an action movie buff, I've seen less of the adrenaline pumping, gun-totting films I've come to love through the late 80's and early 90's that required less thinking and more shouting for the hero to do his stuff and blow things up. 2008's John Rambo brought those roots back to the forefront, and showed that legendary actor Sylvester Stallone still has what it takes to look badass, even at the age of 63. With a new Rambo sequel already confirmed, Sly's busy finishing up his next, great project - a 2010 action movie that will blow heads away: The Expendables!

If you don't know what the movie's about, it's quite simple - action hero Stallone leads a ragtag group of mercenaries on a mission to eliminate a dictator in South America, using all their knowledge on guns and kick assery to get the job done. Doing double time work as both the director and a star on the film, Stallone has recruited other A-list actors to his cause, namely Jason Statham, Jet Li, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, and even Mickey Rourke. Heck, even Sly's Planet Hollywood buddies Bruce Willis and "Governator" Arnold Schwarzenegger will be in the film, doing cameo roles to give this project more star firepower... as if it didn't have enough already!

Links from other movie sites have already shown a teaser trailer of the film being posted in youtube. It may not be around for long, so better see it while it's hot! Looking forward to the explosions next year! Huzzah!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Comic Review: Blackest Night: Batman #2

Seeing the cover at first glance, I'd call this "Batman and his amazing friends vs the Black lantern super zombie squad." Hehe, funny. It's exactly the opposite of that.

As the events of Blackest Night continue to wreck havoc upon the entire universe, many continue to face the threat head on. Heroes do their best to fight back and turn the tide in their favor, but the overwhelming number of Black Lanterns increase, as each victim they claim becomes another soulless recruit to their cause. This is the bleak scenario Gotham City faces now, and even with a new Batman and Robin protecting the city, Blackest Night: Batman #2 clearly shows that supernatural forces aren't exactly the dynamic duo's specialty.

Blackest Night: Batman #2
Written By: Peter J. Tomasi
Illustrated By
: Ardian Syaf

With time running out fast and the whole situation already relayed to them by Deadman, Batman and Robin race to the Gotham City Police Department to save as many lives as they can from the growing menace that is the Black Lantern Corps. Making a quick pass at the police armory and arming themselves with flamethrowers for the battle ahead, the Dynamic Duo prepare to give their best, even if the entire situation looks grim. Meanwhile, Commissioner Gordon and his daughter, Barbara, are caught in the midst of the carnage, as the newly risen King Snake and other undead Gotham villains make quick work of the GCPD forces. Will Batman and allies arrive in time to save them, or will they be the next victims of the Black Lantern onslaught?

If you've been following the Blackest Night trail as I have, I'm sure you're aware that there isn't a place on Earth (or the universe for that matter) that's left untouched by the invasion of the Black Lantern Corp. If you ever wanted to see how bloody things can get, the second issue of BN: Batman shows a massive display of carnage and gore that will literally have you feeling sorry for every Gothamite prone to danger. The fact alone that writer Peter J. Tomasi indiscriminately has the newly risen Black Lantern villains kill off innocents here and there is a testament to his ability to portray a Gotham that's not prepared to handle situations like these. Sure, they got insane guys who commit mad crimes like these everyday in the city, but to have these same dead guys come back to life and empowered by mystical means... that's ten times worse.

Given the supernatural premise already established thanks to the inclusion of Deadman, there's a bit of hope on Dick Grayson's side that he has a fighting chance to survive the onslaught of the Black Lanterns. Still, I was a bit puzzled as to why they had to rely on the GCPD armory. For someone who's supposed to be Batman's protege and successor, shouldn't he know by now that Bruce is a rich guy who has every toy for every contingency? Maybe he's new to the game or he felt the situation called for desperate measures, but the fact alone that Dick and Damian had to rely on other tools beyond their own was somewhat of a letdown. Damian was also uncharacteristically light-hearted, compared to Grant Morrison's depiction of the kid, who's snotty and bratty as hell. On a similar note, I found Red Robin's "timely arrival" to be a quick one. Wasn't he in Paris just a few hours ago? And if he's back with the Batplane, does that mean Tim brought the Batplane with him on his journey to search for Bruce in the Red Robin series? Those are my only gripes so far. What I am impressed with, though, is the depiction of the undead Gotham residents tormenting Bats and his posse. King Snake establishes himself as the definite de facto leader of this particular Black Lantern group, and I did enjoy Blockbuster's taunt to Dick, showing continuity is well established here. Is there also a hint of Dick and Barbara reconciling somewhere? Lots of questions come to mind really, and by the conclusion of this issue, you have a situation that looks really bad for the proteges, now that their mommies and daddies are back to play. Tomasi playing with reader's heads... in a good way.

Again, the art holds up to my expectations. With his work here, Ardian Syaf definitely establishes himself as a top talent that could be utilized in future big budget projects. I'd love to see his work in the main Bat series, he's got great pencils that could work well to attract more readers for the Dark Knight. Speaking of other artists, don't let the cover by Andy Kubert fool you. As much as many like to believe it is, this isn't a Ghostbusters meets Batman book where the Dark Knight's actions make a difference. They hardly do at all, given the crisis they face.

So, now that hell has literally come to Gotham, readers have to wait for the conclusion to this Blackest Night tie-in next month. If you're loving every single moment of zombie mayhem happening in the DC Universe, you owe it to yourselves to pick up and see what's happening to the new Batman as Black Lanterns ravage his community. Dick Grayson may come off as being the one holding the short end of the stick in the hero community when it comes to powers, but the character of Batman has always been about will and determination, a human who uses wits and physical means to get the job done. He faces tough odds now, but Batman always finds a way... doesn't he? We'll see how it goes for Dick next issue.

Score - 7/10

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Comic Review: Red Robin #4

It's been a rough road for Tim Drake/ Tim Wayne, but his first steps as Red Robin have been pleasant reads so far. Now on its fourth issue, "The Grail" arc finally sees resolution, and a significant discovery made by the former Boy Wonder leaves him with renewed hope... but with more questions at the same time. If none of you can follow what's going on at the point, I suggest you go back and read up the first three issues, which I reviewed here and here. Otherwise, if you're looking forward to finding out how Tim's adventure is currently, stick around and find out.

Red Robin #4
Written By: Chris Yost
Illustrated By: Ramon Bachs

After overcoming the odds and journeying to different parts of the world, Red Robin's search for evidence regarding Bruce Wayne's survival comes to a surprising conclusion. After successfully tracing the point of origin of an artifact he procured from a German Museum, he travels to the middle east to see things for himself, albeit with a few complications on the way. Fortunately, Ra's Al Ghul is also interested in learning about the fate of "the detective", so he instructs three of his assassins (the same ones who have been bothering Tim for weeks) as his "personal escorts". A disgruntled Tim begrudgingly accepts help from his mentor's nemesis to seek out the truth, but when he finally finds what he's looking for, will his journey bare success, or end in shameless disaster?

So arrives the end to the first arc of Red Robin. I'll admit, It wasn't the most exciting round up to things, but after seeing how things concluded in this issue, you can bet your bones that I'll still be sticking around "Tim Wayne's" corner for a little while longer to see where else his journey takes him. Still, what he was eventually going to find was already expected by most since the beginning. Using a plot device taken right out of Final Crisis and similar to a concept used in the "Back To The Future" film series, Tim finally finds the clue that proves Bruce is alive, confirming the lad's suspicions that his adopted father isn't dead. However, there was a little too much melodrama and angst he had to go through to justify his search for ol' Bats. Like I said in the reviews of the past issues, his new found attitude is a little out of character from the Tim Drake many knew back in the Robin series, but now that he's "Tim Wayne", he's on the path to become a dark and brooding figure... much like you know who. Christ Yost has turned Tim into an adult, and whether people accept it or not, that's going to be the status quo for a long time.

For the revelation in this issue, I wasn't expecting much of a pay off considering how soon it would be to bring Bruce back, but looking at how Batman: Reborn started, along with the promise of a new direction for Tim, everything turned out to pretty decent in the long run. It's established that the guy's got a new direction and a new foe to pursue, and along the way, a little quest to keep his hands full while Gotham City is taken cared of by the new Dynamic Duo. Speaking of which, the cover to this issue speaks volumes of a big fight between Dick Grayson and Tim Drake. I wouldn't really call it a fight, but it's a confrontation that was foreshadowed since the first issue and finally reaches a conclusion here. So, if anyone expected a smackdown between the new Batman and Red Robin, you'll be sorely disappointed. As for the villains, Ras Al Ghul still does his best to guide Tim on his journey, and I loved that quip he makes of the demon head being an evil version of "Alfred", heh. The League Of Assassins trio also return as escorts to Red Robin, with some of them getting more page time and fleshing out their characters more. Of course, that subplot where members of the League are slowly being killed off is finally brought out in the open at the conclusion of this issue, and it's where the series picks up its next major story arc. Just when Red Robin finds what he's looking for, he's thrown into another mess. How typical.

Once again, Ramon Bach's art still doesn't do much for me. Granted, it's bit more polished and cleaner now than the earlier issues, but it still feels off. The same can be said for coloring, which I really can't compliment on either. Now that the first arc has concluded, I do hope that things speed up, and probably it's about time we get a new art team on board for the next issue, just for a "change in scenery". It's about time for a change anyway, and judging from the previews of the coming Red Robin comics, things look to be in better hands.

Looking back, I compared the Red Robin series to "The Bourne Identity", and in many ways, that's exactly how it plays out. It has the action and dynamics from the film, only with a superhero theme etched to it. There's also a bit of an exploration that's akin to Indiana Jones for this particular story arc, especially since Tim's making trips around the world and discovering stuff people would normally give up searching for. Granted, he's determined to find Bruce, but along the way, he's facing lots of baddies that are out of his native Gotham, which can be a little out of character, again. Then again, he still retains the attitude and detective skills that make him a formidable hero and fighter in the first place, so it won't alienate too many fans. Overall, what I'm saying is this: you can give Red Robin a try if you're a fan of Tim Wayne and want to see how he's doing currently. Otherwise, if you're not used to the changes made by Batman: Reborn, drop the title and just remember the guy for who he was during his Robin days. This issue also ended with another cliffhanger, so things are just bound to get stranger and messier from this point forward.

- 7/10