Friday, June 28, 2013

Weekly Pull List 6-28-2013

Solid week this week as I start to prepare for the DC crossover of the summer, Trinity War. This story will cross the three Justice League books.

Let's start with Jusstice League 21. This is the finale of the Shazam backup storyline in the previous issues of Justice League. I am not a huge fan of the character so it wasn't great for me. It's very well written and the art is very solid. we see the introduction of the super-powered Batson family, as well as a super-powered tiger. Fantastic artwork and Geoff Johns' solid writing make it a solid book and if I cared about Shazam at all I would have enjoyed it more. 2.5 out of 5.

Next up is Justice League Dark 21. Again a wrap up to a story I haven't been following. It's a bunch of magical characters fighting Doctor Destiny. It was probably a good story guest starring the Swamp Thing and the wrap up is pretty good. Written by Jeff Lemire Ray Fawkes and art by Mikel Janin, the story was tight and crisp artwork really sold it. I enjoyed it although I would have liked it better had I read the full story, I imagine. The Flash makes an appearance as well zooming around the city and stopping other monsters. Without the cameos I would have enjoyed this much less as I have little background with most of the characters. Decent, but better with context. 3 out of 5.

Justice League of America 5 follows the JLA as they infiltrate the headquarters of the Secret Society as Catwoman has supposedly been killed. Alas! It was Martian Manhunter all along! Not a great reveal as I don't think anyone actually thought she was dead. This book actually serves as somewhat of a prelude to Trinity War as Steve Trevor and Amanda Waller discuss their team to see if they're ready to fight the Justice League. The wrap up of the Secret Society story works much better than the set up of the crossover. Not a great book, but it works all right for me. 3 out of 5.

Lazarus 1. The premiere issue of Greg Rucka's new story follows a dystopian future where wealth is power and power rests in a handful of families. They each have a superior family member called a Lazarus. The book opens with one such person, Forever Carlyle being shot dead. Then getting up and killing her assailants. It's incredibly intriguing and introduces us to a superbly built world where I am looking forward very much to exploring! There's hints of an undertone of family and love that I'm sure will be explored. Greg Rucka does fantastic work and the art by Lark is superb. Stylistic, yet beautiful and a very beautiful blue tinted palette. Three word review would be: Intriguing and Mysterious.
4.5 out of 5.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Weekly Pull List 6-19-2013

Very solid week for comics this week. I only picked up three books, but they are all great books.

We'll start with Sonic Universe 53 - We return to the world where the blue heroes take on the dastardly doctor duo. This issue wraps up part two of Worlds Collide by having the heroes rescue the rest of the roboticized masters (the friends of sonic turned into evil robotic versions.) They then start heading toward the base where Drs. Wily and Eggman are holding Dr. Light captive. Once again, good book. I think I'll hold off on reviews until the crossover is finished and just leave basic plot synopses for the issues. 4 out of 5

Next up we head to the beautiful, horrific, wild west in Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun 4. This title follows the story of the wicked General Hume's comrades and vicious teammates. I re-read all four issues today which is definitely the way to read it. It is great to see the villains' story outside of the main book. This issue's main story follows Silas as he arrives in a town and begins to investigate the mysterious disease taking hold of people and a bunch of livestock with strange injuries. A few of the infected beg for Silas to put them out of his misery. As his gun, the fourth, calls up the spirits of those it has killed he brings about a sort of cult. The book ends with him stumbling into a barn and finding a crazed looking lady taking a bite out of a cow's neck. Interesting story and fantastic to see a cult sort of story in a very atypical setting. Bunn and Hurtt do great work as always and this is a fantastic prequel mini series. This is probably my favorite issue so far. It's an interesting concept of having the bearers of each gun get their own story in this pseudo prequel. 5 out of 5.

Finally I got Sixth Gun 32. As part 3 of this story, I was a bit lost until I got a digital copy of issue 31 which still hasn't come in yet. This story is following Becky through her "Ghost Dance" as she is passed out in the desert. Drake and the others set off to find the supposed skinwalkers who are Hacking into her ghost dance to hunt Becky down at the behest of Missy Hume. This story is close to being the best of the series to date. Her fever dream of sorts takes her into the past where she finds out that The Six have been reincarnated throughout the years. We see them as tomahawks and later as swords as she appears in medieval times at a castle under attack by dragons. We see the dark past of the Six as they are used in sword form in a seal much like one we saw in the first arc. After they activate the seal Becky appears on a street in the middle of some town and is confronted by a pale, older version of Silas Hedgepath, wielder of the Fourth gun and his crew which resembles the other gun holders we've seen in the Sons of the Gun. I really like this issue! It's setting up for some really neat story to connect both books through Becky's dream while still keeping a great story going in the book's present time. The art always pops off the page to portray the wicked feeling of the book. The story takes turns that hint at a fantastic history of the Six and promises to fulfill the desire to see more. I've said it plenty, but if you aren't reading Sixth Gun, go pick up the trade paperbacks at your LCS. 5 out of 5.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Weekly Pull List 6-12-2013

Welcome back to another weekly segment of Dan's pull list. I've had a really busy week of work with many long days including working both jobs in one day so it was a well needed break to just sit back and read some comics. At least until I passed out and took a nap. Good week this week!

Helheim 4 - After hitting it's stride last month, Bunn moves us toward a war between Rikard and his undead army and the two witches. It's great stuff. As usual Joelle Jones' art is beautiful and works wonders to enhance the feel of the book. As before this issue is heading towards a fantastic battle between demons and the undead. It gets 4.5 out of 5. It doesn't do anything wrong, but I'm leaving room to grow as I believe it will.

Superman Unchained 1 - The premiere issue of the Scott Snyder written, Jim Lee drawn new series, this book plays off the hype that Snyder has received due to his Court of Owls story over in Batman. His entire run has been beautifully crafted and sufficiently dark so it's interesting to see his take on Superman. We follow Superman as he stops 7 out of 8 satellites that had been knocked out of orbit. After consulting and borderline accusing Lex Luthor of the destruction, Lois points out that all 8 satellites appeared to be saved by Superman. After investigating the sea where the last one fell and finds a hand indent where it was caught. It is revealed that some shady government group has had their own Superman for 75 years or so. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, I am a bit cautious as it seems to be following a similar arc as the Court of Owls. This doesn't hurt the book, but I will be cautiously optimistic from here on out. Jim Lee's artwork is stunning and really brings Superman to life. All in all it gets a 5 out of 5 from me as it's an incredible opening to a (hopefully, yet quite likely) fantastic story.

Batman 21 - Much like Justice League a few weeks ago, this one was in my box with the rest of my list. As it's Scott Snyder and it's starting a new arc (Zero Year) I figured why not? Surprisingly I was not overly impressed by this issue. We start with a tease that a yet unnamed villain has taken control of Gotham in Batman's absence. Six months prior we see the Red Hood and his gang causing trouble. Bruce meets with his uncle who tells him to come back to Wayne Enterprises, which he of course refuses and then it's revealed his uncle is working with Edward Nigma. This issue didn't stand out to me because there's a lot happening yet nothing leading towards an obviously good story. I may stick around for a few issues to see what happens. 2.5 out of 5.

Mega Man 26 - Part 7 of 12 in the Worlds Collide story. This story continues to be exactly what I want out of it. It's super fun. Has great interactions between the characters. Basic, yet interesting, story. It's just a solid story with great action. 4 out of 5.

Thor: God of Thunder 9 - In part 3 of the God Bomb story we follow the trio of Thors as they head out to attack Gorr the Godslayer. This issue has the feel of an alternative metal concept album. This entire series has been pretty metal. They attack Gorr and have an epic stellar battle. At the end they hit Gorr into a sun and the final page is Gorr standing on his planet over the bodies of Thor. Epic is the only word with enough scope to explain this story. While it is cheesy at moments (young Thor riding a space shark), they are easily overlooked by having three iterations of Thor who all have their own personalities as well as a villain whom we can actually care about. The art is a beautiful, muted style. The lack of realistic images portrays the dark tone of the story alongside the metallic coloration really add to the viking raid feel. Another great issue. Only real worry is that this arc doesn't wrap up before Gorr gets stale. Easily one of the top books I'm reading. 4.5 out of 5.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Electronic Entertainment Expo 2013

For those of you who play video games, E3 needs no introduction. Just in case I have branched out of my normal circle of friends and reached other people, E3 is the big video game news expo they hold every summer. All the big companies hold press releases to reveal their new consoles, tech, and games. Although I'm not per se an avid gamer, I do love playing video games and even more-so being up to date on the news. So let's start with Microsoft.

Microsoft had the first press segment of the day. I tuned in to the last half hour or so as I forgot it was today. Let me start by saying that a few weeks ago they held a press release for the Xbox One. Rough thoughts on that is the name sucks. They kept mentioning it's an "All-in-one system" as you can watch tv and browse internet and much more on it. Hence Xbox One. This sounds like they are taking a massive step back from their Xbox 360... Why not call it the Xbox AIO (All-In-One) or just Xbox IO. Not only is it a cool sounding name, but it doesn't sound like the prototype or like it's competing with the PSOne from soon to be three generations ago... They are also running into issues with trying to kill any purchasing fo used games or borrowing games and such. It's a mess and they aren't selling themselves very well at the moment. Anyways, I wasn't impressed with their presentation much. I do think the game Titanfall looks pretty sweet. It's a bit of Halo meets Mirror's Edge (2 games I rather enjoyed.) They teased Halo 4. Which was announced like 2 years ago so it wasn't very exciting. And apart from that, nothing really sticks out in my memory.

EA came next. They announced a 3rd person shooter version of Plants Vs. Zombies called Garden Warfare. While I have no interest in this game or franchise at all, they have done well in making this concept stick and even better at parodying the Call of Duty franchise with their naming of this one. The big news was they announced a new Star Wars: Battlefront ggame running on the new Frostbite 3 engine. Other than that, hardly anything happened. They showed some Need For Speed footage as well as some behind the scenes stuff for the Need for Speed movie that apparently is in production. Does anybody care? Thought not. They announced Dragon Age: Inquisition which looks sweet. I'll probably watch Devon play it as that's one of her top game series'. They also announced Mirror's Edge 2. I'm sort of excited. I will probably buy it for 20 bucks or so once the price drops as I did the first. That's all that impressed me from EA.

Onto Ubisoft. This Press conference started with Jerry Cantrell introducing Rocksmith (Cantrell being the lead singer/guitarist of Alice In Chains and Rocksmith being guitar hero but actually learning to play guitar. They also announced South Park: The Stick of Truth which looks like a South Park video game, a very excellent looking Tom Clancy's The Division, and the intriguing Watch Dogs. This game looks like Grand Theft Auto if GTA had a brilliant protagonist who can hack into anything. If you haven't seen the trailer or gameplay yet, here you go: 


While I'm not generally a fan of the GTA open world style games, I will definitely be checking this one out. Ubisoft showed trailers for Splinter Cell Blacklist that looks cool and the Rabbids Invasion
interactive television series. This means you an interact with your Xbox One whilst watching the show.

Speaking of GTA, they announced that there will be a GTA V PS3 Bundle. Again, not a big fan so I'm out. We also got a Beyond: Two Souls trailer starring Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe. It looks intriguing but not overwhelmingly so as it's mostly just a teaser. There were new trailers fo Gran Turismo 6, The Last of Us, and Batman: Arkham Origins. All of these look beautiful, but Arkham Origins looks incredible. Onto games for the PS4. They announced mny games so I'll just touch on a few: I'll start by saying that their stance on Independant games is brilliant. They are allowing game creators to upload their own games to the store. Final Fantasy XV is coming out. Which is big, but I've not played or really cared about these games. inFamous: Second Son looks to be a sweet spin off game. Mad Max game teaser? okay. Assassins Creed: Pirates? Looks freaking sweet! Kingdom Hearts III: Well they own Star Wars and Marvel now... so Loki and Darth Vader teaming up? One of the biggest announcements was the 12 minutes of gameplay for Destiny. Bungie, the team behind Halo, created this exclusive for Playstation and it looks a lot like Halo in a lighter universe. We will also be getting a game called The Order: 1886, or as I am calling it: Resident Evil 1886. Looks interesting. Worth a shot.

Now onto the system war. Xbox One was announced with several new features. Including a need to connect to the internet every 24 hours to verify the game is genuine, A surcharge for used games in order to register them properly, and the one that most people missed: Xbox One won't work without the Kinect device plugged in. Also the camera will allegedly always be on. Not just when you're playing, always. This is just nuts f it is in fact true. That being said, the Xbox does have some good features. Namely the voice control aspect as well as the picture-in-picture thing. They also have the SmartGlass, which I believe is an app used to make in-game purchases and for multiplayer aspects a la WiiU. Most people focused on the bad things like the insane DRM.
So when Sony had their conference they just mentioned that there was no DRM or anything like that. They merely talked about how their games could easily be traded or loaned out as nearly all previous games have been. They also announced Redbox Instant and Flixster coming to PS4 as well as Sony Pictures producing exclusive PSN content. They did announce that a PSN subscription is required for online play now, which was one of the biggest bonuses PS3 had over Xbox 360.
Of course, a lot of this comes down to price. So when Xbox One was announced to release at $499 Sony got the last laugh by announcing a $399 release price. They learned from last time that having your system be extremely more expensive doesn't sell systems. Anyways, I think Sony and the PS4 are winning E3 so far, but to be transparent, I am a Playstation fan. I may be a bit biased. But that's just me. What do you guys think?

For a more thorough recap go here to check it out.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Weekly Pull List 6-5-2013

Another light week this week. I'm still waiting on Sixth Gun 31 to come in. Not sure what's going on with that.

Avengers 13 - This book was a decent cap to this part of the story. Also a good issue for me to finish the book. I have stuck with this book long enough but really I've only really enjoyed 3 issues. This one had actual fighting and action in it, which most of the other issues lacked. This book has been disappointing me almost the entire time so I will no longer be reading this book. I'd give this issue 3.5 out of 5, but the average rating for the book is more like a 1.5.

Thor: The Dark World Preview 1 - The first of two Marvel Cinematic Universe comics tying in the first Thor movie and the Avengers and Thor The Dark World. This first issue serves as an explanation of what happens to Thor between his first movie and the Avengers a year later. It explains how Odin used dark matter to send Thor back to Earth and how the rest of the nine realms have gone into chaos without the Bifrost to connect Asgaard to them. Not much to say about this book. It serves to clarify some continuity things, but isn't necessary to understand them. I'd give it 3 out of 5.

Green Arrow 21 - I'm reading this book because I love Green Arrow. It doesn't hurt that Jeff Lemire is writing it at the moment. He worked with Scott Snyder in creating the Rotworld crossover between Swamp Thing and Animal Man. His Animal Man book has been great and his Green Arrow run hasn't disappointed. This one follows Oliver as he talks with magus to try to figure out more about his past and his father. It is revealed that there is a complicated past with different tribes of sorts. It's a little convoluted, but I am super intrigued and want to see where it's going. Great issue with great things to come. Art is beautiful and totally adds to the reading experience. 4 out of 5!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Great Iron Gatsby Man 3

I saw The Great Gatsby the other day. The new film version of the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel by Baz Luhrmann, the directorial mind behind Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge, and others. Let me start by saying that if you like his other films, you are quite likely to enjoy this one as well. All around the performances are quite excellent, apart from occasional lapses in accents. The visuals are quite exciting all around, though some special effects don't quite work perfectly. The music was an interesting blend of timely, diegetic jazz numbers and anachronistic, non-diegetic, hip-hop pieces and everything in between. I'm not a connoisseur of Baz' work by any means, but I did enjoy Moulin Rouge, though it did take a few viewings before I got there. His surrealist style surely takes quite a bit to get used to but I think it works quite well for the prohibition era style they needed to create for this film.

As in all his movies, the music choices range from stuff that makes sense, like the man playing a trumpet on a fire escape across the way from a party, to hearing Jay-Z Izzo as they cross a bridge. Sometimes it worked, but for some reason the Jay-Z parts didn't work as much for me. I liked the majority of the music choices and the original score worked fantastically. The big party scene where we see the band playing and hear the beat drop on a nice hip hop track works great to connect us to the world we're viewing.

Acting all around is good. Tobey Maguire I haven't been a fan of, although I haven't seen him in anything since the Spider Man films, but he surprised me with his depressed Nick Carraway recounting his tales of meeting Gatsby in New York to a therapist, who convinces him to write it down. His portrayal of the younger self was a great insight into the world of Gatsby.

Played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Gatsby starts as a man with such exotic tastes and a sophistication reminiscent of his Calvin Candie in Django Unchained. Throughout the movie we are introduced to the reason he is in New York to get his love and Nick's cousin, Daisy who married cheating scumbag Tom Buchanan 5 years ago. Every move he has made since then has led toward meeting her again. Throughout the movie we see Gatsby evolve as we learn more about his past and he gets more desperate to be with Daisy until he finally snaps in a climactic confrontation with Tom. Once again, DiCaprio delivers a fantastic performance.

Our leading lady, Daisy, is played by the lovely Carey Mulligan. Her face has the innocence of a young, naive girl yet she plays the smart, aware, and beautiful Daisy Buchanan who is in a marriage where she knows of her husband's infidelity and ultimately gets a very poetic revenge at the end, although she ends up with her husband in what appears to be a fixed relationship.

Tom Buchanan is played by Joel Edgerton. I kept trying to place where I'd seen him before, but didn't recognize him as a main character. He was in the prequel Star Wars movies and Smokin' Aces. He portrayed Tom very nicely as a man who has an apartment in the city for his Mistress. He comes across as a jerk so you can't help but not like him.

Also playing their parts are Isla Fisher and Jason Clarke as Myrtle and George Wilson. They both have rather small parts but we get a full understanding of their relationship (it's not doing so hot) and tehir individual personalities.

Overall I did enjoy this movie. There are definitely some moments that work a lot better than othe rs, but I think that the grounded performances pull it through. The biggest complain I have is that it's at least a half hour too long, and also the stylized visual effects don't work as well as I'd have liked (Gatsby and Nick driving in a bright yellow car at what looks like a hundred miles per hour.) As a fan of the book, which I haven't read in 7 or so years, I find this to be a fairly decent adaptation by Baz Luhrmann. I found myself remembering plot points from the book before they happened in the film. While the narrative function of Nick writing the book isn't in the novel, I find it an interesting reason to have the voice over necessary to keep the story moving. While not my favorite movie, I did enjoy it and if it had been a bit shorter I would have liked it quite a bit more. All things considered, I give Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby 3 stars out of 5.

Now onto a movie I was so excited to see, that I saw the midnight showing of. Iron Man 3. Now we will talk more on this one in the upcoming episode of Cinemasters Podcast I'm sure, but here's my thoughts since we probably wont go that in depth. We just did episodes covering the previous Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it's still fresh. That said, Iron Man 3 avoids a lot of the problems we mention in the previous films. To begin with, this one isn't building up to anything. It stands alone in that sense so the story will actually be important in the film. It also stepped away from the previous 2 in that it had a villain that wasn't a guy in a metal suit. With these two flaws being avoided, let's get to the ones that stand. I'm not a huge fan of Tony having anxiety attacks every time the battle of New York is mentioned. Okay, I don't have a problem with that, but the way it's portrayed is a little over the top.

As usual Downey, Jr. is Iron Man and comes off as being the character more than playing it. All the performances were solid. Paltrow playing Pepper Potts was her usual, humorous self and works well for the movie. Ben Kingsley's performance was fantastic and shocking. Guy Pearce played a pretty solid villain. The random other villains weren't very impressive but that's due to a lack of focus on them and no real need to do so. The most surprising thing about this movie is how much humor there is as well as how funny the humorous parts are. This movie is pretty solid comic gold.

I was worried from the trailer that the Mandarin's accent wasn't very good, but that was negated by the twist of the film which I won't get into other than saying I'm quite okay with how they pulled it off. All around a great movie. A few minor issues I have are how Tony's panic attacks are handled (a touch over the top), and how the ending was sort of a cop out, but it did serve to wrap up the trilogy. I read somewhere that this wasn't so much a part of Marvel's Phase 2 as the end of the trilogy. If you want to hear more of my thoughts then check out the mini episode of Cinemasters to be released on the 28th of May. We go more in depth on the entire film so definitely check it out. Overall I'd give it a 5 out of 5 since the minor problems I have are merely nitpicking and don't actually hurt the movie.