Friday, December 21, 2012

Doomsday & Beyond's Last Minute Gift Ideas

Batman Vol.1: Court of Owls

Scott Snyder is becoming a definitive Batman writer by displaying his unique talents in the pages of the New 52’s Batman relaunch. Court of Owls is the first story arc in this new series, which details the rise of a secret society that has existed since Gotham’s origins. Batman: Court of Owls is considered arguably the best story arc since the start of the New 52, and only continues to get better as the series shifts into The Night of Owls and then into Death of the Family, which is currently being told. Snyder describes Batman the way we all picture him, in a dark, realistic world. Be sure to get the first collected edition of what is sure to be a legendary DC Comics series for many years to come.
Batman- Detective Comics Vol.1: Faces of Death
It’s a rare thing when one person writes and draws for a comic book series, and its even more rare when that series is absolutely fantastic. Written and illustrated by Tony Daniel, Detective Comics has been one of the best series that has emerged from the New 52 reboot and gets better with every issue. The series launches with a seven-issue story arc called Faces of Death. It shows us classic, dark Batman in a world full of gritty, detailed imagery they wouldn’t even show in a movie. A new villain is introduced, calling himself the Dollmaker. His specialty involves taking the faces of people, like the Joker. Oh, and did I mention the Joker and the Penguin appear in this volume? Detective Comics also places a lot more focus on Bruce’s personal life, including his personal relationships and friendship to Commissioner Gordon. Horrific, but mesmerizing art, combined with story-driven action makes this first volume of Detective Comics a “must buy”.
Green Lantern: Blackest Night
Blackest Night is an epic event that spreads across nearly every major comic series from Batman to Superman to Green Lantern and the GL Corps. This collected edition brings together the complete story arc from the Green Lantern comic book series written by the imaginative Geoff Johns and beautifully illustrated by Doug Mahnke. An evil force from the Guardians’ past resurfaces and brings the undead with it. Black Hand and the rest of the Black Lanterns rise from the ground, forcing all the other colored Lanterns to work together, meaning Hal Jordan and Sinestro must once again be partners. Johns brings all the best qualities from throughout this GL series and puts them into overdrive for this story, which has become a modern classic. This series may be a few years old, but it is certainly a must have for any DC Comics fan.
Grant Morrison’s Batman & Robin
Morrison proves that a Batman series can be successful, even if Bruce Wayne is not a part of it. Taking place after the events of Final Crisis and Batman R.I.P (both written by Morrison), Batman and Robin examines the hardships of Dick Grayson filling the shoes of the Dark Knight while attempting to train and discipline Bruce’s long, lost son Damian. New villains are utilized like Toad and Professor Pyg, while old ones return like the Red Hood. This is one of the most unique series because it is so rare. A Batman series that focuses on the symbol of Batman, rather then Bruce Wayne himself. This is certainly one of the best comic book series that took place before the New 52 reboot, and while the New 52 is awesome, it’s a shame that it had to put at end to a series like this one. Go get this rare series just in time for Christmas and enjoy the new, yet old, dynamic duo.
Frank Millar’s The Dark Knight Returns
This is considered the best graphic novel of all time, and it’s all because of Frank Millar’s superb writing style and his gritty artwork that works perfectly for the particular piece. The story focuses on a 55 year-old Bruce Wayne who has hung up his cape and cowl, retired from crime fighting for the past 10 years. Written at a time when Batman was considered a “lighter character” or a “respectable crime fighter”, and not a vigilante, Millar reinvents the character for a new generation. He truly created “The Dark Knight” in this story, giving us a story that every comic fan must read at least 3 times… I’m not kidding, it’s just that great. Every time you read it, you will understand something new about the story. Batman returns to a dark world that has forgotten him, with a new, edgy attitude and a darker way of displaying justice. Superman also returns to oppose him and bring the vigilante to justice. And the Joker also returns, with one last trick up his sleeve. What more can you ask for? Well, you can ask for a lot more, but this graphic novel should definitely be on your Christmas list.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #699

Full spoilers of issue follow…

Not great. Not bad. Just average, but necessary nonetheless. #698 left us with one of the greatest cliffhangers in recent Spidey memory: Spiderman reveals himself as Dr. Octopus, controller of Peter Parker’s body, while the real mind of Peter lies in the dying body of Doc Ock. I had big expectations for this issue, but maybe I expected too much. I imagined them going farther with the story then they did, so they must be saving all the good stuff for #700. As usual, Humberto Ramos provided excellent, animated artwork, especially the close-up shots of Dr. Octopus, which were very detailed. Writer Dan Slott did good too, but not quite “amazing”.

I don’t blame Slott himself, in fact, the story that he has created and the finale he is leading up to has been, and is sure to be, nothing short of spectacular. My biggest concern with this issue is that it was basically an “in-between” issue; a filler story that briefly gave us some insight on the secret of how Dr. Octopus switched their minds, as well as how Peter planned his escape with the help of some of his old foes. As I said, Slott didn’t do anything poorly, his only crime was holding off on the most important aspects of the story arc until the climax next issue.

There wasn’t much Slott could do dramatically with his title character lying motionless in a life support machine, barely able to speak, but he was able to come through some pretty decent content. As we all know, Spiderman is famous for having great thought-bubbles and narration, which was proven here. Peter imagining all the horrible things Doc Ock is doing in his body, as Spiderman and as Peter Parker, combined with Peter’s new ability to tap into Ock’s hidden memories added some good panels, giving Ramos opportunities to draw character sand situations other then a dying Ock.

Overall, this story was a great filler issue that took us another step closer to the big #700, which, as I stated earlier, should contain all the great action, storytelling and artwork that we’ve been waiting 699 issues to see. I give this issue:

7.5 / 10

The Amazing Spiderman #700 hits the stands December 26th.
See you then, true believers!

Friday, November 30, 2012

WOW: Spiderman #700, coming soon!

      What are the odds? Spider-man #700 being released at the very end of 2012, which also marks the 50th birthday for old Spidey. It truly is a story book ending, and a hell of an ending it will be. If you have been fortunate enough to be following the recent stories leading up to the big 700, you'd know that things aren't looking to bright for Peter Parker (as if they ever do). The advertisements suggest this is the "end" of Spider-man and judging how the stories are currently trending, the "end" is certainly near. But for confirmed answers you'll just have to purchase the comic on December 26th, as well as #699 on December 5th, or mooch of your friend. As for now, here is the confirmed cover of #700, enjoy.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Green Lantern's Light: Something New (Part 5 of 5)

“The Guardians of the Universe are planning to replace us with something else. Something called the Third Army.”

-       Sinestro, Green Lantern #11 (New 52)

In August of 2011, Geoff Johns released the mini-series titled Flashpoint, which essentially created a new multi-verse now called the “New 52”. In this Universe, 52 new comic series were created, all reverting back to issue #1 and returning most of their classic characters to their early years. One character and comic series in particular though only reverted the issue number to #1, but retained the story, continuing from the series which began in 2005, Green Lantern.

Geoff Johns continues his run on GL, beginning where issue 67 of the previous series left off: Sinestro returning to the Green Lantern Corps and Hal Jordan being banned from it. It doesn’t take long for Sinestro to disobey the orders of the Guardians and retrieve Hal Jordan to help him save his home world. Johns kicks off the series with many great arcs, which reflect the work done on the previous series. From Sinestro and Jordan battling an army of Sinestro Corps members on his home world, to learning the secret origins of the Indigo Tribe, to the return of Black Hand from Blackest Night, there is certainly no shortage of entertainment in this series so far.

We are currently in the middle of a substantial plot, affecting all Green Lantern series called “Rise of the Third Army”, which details the Guardians plan to wipe out the Corps and replace them with new creatures unable to express emotion or disobey order; essentially the perfect soldiers and soldiers that will not be easily defeated. GL is currently focusing on a new member of the Corps while the whereabouts of Sinestro and Jordan remain unknown and with the added success of the Green Lantern Animated Series, the character and the comics will only increase in popularity. Geoff Johns and many other writers who’ve worked on the franchise have proven time and time again that Green Lantern has surely claimed his rightful place among the top heroes in the DC Universe.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Green Lantern's Light: Rebirth (Part 4 of 5)

“You have been chosen for one reason, among many others. You are a man that will overcome great fear. Hal Jordan of Earth- do you accept this duty?”

-       Abin Sur, Green Lantern #1 (2005)

Geoff Johns, superstar comic book writer, is renowned for his new interpretations on classic characters like Barry Allen’s Flash, Aquaman and Hal Jordan. Johns’ Rebirth detailed the rebuilding of the Green Lantern Corps, with two Lanterns stationed on a sector. His most daunting task of all was to revive Hal Jordan; a character now lost, literally, in the essence of the Spectre, the spirit of vengeance. Rebirth begins where GL comics ended, with Kyle Rayner patrolling the 3600 known sectors solo, as John Stewart remains on Earth as a member of the Justice League. The Spectre is becoming more prominent in the story as Sinestro looks to unleash his ultimate weapon.

     Johns warped the origins of Hal Jordan’s descent into darkness, explaining how it was an alien entity created entirely of fear energy, which saw the revenge and loss in Jordan after Coast City was destroyed, and decided to cash in on its opportunity. Overall, Johns created an almost perfect story and an even better Green Lantern story and single-handedly revived the greatest Lantern and displayed the importance of his presence in the DC universe, comparing him to the greatest heroes and proving he is just as good, if not better at saving the world.

    Johns and artist Carlos Pacheco launched the new GL series in 2005, continuing the plot from the end of Rebirth and returning the focus of the series entirely on Jordan. Some alterations were made, especially to villains like Hector Hammond and Black Hand. With other artists joining the series, like Ivan Reis and Doug Manke, the series took off making Green Lantern as well known and popular in the hearts of fans as Superman or Batman. The 2005 GL series created some of the best story arcs in modern comics.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Green Lantern's Light: The Last Lantern (Part 3 of 5)

“My name is Kyle Rayner. When I was a kid I never could decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. Now I know. I’m a Green Lantern. I’m a hero.”

-       Kyle Rayner, New Earth

     Green Lantern comics in 1990 were sadly becoming outdated. Though I would never blame the writers, they just had a difficult time coming up with “revolutionary” stories with the character. There could only be so many different space missions to so many different planets before people grew tired of those stories. When sales tremendously dropped, management ordered the GL creative team to spice things up, to reinvent aspects of the characters and the adventures they had. The plan was to create a big enough change to bump the sales. Not only did this plan work, it led into the Emerald Twilight saga.

     After the destruction of Hal Jordan’s home town Coast City occurred, at the hands of Mongul and Cyborg-Superman, Jordan became stricken with grief, frustration and ultimately fear. But revenge was the prominent emotion in his heart, revenge that inspired him to gain more power, enough to destroy those who destroyed everything he loved. Hal Jordan, once considered the greatest Green Lantern of all became the most feared and the most dangerous. This newfound power, stolen from Lanterns he had killed and other sources like the central power battery of the planet Oa, led him to become the tyrant called Parallax. Parallax challenged the most powerful heroes in the universe with his awesome might, including the Justice League, which occurred in the story arc titled Zero Hour: Crisis in Time, in 1994.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Green Lantern's Light: Birth of the Corps (Part 2 of 5)

“They say I’m fearless, but actually I’m very afraid. Of getting beat. Of backing down. Of chickening out. That fear just blows all the others away.”

- Hal Jordan, New Earth

           One of DC’s cancelled Golden Age heroes is revived through the eyes of editor Julius Schwartz. Having successfully reestablished the Flash in the form of Barry Allen, Schwartz was assigned the daunting task of recreating the Green Lantern for the Silver Age of comics.

         Hal Jordan, a young test pilot is the first earthling to be selected into the Green Lantern Corps (an army of “space cops”, each with an assigned sector of the universe to protect). The Corps was created by a race of immortal aliens called the Guardians of the Universe. The entire premise of the Green Lantern was redesigned by Schwartz and his creative crew, giving writer John Broome and artist Gil Kane a chance to expand, not only on the character of Hal Jordan, but on nearly 3000 other Lanterns. Story plots and villains took our hero above the stars and to new worlds with new alien races. Green Lantern now featured elements of fiction that you just couldn’t get from any other hero. Even Superman, an alien himself, was still, for the most part, earth-bound in his stories. Hal Jordan boldly went where no other hero in the Silver Age dared to go: the 3600 known sectors of the Universe and even a few unknown sectors as well.

        Hal’s popularity soon rivaled his superhero comrades, giving him his own comic-title, which soon resulted in making him a founding member of the original Justice League of America (again, created by Julius Schwartz). Jordan became very popular and arguably as recognizable a hero as Superman or Batman. In Green Lantern #59 of 1968, Guy Gardner was chosen as Jordan’s “backup” to protect sector 2814. Gardner was originally one of Abin Sur’s original choices for the ring, but since Jordan’s air force base was closer to Abin Sur’s crashed spaceship, Hal was chosen instead. Although Gardner is cocky and arrogant, and has an overconfidence that has gotten him into trouble on numerous occasions, the Guardians have found him to be one of the greatest and most trustworthy Lanterns.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Green Lantern's Light: All-American (Part 1 of 5)

“In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night, no evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil’s might, beware my power, Green Lantern’s Light!”

-       Oath of the Green Lanterns

  The initial concept of the Green Lantern was created by Martin Nodell and Bill Finger (co-creator of Batman). His name was Alan Scott, the first Lantern, although at the time of his creation, he was considered the only Green Lantern. The character debuted in All-American Comics #16 in July of 1940, becoming one of the first Golden Age superheroes after Superman and Batman. Much like the Flash (another Golden Age creation) Alan Scott’s first superhero costume choice was a few details short of being “super”. While the Flash wore a long-sleeved shirt with a helmet resembling the god Hermes’ and wings on his boots, Alan Scott wore a green mask, with a green cape and a baggy, red shirt, yes, red. Needless to say the costume was poorly designed, but is still instantly recognizable as Scott’s suit nonetheless. The ring itself went through some alterations throughout the Lantern’s history. The ring we know today is powerless against the color yellow, the color of fear, while the ring of the Alan Scott was only useless against wood (for some reason).

 Alan Scott, a railroad engineer, comes across a green lantern after a train crash. Strange energy from the lantern tells him of his new powers and how he must use those powers to protect the planet. After becoming wildly successful in All-American Comics, Scott was awarded his very own comics-title. Not too long after that, Scott joined his fellow Golden Age heroes in the pages of All-Star Comics, home to the Justice Society of America, the very first superhero team of DC. Now starring in three, on-going titles, Green Lantern’s success boosted his popularity and became almost as recognizable as Superman and Batman, in America at least.

Monday, October 15, 2012

I Just Want a Good JLA Game!

​      I've recently discovered the iPad/iPhone app: Justice League by netmarble. A fun, interactive game that allows you playable access of the five main heroes: Superman, Batman, Wonderwoman, The Flash and Green Lantern, each equipped with three additional costumes and skill add-ons. The best part about this fun little game is the fact that you can run around in a closed off city, fighting henchmen and battling the villain at the end of each map. This may not seem so attractive to the fan who wants the complex, "thinking man's game", but it sure could act as a starting point. One game that accurately reflects the look, style and gameplay feel of the app was Justice League: Heroes, released a few years back. The premise was almost the same, but with slightly better graphics. I've enjoyed playing this app, unlocking costumes and upgrading my character's skills more then I should, which can only mean that this game got something right. 
​      The reason I'm going on about this little game is because I like the way it was made. After hearing about the release of Injustice:Gods Among Us, and after realizing the game would feel like DC vs. MC or street fighter, I was, least to say, very disappointed. It looks as though it has good graphics, could be enjoyable, but repetitive, even more so then the app. 
​      When I picture a game based around the Justice League or any other characters of the DCU, I picture an game epic, the likes of which would astound any fanboy who plays it. The creators of these games can learn from legendary superhero games like the Arkham's or even Lego Batman. The combination of level-based gameplay with open-world environments would be fun as any member of the League, and adding a good storyline (maybe even a classic from the comics like Crisis) and challenging villains would only increase it's popularity. Sure, for now I'm fine with the Street Fighter style, but I want a game that accurately captures what it's like to be a hero in the DCU. Oh, and I know of the existence of the DC Universe game for PS3 and computers, but I'm an Xbox guy myself, and I want me some new, innovative JLA action!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The New 52: Justice League

      It had to happen eventually. Over a year of released issues and I’m finally devoting an article to DC’s The New 52, and what better comic series to begin with then Justice League. Written by the legendary Geoff Johns (Green Lantern, Flashpoint) and illustrated by the equally legendary Jim Lee (Batman: Hush), Justice League kicked off the New 52 with a bang! (Minor spoilers follow).

      So basically, The New 52 is set in a universe that is made up of three separate universes, which were accidentally fused together during the Flashpoint mini-series. The New 52 has replaced all other previous series, starting all the DC comics back at #1 and changing some elements of the characters themselves. I can go on and on about the specific changes made throughout the relaunch, but ill just stick with Justice League for now. The first story arc called “Origin” takes place “five years ago”, where only heroes like Batman and Flash have been operating as “heroes” for some time. The story revolves around the meeting of these characters. Superman, Wonderwoman and Green Lantern have only just started out as crime fighters and Cyborg’s origin is revealed in this arc. After getting into disputes amongst each other, they soon have to put aside their differences to stop an alien invasion from Darkseid and his minions from Apokolpis (told you it started out with a bang).

      Each of the League’s characters have their own titles in the relaunch, except for Cyborg, where their full origins are displayed in further detail. JL kept it simple, fast-paced, and easy on the eyes thanks to terrific artwork by Mr. Lee. Lee was also responsible for the many character design changes such as Cyborg resembling “a walking tank”, or Superman no longer in red tights, to Batman and pretty much every other characters wearing more detailed costumes, almost resembling armor. I must say that I was very impressed with the look of the heroes and the series in general. After a year of publishing it is clear that JL is one of the more popular and dominant of the New 52, thanks to Lee and Johns.

      Justice League Vol.1: Origin is now available in hardcover, collecting the first six issues of the series, and JL # 13 will hit the stands on October 17th. I know you’re all just as excited as I am.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Future of Superhero Gaming

       From the Spiderman Atari 2600 videogame released in 1982 all the way to Batman: Arkham City and beyond. Superhero games have been around almost as long as Pong itself, evolving into what is an entertainment phenomenon today. Hundreds of millions of people, of all ages, play superhero videogames everyday and the total number will only increase as these games become more dominant and engaging and more reflective of their comic book counterparts. There have been a few misfires in recent years including: Green Lantern Rise of the Manhunters, Captain America, and Thor God of Thunder. Fortunately for hardcore fans, there have been even more games that have truly captured the essence of the characters its representing, making us forget all about those bad ones.
Within the last year we’ve seen the release of Lego Batman 2, a fun, comedic take on classic heroes and villains playable and enjoyable for children and adults. The Amazing Spiderman, a nicely developed “sequel” to the film truly capturing what it means to “do whatever a spider can.” And of course, Batman Arkham City, my personal favorite and the most realistic representation of the caped crusader ever. Never before have you been able to feel this much like the real vigilante. The key to a good superhero game involves staying true to the characters and doing what works. As the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” When the design and gameplay of a game works and sells, don’t alter it for the sake of altering it. We enjoyed it before and we’ll enjoy it again. Having said that, the right change in this business comes around quite rarely. The near future of superhero videogames depends on:

The Avengers: Battle For Earth (October 30th, 2012)
       Being released for the Wii and Xbox 360, Battle For Earth will mark the first anticipated superhero game for the Kinect. I’m not too sure how this game will do in the reviews or whether it will be fun, but I do know that even acting out the powers of superheroes and having them appear on the screen in front of you could be kind of cool. The game does allow you to play as heroes and villains, not just from the Avengers’ universe, but also from the entire Marvel universe.
What to do: If you liked the Avengers and are a fan of fighting games and are interested in how they will apply the powers of the characters, then you should get this game.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Smallville: Top 5 of Season Four

      Clark Kent’s last year of high school, the meeting of his future love, a teaser into his greatest ability, and an all too familiar disaster for the people of Smallville. Season Four may be the greatest season of them all. It’s sad to believe that the memorable “high school” moments and storylines disappear after this year, unfortunately declining the likeness of the show. This season produced so many great episodes that I had trouble narrowing it down to only five. These may not be your favorite shows of the season, but they are mine and hopefully my little analysis of each will change your mind. (Spoilers of episodes follow)

5. Transference
    Most comic book shows feature an episode that involves the hero and the villain transferring minds. It gives us a break from all the seriousness of usual storylines and allows the writers to have some creative fun, showing us what each character would do in the other’s body if they had their life, or in Clark’s case, their powers! While Lionel transfers into Clark’s body, Clark is left in prison in Lionel’s “shoes”. It was interesting to see each actor act like the other’s character, but when it was all over I was glad to see everyone back to normal. Not an overly important episode to the story arc of the season, but a much-needed break from serious stories previously told before it.
Favorite Moment: Jonathan asks Clark (Lionel) to lift a tractor above his head in order for Jonathan to fix it. Lionel appears amazed at his newfound strength, along with the shock that Clark Kent is no ordinary farm boy.

4. Crusade
      Kryptonian crystals have been scattered around the world and are said to have unlimited power when combined together. Lex is already on the hunt while his father sits in a jail cell after his arrest last season; an overly large cell, even if he’s rich. Clark meets Lois Lane in an awkward moment out in a cornfield. After three months of “fulfilling his destiny” for Jor-el, Clark returns home, but as Kal-el, an emotionless, heartless person with only the hunt for the crystals on his mind. It is in this form when Clark, or Kal-el. Flies for the very first time of the series in a spectacular scene that just sends chills down any true Superman fan’s spine every time they watch it. The season premiere also guest stars Margot Kidder as well as black kryptonite.
Favorite Moment: After declaring that Clark Kent is dead, Kal-el shoves his adoptive earth mother to the ground as he slowly builds force beneath his feet, lifting him up into the sky, flying at incredible speeds. Unfortunately this is something we would not see again until the last season.

3. Onyx
      You ever notice how it’s sometimes hard to tell whether Lex is telling the truth or not? Is his plan for good or for evil? Is he being a good friend or is he just benefiting himself? Well in Onyx, black kryptonite returns and separates Lex into two people, a good, descent friend and an evil mastermind bent on complete control of anything he wants. This episode gives us the very first, official Clark vs. Lex showdown. Lex also discovers Clark’s origins and his weakness, almost killing him with a kryptonite ring. Luckily Clark gets aid from the “good” Lex and eventually the two are put back together again. Clark fears he may never trust Lex again after seeing what he truly is deep down.
Favorite Moment: Wearing a classic kryptonite ring, Lex defeats Clark, threatens the Kent family and declares his main objective of control, the world!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Avengers 2: What Can We Expect From A Billion Dollar Movie's Sequel?

Some spoilers follow:
      As everyone whose seen The Avengers and had the good sense to stay a while longer after the initial credits should know, Thanos will be the next villain in the film franchise. Thanos was an alien called The Mad Titan in the comics and sought the destructive power of a mystical device called the Infinity Gauntlet, a weapon briefly seen in the Asgardian weapons chamber in Thor. We will most likely see his power-hungry quest for the Gauntlet as the Avengers try to stop him. Along with Thanos comes the rest of the Shitari, the aliens from the first film, which hints at yet another alien invasion.
     The Ant-Man film has been officially announced and is currently in pre-production. Its expected release is before the Avengers sequel. This assumes the Ant-Man film will introduce its title hero: Hank Pym along with his wife Janet Pym, the Wasp (two of the original team members from the comics). If the movie is a hit there is no doubt the two characters will be integrated into Avengers 2 to join the original cast of heroes and possibly more additions.
     The three main heroes of the Avengers are announced to have sequels of their own and are already in production of some of them. These movies, however, are not meant to continue from the Avengers directly. Each film’s storyline does take place shortly after the events of the Avengers, but will focus solely on the individual hero. This will give a chance for the creators and writers to explore the heroes outside of the team-up atmosphere and frees the films from having continuity between them, something that was needed in their first films.
      In an alternate ending to the first film, viewable in the special features, shows us Maria Hill meeting the council on her own. The scene suggests she has taken the role of acting head of SHIELD away from Nick Fury (a story choice made in recent comics). Seeing as how Hill was not too fond of the Avengers Initiative in the first place, who knows how this change of management with SHIELD will affect their relation with the team in the sequel.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Justice League: Fantasy Roster

      Speculation increases, as time draws us closer to the expected release of the Justice League film in 2015, as to what the exact lineup of heroes will be. Factoring together obvious names, heroes that could co-exist, and characters right for the times, I’ve comprised a short list of heroes who could be featured in the film:

Clark Kent/ Superman:
      The Man Of Steel movie has been announced as the last DC film until 2015. This begs the question as to whether DC will follow the route of the Avengers franchise, by featuring most characters in a solo film first, or jump right into JL in 2015. Rumors aim towards the ladder, which makes me realize that Superman may be the main character out of the team, as he should be. Much like Ironman who received two films while his fellow heroes only received one prior to Avengers, Superman may be the star of the show in JL if he is in fact the only one getting a solo film before it.  The movie may feature some recruiting making Superman the recruiter being the only hero that will “exist” at the beginning of the film.
      While Batman and the Flash have the larger rogue’s galleries, Superman’s are more built for planetary destruction, which could pose a threat to the entire team. Zod is the announced villain for the Man Of Steel leaving some choices like Brainiac, Darkseid and Apokolips or Mongul and War World. If Superman’s villains are used in the movie then he will undoubtedly be the central focus. While the idea of an attack from Apokolips or War World would be a spectacle to behold on the big screen, I think they should stay away from the “invasion” motif (to which the Avengers used) and perhaps create stories more emotional and self-involving (meaning the only alien planet mentioned should be Krypton, and maybe Oa). I’ve always envisioned a battle with Superman and the rest of the JL. Perhaps Superman (under mind control, Poison Ivy dust etc.) becomes an enemy of the JLA and is forced to battle his teammates. The Red Son?! That would be more engaging to fans then just a big alien invasion. We’ll see.

Diana Prince/ Wonderwoman:
      As much as I enjoy the fact they may be skipping the solo films to jump directly into JL, I feel that Wonderwoman’s origin is one of the many that shouldn’t be rushed. A summary should at least be made if that’s the case, but to save a lot of time I thin k she should already “exist” when the movie begins but maybe arrives in the “man’s world” for the first time. The casting for her part will need to be precise. I strong female price is needed considering she is the only female member of the League. So the guys who say, “Megan Fox would be an awesome Wonderwoman” are wrong. Seeing as she is the second strongest character of the team her role in the film’s battles will be pivotal especially if Superman does turn out to be the main adversary. But that is all speculation at this point.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Batman In a State of Flux: Modernization (Part 3 of 3)

“Oh, you. You just couldn't let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible, aren't you? You won't kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won't kill you because you're just too much fun… I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”

-       The Joker, The Dark Knight

     Critically acclaimed writer Jeph Loeb teams up with artist-legend Jim Lee to create Batman Hush, a two-part story that takes the vigilante on a crusade through Gotham, meeting the majority of his rogue’s gallery along the way. The pace was fast. It seemed as though every page, every panel, was dealing with an entirely different predicament, which would all link up by the end of the book. The first book focused on Batman battling such foes as Poison Ivy and Killer Croc, as well as having some aid from Oracle and Huntress. The book ends with a climactic showdown between Batman and Superman; an obvious nod to Frank Millar’s The Dark Knight Returns. Hush was renowned for having many supporting heroes and villains, but more so for giving each character a specific purpose in the story. Anyone who entered the story had something of importance to contribute to it. 
        Part two is where things started to heat up, as Batman forms an alliance with Catwoman in order to stop the Joker and Harley Quinn. The side-story in the second part showed us quick flashes of Bruce’s childhood with his parents and his childhood friend. After all the excitement and thrills, Batman is left to face his newest villain, the title character, Hush. After the book’s release, fans went crazy over the detail and representation of pretty much everything in the story, but it was Jim Lee’s incredible artwork that really shined and allowed the books to reach their full potential.

      Just eight years after the end of the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher film franchise, director Christopher Nolan brings the cinematic Batman back from the grave, in good fashion too. With Christian Bale, Liam Neeson and a large lineup of renowned actors, Batman Begins introduced fans to the modern vigilante of Gotham. While still as dark as the Burton films, Begins added a bit of lightness with clever jokes and a lot of heart. We finally got to see Batman’s origins on the big screen and see just what Bruce Wayne had to go through to become Gotham’s protector. The film also stood on its own by using great special and practical effects that only 21st century technology could provide as well as utilizing new villains, not seen in previous films: Scarecrow and Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Shadows. With a personal look at the Wayne family, an updated Batman for modern audiences and an action-filled, meaningful film, Batman was back on the big screen and would only get better as time went on.

      Batman sales in comics soared as he was featured in epic stories such as Infinite Crisis, which only increased his popularity. The large addition came in DC’s Final Crisis book, written by Grant Morrison, which saw the return of Darkseid, who has recently gained control of the Anti-Life Equation; the source that allows him to control the minds of others. Slowly he began taking control of the world’s most powerful beings. Batman and the rest of the JLA forged a plan to stop the ruler of Apokolips, which sadly ended with The Dark Knight’s death. Batman was burned to a crisp by Darkseid’s Omega beams, which became the cover image (if you haven’t seen it, it’s the website’s background, just to let you know). The death of Batman not only affected Final Crisis, but virtually all DC stories at that time. Superman stories mentioned his death, and his own stories had to cope and adjust to a world without Batman. A “sequel” to Final Crisis was released, also written by Grant Morrison, titled Batman R.I.P, which shut down any assumptions that he may still be alive. Fans weren’t sure what they would do in a world without Batman. Would this be another remake of the Death Of Superman in ‘93, or were they going to permanently kill of Bruce Wayne forever? Only time would tell, but fans quickly forgot about the troubles in the comics, as the greatest superhero movie of all time was released, The Dark Knight.
    With Christopher Nolan returning to direct the sequel to Batman Begins, The Dark Knight starred Christian Bale as Batman, in an even darker and more depressing story then the first, and Heath Ledger as the Joker, a performance that will go down as one of the most creative and visually astonishing in film history. Ledger used strange mannerisms and a certain tone, which was on par with the Joker from the comics, but original, turning the Joker into what could be viewed as a real person. Something that was hard to imagine with Nicholson’s Joker in Burton’s film. 
     It seemed as though Batman Begins established the new, modern and realistic nature of Batman and The Dark Knight perfected it. We really believed that Batman could exist in that world, and the performances from each actor only contributed to the atmosphere of the film. With unbelievable action sequences, praised performances and a storyline so original and so perfect, The Dark Knight is undeniably the best superhero film of all time, and is up there in movie ratings in general. The film grossed a total of $1,003,045,358 at the box office making it one of the best selling movies of all time (take that Avengers!)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Batman In a State of Flux: The Dark Knight Is Born (Part 2 of 3)


“This should be agony. I should be a mass of aching muscle — broken, spent, unable to move. And, were I an older man, I surely would... But I'm a man of 30 — of 20 again. The rain on my chest is a baptism. I'm born again.”

-       Batman, The Dark Knight Returns

      The Dark Knight Returns, written by Frank Millar was released in a series of issues in 1986, and became one of the best-selling comics of all time. Known for his innovative perspectives of stories and tendency to go beyond the proverbial “norm” of society, Millar had used all of his creative talents and then some to create what is said to be the greatest Batman story ever. The Dark Knight Returns focuses on a 55 year-old Bruce Wayne, forced to come out of retirement to protect Gotham once again, this time from a group of visually altered humans called mutants. Equipped with a new, tank-like Batmobile, a new female Robin and a brand new arsenal of weapons, Batman returns to prove that Gotham will survive as long as he lives.
       Millar’s writing for the piece gave us a view of both Bruce and Batman as old, depressed individuals living with incredible amounts of guilt, unable to move on. While the writing helped fans realize the dark story and serious dialogue, the original penciling, again done by Millar, introduced us to a new looking city and a Batman unlike we’ve ever seen before. The great inking by Klaus Janson and coloring by Lynn Varley helped convey the overall tone. With heavy black ink featured in every page and faded colors it indicated this was no fun place to be.
      As well as battling an army of mutant followers, Batman evaded the police force as well as Superman, both hunting down The Dark Knight for his arrest. Batman also confronted his oldest nemesis the Joker, which added a nice, needed flare to the story that only the Clown Prince of Crime could provide. Comic fans around the world owe Frank Millar a debt of gratitude for providing us with superhero content that ultimately changed the way fans viewed the character of Batman. He wasn’t seen as Batman, the Caped Crusader anymore, he was now known as Batman, The Dark Knight.

       After the success of Frank Millar’s initial take on Batman, people requested more from the writer, so he gave it to them. In the following year Millar wrote Batman: Year One, which dived into the characters origins, adding some subplots and updating the story, as well as providing young fans with a detailed look at his origins who may not have read the original story in Detective Comics. The book was very successful, being written by the biggest writer in comics at that point, it was hard for fans to resist the temptation to read more of Frank Millar’s Batman. The book is most famous for centering on James Gordon, rather then the conventional superhero origin story. Batman’s tale was still used quite well, but most of the situations in the book came from the point of view of Gordon, something that was quite unique in superhero stories.
       Millar’s success with his two books sparked other writers to create a “dark” Batman story of their own. The first, and probably most shocking of the long list of innovations following Millar was The Killing Joke, written by Alan Moore, another successful new writer in that year. Released in 1988, The Killing Joke saw the Joker commit a series of unspeakable, evil deeds, all directed at Commissioner Gordon and his family. The story ultimately ended with the torturing of Gordon and the crippling of Barbara after a gunshot to the stomach. This story inadvertently created a new character for the future DC universe, Oracle: Barbara Gordon, retired from her role of Batgirl and aiding the Dark Knight via com-link.
       By the end of 1988, it was Jim Starlin’s turn to write the next, shocking Batman story. By this point, the role of Robin was assumed by Jason Todd, an older, and more lethal and rebellious teenager who didn’t sit well with some fans. Dennis O’Neil, now an editor at DC realized this about the character and gave the fate of Jason’s future to the fans. They were given the chance to vote as to whether Jason would live or die, and as we all know, A Death In The Family was created and Robin was dead. While it was a triumphant release, some fans were a little heartbroken over the loss of Robin, which would be short lived. Just a year after Jason’s death, Tim Drake was introduced into the Bat-Universe, solved the identity of Batman single-handedly, putting all previous villains to shame, and quickly became the new Robin. On the plus side, Tim was much more well liked then Jason, but just because the guy was a little short-tempered, didn’t mean we had to kill him off, right?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Batman In a State of Flux: Inconsistency (Part 1 of 3)

"Without warning, it comes... crashing through the window of your study, and mine... I have seen it before... somewhere. It frightened me as a boy... frightened me. Yes, father. I shall become a bat."

-       Bruce Wayne, Batman: Year One

National Allied Publications has had great success with their newly created Superman character in Action Comics that they turn to their writers in Detective Comics to create a new superhero. They wanted him to be similar to Superman, yet different. In May of that year Detective Comics #27 hit the stands, with a familiar character on the cover; swinging through the air with an assumed criminal under his arm as two others watch helplessly from a rooftop nearby. The image instantly struck a nerve in any young reader viewing it. They knew that this would be something special.
        Orphaned at a young age, Bruce Wayne watched his parents get gunned down in Crime Alley right before his eyes. One would wonder what kind of impression this would have on an eight year-old. Using his parents’ large amount of funds, Bruce Wayne traveled the world “seeking the means to fight injustice, and turn fear on those who prey on the fearful” and learning all the skills necessary for his future war on crime. It was only after his all-to-familiar encounter with a bat did he adopt a symbol to ensure his status as Gotham’s protector, as the Batman.

        It became increasing evident that Batman needed a companion of sorts. Yes, there was Alfred, but some felt he should have someone to communicate to in the field, so to speak. A partner. Detective Comics #38, released in April of 1940 saw the emergence of Robin the Boy Wonder, creating a new “dynamic” to Batman’s character, and ultimately creating a new wave of superhero sidekicks in the many years to come. Many would say the addition of the teenage hero was unnecessary, and I would agree, along with hundreds, if not thousands, of disappointed fans in the 40’s seeing how the Robin add-on made Batman’s universe just a little too happy then it ought to be. Nevertheless, the character survived, grew in the hearts of fans and is still relevant and a much needed addition to the Bat-universe.
      The Caped Crusader also received his very own solo title, much like Superman before him. Now he was in two monthly comics. The first issue of “Batman” will be remembered fondly, not just because it was the first, but more so because of its launch of the Joker and Catwoman, two pivotal characters in Batman’s history.
The writer’s at “DC” were sipping on champagne, relaxing back in their lawn chairs, laughing at the wildly unexpected success at their two franchise characters. It was only when they apparently sobered up that they realized putting these two heroes in one story would create an unstoppable force. In fall of 1940, Superman and Batman were now featured in a monthly story together in World’s Finest Comics, forming a partnership and friendship that still exists in comics today. Batman and Robin were now seen as respectable citizens in the eyes of comic book readers and the citizens within the stories. Having now teamed up with Superman on a monthly basis, people just came to except that Batman was just as friendly and trustworthy as the Man of Steel, but that’s not who Batman is, right? Well, it’s who he was then.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

WOW: DC's Crisis

       Some of the most critically acclaimed DC Comics stories involve the word "crisis" in the title. Crisis On Infinite Earth's, Infinite Crisis, Identity Crisis, Final Crisis and so much more. All completed with the highest level of professionalism and standards. Stories, whose art and story have become so much larger and more renown then even their creator's could have foreseen. This is DC Crisis and these are the some of the best Crisis wallpapers released so far. Enjoy!

DC's "Final Crisis" written by Grant Morrison.
DC's "Infinite Crisis" written by Geoff Johns.
DC's "Crisis On Infinite Earths" written by Marv Wolfman.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Flash In 2015: He Can Only Get Here So Fast...

    Faster than a speeding bullet and not nearing as powerful as a locomotive: no its not Superman but it is the Flash. The original version was a member of the Justice Society back in the Golden Age of comics and has been a mainstream superhero for many, many decades. Ever since the recreation of the character in Barry Allen for the Silver Age the Flash has pretty much been a fan favorite and featured in some of the greatest comic book stories and television cartoons in the companies history. One thing the character hasn't been featured in however is a feature length, big budget film. Mathematically speaking it is almost unheard of that this character has not been made into a film, especially the way that technology has advanced and the fact that DC movies of late (excluding TDK trilogy of course) have generally been negatively received by audiences. The Flash has pretty much been announced to co-star with a large group of superheroes in the upcoming Justice League movie in 2015, but a hero this complex and well-loved should have the well deserved privilege to star in his own adventure, at least before joining his fellow heroes. 

      Looking back on the hero's rich history of villains, one would easily be able to select an appropriate opponent for the Flash. Whether Captain Cold and his ice powers could 
be an amazing spectacle with special effects, or the Mirror Master as an intelligent, deceptive villain. One nemesis that comes to mind, who would also pose the biggest threat to our hero would be Zoom. Having the exact powers of the Flash, and in some cases being faster, he could represent a perfect detection of the "anti-hero" being almost the opposite of the Flash.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Superhero: More Than Just A Word

       The definition of superhero is defined as an extraordinary being with powers or abilities far beyond those of mortal humans, but superheroes represent more then just an apt description reminding us of how insignificant we are. Superheroes inspire us, motivate us and ultimately give us access into another universe full of characters supernatural and/or out of this world (literally). It starts at an early age, or birth if you have parents that dressed you up in a Superman costume at the hospital (do they even make costumes that small) and the appeal lasts a lifetime. What begins mostly as a harmless hobby or overwhelming obsession grows into a "career" of collectables, collections and objects deemed worthless to others, but priceless to its owner. These are comic book fans. Whether one was in the store when the first issue of Action Comics was released, or whether a young child just picked up the latest issue yesterday, comic fans are comic fans and they will never change. 

      It all started with the creation of a character born in the deep reaches of space, the last son of Krypton we've come to know as Superman. The tone darkens a year later when Batman is created. The first two superheroes opened a gateway into another reality, which would soon be inhabited by hundreds of thousands of heroes, villains, supporting cast, cities, galaxies, and tales so suspenseful they make us want more. At the root of it all one would look at a comic book fan and just assume that it's an interest, something to pass the time when we've finished our homework and have no date to the movies, but every fan knows that somewhere down the line we come to think of comics as more then just a piece of fiction, media created just for a few moments of enjoyment, but something real, another world we wish was our own with powers and lives we wish we had, characters we relate to and characters that we come to refer to as people, that we care for and cheer for. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Smallville: Top 5 Of Season Three

      After the lighter tones of the first two Smallville seasons, season three took a dark turn for most of our main characters. It seemed as though every other episode would have someone facing his or her inner demons or struggling through a surprisingly depressing story. That being said, it still produced great episodes, some of which are considered the best of the series, like these five:

5. Perry
      This episode featured the first appearance of (you guessed it) Perry White. This version of the character, however, is not like any other Perry Whites we’ve encountered in past media. Being recently fired from the Daily Planet and working for a low rated television studio that hunts the bizarre and unexplained, Mr. White becomes an alcoholic and almost hits Clark with his car. Half awake, White witnesses Clark’s display of powers and spends the rest of the episode trying to prove it. Clark however experiences power glitches due to a solar flare on the sun, which lead to some pretty good misuses of his abilities. White is an episode that introduces a new take on a classic character (something Smallville does a lot in the later seasons), includes action and comedy making it a good Smallville episode.
Favorite Moment: Clark struggles to lift a tractor thanks to the flare, then his powers go into overdrive as he accidentally launches the tractor a few miles away, landing right in front of the nosy Mr. White.

4. Exile
       Clark’s rebellious attitude is displayed at its finest in Exile. Having been exposed to red kryptonite for the past 3 months, Clark grows more and more careless. His judgment and well-being for others is compromised making him do unusual things such as rob a bank and even evade the police. This episode is a great representation of the danger Clark poses to the world should he ever lose sight of what’s right and wrong, not to mention this is a rare glimpse at an “evil” Clark; something we only see a handful of times during the show, but it is used perfectly here. We are also given a teaser into Lex’s delusions as he slowly loses his grip on reality.
Favorite Moment: A gang of clown mask-wearing criminals intends to rob a bank (where have I seen this before?) but a red kryptonite wearing Clark plans to take the money for himself and will take down anyone in his way.