Monday, November 30, 2009

Comic Review: The Invincible Iron Man #20

The last time I checked on Tony Stark, he has hit bad times. In the days since he became director of S.H.I.EL.D and donned the Extremis armor, I thought Tony had everything under control. Unfortunately, the Skrull Invasion and Norman Osborn exposed chinks in his armor that were readily exploited, and with the bad times rolling high, Tony had little choice but to do the unthinkable to himself and become the anti-thesis of his brilliance - a vegetable. As sad and pathetic as it may sound, this scenario makes the Invincible Iron Man one of the most compelling books of this decade, and as we turn towards a new chapter in the life of the golden avenger, the question remains: will he ever be the same again?

The Invincible Iron Man #20
Written By: Matt Fraction
Illustrated By: Salvador Larraca

Tony Stark, the man who was the Invincible Iron Man, is a shell of his former self. As a result of his own actions to prevent Norman Osborn from acquiring his knowledge, Stark embarked on a personal crusade to abolish all traces of his technology and the Super Human Registration Act files. As a result. Tony "deleted" his own brain, leaving himself in a bed ridden and vegetative state. Leaving a message to his friends and allies via the armor he created for Pepper Potts, Stark's salvation and hope to return to normalcy rests on their hands. Meanwhile, deep in the recesses of his shattered mind, Tony finds himself in a place that seems out of place yet so familiar...

Hot damn, this book is hot, and with good reason too. Of course, it's great to see Iron Man again, but it's not a pleasant sight to see him at this vulnerable a state. Matt Fraction, the man responsible for bringing Tony to the worst condition ever in his life, clearly knows Stark from head to toe, and will tell a story so sad it almost makes everyone forget what the armored avenger did a few years ago during the Civil War, which drew lines in the hero community and indirectly led to the death of Steve Rogers, aka Captain America. Fans unanimously agree he can be a hard assed jerk, so why is he still well liked by some? Fraction leaves food for thought for the fans. Tony's a hero, yes, but he's also human, and people make mistakes. Being a futurist, he knew the cards he played, and his latest venture brought him to the brain dead scenario. With that, he leaves his fate at the hands of his friends... those who have mixed feelings about bringing the guy back and giving him a chance at absolution. One scene involving Pepper illustrates a good point - why does Tony Stark always get to be saved while those around him suffer and get worse? The answer should be obvious - he's Iron Man, that's why, and Tony's got a luck streak so high that he lives up to his namesake through and through. Even after preventing Osborn from getting info out of him, he's not out of the woods yet, and even with his allies by his side, things are bound to get worse before they get better.

It may sound like a thrownback cliche, but Stark: Disassembled sounds like an appropriate title to this arc. It's not so much about the character's fragmented state, but rather seeing the man in areas that were less likely explored over his long heroic and illustrious career. The holographic message Tony records prior to his downfall in particular reflects how human he is despite his intellectual background. Tony is quick to point out the mistakes he's made with sincerity and justification, and allows his friends the opportunity to judge and decide what to do with him. The mind sequences also show a side to Tony that's apparently confusing at this point, but will probably shed some light over his "comeback routine" as we progress with the story. It'll be interesting to see where everything leads, and how the good guys help and what the bad guys do to take advantage of the situation. Speaking of the bad guys, Normie's hubris is shown and Madame Masque makes her move, with help from an old rogue of shellhead who's probably going to be a hitmaker in the coming issues ahead.

No doubt about it, Invincible Iron Man is a great title. It may be hard to swallow if you're new to ol' shellhead, but veterans will definitely be pleased. I'm liking the direction Fraction is going with this book, and how he handled everything since World's Most Wanted is simply genius. Couple that with fantastic pencils by Salvador Larraca, and you got a top notch Marvel book to read, especially if you're an Iron Man fan. If you've just jumped on board, fear not, as Marvel has supplied a supplementary "Iron Man Saga" guide to bring readers up to speed with all things Tony and Stark. If you wanted to know more about the man before the next movie hits in 2010, this is your comic to read.

Score - 9/10

Sunday, November 29, 2009

This is... The King Of Fighters Movie?!

There will be a King Of Fighters Movie next year, and yes, it will feature Kyo, Iori, Mai, and Terry... but will it do any good? Judging from this trailer, I think we may end up in a world more far fetched than the one established over the years by the folks at SNK Playmore.

Ok... this is more sci-fi than epic fighting game madness. Honestly I never expected the KOF live action movie to work wonders. With fighting game movies like Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun-Li "setting an example", it leaves me wondering how the future of videogame based movies will fare with films like these rolling and disapponting its hardcore fanbase. For the benefit of the doubt, I'll probably go see it for fun, but I wish the flick stuck more to its roots.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Super Street Fighter IV Update: The "New Warriors" In Full Pose!

After the big announcement that three Alpha/ Zero veterans are making their way to the 4 universe, Capcom has released more images of Cody, Guy, and Adon from Super Street Fighter IV! More images can be viewed via Kotaku, but here they are drawn in the Brush Art way!




And wait! Here's The new trailer!XD

The new warriors look primed and ready! Super Street Fighter IV hits on February Next Year! Can't wait!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Comic Review: Blackest Night # 5

Blackest Night has reached the point of no return.

As we start whittling down toward the concluding issues, Blackest Night has become the rollercoaster ride of the end of the decade. It's too enjoyable to ignore, and everything happening in the story justifies my resolve to see the event to its conclusion, where all hell's going to break loose before it gets better once everything's said and done. With hardly breaking a sweat, Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis present the book where all points come to head. This issue has all of the main stars of the show come center stage, and as tension builds as the war continues to escalate, new developments occur that make the outlook of the heroes' situation as bleak as they come. Are the Black Lanterns gaining the upper hand? Better read on and find out how epic all of this is, comic wise.

Blackest Night #5
Written By: Geoff Johns
Illustrated By: Ivan Reis

The Blackest Night has arrived, and in the farthest region of outer space known as Sector 666, seven colors of light shine brightly to deal with the dark prophecy foretold in the Book of OA eons ago. Gathered together by the two ex-Guardians Ganthet and Sayd, Hal Jordan, Sinestro, Atrocitus, Saint Walker, Larfleeze, Carol Danvers, and Indigo-1 investigate the source of the Black Lantern power battery, only to find their point of search utterly empty. The unholy corps of death have already begun their frontal assault on Earth, beginning with the resurrection of Coast City, and the appearance of Nekron, lord of the Black Lantern Corps. As Earth's heroes struggle to hold down the undead until the power ring cavalry arrives, Nekron unleashes an unexpected attack on Green Lantern and his allies, one that will reveal the true nature of death itself.

For the record, readers will NEED to pick up Green Lantern #48 to catch up on what events took place before Hal Jordan and his ring colored posse arrive at Space Sector 666. This issue can definitely stand on its own two feet without reading the other issue, but it helps fuel the importance and symmetry that Blackest Night has already established since it launched months ago. The tie-ins help to bridge events happening in and around the same time the main book is progressing, so it's a lot of information to draw in. Geoff Johns and the rest of the DC writing crew have taken special care to make continuity a priority, so if you can't catch up with all the numerous books under the label, wait for the trade to collect everything in a few months time.

Now onto to the book itself... what can I say? THIS EVENT IS AWESOME. Geoff Johns establishes himself as the driving force behind many of today's best DC comic book stories, and he utilizes every character, note, and history so well with less efficiency that he's deserved the title and awards he's won for his work and contributions so far. With five issues out and three more to go until it wraps up, it can be said that Blackest Night was well worth the two year wait since the Sinestro Corps War saga ended. Every detail and nitpick addressed in the DC Universe concerning death is fully addressed in the soon to be classic crossover, and praise such as this is not given for exaggeration, it's a fact. When you read the book as a veteran who's come across comic book death so many times, questions that come to mind are "How do these characters come back" and "What is Death in comics, really"? As far as the DC Universe was concerned, there were many deaths, significant or otherwise, and Johns has readily tapped himself into that well, emerging with a story so brilliant, so convincing, it's hard to let go of the book after being drawn into what will be an Epic saga. I've reviewed the past four issues, and each and everyone of them has contributed a wow and a clap from readers, but this one... it literally takes the cake. Anyone who wanted a good reason to jump in or stay with Blackest Night until its conclusion have all the cards are all laid out here. I won't be spoiling what happened or what Nekron did, but let's just say it will make fans go nuts about the entire DCU all over again.

As far as the characters in this book go, they're a dime a dozen, and since this doesn't rely on the Green Lantern property alone, expect to see favorites from the Teen Titans and Justice League make an appearance to lend a helping hand to our favorite Space Cowboy Hal. Last issue, Geoff gave the spotlight to Barry Allen, a character that the writer's also working on in Flash: Rebirth, and he played the ever reliable friend to rally up the forces of good while the emerald warrior was away for the entirety of the previous issue. Even with Hal back on Earth, Barry's still a key player readers will be rooting for, as well his allies in the form of Bart and Wally assist him, with the latter sporting a "new" uniform that really suits the character in my opinion. Being secondary heroes for the longest time, The Flash and GL finally get to be the heroes we need to count on to save the world because of what occurs in Blackest Night, and while I may be a Batman fan through and through, these two are also personal favorites who happen to be great personalities, and I'm glad Johns has given them the recognition they deserve. He also gives the villains some time to "shine", most notably Black Hand and Scar, the evil Guardian. While the latter's fate is resolved in this issue, it's the former and right hand man of Nekron we have to watch out for. Maybe in the last few issues, we'll see something big happen to the herald, but his words in the supplemental "Book Of Black" co-feature continue to echo how disturbing and focused his undead mind is, and that provides more exposition on his character and nature from behind the scenes.

Art direction has been pretty stellar, and Ivan Reis handles it so well that anyone will deem it big shot comic book material for proper reading. The way he draws is similar to Johns' dedication to the book, with so much commitment and effort that one cannot coexist without the other's involvement. If you thought drawing several lantern colors was hard, wait til you see the rest of the heroes (and undead) in action. This issue in particular taps into all the penciling talent Reis' has got in him, and along with the stellar coloring and inking contributions by the rest of the BN team, the results are breathtaking and simply fantastic. Previous issues have had their epic spreads and one sheet pages, but this one just one ups every single one of them, especially towards the end of the book, where the real meat of the story's jaw dropping visuals are unveiled. Pick up the book to know what the hell I'm talking about, it's a real doozy.

If there were any doubts on your mind to how big Blackest Night would be, then rest assured, IT IS BIGGER THAN EVER. The scope of this event is so huge alone that we're getting more tie-ins coming in on the next few months, and while collecting each and everyone of them may be too much to bare, this month's incentive collector's power ring fuels hope, willpower, fear, love, avarice, rage, and compassion into all the readers out there. Death has arrived on the DC Universe's doorstep, and with its grip growing so tight and unpredictable, there's no telling how everything will end soon. Time will tell, so brace yourselves and expect more awesomeness.

Score - 10/10

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Rise Of The "SHIELD"!

Marvel's Mystery project with writer Jonathan Hickman has been named, and it will tell the origins of what is probably the world's best global defense network against earth-based and extraterrestrial threats - SHIELD! Yes, it's the same SHIELD Agency that's been hounding, patrolling, and most of the time assisting the heroes in their battle against the forces of evil, and it's better known as the group led by that slick, eye-patch wearing son of a gun, Nick Fury. However, this new ongoing series will explore the unknown origins and beginnings of the group, way before Fury's time and predating WWII. Together with artist Dustin Weaver, Hickman's going to take Marvel fans for a ride, with new characters appearing left and right as well as familiar names who would serve as the forefathers and ancestors of the heroes we know today! More info on this series can be read up via ComicBookResources, so click 'em and check 'em, peeps!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A New Mystery Marvel Project?

Via and Newsarama, The House Of Ideas is teasing a new and mysterious project by Jonathan Hickman, current writer of the Secret Warriors and the Fantastic Four. Everything in the pic looks like a crossover waiting to happen (again), and the only recognizable item in the artwork above is the sketch of the devourer of worlds, Galactus, done "Vitruvian Man" style. The lines "They've been around since the dawn of time" must hint something big, and it'll be revealed in the next episode of G4TV's Attack Of The Show. Here's hoping the Power Cosmic comes and we have another Annihilation or Infinity War saga coming, LOL.XD

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Super Street Fighter IV Update: More New Challengers Arrive

News Flash for the patient and waiting. Three new challengers arrive for Super Street Fighter IV, and courtesy of the latest issue of Famitsu and Kotaku, here's the fighters revealed in full!

More Street Fighter Zero/ Alpha veterans return! It's Cody and Guy from Final Fight, and Sagat's Muay Thai apprentice, Adon! I was really expecting the latter to return since he was seen in Sagat's SFIV animated intro, but Guy and Cody are simply WOW! It also appears that my favorite SF III female fighter Ibuki may be added, but there's no official word yet. Right now, this is some big news for SF IV fans, and I'm looking forward to this game soon!

P.S - I forgot to mention that Dudley is not real and is again an unconfirmed rumor. Here's hoping he is coming back though.

Spotlight: Left 4 Dead

I know Left 4 Dead 2's out and about, but I thought I'd take this opportunity to go on a trip to memory lane and remember what made the first game so damn special in my heart. I've been a zombie movie fan since watching George A. Romero's movies, and the only game that simulated that kind of experience was the original Resident Evil for the Playstation. I played that years ago, and since then, Zombie games and movies have become such a norm that it's a fad waiting to get overdone. Fortunately, this First Person Shooter came along, and it changed my perception and gave me hope for better games where shooting the undead was cool and wicked.

For the life of me, I never thought Left 4 Dead would make an impression when it first came out for the PC and Xbox 360 about a year ago. It was the kind of game that left a sickening "BANG" sound etched with bloody, gory images on your head whenever somebody mentioned it or you happened to come across the real deal being played right in front of you.

Since their success with Half-Life and Counterstrike, Valve has been on a roll with FPS shooter releases, and their adventures have taken on several forms thanks to updates, expansion packs, and even mods based their game's existing engines. The addition of Left 4 Dead added a little more mess to the frying pan, and fans like me have embraced this new gift. Unlike its bretheren, L4D prides itself in being a 4 versus 4 zombie shooter. Players take on the roles of 4 survivors by default - an old Veteran Soldier named Bill, a biker redneck named Francis, an African American business guy named Lewis, and a lovely and feisty girl named Zoey. These four unlikely allies rally together to shoot down and escape the zombie epidemic, and through a number of scenarios and clever A.I, each adventure played is a totally new experience. I say this because the latter fact is true - a system called "The Director" randomly places object and monster locations through each play, so there's never a pattern to memorize or a recognizable place where a zombie may hide. It's that kind of fear and unpredictability that has you coming back for more.

As for the zombies? They're not just your dumb schmuck stoolies running at you to feast on your sorry hide ala Dawn Of The Dead. No, there are several types of zombies that want to get a piece of you. Besides the grunts, there are 5 classes of enhanced walking dead stalking the survivors throughout the game. First off, there's the Hunter - a jacket wearing zombie that pounces on you like a tiger and starts ripping you to shreds if nobody comes to help you. Next is the Smoker - a smoke belching and coughing prone undead that has a snake like tongue to catch and drag victims away by the neck to certain doom. The fat and bloated slob is known as the Boomer - an obese and snail paced undead that can vomit a stench so powerful it attracts a mob of zombies straight at you! Then comes the big guy... the Tank. Imagine the Incredible Hulk and Resident Evil's Tyrant monster combined, and you get this beast of a fellow tearing sidewalks and buildings just to pound you out of your misery. Lastly, we have the most dangerous zombie yet - the Witch. She's a seemingly harmless undead who starts wailing and crying like a victim to draw your attention. Once you flash your lights or pump her full of lead, she'll come straight at you like a Banshee, and it only takes one hit to down you to certain doom unless an ally is present. That rounds up the list of monster personalities in L4D, and you can play as these terrors in a 4 versus 4 co-op tourney against your friends playing the Survivors!

Like any zombie movie, L4D's places primary emphasis on cooperation and team work. If all of the above were to be discarded or ignored, chances of survival drop from slim to zero. It's a shooter with lots of weapons and heavy firepower, but all of that comes secondary to the coordination needed to get the hell out of a precarious situation. Friendly fire is also present, so don't go blasting out like crazy and hitting a friend in front of you. Every situation needs a plan, and the best way to get out of a rat hole is to use your brain as much as your brawn. This is the kind of game that gives credit to where credit is due in the Zombie genre, and I'm hell of a lot pleased that a sequel is out with new survivors to explore and play through. Still, the first game won't bore me anytime soon, and there's loads of DLC content available and still being planned for the loyal fanbase. Zoey, you'll still be a hottie zombie slayer, hehehe.XD

Monday, November 23, 2009

Awesome Birthday Gear!

I'd like to take this opportunity to say a big thanks to all who greeted this crusader on his Birthday yesterday! As fun and festive as it may sound, it was just a simple day for me to relax and make the smooth transition to a new age, literally! I did get some new goodies to enjoy though, and some of the most memorable gifts I got were these:

Yes... Left 4 Dead 2! The first game totally blew my mind away when I played it about a year ago, and now fans of the zombie apocalypse already have a sequel to gun for! Sure, it may sound a little bit too soon, but the new maps, monsters, and challenges are well worth the price of admission if you're "dead tired" of the old campaigns or mods from the first game. Net connection has been pretty wonky lately, so I yet to play through the entire game. Still, I finally return to PC gaming with this one... and so let the real zombieland battles commence!XD

Another landmark gaming comeback is my official return to Liberty City! Over a year since its release, I finally got Grand Theft Auto IV for the Playstation 3... and it's absolutely amazing! Redesigned and defined for the new console generation, this is one GTA I have been waiting to get my hands on for a long time, but several other good games and set backs prevented me from experiencing Niko Bellic's adventure until now. Sure, I still have Assassin's Creed 2 to enjoy, but after playing and experiencing its GTA like play style, I just had to go back to the source and play through one of the pioneers of the "open world" gaming experience.

Next to the games, I received some comic book goodness for the bday as well in the form of the GL saga that precedes the events of Blackest Night... The Sinestro Corps War! This is one of the DC storylines that has EPIC written all over it, and every big gun and evil known to the GL and DC universe makes an appearance here. Mainstay writer Geoff Johns shows how the green and yellow get it on, and tells a tale that shapes up events that lead to the "War Of The Light", a war between the colors of the emotional spectrum that eventually brings about the coming of the "Blackest Night". Fear and willpower collide big time on this one!

Oh yes, there's lots of birthday stuff to enjoy, and so little time to do so!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, Avenger!!!

It's not everyday you celebrate your birthday, and today I'd like to thank everyone who greeted me and sent well wishes! The day's still young and there's so much to do!

Oh, and here's a random song I'm jamming to for the special day!XD Blast from the past!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Super Street Fighter IV Update: A Gentleman's Return?

Kotaku recently posted a teaser update on Super Street Fighter IV regarding the reveal of a new character. This image accompanied the said article, showing sexy mainstay Chun-Li getting KO'd in a bad way:

Ouch, poor Chunners. Now who could be the perpetrator of such a foul move? Well, someone posted another pic in the comments section and looks like we have primary suspect No. 1 revealed. Take a look:

Yes, that's who you think it is. Street Fighter III's resident British Boxer, Dudley, has returned! No details yet on what his new moves and powers will be, but this guy is one of the most requested fighters fans have been asking Capcom to bring back, and here we are. Stay tuned as more SSFIV updates are on the way!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Reliving The Journeys Of The Ghost Of Sparta...

After a whole day of busy and travelling, I managed to purchase this classic piece of gaming that's been bundled and remastered for the new PS3 generation:


Anyone who hasn't played the God Of War series will finally have a chance to live out these classic titles again and see the games that defined Kratos as the ultimate Greek badass and boosted sales for Sony's Playstation 2 back in the day. Remastered, enhanced, and packaged in a single Blu-Ray disc, the God Of War Collection reintroduces us to The Ghost Of Sparta, as he traverses through the world of Ancient Greece to do battle with legends, monsters, and even Gods themselves. Even with Assassin's Creed II still keeping me busy, I just had to relive the excitement of this again, especially since there's only a few months to go until Kratos returns and unleashes his fury once more in God Of War III (which has a demo included in the package)! If you own a PS3, you all owe it to yourselves to pick this up one up. It's epic at its finest.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Playing The Assassin Within...

For a game that's been hyped and marketed like crazy, Assassin's Creed II was initially not part of my "need to get" list for games in the Playstation 3. I never played through the first game entirely, and I was left with no motivation whatsoever besides the stunning graphics, GTA IV inspired gameplay, and a "Wow" moment video during this year's E3 Press Conference. I really could have gotten the game at a later date, but initial reviews and scores for the stealth action adventure by Ubisoft suggested I do otherwise, so I was left pondering between getting that or Modern Warfare 2, another title that's only been out for about a week and has already created fevered pandemonium around the gaming circle. Since I wasn't really in the mood for some shooting just yet, I decided on the former to take a spin around the Renaissance century as a professional assassin and adventurer.

At first glance, Assassin's Creed 2 looks like your average "Back In Time" adventure game laced with stealth and conspiracy. However, it's a little bit more complicated than that. First, you're introduced to Desmond Miles, a bartender and the modern day protagonist of the first game who gives a brief summary of the events that happened during Assassin's Creed. Captured by the organization known only as Abstergo, Desmond is forced into an experiment that simulates the past of his ancestors through a machine called the "Animus". It is revealed that his ancestor was an Assassin named Altair, who fought against the Knights Templar in the late 12th Century during the Third Crusade of the Holy Land. In truth, the company is a modern version of the Knights Templar, who have waged war over the "Assassin Clan" for centuries over the mysterious artifact known as the "Piece Of Eden".

The second game takes place immediately after those events. After escaping from his captors with the help of a woman named Lucy, Desmond meets up with a resistance force, who are descendants of the Assassins themselves and continue on their fight against Abstergo. Using the "Animus 2.0", Desmond reconnects with another ancestor from his past - a man named Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Set in the late 15th and early 16th century, Ezio lived a noble and adventurous life, until he witnesses a family tragedy that forces him into the destiny that his ancestors have carried from generation to generation - the life of an Assassin. The game begins with his birth, and continues on to his new life, where vengeance against his family's betrayers will be swift and without mercy.

On the ball and still rolling, playing Assassin's Creed has been nothing short of fun and exciting. Experiencing a recreation of the beautiful city of Florence, Italy during the 16th century is amazing, and all the people speak with naturalized Itallian/ English dialect. As Ezio, you're free to roam the streets and rooftops, jumping obstacles and traversing impossible distances in a manner similar to Spider-Man and the Prince from Prince Of Persia. I couldn't help but compare the Desmond/ Abstergo relationship to that of Neo and the Matrix, and in many ways, jacking into the system and experiencing the "bleeding effect" in reality is very reminiscent of the Wachowski Bros. action flick. Nothing wrong there, and it also explains the white, techy HUD look the Animus system has during gameplay. As this is also open world styled game, expect some side missions to keep you busy aside from the main game, with plenty of treasures and quests to explore to upgrade your character and his possessions.

Since I'm still playing the game and having a heck of a time exploring, Assassin's Creed II turned out to be a good gaming investment. The learning curve is relatively easy and the danger level is tolerable, so it should keep the average gamer busy for at least a week or so. Unlike other stealth games, this one takes you back to the past and gives a history lesson that will help you survive in the long run. With famous artists, painters, and locations at your side, it's bound to become a wide scope adventure full of unpredictability, treachery, and danger. Stealth kills, swift moves, and intution help at these times, so prepare to experience awesome at its finest.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Comic Review: Red Robin #6

It's time for another Bat comic review, and big changes have come to this one... in the art department at least. As far as the series has gone since Batman Reborn began, Red Robin has made for excellent reading, especially for those who are fans of Tim Drake/ Tim Wayne. With Chris Yost still handling the story, the character's search continues with a new artist joining the foray, delivering solid pencils that make a strong statement to a listening audience. With a cover that symbolizes new opportunities to attract new readership and collectors, is the new ongoing adventures of Tim Wayne still a worthy pick up? Check on and find out.

Red Robin #6
Written By: Chris Yost
Illustrated By: Marcus To
Cover by: Marcus To and Ray McCarthy

To Tim Wayne, his new life as Red Robin has taken him further from the black and white crimefighting life he's always known in Gotham City. Determined to search for clues to his adoptive father's whereabouts, his journey has brought him to the doorstep of Ra's Al Ghul, and after making the proverbial "Deal With The Devil", Tim found the first clue that proves his search wasn't all for naught. Unfortunately, the League Of Assassins has been targeted by a new mysterious organization known as the Council Of Spiders, whose ultimate goal is to eliminate Ra's personal army completely. Caught in the middle and involved in a situation that's way over his head, Red Robin leads the League into battle, holding on to his mentor's one rule of not taking a life and hoping against hope that after all is said and done, his search doesn't end in vain.

First and foremost, I'm not going to lie - Writer Chris Yost still continues the impressive work of defining Tim Drake/ Tim Wayne for the new Batman: Reborn century. It's the character departure from Gotham City that has breathed new life into him and shaped the young adult into a solo hero of his own. Arguably, Tim's always been like that since he became the third Robin, but his new life as Red Robin distances the lad from his native element and teen life, turning him into a new "Nightwing" of sorts that doesn't live under the shadow of the Bat anymore. I consider this as a journey that not only sees the character come of age, but one that tests his resolve and moral convictions. This particular issue deals with the latter issue in particular, especially now that Red Robin has involved himself with the League Of Assassins, a group not hesitant to kill if necessary.

While the book has done a good job has distanced itself away from Batman and Robin, Yost does give a nod to Tim's involvement in Blackest Night: Batman in this issue, showing that the young crimefighter has been keeping ties with his extended family despite his search around the world. The book also continues to keep tabs on the other members of Gotham City, particularly the Fox Family and most recently in this issue, "Bruce Wayne" and Vicky Vale. The latter two will be an interesting pair to keep an eye on, as nobody except those within and close to the Bat Family know that "Bruce" is actually Hush in disguise. His dealings as Wayne are further explored in the sister Bat Title Streets Of Gotham, but it's not too much of a surprise that he showed up in Red Robin, especially when the title character is searching for the genuine article. As for the Fox Family, the youngest daughter Tam is obviously the new "damsel in distress" for this book, and her character hasn't been prepped up for any role beyond scared and confused since her introduction to this book. That's all well and fine, but I'm more interested in seeing how this Council Of Spiders fleshes out. They've proven to be a worthy threat for the League, and their past as a group still remains a mystery. The only clues the reader will get to their origins is a little side tale narrated by Tim concerning a beautiful and mysterious assassin known only as "The Wanderer". How that will connect to the present only writer Yost knows, and we can only find slowly as as each issue passes.

The highlight of this issue is definitely the art, and I can say that it's a good change having Marcus To assuming the penciling duties of this book. It's the kind of art style that one can appreciate at face value, and gives the serious tone the book deserves, especially character like Tim who's earned the respect and admiration of his fans. The cover To did along with McCarthy was surprising well done as well. It's a visual statement that shows that anyone curious to read and jump into Red Robin can do so with this issue, and it's perfect timing with a new artist on board.

With new art and all the action picking up at this point, Red Robin is turning into the Bat comic it deserves to be - solo, different, and pure Tim Wayne action. His search for Bruce Wayne is the drive behind his journey, but its also about the character's growth as an individual that keeps readers like me coming back to check on the inquisitive young detective. Like the past issues before it, settling on the international espionage agent like status quo may take some time getting used to, but it's all established perfectly well so far, and the consistency by the writer is admirable. Yost and To make a perfect team, and I hope the pace keeps up in future issues. Everything is looking bright so far, and I'm already looking forward to next month's adventure.

Score - 9/10

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Marvel Studios Casts The Warriors Three In "Thor"!

Straight out of, Marvel Studios has cast more actors for the upcoming Thor movie in 2011! We all know that legendary actor Anthony Hopkins is stepping up for the role as the God Of Thunder's father, Odin, but what of the other Asgardians? Well, the news just broke out that Thor's fellow friends from the Warriors Three now have big screen names attached to them! The 3, comprised of Volstagg, Hogun, and Fandral, are going to be played by Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, and Stuart Townsend respectively!

Anyone who remembers Punisher: Warzone and the Rome series will remember Stevenson, and how he's going to bulk up his size to play the jolly and huge Volstagg will definitely be something to watch out for. Stuart Townsend, known to many as the actor who played Lestat in Queen Of The Damned and Dorian Gray in LXG, will be suiting up as the swashbuckling swordsman Fandral. And Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano, who has prominent roles in such films as Ichi The Killer and Zatoichi, will make the trip westward to play the mace wielding Hogun. Now those are impressive casting choices by Marvel Studios, and I can't wait for these guys to stand alongside Thor, played by Star Trek's Chris Hemsworth, battling his evil brother Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston.

Thor shoots thunder with his mighty hammer, Mjolnir, on May 20, 2011!

Comic Review: Batman and Robin #6

It's been a spectacular Batman title blowout last week, and while each and every story bordered tilted between both the good and the bad, there's no denying that even with Bruce Wayne's death, the Bat books have been going strong with the proteges holding down the fort for their mentor. Among the basket of books related to Batman: Reborn, the one I've enjoyed most so far is Batman And Robin, with stellar writing delivered by the unpredictable and cunning Grant Morrison. Despite what happened when he pulled Bruce out of the picture in R.I.P, the man breathed new life into the Batman title by making the revolving door spin around and pass the mantle of the bat to Dick Grayson, who's now burdened with greater responsibility.

Batman and Robin #6
Written By: Grant Morrison
Illustrated By: Philip Tan
Cover By: Frank Quitely

After their defeat at the hands of Red Hood and Scarlet, the new Batman and Robin find themselves striped bare and exposed to a "trap" that could compromise everything they've fought to keep a secret. As the duo work to escape their predicament and chase their adversaries, they realize that the pendulum has struck and more trouble is brewing ahead. As a result of all the trouble he's caused, Jason Todd is attacked by the mob's hitman, El Flamingo, who's eyes show no compassion and mercy whatsoever. The gun for hire makes short work of the new Red Hood, and laughs maniacally despite every injury he sustains. Desperate to save her partner, Scarlet tries to subdue their attacker, but is herself put down and left under the mercy of the insane killer. With all the pieces out in the open and little time left, can Batman and Robin stop the madness before it's too late?

As we hit the sixth issue is what is turning out to be a classic series, we come to the end of the Red Hood and Scarlet saga. Truth be told, I wasn't too sure is matching those two against Dick and Damian would work out, but Morrison prevailed in delivering the kind of tension one cannot predict at any given moment. Straight out of the 60's Adam West show, a "precarious situation" awaits our steadfast heroes, a result of a sound defeat at the hands of "Gotham's new protectors". It's funny that even if it looks obvious the heroes will escape, Morrison does it anyway and pulls a trap gag that's both a cliche to crime/ suspense situations and a dumb move on the villains part. Even so, it's the moment and dialogue that makes this particular situation work well to the book's advantage.

On the other side of the coin, Jason Todd and his new partner run into their own set of problems, as all the provocation and damage they've done to the mob in the past two issues comes biting back with the introduction of the international gun for hire, El Flamingo. This is where things get a little moot. Since Morrison took on the Caped Crusader for the past couple of years, he's introduced a whole new number of villains and characters that hardly make the cut as Bat Rogue material, yet some of them work to further the plot forward. Flamingo doesn't fall in that category, unfortunately, and his place in this book is just simply a wild card left to run amok and give the heroes (and anti-heroes) a hard time. The design isn't even memorable either, and while the Frank Quitely drawn cover pays tribute to Prince's Purple Rain, I'm still not impressed with the new crazy guy. Batman has tons of classic villains to use in his rogues gallery, so it should have been a good opportunity to bring someone like the Joker or Zsasz back. However, one of the themes of this storyline centers on Jason's cause "Let The Punishment Fit The Crime", and with that said, Flamingo fate by the end of this issue ends up being the reason why he was created in the first place.

As for the main characters involved, I'd give a big thumbs up to Morrison for fleshing out how Badass Jason Todd and Scarlett can be. The former's been the ultimate rebel and anti-hero in the Bat family, and it's all come to a head as he's finally come to terms with who he is. Salvation has never been an option for the former Robin, and upon taking up the mantle of the Red Hood, he's never turned back on his plans to fight crime his own way. As for Robin and Scarlet, something big happens to both of them that will change them for a while, that's all I can say. And Dick Bats? Well, by issue's end, Jason's words strike a cord in him that sets up what is possibly going to be the biggest storyline yet in the book since the events of Batman: R.I.P. What that is, I'm not telling, but the newest DC Solicits have already confirmed my suspicions of what Dick's tempted to do, evidence that's further supported by the last two pages of the current issue.

As we close up, I have to congratulate Grant Morrison and Philip Tan for a job well done on Batman And Robin. I have to hand it to the latter especially, as his pencils jive well with the dark and drama that's overflowing in this book. Once again, a new artist will be paired up with Grant for the next storyline beginning next issue, and how the pencils will fair, we'll just have to wait and see. For you guys who haven't tried out Batman And Robin yet, I encourage you to pick it up. This issue's may be so so alone, but everything is undoubtedly good as a whole. The first six issues may and well be sold out, but the Hard Cover's due this coming February, so catch it if you can, it's pure Bat action at its finest.

Score - 8/10

Monday, November 16, 2009

More Power Coming To Ultimate Comics Next Year!

If any of you read ULTIMATUM, you'd know that Jeph Loeb and David Finch did the proverbial "shake the house down" treatment on the Ultimate universe, with characters dying left and right and the status quo of the surviving few changed forever. The Ultimate universe was then reformatted to Ultimate Comics, and since then we've only had three titles to enjoy, depicting the new lives and adventures of the Avengers, Iron Man, and Spider-Man. So far, it's only about Earth's Mightiest Heroes and the Web-Slinger... but what happened to the rest of the Ultimate World, specifically the X-men for that matter? Comic Book Resources and Marvel.Com have some preview titles to answer those questions, including a peek at the title to replace Ultimate X-men.

Say hello to "Ultimate Comics X" by Jeph Loeab and Art Adams. With the entire Ultimate cast in turmoil, a new kid steps in and makes his presence known, apparently sporting claws like James Howlett, aka Wolverine, who was killed by Magneto in ULTIMATUM. How this guy makes an impact in the Ultimate universe will have to be seen, as this issue is still slated for a Feb 2010 release. Looking forward to that, as well as the other titles due that month, when more woes hit the Parker home in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, and Captain America finally comes face to face with his son, The Red Skull, in Ultimate Comics Avengers. Hit the links on CBR and Marvel above to view the solicits!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Spotlight: G.I Joe VS Cobra: The Essential Guide

My wanderings today had me procure an unexpected gem. Sure, I've talked about toys, comics, games, and even movies, but there are few instances where I spotlight something as detailed and thick as a coffee table book, and that's what I found right here:

Oh yes, that's right... I've just acquired the Essential guide to the G.I Joe and Cobra universe! This is like one of the holy grails any Joe fan could have and being one myself, this is a rare treat I'm glad to have been able to pick up. Basically, it details the entire history of the franchise, and that's counting both the original comic book series by Joe writer and legend Larry Hama; the ubiquitous action figure toyline by Hasbro; and of course, the classic cartoon television series by Hasbro and Marvel that people like myself remember and were exposed to the most.

Now what can be said about the book? Simple, it details everything from your favorite joe characters all the way to the hordes of evil terrorists associated with the Cobra organization. Everything you wanted to learn and see about people like Duke, Scarlett, Snake-Eyes, and Cobra Commander can be read up in this book, with all of their origin stories and history intact, as well as the powerful vehicles and structures both sides have built to further their own campaigns and agendas. Also added for the hardcore fan's benefit is a detailed report of each episode and issue from the cartoon and comic book respectively, so anyone looking for a particular favorite they could not recall can now conveniently do so without any worries. No doubt, this book has a lot of information to share, accompanied by sweet illustrations and screen captures from the long media history the franchise has collected and enjoyed over the years. I'm sure you'll be saying that you can wiki the information in this day and age, but it's different when you actually own a piece of history, and at least with me and G.I.Joe, there's no exceptions whatsoever.

Without a doubt, this book is the ultimate treat for the G.I.Joe affectionado. If you can find it, I would very much recommend you taking time to browse and read through it. The G.I.Joe franchise has and still continues to make an impact to this very day, and with the recent release of the new live action film and toyline, it's cements its legacy as a staple franchise in the world of pop culture. As the saying goes, "Knowing Is Half The Battle"... and it can really happen with this on your hands.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Movie Review: Michael Jackson's "This Is It"

After two weeks down the line, I finally got to see what many consider as the final movie of the King Of Pop, and what do you know... this was really it for fans - the movie that gave us a final glimpse of what made Michael Jackson an undisputed force of nature in music history.

Michael Jackson's This Is It

A film documentary made out of video footage taken from the actual rehearsals of the "This Is It" concert, Michael Jackson's This Is It is what I'd call a fitting tribute to the last days of the King Of Pop on stage. The man who sang the most memorable songs in decades and who gave millions of people reason to scream out his name left us too soon in the middle of this year, and the shock of it sent ripples throughout the globe, sending fans into deep mourning and sudden nostalgic appreciation. Because of his death, the concert never came to light, and fans will never see what could probably have been the swan song comeback of the musician's career. Fortunately, the aforementioned footage taken from the practice sessions were available, intended to be placed in the popstar's personal library for reference. Piecing together and editing out hours of captured material, concert director Kenny Ortega creates what is essentially the "final performance" we'll get to see, showing MJ at his best, performing like the spark of energy he always is whenever he's on stage, regardless if its a live show or not.

"This Is It" Movie Trailer

Now what can be said about this movie? You can think of it as a souped up "Behind The Scenes Look" of the "This Is It" concert preparations, starting from the stage talent search all the way to the production and rehearsals of the show itself. Michael and Director Kenny take charge in directing and choreographing the entire set up, with the former giving his opinions now and then on how the music should cue in and follow his lead. It's an impressive display of lights, dancing, and musical genius, and although he wears sunglasses through most of the duration of the film, MJ hardly loses a beat in any of the multiple segments played through the course of the movie. As natural as he is with his signature Moonwalk, The man is a true talent, and this gives us a good look at the hard work and dedication he places into his projects to makw sure that the show was the best he was going to give to the fans, period. Obviously, MJ performs his signature songs, and you'll find yourself singing to familiar tunes like "Human Nature" and "Thriller". Excellent stuff.

This Is It Clip of MJ practicing "Human Nature"

Besides spotlighting Michael, the other members of the "This Is It" tour share their own experiences on camera and relate to the audience how monumental it was to work alongside a legend and an icon. Performers, musicians, and even the director Kenny Ortega himself shed some light on the work and influence Mike has brought to the stage, and their eagerness to put up one hell of a show is something that persists throughout the entire film. Also, the choreography and stage segments seem like hard work only the dedicated and savvy can really dip their hands to. Jackson does his thing, but also speaks his honest opinion when something doesn't feel right to him. It may illustrate the guy as a perfectionist, but that's what made him so great and successful in the first place, and you see it in the film first hand how he works his magic. We also get to see the other bits of extras they were adding to give the concert more bang for its buck, such as green screen filmed segments 3D produced videos that would have appeared behind MJ on stage as visual aids for his songs. It's an interesting process to witness, and it only makes it all the more disappointing that the concert never came to be. His final song, aptly titled "This Is It", also makes it to the film, and it can be heard via the link below.

Michael Jackson - This Is It

We can only imagine what kind of impact This Is It would have had on Michael Jackson's career and his fanbase had it pushed through, but there's no denying that this movie is the final curtain call that the King Of Pop's legacy can grace us with. If you're a Jackson fan through and through, you owe it to yourselves to see this and treat it as his final performance for the entire world to see. The MJ legacy transcends beyond the grave, and as true as one slogan promoting his music says - his music will live on... forever. RIP Michael Jackson, and thank you.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Iron Man Spotlight: What Are Friends For? has released an image of the variant wrap around cover to Invincible Iron Man #21, depicting a scene where two of Tony Stark's closest allies return to aide him in his time of need.

Alright, I was a little puzzled by the look of this cover. First of all, why is Thor channeling lightning to Captain America's shield and using it as a conduit to filter in energy to Stark? Last time we saw Ol' Shellhead, he was literally brain dead after going through the painful task of literally deleting his brain of the Super Hero Registration Act files. The last thing Tony needs is an electric charge to jump start his brain... but that might actually work come to think of it. Anything can happen in the Marvel Universe, and this is the power of Thor we're talking about, so trust on the Thunder God and your friends, right? We'll find out how Tony makes it on the road to recovery when Stark: Disassembled begins later this month.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Comic Book Review: Green Lantern Corps #42

Fresh off the grill, this week's comics were numerous. Every single Bat title I pick up came out, and Blackest Night rages on with its tie ins, which I pick up to satisfy my compulsion to read the entirety of the space zombie saga (as well as picking up those juicy rings). What I didn't expect, however, was one of the latter's titles, Green Lantern Corps, to hit me like a BIG SLAP on the face. Writer Peter J. Tomasi just wrote one of the most gut wrenching and tragic stories I've seen in recent years, and what it is exactly will be told if you continue on with this review. I'm giving fair SPOILER WARNING now, so be warned, once you hear or see it, there's no turning back.

Green Lantern Corps #42
Written By: Peter J. Tomasi
Illustrated By: Patrick Gleas

In the midst of the Black Lantern invasion and chaos happening in OA, the Green Lantern Corps find much needed assistance with the timely arrival of the Indigo Lantern "Munk". His arrival is a welcomed sight to Green Lantern Vath and his fellow corps members, but the follower of the purple light can only do so much to quell the growing numbers of the Black Lantern Corps. Elsewhere, Kilowog, Guy Gardner, Soranik Natu, and Kyle Rayner do their best to keep their attackers at bay, only to witness all the Black Lanterns disengage and move towards a new target - the Oan Central Power Battery. Now realizing a greater loss is at stake, the GL Corps move in to defend their power source and salvation against the undead... even if it means life or death in the end.

Ok, brace yourselves for the one thing that made this issue so MIND BLOWING. There's no other way to describe how I felt after turning to that last page of this issue, and by revealing it now to you all reading this, it's considered a BIG SPOILER, especially to GREEN LANTERN FANS.This is your last BIG WARNING, so read at your own risk folks!


At the end of this issue, a noble and honarable member of the Green Lantern Corps sacrifices his life to save the power battery and buy time for his teammates. That man is none other than the "Torch Bearer" himself, Kyle Rayner.

That's right folks... the one who carried the Green Lantern name when no one else could is gone and dead.T_T

All right... now that I got that big burden of a climax off my chest, I can talk about this issue alone. It's pretty much a solid, action packed, and drama story that's full of hope, tragedy, and despair that any space cowboy reading the GL books would love. Peter J. Tomasi is fresh in his element here, and he delivers the kind of shocker at the end of this issue that will get fans talking for months to come. I happen to be one of those guys, and believe me, it will leave you ruminating about what kind of fate will befall every individual affected one way or the other by this Blackest Night that has spread to the far reaches of the DC Comic community. Unlike the other Blackest Night books and tie ins, GLC has dealt more with the corps as a whole. Since Hal has his solo title, this book has free reign to explore what's happening with Kyle, Guy, Kilowog, and the rest of the green team, and now that they're facing space zombies, there's no telling what kind of shit they'll have to go through to put an end to the evil spreading in the cosmos. I've collected the rest of the issues before this, but this one in particular brings the biggest bang that could possibly happen yet in the Blackest Night that affects the GL Corp directly. Oh, and we learn more about how effective the Indigo Tribe is in handling the black abominations, so it's all good with Peter J. T. at the writing helm.

In the art department, we get some of the most action packed art seen in a GL Title, courtesy of artist Patrick Gleason. His style is befitting of the scale GL Corps draws with the sheer number of things happening all at the same time. It's the kind of art that doesn't feel sketchy or rushed, and just blends in well with the dialogue and emotion running high with this kind of event. In fact, he illustrates the characters well enough to give they dimension and importance in the scope of things. Even in delivering the ending, it's a one pager that will be embedded in the hearts and minds of readers to come.

With all that said, Green Lantern Corps is a must read for those following Blackest Night and everyone else involved in it. Anyone looking for Hal Jordan won't find a speck of him here since he's got his own solo title, but for those worried and curious about what's happening to Guy and the rest of the green team, you'd better pay attention to this book. Like I said, something BIG happens here, and by next issue and the tie ins to come, the ramifications will be BIGGER. It's A class writing and art delivered by the fine team of Tomasi and Gleason. These two have literally made a mark on the industry with this issue... and those who grew up liking certain characters will never forget it.

Score - 10/10

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

You Want WIN? I'll Give You WIN...

Courtesy of the folks from Newsarama and, we get, yet again, another Siege teaser image, only this time, it's PURE AWESOME:

Norman Osborn/ Iron Patriot at the mercy and gunpoint of Bucky Barnes... The New Captain America! But wait! If Steve's returning, then how will this go down? We'll only know when Siege hits this January! For now, this image is of PURE WIN!

Blazblue Portable Is Looking Mighty Awesome...

Blazblue: Calamity Trigger was an awesome fighting. Created and touted by Arc System Works as the "spiritual successor" to the Guilty Gear series, this slick looking anime 2D Brawler has got all the right reasons for a fighter to pay attention. Owning the Playstation 3 version myself, this game is just full of potential and unpredictability, the latter point especially true when it comes to fighting other opponents who seek worthy challenges.

After enjoying some quality time with its ports on the PS3 and Xbox 360, and even getting an update soon with Blazblue: Continuum Shift, Arc System Works is going to bring their fighter to the portable market, when it gets released for the Playstation Portable under the aptly titled "Blazblue Portable". Based on the Famitsu screens from a post made by Kotaku, the game doesn't look too shabby at all despite the low resolution, and if you played GG XX Advent Core Plus for the PSP, Arc System Works will have no trouble delivering their newest prized fighter to the portable market. The game is scheduled for a late February 2010 release in Japan. You can read up more on the juicy bits by hitting the Kotaku link here. Looking to more fights on the move!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The V Effect Is Upon Us...

Independence Day. Mars Attacks. Marvel's Secret Invasion.

Meet one of the originals that started it all.

It's hard to imagine how one would react at the sight of an ginormous alien spaceship hovering above your city, but if it did happen, then you'd probably drop everything and stare into the sky much like the rest of humanity did in V.

A reboot/ remake of the same Sci-Fi television series that launched in the early 80's, this new version of V sports the same basic plot I grew up watching and reading about in television and comics as a lad: A group of extra-terrestrial Visitors suddenly appear out of the blue sky, making contact with humanity and ensuring the obviously bewildered species that they "come in peace". In the pilot, we are introduced to a number of characters, namely an FBI Agent named Erica Evans, her rebellious son Tyler, a priest named Father Jack Landry, and a businessman named Ryan Nichols, who hides a secret which could jeprodize the new life he wants to build with his fiancee, Valerie. Together with other supporting characters in the story, these people are caught in a situation wherein humanity is slowly starting to embrace the V's as saviors, thanks to the promise of advance technology and well being they will provide in the name of peace. Contradictions and questions about faith and trust are just some of the subtle themes this series uses effectively in channeling the fear and paranoia building up as those intuitive enough start to realize that the V's benevolent intentions have more sinister motives behind them. For the most part, I enjoyed the way the characters played out their roles and provided each other with emotional conflict and support. The aliens themselves look more angelic and less of a threat, thanks to their beautiful and composed appearances. Anna, the de facto leader of the V's, is eloquent and beautiful to a fault, and she uses her intelligence and charms to her advantage, effectively giving humanity enough reason to devote themselves to the visitors. Towards the end of the pilot, the key players begin their plans to form the resistance, but will their efforts be recognized or simply end in vain? That's what V is all about, and as contemporary retelling of a classic alien invasion story, this does a lot of wonders the average sci-fi buff will enjoy. Highly recommended.

"We Are Of Peace, Always" - Anna, leader of the extra-terrestrial race dubbed as the "V's"

Another "Siege" Teaser!

Venturing around the comic kingdom news, and Newsarama have released yet another teaser poster to the upcoming crossover event, "Siege"!

What Price Victory indeed? The Mighty Thor is sure to find out, as he's getting his goldilocks hair handed over to him by the Iron Patriot and the rest of the Dark Avengers in this image! Siege is still coming this January, so hold on to your butts and prepare for war in the Marvel Universe!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Comic Review: Captain Americe: Reborn #4

Quite a while has passed since we've seen heard anything about Captain America and his mighty shield in the comic universe. Besides taking up the costume of his partner and successor Bucky Barnes this past Halloween, I've had a bit of a dry spell in the Reborn front, and I was hoping that the latest issue would land in my lap before I donned the mask and wielded the shield for some All Hallow's Eve fun. Unfortunately, there was a bit of delay on the issue's front, so readers got it on the next week instead, which was this past Wednesday. The latest Marvel Previews and solicitations also delivered the news that the miniseries would be extended to six issues instead of five, making the definite return of Steve Rogers a little more anti-climactic than for what its worth. Rest assured, the original super-soldier's coming back, but will he ever be the same? That's exactly what Reborn's all about, and so far, it's a little more confusing than I expected.

Captain America: Reborn #4
Written By: Ed Brubaker
Illustrated By: Bryan Hitch & Butch Guice

Still trapped in a time lapsing limbo that's turning into an eternal nightmare, Steve Rogers faces moments in his life as Captain America that he only wished he could change for the better. Stuck and with no other means to escape, his only hope for salvation lies with the rest of his comrades in the present day, who have received the message he entrusted to the Vision during one of his brief time jumps. Meanwhile, The Red Skull arrives in Latveria, home of Doctor Victor Von Doom, to pursue unfinished business with the dictator and his trusted scientist, Arnim Zola. With the help of Norman Osborn, The Skull's plans to finally put one over his eternal enemy may just come to fruition, and the key to his victory lies in the unwilling hands of Cap's lover and killer, Sharon Carter.

In light of everything that's happened so far in Reborn, I really just want Ed Brubaker to end it all and bring back the espionage story telling many adored in the regular Captain America title. The fact of the matter is, it feels a too cliche already how Steve Rogers is going to come back to the land of the living. With the way he's being brought back to life after being gone for so long, it already deconstructs everything Bru achieved in making his death have such an impact in the entire Marvel Universe. As I stated in the previous issues' reviews, manipulating and writing around the concept of time travel/ displacement is a very touchy subject, and with somebody like Cap who's already been brought out of the ice and killed "realistically", it just cements his place among the many characters in comic book history who have eluded death through impossible means. Heck, if DC's Blackest Night were to hit the Marvel Universe now, it would probably make more sense than seeing Cap become a "Slider" who has "Quantum Leap" moments he has no control over. I'm a little too disappointed at the obvious storytelling Reborn is leading me to, and I just hope we see some sort of redeeming quality when the final two issues hit the stands in the next few months.

Looking at the other aspects of the book, Brubaker still has his A game in delivering the action and drama moments the Cap series has been known for under his tenure. We get into each and every character's head, especially Steve as he ruminates about his time displaced situation, wishing for a way out of moments in his life he wished he could change for the better. In certain ways, Reborn is more of a glorified refresher and jumping in point for those who don't know anything about Steve and his past during WWII and beyond. Aside from that, we also see more from the Red Skull and his minions, and a slightly expected guest appearance by the Fantastic Four's archnemesis, Dr. Doom. Doom's time machine figured greatly in the pages of the regular Cap book and Reborn, so it's no surprise the monarch makes his presence known to lend a helping hand to Herr Skull, upholding a deal he made with Norman Osborn. Cap's allies on the other hand get little screen time in this issue, still one step behind saving their ally and Sharon Carter from the bad guys. Speaking of Sharon, it seems her role in this entire conspiracy is finally made known, with the epilogue of this issue revealing an obvious plot device I knew that was coming since it was "carefully hinted" in the Cap books last year. It feels a little deja vu at this point since I've seen it happen to Cap before, but it's a given he's going to get out of this one alive and well. How that's done we'll just have to wait and see.

On the art department, Bryan Hitch lends some of his best work again which pretty much reflects the same dedication and style he used in the Ultimates years ago. Butch Guice helps him out with some of the pencils, and that guy's work is nothing to complain about either. Both men are good at what they do, and while it took me a while to accept this as Earth 616 storytelling, there's no doubt that Reborn has A list pencilers handling the art duties. Trust me, it may take a while to shake off the "Ultimates feeling", but once you get over it and look at this as a Cap book, it's all good and fine.

In the end, Captain America Reborn #4 is an issue fans of the star spangled avenger shouldn't miss and check out. If you've been collecting the book since the start, you owe it to yourself to finish it up since there's only two issues to go. Steve's return may be a little bit jarring, but there's no doubt that readers will be smirking and happy when we see the original red, white, and blue reclaim his title and shield and kick the living daylights of the bad guys who have been rampaging the Marvel Universe while he was away. This was a decent issue, but it lacked a little bit of punch at the surprise at the end. I just can't wait til this all ends, and we get Cap back in our corner.

Score - 6/10

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Marvel "Siege" Trailer...

As expected from the guys behind the House Of Ideas, Marvel has put together a trailer for their upcoming new crossover event called Siege! Anyone who has been keeping tabs knows that this involves Norman Osborn's quest to conquer Asgard, home of The Mighty Thor and his trickster half-brother, Loki. Since the beginning of "Dark Reign", Norman's grip on the Marvel Universe has been tight, and it'll take the revival of Earth's Mightiest Heroes to put a stop to his plans. More details can be checked in For now, hit the You Tube link below to view the vid, and see a quick slideshow recap of what has transpired within the Marvel Universe since Avengers: Disassembled:

The Devastation. The Decimation. The Dissension. The Assassination. The Resurrection. The Invasion. The Reign. Next comes "The Downfall", and how all of this ends (or begins) will be told when the series hits this January. Siege is coming... are you ready?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

More "Siege" To Come...

Marvel hasn't been holding back on their promotion of their latest event, Siege. In light of that, Newsarama has has a post showing three more teaser images straight from the House Of Ideas. You can check out the rest of the other images via the link, but this one below just struck me as curious:

Just as the poster states, what IS this "secret weapon" Norman Osborn's got under his sleeve? If it's about Asgard, there's a good chance Odin's involved. The Beyonder and Scarlet Witch are highly unlikely, but they always pop out of the woodwork when you least expect it. I doubt Thanos will be back anytime soon after his death at Annihilation, but then again, ANYTHING can happen in the Marvel Universe. I'm tempted to say Mephisto, given that he and Osborn share a mutual concern with Spider-Man. Still, it's a little too early to tell. For now, let the speculations commence and see what the Siege will bring to everyone involved.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Super Street Fighter IV Update: New Modes And Bonus Stages Trailer!

It's been a while since I've posted news of updates regarding Super Street Fighter IV, but now that dry spell is over, as Capcom generously offers fans a taste of what's to come in March next year! There's no doubt that players loved the original SF IV when it was released in consoles early this year, but besides one on one fighting and online play, there were not that many modes to go through and add replay value to the game. Also, the series' signature bonus stages were absent, so fans were desperate to let developers know that they wanted those back in the forefront too. Well, Capcom listened, and we'll be seeing a familiar bonus stage that fans will recognize almost instantly:


More details can be read over at Kotaku. Wanna see more? Watch the trailer below!

Super Street Fighter IV New Modes And Bonus Stage Trailer

"Siege" Is Coming...

The Siege is coming...

Since the events of Civil War, Secret Invasion, and the still ongoing Dark Reign, Marvel has been chalking up the crossovers like there's no tomorrow. The Marvel Universe hasn't been the same since Captain America died, and in the aftermath of the Skrull Invasion, Norman Osborn has taken over the world (literally) and booted out Tony Stark from S.H.I.E.L.D, converting it into the new organization known as H.A.M.M.E.R. However, the tide is slowly turning back to the heroes favor, with the Avengers reassembling once more and Steve Rogers' return coming to fruition. Still, the bad guys aren't gonna go down without a fight, and Norman's sowing the seeds of conflict that will signal his bid to take over Asgard, the home of the Mighty Thor. This is what "Siege" is all about... the latest conflict that will either bring Osborn and his allies to their knees, or signal the end of the Marvel Heroes as we know them.

With the new event/ crossover still due on January, Newsarama shares a picture from showcasing a new Siege teaser image that could add a new layer of twist to the saga to come.

Ah yes... Cap and Iron Man face to face after such a long time. Yet, with Steve's fresh return and the recent troubles and brain drain Tony has been facing, will this meeting happen, or does this image signify a major change in the Avenger status quo? Only time can tell for sure. Now, we can only speculate and wait...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Remember, Remember, The 5th Of November...

On this glorious rainy day, I was reminded by a friend of mine how memorable this day was to those standing in the popculture shadow. It's not everyday you remember a certain graphic novel work by writing extraordinaire Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd, and on this Thursday, we begin to commemorate all the voices and people involved in this epic story that showed us the true cost of attaining victory!

Ah yes... Today is the 5th, so I'll probably indulge in some V later if time permits me to do so. The film version, while not having Moore's involvement, was quite receptive to the public upon its release in 2005, and it had quintessential talents like Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman involved. Do yourselves a favor by celebrating the 5th by reading the book or watching the film, and always remember... FREEDOM FOREVER!XD

The Community "TDK" Halloween Spoof...

I haven't been watching too much TV lately, but thanks to the folks at You Tube, I get to see a couple of clips and bits from some of the newest shows making a buzz in the west. One of these shows, a comedy called "Community", deals with a lawyer named Jeff Winger (played by Joel McHale) who was suspended from practice and forced to return to college. Soon, he meets diverse personalities within his study group that have their own share of complexities, and this causes Jeff more than the usual headaches of going through school all over again. That just summarizes what the show is all about. Since All Hallow's Eve was celebrated just this past week, the show also decided to bring the Halloween A-Game up by spoofing one "memorable scene" from the uber fantastic Batman movie "The Dark Knight". Check the video below and see for yourselves what I mean:

Community "The Dark Knight" Halloween Spoof

After watching this, it appears we have to give thanks once again to Chris Nolan for directing one of the greatest superhero movies of all time, as well as Christian Bale, for providing one of the most "iconic voices" of all time. Time for me to don a mask and do my Batman voice *Growls*.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Videogame Review: Tekken 6

It's been a while since I've talked about a videogame in detail, but now that one of my favorite fighting game franchises is out already in home consoles, I feel the time is ripe for another gaming review. Without further delay, let's give a proper welcome to "The King Of Iron Fist Tournament 6".XD

Tekken 6
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Developer: Namco
Released: October 27, 2009 (PS3 and Xbox 360), November 24, 2009 (PSP)

Finally, Tekken 6 is here, and for the past week since its release, I've been officially hooked to it like bread and butter. I've had many memorable moments with the franchise, playing all of its installments, updates, and even getting to meet the creators of the game in a local tournament held in the mall a few months ago! Yes, Tekken has really made an impact with me, and now after some time in the arcades, the latest chapter of the Iron Fist saga has made it to next generation systems, and it's causing quite a stir in regards to replay value and the fighting itself. As we go along with this review, I'll be tackling the positive and negative aspects of the console version, and what other extras Bandai Namco has incorporated to add diversity to the gameplay. Rest assured, it's still Tekken... but it's not "your daddy's Tekken", if you get what I'm saying.

At the end of The King Of Iron Fist Tournament 5, Jin Kazama emerged victorious and defeated his great grandfather, Jinpachi Mishima. Instead of putting an end to things, he became the new CEO of the Mishima Zaibatsu and used its vast resources and military strength to wage war against several nations, bringing out widespread chaos and panic. Out of the ashes, the Zaibatsu rose to power, and claimed absolute rule over the entire globe. Challenging their authority however is G Corporation, led by Jin's father, Kazuya Mishima. Seen as civilization's only hope and savior, Kazuya sets out to have Jin's head by offering a generous bounty to the person who captures him alive. Having anticipated this, Jin announces the King Of Iron Fist Tournament 6 to draw out his enemies and put an end to them once and for all. The stage is set, and fighters around the world have gathered seeking money, power, glory, and personal retribution.

Alright, now that the story's fleshed out, let's get down to the basics. If we're going to talk about Tekken, let it be said right here and now that this is STRICTLY a 3D fighting game, pure and simple. That means two people duke it out with two characters of their choice, and based on the number of rounds involved (usually a best of two or three), the one with the most wins claims victory. Unlike other fighting games, Tekken prides itself by subscribing to a four button layout, each representing the corresponding limb it is attached to (i.e - Left top button = Left Punch and Right low button = Right Kick). Using a combination of those buttons and timed movements, players can pull off special moves and link them together to create juggles and combos that deal devastating damage. Once a character's lifebar reaches zero, he or she loses that round. It's literally a fight to the finish, so knowing your character and reading your opponent's moves is crucial to victory all the time.

Over the years, the Tekken series has evolved and enriched itself with a diverse roster of characters that players could pick and choose to bring the hurt to their opponents. This game tops them all by bringing that count to 40 playable characters, each with his or her own unique fighting style. Every fighter plays differently, and in conjunction with their fighting style, it's a no brainer that you have to learn their moves wisely to become a top contender in the game. Guys like Heihachi and Jin make use of basic "Street Fighter like" move sets that naturally adept fighters can get used to in no time. Technical fighters like King and Yoshimitsu though require a little more time in the practice ring to become more acquainted with. New to this installment are Bob, Leo, Zafina, Miguel, Lars, and Alissa, and each of them have their own techniques that the player has to master and hone. Players can play offline, online, or test themselves in basic Arcade play by fighting and reaching the final boss, Azazel. Bottomline, it's all about preference, and as the old saying goes - "practice makes perfect".

Next to the new characters, there's a couple of new features to the Tekken system people will have to watch out for. As I said earlier, it's not your daddy's Tekken, and I was referring to the changes made to the feel and execution of techniques and the fight itself. Combos have become much more painful thanks to the incorporation of the "Bounce", a motion where opponents grounded after a juggle raise their feet and are open to more hits, allowing players to link more combos and deal more damage. Next, if a player reaches 1/4 of their life, the "Rage System" will automatically start up and amplify the player's moves to deal twice the damage to their opponents. This is signified by the flashing red aura surrounding the character and his/ her lifebar, so take advantage of the comeback wisely. Above all else, basic techniques have been given new priority and new moves have been added to all of the characters. It's Tekken, but it's a whole new ballgame to learn about as well.

Obviously, since Tekken 6 is a new game, it demands more attention and collaboration to make it one of the best fighting game experiences ever. What people have seen in the arcade version and its update, Bloodline Rebellion, has made the proverbial "smooth transition" to home consoles, but this has hit a few snags on the road of course. Some may find it disappointing to find out that the game needs to be installed into the consoles hard drive in order to run in "optimum speed". This means that things will run as slow as hell if you choose not to, which was a similar problem that plagued Namco's other 3D fighter, Soul Caliber IV. The installation is justifed though, as there's a lot of juicy graphics, customization options, and motion blurs to witness and enjoy if you appreciate next gen technology like I do. Secondly, this is the first console Tekken game to incorporate actual online play, which is a major requirement for fighters of this generation. Unfortunately, that too suffers from major setbacks, and the result is a lag experience that varies and switches from tolerable to excruciating depending on who you're up against. A patch is being worked on to correct this problem, so here's hoping that combos will hit and no slowdowns happen in future matches.

Besides the fighting, Tekken 6 brings back the story mode and Tekken Force beat 'em up minigame many have enjoyed in past installments. However, all these features have been combined into a single mode - Scenario Mode, which basically depicts the adventures of Lars and Alissa as they trot around the Tekken Universe via a mini map that opens new points as you progress. Players can play this solo or let a friend join in to play through the campaign, which slowly fleshes out the King Of Iron Fist Tournament 6 from Lars and Alissa's perspective. In addition, you can swap either of the two with other fighters you unlock as you progress through the mode, but it does not change the outcome of the main story altogether. To play and get each character's unique opening and ending, players must enter "Arena" in the mini map and use the characters they've unlocked in Scenario Mode there. It's back to one on one fighting at this point, and depending on which character you choose, the opponents and outcome will always be different. It may seem a bit inaccessible at first if you just want to play your character's favorite story, but a little patience and easy gameplay will get you to where you want in no time. Besides, this mode allows you to get more money and items to use in customizing your favorite characters, so there's hardly any reason to complain... save for the brainless A.I opponents.

After all is said and done, Tekken 6 is another smash hit brawler that fans of the series may want to pick up and check out. The gameplay is brutal, the graphics are breathtaking, and the sound and music will take you straight into the squared (or no wall) circle. A few flaws present themselves in the form of replay value, online play, and regrettably Scenario Mode, but the game is definitely a fighting game full of potential, and there are several ways to enjoy it that will have people coming back more and more to beat out the competition.Right now, I'm waiting for the PSP version, so I can take the fight with me and play on the go as I please. So to cap all this off, let me ask you this - "What do you fight for?" You be the judge and figure it out. Get ready for the next battle.

Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 10/10
Gameplay - 8/10
Replay Value - 8/10

Score - 9/10