Archive | May, 2012

My thoughts on Lego Batman

27 May

ImageI love video games of all sorts.  One of the best new series of games I have played (last five or so years) is the Lego game series, which I know is targeted for a younger audience but is a lot of fun for all ages.  Next month, Lego Batman 2 is coming out with many of my favorite characters from DC’s 70 year history and I was looking forward to playing it with my two boys.  In honor of that, I finally broke down and bought the first Lego Batman for Xbox 360.  Here’s my thoughts. 

This game is a lot of fun!  If you are familiar with the Lego series of games, there is little in the way of surprises to be found.  You and a partner (whether computer based or live action) fight through a series of bizarre Gotham rogues.  The sheer diversity of the enemy characters though is fantastic.  Killer Moth is here as is Man Bat.  Each level seems to take about twenty or so minutes to pass through if you want to get “Superhero” status.  But it is worth it.  The puzzles in the levels are usually fairly easy but sometimes there are a few difficult spots to try to solve. 

Even better, when you finish an entire chapter of five missions, you then get to play them from the villains’ perspective.  Currently, I have only finished the “Riddler’s Revenge” chapter, but getting to play as Riddler, Two-Face, Clayface, and Poison Ivy was probably more fun even than playing as Bats and the Boy Hostage, as Catwoman likes to call him.  Other stages include Bane, Joker, and Scarecrow.  Each of the villains has their own signature moves. Before I bought the game I downloaded the demo and enjoyed using Joker’s trademark handbuzzer to zap police to pieces literally.  And as Poison Ivy I got to deliver her kiss of death to several boys in blue which was quite funny.  For fans of Schumacher, Riddler uses his cane to mentally control wayward Lego folks to doing his dirty work. 

The game isn’t perfect though.  A major issue comes from camera issues.  Like most platformers, if you can’t jump just right, you will miss several spots to jump on.  So far, the most annoying place I have found was in the stage where you first fight Poison Ivy.  There was one jump from a potted plant to another plant that led to several needless deaths.  Also, because it is for all ages, it is easier than I would like but when playing with kids, I promise it is more difficult! 

I certainly recommend you try it.  I had played the Indiana Jones Lego Game and really enjoyed the Star Wars ones, but I believe this is probably the best of the bunch.  Lego Batman 2 looks even better, as it finally adds voices to the chaos.  Give it a shot!

A Return to Justice League Greatness!

22 May

Since the opening arc finished, the Justice League has finally hit its stride.  The characters are finally acting like a team and even better like friends.  The opening arc implied that they would not be friends at all, which would have ruined the entire series.  But now, they have their act together and are really clicking together. 

The scene that sold the book for me was the Green Lantern and Flash team-up.  True, the fight was over at the beginning of the scene but the characterization was the point.  Watching Flash try to sell himself as a bad cop and failing miserable was fantastic.  Watching Wonder Woman come in and save the day was nice too. 

Superman and Batman’s team-up (soon supplemented by Cyborg) was also entertaining.  Everyone in the Daily Planet was getting lunch, but left Clark out.  While he was reminiscing about how that reminded him of high school, Bruce texted asking if he wanted to help take out the Key, an old JLA villain from years ago.  Batman and Superman quickly found their way to the Key. 

The two stories converged there when they exclusively discovered the larger, looming threat.  I must confess as much as I enjoyed the entire story, the threat seems to pat.  I am thrilled they have established that he is a major threat who could beat the Key and the Weapons-Master.  But this seems very reminiscent of other stories.  The intro of the villain also reminds me of some story that is stuck in the back of my head that I can’t recall.  I just wanted something that feels new. 

Finally, though, I will say the Shazam story seems a little better than it was in prior months.  I wasn’t thrilled with the changes to Billy and I am not thrilled that Sivana is now Lex-sized instead of pocket-sized.  But overall, it seemed like it is making headway.  I was happy to see him and his foster dad make headway in their relationship.  Hopefully, this will lead to him becoming more in line with the real Billy Batson the DCU needs. 

If the Justice League continues like this, it may finally become the best book DC has published in a long time.  This is good news as the free book previewed a major storyline coming to the DCU, where the Justice League can finally take center stage.  I loved Blackest Night, but it was a Green Lantern event.  Flash and Batman had Flashpoint.  Before then, Superman and Batman dominated the DC’s events forever.  And there were several books that were centered around the entire DCU.  But, now the Justice League finally looks like it will have its moment. Geoff can do this.  I hope!

Why DC will always kick Marvel’s tail…..except for at the theaters!

21 May

My brother Kenny helped get me into comic books years ago.  He’s a Marvel fan while I have almost always been a DC fan. Recently, he called me to rub it in that Marvel has more success overall with their movies.  I must admit, if you discount Batman, I have to give it to him. Still, DC has better books I believe.  I gave it time and settled on three major reasons why I believe this is the case. 

 Multiple Realities

I will never forget when the Ultimate Universe began.  All of the comic fanzines boasted of Marvel’s brilliance in updating their characters in an alternate reality.  When DC began their All-Star Comics line, the comic book news sites proclaimed it as DC’s attempt to copy Marvel’s successes.  But this was far from the truth.  Long ago, DC beat everyone to the multiple realities with their Earth 2 stories.  Later, they added Earth X, S, 5, and 3.  Recently, they went back to that well with their 52 universes that came out 52.  In the DC, any heroes can appear from anywhere. 

Bigger Timeline

Whether it is the classic JSA from ’39 and up or if it’s the Legion hanging out in the 31st century, DC has built up entire franchises about the timestream.  Yes, Marvel tried with their 2099 franchise, but it failed to grab the collective consciousness the same way.  Marvel’s World War II characters made little impact (with the exception of Captain America and Namor) to their overall line.  Jonah Hex, the Justice Legion of the 853rd Century, or Khufu in Egypt drive this point home.  DC owns the timeline. 

Bigger Universe

In their main reality, DC has a better understanding of the concept of a universe.  The Green Lantern Corps patrol the spaceways.  Adam Strange zips back and forth from Earth to Rann to keep the peace in deep space. Despero, Darkseid, and Kanjar Ro constantly conquer entire sectors of space.  This has been so successful that Marvel constantly tries to update their “galactic heroes.” 

Yes, Avengers, Thor, and Captain America were great movies.  Spiderman is a fun character.  The X-men try to save a world that hates them.  But at the end of the day, DC is bigger in every way.  Now, if they can only catch up in the movies!

My favorite Martian

15 May

For those who haven’t figured it out yet, I love digital comic books.  I love the thought that every time I turn around, there are “new” older comic books that turn up.  Recently, one of my old favorite comic books showed up to replace my lost print edition.  It’s an old issue of the Martian Manhunter series from the 90s.  It’s a gem of a series.  Though it didn’t quite do everything I wanted to see, it did showcase a lot of why Jonn is such a wonderful character. 

In Martian Manhunter 24, Jonn tells Kyle a “lost story” of his JLI days.  Beetle and Booster, comics’ greatest duo (sorry Bats/Robin), are up to their old shenanigans.  In this particular tale, they have stolen all the “chocos” (Oreos) that Jonn had stashed in the Embassy.  They also snuck out and bought all of cookies around the embassy.  Jonn tries his best to be rational and then loses it when Ted accidentally confesses to their devious plot.  It’s the best Hulk story I ever read.  Destruction and mayhem follow before they lead him to the stockpile of chocos.  A great deal of other things happen to make this a truly hilarious tale. 

This was a rare example of a non-Giffen and Demattais story from the JLI period that reads “true.”  The book can be picked up, with our other tales, for $4.99 digitally.  I recommend you give it a shot.  One other Jonn story is featured, and though completely different and serious, it is also well worth your time and money. My hope is DC will realize that Jonn deserves more “screen time.”  Read it as soon as possible.  You won’t be disappointed. 

Vampire Diaries Season Finale

11 May

I have to admit I am embarrassed that I watch this but I love The Vampire Diaries.  I am a thirty-one year old married father of three and yet I am addicted to a teenage show meant for girls.  But it’s good!  Much better than that other vampire phenomenon that currently has people distracted.  So I always hate season finale night when the show goes off for several months.  Tonight was that night.

And what a finale it was!  My least favorite vampire in the show was killed, only to be secretly tied to another character’s body by magic!  Granted, it’s another character I don’t care for so I don’t think I will miss “him.”  A favorite character is dead for good it looks like but finally got his chance to say goodbye to his closest friend in the show.  The main character, Elana experienced a major change to and then it ended.  I don’t know how I am supposed to wait to see what happened to her.

Then, there was the development in the long triangle.  Now, I have always been a hopeless romantic, so I love the love triangle, in theory.  But in comic books, it is usually a hero/his secret identity fighting for the girl.  In this show, it is two brothers fighting for the same girl.  Stefan is the tortured, noble character.  Damon is the dark, bad boy.  I prefer Stefan.  For a moment it looked like he would get the girl.  But then, the scene my wife was waiting for came.  Damon had a special moment with Elana towards the end.  So frustrating.

I feel like such a girl for feeling this way about the show.  But I do believe it just about has everything.  For one thing, these vampires don’t glow in the daylight, they sizzle unless they have a special ring allowing them to be daywalkers.  They also like to snack on people (even the good ones!).  Werewolves and witches also have their roles to play.  Frequently, it involves murdering one group or another.  But like any good vampire story, there is a love story involved.  Something about vampires excites us.  I hardly consider myself a pop-psychologist but it’s a bit of the “forbidden” love, I think.

I hope you watch the show and saw the conclusion.  I would love to hear your thoughts!

Review of the Avengers

6 May

I love the concept of dualism.  I don’t specifically mean that philosophical notion of dualism but I enjoy the idea that things in culture easily break down into two large camps.  Good against evil.  Light versus dark.  Pepsi to coke.  Republicans over Democrats.  And finally, the focus of this blog usually, DC and Marvel.  Now, I have made no qualms of my love for DC and I am very apathetic to Marvel.  That said, I am always happy to see any comic get its day in the pop culture sunlight because I believe it will help comics all over.  So my excitement over the Avengers movie has been building slowly over the last few years. 

I have to say the movie is almost everything you could hope for in a comic book movie.  Next to the Dark Knight, I am even willing to say it is probably the best one out there.  The cast is fantastic. If you have watched the previous movies (Iron Man I and II, Captain America, and Thor), you know that the actors play their roles wonderfully.  I personally think Iron Man steals any scene he is in and the director wisely has him as the “main” character, if any could be considered the main hero.  They also wisely let Captain America lead the team as he should.  The biggest surprise to me though was that the Hulk has two of the best scenes in the movie.  They are quick but brilliant.  Ruffalo, who I have always been a fan, plays Banner brilliantly and I am glad to see Marvel has settled on an actor for him.  And like most recent superhero movies, it has a peek at the next movie, which excites me. 

Like any good crossover story, there are fights between the various heroes.  Thor’s fight with the Hulk was all it could be expected to be.  There was some vocal disagreements also which played out very well.  And SHIELD looks like it will not always be on the side of the angels which works for me. 

Unlike most reviewers though I don’t think it is perfect though.  For one thing, if you haven’t watched the previous movies, especially Thor, you will probably not understand the beginning of the movie or why it really matters.  The movie also decides to do a variation of “bullet time” or “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” at times.  This irritated me usually, though during certain moments (climax), I could see the reasoning.  The humor was great but at times seemed a little forced.  Finally, the reaction between Cap’s shield and Thor’s hammer stretched my belief. Perhaps in universe there is an explanation, but like I said, I stick to DC’s books.  Finally, the aforementioned peek may not interest people who don’t know who these characters are. 

None of the problems hurt the film.  It is a solid 9 out of a 10 I believe.  It’s a rare movie that I immediately wished to see again.  My hope that Dark Knight Rises will be the best movie of the year is shaken, but I believe it will be.  And the entire time I was watching this, all I could think of is “Where’s my Justice League movie?”

The new JSA too!

4 May

Like many of the target audience, I was upset by the fact that the new Earth 2 wasn’t THE Earth 2.  I am a big fan of the classic JSA concept, a group of noble heroes who helped defeat the worst enemies in recent world history.  A team that had seen numerous members die or retire to be replaced by friends or family.  This concept to me is one of the greatest comic book concepts out there and if DC never restores the classic JSA, the DCU will have shot itself in its collective foot.  That said, if you read the new Earth 2 as a new universe altogether (like it is meant to be) and as an alternate reality (which is the point), you will read one of the best first issues in DC’s new multiverse.

I am and have always been a sap for multiple realities.  Like most kids my age or older, I have fond memories of watching “Mirror Spock” appear with his classic goatee.  Granted, I saw it reruns but it was a wonderful idea.  Much more recently, I marveled at SG-1’s countless alternate realities.  But honestly the best example of an alternate reality I can imagine has always been the DC multiverse.

With the new DCU though, we get the chance to explore a new multiverse.  So a quick recap with minor spoilers, DC’s big three is locked in a losing war with the drones of Apokolips.  But as usual, Batman has a plan.  Things don’t go like they normally do however because this isn’t “our” Batman.  Meanwhile, Supergirl and Robin (Batman’s daughter – the only child Batman should have) are catapulted into the “proper” DC universe, where they have been since the beginning of this universe.

While this is all going on, we are introduced to Al Pratt, the original DCU Atom.  He is just as short as he is supposed to be.  Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, is a multi-media mogul.  Finally, Jay Garrick appears, arguing with what will hopefully one day be Mrs. Garrick.  She leaves in a huff.  And while he is moping, destiny calls.

The book has a lot of potential.  The artwork is great and the writing is much better than recent James Robinson efforts.  Perhaps he is just meant to write Earth 2 characters.  We have the chance to see the JSA form with its classic members as the leaders.  Mr. Terrific, formerly from the new Earth 1, is apparently coming over also.  Michael Holt belongs with these guys.

One final hope.  I hope like with the classic multiverse, that there is only one Darkseid to this multiverse.  I would love to see his power straddle the lines of the two universes.  How does he react to almost total victory in one universe while struggling to make headway in another?  And seeing as how he will probably stay a main foe of Earth 1, I hope to see the new Powergirl face off against the man who almost destroyed one world, while working to save another.

And for a special prize: tomorrow DC is having a digital JSA sale in honor of the new series.  Issues will cost 99 cents!