Monday, August 31, 2009

Disney Buys Marvel Entertainment

Comic Book Resources just announced that Disney has bought Marvel Entertainment, bringing the House of Ideas into the Magic Kingdom. Here's the announcement: Disney Acquires Marvel Entertainment

Egad! This is big news! Now, like DC Comics, Marvel will be under the umbrella of a larger corporate organization. That's always been a benefit to DC Comics, who has been able to fall back on the strength of Warner Brothers - but can the same be said for Marvel? Marvel has always been the independent comic company - even producing it's own movies as of late. Will everything be the same under the control of the Disney Corporation? Or could we see a declawing of Wolverine, to make him more cuddly next to Micky Mouse?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tokusatsu Rising

Tokusatsu; means Special Effects in Japanese. It encompasses all sorts of trick photography and effects in TV and Movies, but for us foreigners, it's more associated with Live Action martial arts shows. Derived from a lack of money and recourses, Tokusatsu developed techniques involving slight of hand cuts. It might not have appeared realistic - but that's one of the endearing charms Japanese Speical effects deliver. It's a tried and true formula that has worked for years in shows like Super Sentai and Kamen Rider.

Anyway - next to Anime, I think Tokusatsu shows are one of Japan's great and unique styles - one I wish could more easily be seen in America. BUT - Slowly but surely, Tokusatsu has been creeping ever so slowly into the American market place. Here are some examples - and where you can buy them.

Kamen Rider V3 Box Set Click Here to See the Item
This here is the biggest item for Tokusatsu fans I've ever seen. It includeds the entire 52 Episode run of Kamen Rider V3, tons of special features, Digitally Remastered, and every episode is Subtitled.

The only drawback if it's price, a whopping $179.00! (Now $150) This is no doubt due to the licensing fees needed to bring this series over to America, but it's still a pretty hefty bill to swallow. But it is the first Kamen Rider series to be offered, in it's original format, uncut, to America. It might just be worth it. I can only hope they might do the same for other Kamen Rider Series. This is a step in the right direction, but a cheaper price really couldn't hurt.


This here was a great choice to bring over to America - as it's a stand alone remake of Kamen Rider. No previous knowledge of the series needs to be known - and as a single movie, it doesn't have a big price tag attached to it.

I bought this one, and it's great. The action is top notch and the story, while very condensed from the TV series, serves the character well. There aren't a lot of splashy special digital effects like in modern Kamen Rider series, but focuses on the bare minimum style of physical action and camera tricks, which serves the movie to give you a feel of the older style Kamen Rider action.

This is a great buy at under $20 - but I was deeply disappointed to see that it's sequel movie "Kamen Rider The Second" was not released in America. It seemed like it was going to, but I'd imagine poor sales might have nixed it. I still hold out hope they might come back and finish the story for us, though.


Since the bigger names of Tokusatsu are less readily available, sometimes an oddity pops that is less known, but just as good. I honestly don't know much about this series, but I remember seeing it in the stores - and it's still available for $50. Not bad for an entire series.

Ultraman: The Complete Series You Can See the Item Here, at Amazon.com

Now this here, this just makes my head explode. Not only is Ultraman one of Japan's more well known Super Heroes, but it seems the Original series (39 episodes) is being offered in America for $15. ($10, with the Amazon Discount) I half expect this to be some kind of trick, being such a good deal. It says it's going on sale on September 29th, 2009

This seems like a deal too good to be true. I'll definitely have to check it out myself.

Icons of Sci-Fi: Toho Collection You Can See the Item Here, at Amazon.com

Godzilla has always been the biggest Tokusatsu series accepted and released here in America. But there other Sci-Fi and Monster Movies from Japan. This DVD set features "Battle for Outer Space", "H-Man", and "Mothra". I'm unsure wether the original Japanese audio is included though.


This here is a live-action remake of Tetsujin 28. Tetsujin 28 might be more commonly known as "Gigantor" in America. You have to thank Tetsujin for every giant robot known today - as he seems to be the very first. This movie uses Live Action - but uses computer effects to depict Tetsujin just like he looks in the Anime.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wolverine and X-Men Video Games

I've decided to try and buy the new Wolverine video game. I don't have the money on me now - but I'm figuring waiting might prove good, as the price might drop by the time I do have the cash. At first I wasn't too keen on this game, because of the implied gore that comes with Wolverine. I downloaded a Demo from the Playstation Network, and while it is violent, it's also pretty fun. I jokingly called it "Stabby Stab - the Wolverine story" to my sister. So, anyway, I think I'll try to buy it in the next few months.

Here's a review of the game from www.gametrailers.com
Be warned, though, the video is for mature audiences only. (Again, it's Wolverine)



And here is another video, detailing the HORRIBLE X-Men games we've had to endure in the past.
Angry Video Game Nerd's X-Men Review
Warning: This also is for mature audiences, as the VGN doesn't hold back swearing. I usually don't approve of such swearing, but his reviews are very entertaining and funny.




Sign In - Message Boards

You know what really, truly, annoys me? Message boards that absolutely require you sign up to use them - or, not even that, they require you to sign up to even look at them. It's simply annoying. I can't tell you the number of times I've wanted to post one solitary message on a board - and find I have to go through the whole process of signing up to do it. And what about boards that deny you even visual access - unless you sign up. That simply drives me mad - that to even inspect the place, to see if it suits you needs, you have to go through the whole signing up process to do it.

....Nothing much else to say. It just annoys me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

End of the Decade


Kamen Rider Decade is coming to a close. The final episode has aired - and it looks like all that's left if for the movie to finish the story line. I'm really going to miss Decade. This show got me into all the other past Kamen Rider series, when before I only knew about Kiva and Den-O. He might not have been visiting perfectly recreated worlds of these past Riders - but it was nontheless fun to see all the different heroes finally playing together in the same sandbox.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wolverine, aka Patch

I've been rereading some early Wolverine issues. Back when Wolverine got his first solo series - a lot of different things where happening behind the scenes to almost mess up the series.

See, the Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's 4-Issue Wolverine series was a great hit. Marvel naturally wanted more - so they pushed for Wolverine to have his own on-going series. Chris Claremont wrote the series, but felt that Wolverine didn't need his own book. He was, of course, one of the X-Men -- and already got his share of the limelight in that title. So Claremont took the series in a direction that he thought would only be interesting to him. He featured Wolverine having adventures in the fictional city of Madripoor, an island in Southeast Asia. Giving Wolverine a very noir setting, with criminals everywhere, the feral mutant fit right in.

But what I find really strange is the timing of this series - as at the time the X-Men where believed to be dead. They where all hiding out in Australia - and Wolverine, I think, was hitching rides to Madripoor to hang out on his own. This left Claremont with a problem - how can Wolverine be strutting around, having adventures, is he's suppose to be lying low. To fix this, Claremont gave Wolverine the new identity of "Patch". Wolverine just put an eye patch over his left eye, utterly disguising him from friends and foes! That's bull when you think about, because Wolverine, while not in his regular costume, is always very identifiable by his hair, attitude, voice, everything. No one was fooled by this, and to try and believe his friends and enemies where deceived is kind of a joke, or at least made his friends immensely stupid. Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman, even appeared in the series - and Wolverine had been crashing at her Sanfrancisco home for the past year, along with all the other X-Men. How the heck could she not recognize Wolverine? When Peter David took over writing for the book, he even had a moment, when Wolverine finally put on his regular brown and gold outfit, that no one was actually fooled by "Patch".

Heck, Wolverine even came back from missions without the eye patch! Issue #5 has Wolverine hitching a plane ride with a buddy. When he comes back, he's not even wearing the eye patch anymore - and nothing about it is said. Wolverine was trying really hard, too - only popping his claws in secret or when fighting enemies. He thought he was being so cleaver.

Basically, to make sense in my mind - people just played along with Wolverine's game, and in fact no one really cared if the X-Men where alive or not. I mean, really, unless you wanted to get rich by ratting them out to their enemies, you just wouldn't give much care. Only Cyclops, then on X-Factor, might have been interested that his ex-wife was still alive in Australia. Everyone else, especially in a dump like Madripoor, could care less.

Despite all this, Chris Claremont's issues where very fun, if not different from regular X-Men fare. We got a great new environment that the Marvel Universe has been traveling back to ever since. With all the awkward effort put into tanking this series, Chris Claremont left the series after only 8 issues, and Wolverine went on for 189 issues! And some of those stories, after Claremont left, really sucked. A true testament to the popularity of Wolverine, even if you're trying you're hardest to make him unpopular.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Comic Starting Point - DC Comics

I already talked about how I got into the various heroes of Marvel Comics - and now I'm going to tell about how I got into DC Comics. See, I love DC Comics - but at heart I'll always be more of a Marvel fan than a DC one. Both simply have different stylistic tones that separate them, at least for me. But while I'm more a Marvel Fan, I am deeply grateful for all the cool adventures DC has give us over the years.

Superman
The first DC Comic I got was the graphic novel "The Death of Superman". It's really a wonder why I even stuck with comics, considering the number of poorly times jumping on points I've experienced. My Mom bought me the TPB - and it was my first DC Comic experience ever. While I didn't understand a lot about all the characters, especially the JLA at the time (Booster Gold and Blue Beetle) - the heart of the story, the epic grudge match between Superman and Doomsday, was very exciting. I read a bit, here and there, of the Return of Superman. I loved the introduction of Steel - but didn't quite grasp everything else. I generally didn't continue reading Superman, or DC Comics, until years later. I came back during Jeph Loeb's run on the Man of Steel. The whole "actual" City of Tomorrow was a cool angel, and all the other Superman titles, with confusing a lot of the time, where very fun to read. I don't think, though, I liked Joe Kelly's Superman run that much at the time - which is funny, because I think he's a fantastic writer now. I'd probably enjoy those issues a lot more if I read them again.

Batman
I was always a fan of the Batman Animated series. I took quite an extended hiatus from comics for a number of years when I was in high school. I dropped off of X-Men after the Fall of Avalon story arch, and only really picked comics back up as a hobby when I went to collage. I began reading the X-Men again, but then tried another series: Batman. Detective Comics #750. It featured Ra's al Ghul on the cover. Being a huge fan of that character from the Animated series, I picked it up. Greg Rucka was writing - and while it wasn't the best issue to start Batman off with - I quickly began reading DC Comics more and more. Ever since then I've been reading Batman and his assorted Super Friends ever since.

JLA
The first issue of the JLA I got was issue #50 of Mark Waid's run. They faced off against Doctor Destiny. What was the kicker for that issue was that Batman and everyone else revealed their identities to each other. It was a cool starting point, for once. Bryan Hitch was on art, and I continued reading the JLA happily into Joe Kelly's run and beyond.

JSA
This book, right here, is one of the corner stones of my passion for comics. If I had to drop every single book I get, the JSA would be the one book I'd still get. That's how good, and how fantastic, Geoff John's run on the JSA was for me. I picked up my first issue at #25, when Hawkman and Hawkgirl where finally reunited. From there on I simply adored this book. The characters, the sense of history - it was all so fantastic.

Legion of Super-Heroes
Wanting to explore the DCU more and more, I tried the Legion of Super-Heroes. DC has long complained that the convoluted history of the Legion has prevented fans from getting into the series. I'm one of those fans that did get into it, and was happily pleased by the results. Vol 3 of the Legion, with Oliver Copiel on art - the book simply looked stunning. I didn't get who all the characters where, but I slowly began understanding - which a great villain as a lightning rod to catch my attention, that of Ra's al Ghul. The idea of him living far into the 30th Century really appealed to me. The entires series had ups and down - but I'm read up a lot on the Legion since then, and know them pretty well. I'm very glad about that, and even more ecstatic how Geoff Johns has been using them in recent Superman and Adventure Comic issues.

Green Lantern
I did not know much about Green Lantern. I really didn't. I knew about Kyle Rayner from the JLA, and I suppose I simply liked the visual effects of his ring. I began reading around the time Kyle became Ion. Reading a book where the lead character gives up his powers - again, not a great starting point. But I enjoyed the idea of having so much power, that Kyle was almost god-like. Since then Hal Jordan has been reintroduced, which I more prefer - but Kyle will always been my introduction in the Lantern Corps.

Flash
I was following the Joker's Last Laugh cross over, and what I believe was my first real Flash issue, #179, vol 2. Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins where incredible in this book, and I became a great fan of the Flash because of them.

Teen Titans
I followed Peter David's Young Justice series for quite awhile, and became quite fond of all the young heroes of the series. It was a change to see them go on to be Teen Titans - but it was a welcome change since Geoff Johns was writing the series. The Teen Titans was a well written book, and while I've trailed off ever since Johns left, I'll always remember the great stories told into those first few years of issues.

Wonder Woman
The first Wonder Woman issue I ever got was one where Lois Lane was interviewing WW. It was a very interesting issue, showing a day in the life of Wonder Woman. I continued reading the series, though I felt a little embarrassed at the time, since it was largely a female hero book. But it was cool as Phil Jimenez art was very good. But the character of Wonder Woman only really took off for me when Greg Rucka began writing the series. His twist of a West Wing style political triller was incredible, and sorely missed after the Infinite Crisis.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Comic Starting Point

Everyone who reads comics probably remembers the first one they picked up, or their first exposure to a character. I though I'd share my introduction to the particular characters of the Marvel Universe. I'll be back on my introduction into the DCU later.

X-Men
The X-Men where pretty much my first real introduction into comic books. X-Men Vol 2 issue #13 - it was the second part of a regular X-Men story. It had to do with a childhood friend of Charles Xavier who had become an enemy. I of course was swept into the 90s X-Men cartoon. It pretty much informed me about everything I needed to know about the X-Men. I followed the cartoon and the Comic based on the series (it just retold the same stories, though) What continued to get me more involved with the X-Men was the "X-Ecutioner's Song", an X-Men cross over that I simply will never forget. I didn't know half the things I know now about the X-Men, and all the characters - but that single cross-over informed me so much about every team and a slew of mutants I hadn't even heard of. I've reread the story many times, and often learned or understood something new about the tale. This was an excellent time to be an X-Man fan, and a great introduction into the series, and comics in general.

Spider-Man
Spider-Man was my second comic of choice. I began getting the series pretty much because of the Animated series. I knew nothing about Spider-man at that point, and I knew even less about everything that was happening in the comic books. So it might come as a surprise that I began reading Spider-Man during the Clone Saga. A story line that ripped Spider-man's world in half, but exploded with shocking developments and plot twists. I believe the first issue of Spider-man I read was when Peter was in prison, framed for a murder his clone Kaine committed. Ben Reily was simply too cool for words, and I absolutely adored the Scarlet Spider costume. These issues where a challenge to get into, and learning about Peter's history during this time was no easy task. The Animated series cleared up a lot for me, and I quite enjoyed the whole ride, as twisted and out of control it might have been. I also actually believed Spider-man was really going away, for good, in an issue of Spectacular Spider-man, where Bel Reily took over for Peter. It wouldn't be until years later that I'd get back into Spider-man, depressingly during the time Howard Mackie was writing Spider-man.

Avengers
I use to get these packages of old comics, that they sold at the connivence store. It would usually have some really stupid issues, but some real good ones too. There where a few Avengers issues too. The first Avengers issue I read was #314 "Into the Void". I don't actually remember it being very good, as I was jumping into a confusing point. Those packages also had Avenger solo issues, featuring Hawkeye. It was all good, but it didn't grab me.

The next time I began reading the Avengers was during Kurt Busiek's run on the series, at issue #38 I believe. Alan Davis was drawing on art. I recall buying the issue because it had a marked down price of 1.99 (instead of 2.99, at the time) It was a great jumping on point, and held my attention of the series even through the unending horror of the Kang Dynasty story line. Geoff Johns took over the series after that, and soon enough Bendis was blowing the Avengers up.

Fantastic Four
The first Fantastic Four issue I read was issue #400. A shiny hologram cover no doubt enticed me to buy it. I can't imagine a worst time to try and read the FF - as Reed had just died, and Doctor Doom's Son (or something) was taking his place on the FF team. I found that very compelling, I gotta say. The rest of the story was very complicated, as it mixed in the Fantastic Force, and it simply all dovetailed into a very bad time to try and join the FF ranks.

The next time I tried the FF was because of the Animated series. I tried reading the Comic books, again repeating the same story.

The real time I actually jumped on the FF bandwagon, for good, was near the end of Chris Claremont's run on the series. There was a big storyline about Reed Richards getting stuck in Doctor Doom's armor. It was a rather confusing time, but it was all very fun. Jeph Loeb and Carlos Pacheco where an excellent follow up act

Iron Man
Again, the animated series drew me in. I read the corresponding comic book, retelling the same story. The next time I got into Iron Man was during Keron Grant's run on the book. I probably tried the series because of getting into the Avengers.

Thor
Thor vol 2 issue #32. It was a 100 Page Monster issue, with three issues worth of reprints. A great deal, and a wonderful introduction into Thor. I later used my knowledge of Thor in a Vikings Longship class I attended at school. I got very into the mythology. I also tried finding out the price of some beat up Thor issues my teacher had. They where in pretty bad shape, and probably would only sell for $7 or $8. So he actually said for me to keep them. I said I couldn't, but he said it was OK, so I took two out of the three issues. They aren't in prize condition, but I got the first Thor Annual (first appearance of Hercules) and Thor's first fight with Ego the living planet. This was a tremendous gift, to be able to read these actual issues, and I'll always be thankful for it. I continued reading Thor during a great but turbulent time, as Odin died and Thor became Lord of Asgard.

Daredevil
The first issue of Daredevil I got was issue #13. Having seen the Spider-man Animated series, I decided to give this issue a try, because it had the Kingpin floating down dead in the water. It turned out to be a spectacular issue, and I wanted to get more. But this was, again, a horrible time to try and be a DD fan, as Joe Quesada was interrupted from the series when he was made Editor in Chief of Marvel. I didn't know that, and waited patiently for the next issue to come out. It wouldn't be for a long, long time. But it was well worth the wait, and Bendis' "Wake Up" story line was a new level of art for me. Before Bendis took over preeminently, there was another cool story arch where Daredevil had to protect his identity in court. The efforts he put into keeping his identity where wasted, though, as Bendis soon let the whole world know that Matt Murdock is Daredevil.

Hulk
I believe I tried reading the Hulk because of his appearance in those first few Avengers issues I read. I began around the end of Paul Jenkin's run on the series. I'm repeating myself here - but it was a bad time to jump in, and there was already a long plot about the Hulk dying of a terminal disease. I very much got into the Hulk, and got a ton of Peter David back issues. I simply loved the character. Bruce Jones, though not ending his Hulk run well, was a great read at the beginning when he took over after Jenkins.

Ultimate Series
I avoid the Ultimate series like a plague. I knew they where making good content, that it was very popular, but I refused to try it because I was so stuck in the idea that changing continuity was inherently bad. That was simply my opinion at the time. I believe I finally tried an issue with Ultimate Spider-man's first Annual, where Peter and Kitty Pryde date for the first time. It was a wonderful issue, and I quickly became a great fan of the Ultimate series. I began with Spider-man, then slowly got into Ultimates - X-Men, FF, everything. I recall saying to guy who ran the comic store thanks for getting me into the series, as I was able to get a bunch of back issues there. He said I got into those series myself - and I was quite proud of trying thing new thing, and finding it so good.

Ponyo

I saw Ponyo yesterday, and was utterly charmed and astonished by the beauty and cuteness of this movie. Every single hand drawn character moves like a symphony. The level of detail and movement so many of the scenes have is nothing short of jaw dropping. And for a movie that abhors digital effects - this film puts on display some incredibly enchanting and mesmerizing traditional effects - with bright lights and rainbow colors; it's simply breath taking. The entire film is simply wonderful. You immediately feel like you're a child again - as the charming characters, while motives being somewhat simple, show a level of depth and caring seldom seen in American animation.

The voice acting was nothing but superb. Liam Neeson did an exceptionally wonderful job as the under sea king - who seemed like a cross between Doctor Who and Willy Wonka. The youngest Jonas Brother plays the lead voice of Sosuke, and Miley Cyrus's youngest sister played the voice of Ponyo. While that might seem like a bonanza of popular teen idols, both their voices where nothing short of perfect for these parts. I simply loved it when Ponyo first began talking, yelling "Ponyo Loves Sosuke!" It was so endearing and funny, you couldn't help but smile.

Go see this movie. I for one am going to definately be getting it on DVD. This is utterly the best movie of the entire season. I simply cannot give it enough praise.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Evolution of Krypton's History

This week a great comic came out, Superman Annual #14. It featured Mon-el finally finding out about his past and where he came from. Why he fell to Earth all the way from Daxam. They revealed a lot about Daxam - now officially a cousin of Krypton. While they made Daxamites clearly their own race, their origins, and similarities to Kryptonians, is not a coincidence.

What I found interesting is that Daxam followed the same Story-Evolution as Krypton.

See, modern day Krypton, before it all blew up, was a somewhat insular society. As revealed in this issue, Krypton did go to other stars - which makes sense when you consider how powerful they would be under other suns. But something changed - and they pulled back. They stayed on Krypton, and discouraged space exploration.

The reason for this insular attitude is for two reasons: the writers didn't want even more survivors of Krypton, ala a colony or space ship. And the second reason: the writers needed to contain the influence of Krypton.

In this issue, it revealed that Daxamites cannot interbreed with other races, except select ones that match enough. This plot point was very important - as it contains the powers, under a yellow sun, to the people of Daxam. Similarly, I think Kryptonians wouldn't have been able to interbreed with many other races - thus containing all the super powers that would suddenly be woven into various societies.

Essentially, Krypton and Daxam are unique themselves - there aren't a bunch of other planets with duplicates of Kryptonian powers and Daxamite powers.

It occurred to me, that these limitations are really all a result of Writer's simplifying the epic space situation of the DCU. As time as gone on, Krypton has been depicted as more insular and less space-faring, simply because it fixes those two problems I previously suggested. While I am not critical of this plot device, by any means, it still is interesting how modern concepts of space-faring civilizations conflict with the 1940s depiction of Krypton, with people who where originally all super powered. The first thing that really changed all that is the idea of the Yellow Sun being the reason Superman has super powers - and of Krypton having a Red sun - thus inherently "de-powering" the people of Krypton. Why do that? Two possible reasons, as I can see it: 1.) There's the question of wether Super Powered people would really die from an exploding planet. Superman has certainly faced much bigger explosions. And 2.) It again confines Kryptonians to Krypton, making fewer survivors. The insular lack of space-faring then answered the question of, even if they didn't have powers, why wouldn't they be out there in space with their technology.

What do you think? I just thought it was interesting how the concept of Krypton has changed - and how, now connected with Daxam, that planet similar followed suit - to better serve the world Superman and Mon-el live in.

Indecisive About Spider-Woman

Marvel recently released preview pages for the upcoming release of Spider-Woman. You can see them here: Spider-Woman Strikes Back at the Marvel Universe.

I have to admit, I have been VERY indecisive about wether to get or ignore this series. Brian Michael Bendis is one of my absolutely favorite writers - but even his attachment to this series hasn't gotten me to make a decision. It's not just that it's yet another comic book to add to my already large pull list - but it's also been a hard series to get excited about. Spider-Woman burst back onto the Marvel scene in New Avengers, with the promise of a regular on-going coming soon. Annoyingly, that was several years ago. I know, it would have indeed been a mistake to have the series earlier, because it would have been an even bigger rip off to buy a Spider-Woman comic and find out it's really about a Skrull impersonating Spider-Woman. That was smart on Marvel's part - but not in announcing and then taking away the idea of a Spider-Woman comic. Not knowing she was a Skrull at the time simply left me and other fans frustrated with the seemingly empty promise about the series.

So, I haven't been planning to get the series for a long while. Even though I was trying to ignore it, news about it was still in the fringes of my mind. And now with this release of preview pages - I just can't deny it any longer - I want to try this series out. That art just looks too good to pass up.

Now - this series is actually working on two levels, as each issue is going to also be released as a Motion Comic. That does sound like a cool innovation - but it still didn't grab my attention. If I'm buying any issues, it's going to be the tried and true regular version - not the Full Motion Comic.

Anyway - enough of my blathering, here is a video previewing the Motion Comic

Blackest Night Rings

Check out this article from bleedingcool.com Lantern Ring Collection Set to Boost DC's Sales

I seems there's going to be a continuation of the Black Lantern Ring give away - but this time without the "give away" part. For a comic shop to be able to order these rings, they have to order at least 25 or 50 issues of cretin DC Comics books. Not only will this give a huge boost to some deserving and underrated comic series, but it will allow fans to collect all the colored Rings.

This is how the deal works, as said in the bleedingcool artical:

"So for every 25 copies of Doom Patrol #4, Booster Gold #26, R.E.B.E.L.S. #10, Outsiders ‘24 and your retailer orders, they can order a bag of fifty Sinestro rings, Agent Orange rings, Indigo Tribe rings and Star Sapphire rings respectively.

And for every 50 copies of Justice League of America#39, Blackest Night #5 and Adventure Comics #4 sees you with a bag of fifty Red Lantern rings, Green Lantern rings and Blue Lantern rings, also respectively."

This seems like a great deal, especially for fans of Doom Patrol and other books like it. It will give new exposure to these great titles, and perhaps get new readers in the process.

Now - these Ring are not going to be free. I hope Comic stores are smart and simply give you the Ring when you buy the corresponding issue. That seems like the most fair deal - and it works great for me, because I get most of those titles already.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Doctor Light - Bad Villain

Among Super Hero comics, super villains are either "good villains" or "bad villains". What I mean is, that some villains you inherently love. We all can sympathize with certain villains. Lex Luther is a good example, because he fails at the most basic of human concepts: jealously. Not only that - but Lex Luther also defines Superman - Superman is a better hero because of the evil he has to face.

There are even down right wicked villains, with no redeeming qualities, that still are liked by readers. The Joker, for example, is the personification of an Anarchist. Nothing he does is redeemable, but he still manages to be a reader's favorite villain.

There are of course the villains that simply no one cares for. Dime a dozen crack pots, with a scheme or an ability -- they challenge the hero, but ultimately are just background filler.


No - the "bad villain" I'm talking about is Doctor Light, foe of the JLA and Teen Titans. I hate this character. It's not that he's not challenging, or complicated, or fits with the story. It's because he crosses a line that readers just don't like, and there's a collective shiver every time he comes up. This is, of course, because he was revealed to be a rapist in DC's "Identity Crisis" mini-series.

The events of Identity Crisis certainly upped Doctor Light's profile. Readers all remembered that he existed, because he has been down played for years as an inept "dime store" villain. Now, I'm not knocking Identity Crisis - it was a great and very well written story. But it fundamentally changed Doctor Light. Yes, he became more dangerous and more of a threat - but he also became the villain readers just don't want to read about. I was delighted that the Spectre recently killed him. Sadly, death hasn't stopped him, as he's popped up in JLA issues, and is now soon coming back as a member of the Black Lantern Corps.

So, why is Doctor Light so unlikable when compared to mass murders like Sabertooth? I like Sabertooth. He's a ruthless villain, kills for sport (even children) and delights in the pain he causes. But I like him better as a villain because, really, killing is expected of certain villains. It's not that anyone endorses murder, but it's an expected result of the villain - and why the hero has to work to stop him. But rape - it simply makes thing too real, I suppose. It's a real crime, and it simply takes you out of that "epic struggle of good vs evil" and simply dirties the waters of the story.

I recall the ending of Kevin Smith's Spider-Man and Black Cat mini-series. It dealt with a rapist as the villain, and what was at the start a fun Spider-man story, was suddenly a cringe inducing tale. That mini-series failed on so many levels, not just because of it's chronically late scripts, but because the tone of the book suddenly changed.

I guess what I'm saying is that, even though we want our villains to be good foils for our heroes - there's a line even villains shouldn't cross. I really can't watch episodes of the Teen Titans cartoon, when Dr Light appears, and not remember what that character is really like. It's just creepy - and I wish Doctor Light would stop appearing in comics.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Kamen Rider Amazon


Kamen Rider Amazon has to be one of the oddest Kamen Riders I've seen - but he also seems like a fun character, if not a bit different. Orphaned in the Amazon, Daisuke Yamamoto is raised by a peaceful tribe, until they are attacked by Gorgos. Before dying the elder transforms Daisuke into Kamen Rider Amazon.

This series only last 24 episodes - the shortest run ever for a Kamen Rider series. No Belt was used for transformation, and I can't imagine the forest being a great location for a motorcycling hero. I can't be sure, but the series not have been received as well as other more traditional Kamen Rider series. (Though, don't let a short production run be Amazon's deciding factor, as Decade is only running 30 episodes, and it seemed fairly popular)

Either way, it turns out Amazon is getting somewhat of a revival in Decade episodes. Amazon's World seems to be Decade's last stop before his series ends. Although Amazon is different from the other Riders, I'm glad I got to see what the character is like in action. He seemed like a charming enough character, and his animal like personality makes a nice change of pace when compared to the other Riders.

Here are some images of Kamen Rider Amazon

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Downsizing

Hello. I got some bad news. I decided to delete a lot of the stuff I had put in this blog. Almost all of my comic images, Anime images, and any other images I felt I couldn't keep around.

See, my image account was nearly reach 80% of 1024 MB. Basically, I've made a choice between my two blogs - and my Super Sentai Images blog won out over this one. I'd rather save the space I have for more Super Sentai images.

And, let's face it, this blog hasn't been a great success, especially compared to my Sentai blog. Seeing the difference, between the two blogs, though, has given me a deep appreciation for all the visits my Sentai blog has received.

I want to thank anyone who has visited this blog, and hope they might still visit - as I'm done with this place just yet.

Even though I'm going to focus less on images - I am still going to try and feature Japanese Movies I've seen and liked, Comics I've been enjoying, and video games I've been playing.

So you can still expect to find stuff on Tokusatsu, Comics, Video Games, and Japanese Movies.


In short, I'm still blogging here - so I encourage you or anyone else to keep visiting.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Nobody Knows

I watched a movie today that was very well made and very insightful. It's a Japanese film called "Nobody Knows" (誰も知らない; Dare mo shiranai). It was on the Independent Films Channel. It's a story about four Japanese children who are abandoned by their mother. They have to fend for themselves, living in a small and cramped apartment. They do well at first, with the money that is left, but soon everything seems to fall apart. It's very captivating seeing these kids struggle to survive. The movie is extremely well acted, with the young lead boy giving a tremendous performance.

The title of the movie seems very telling to me, as the film depicted a large number of people that knew, or should have realized, the kind of trouble these kids where in.

This movie is based on a true story. You can read about it on Wikipedia here: Nobody Knows (2004 Film)

Apparently this film made some alterations, as the young girl who dies in it did not fall and hit her head, like in the film, but was actually killed by one of the friends the lead boy lets over. These kids where eventually found and taken care of. The movie didn't completely impart that information to you at the end, but the film was really about the hardships these kids endured.

Here's a trailer to the movie (sorry, best quality I could find. The IFC Trailer sort of stunk, as it mislead you into thinking this was an entirely happy movie)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Glory Days of the X-Men Part 3

New X-Men

I have gone over Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne Era, and the Jim Lee era - two of the highest points in the X-Men's long history. To try and repair the X-Men, ever since Claremont left the series, Marvel eventually brought him back, writing both books. It was not very successful, and Marvel was criticized for not taking more advantage of the recent live action X-Men movie. So Marvel looked outside the box, and brought in comic genius Grant Morrison to take over and revamp the X-Men.

To me, Grant Morrison is like the Jack Kirby of comics today. He might not be on the artist side of things, but he's seemingly overflowing with ideas and concepts - both revolutionary and awe inspiring. For anyone who read and enjoyed All Star Superman, - it wasn't just a fun wacky adventure - there was tons of symbolism, dripping with psychedelic concepts and ideas. It both brought back the original fun of Superman, while also expanding on his for the modern age and the future. Morrison's run on X-Men was just as revolutionary.

Morrison changed a lot of the conventions of X-Men in general. With such a wide mutant population, the X-Men stopped being Superheroes, and worked more as rescue relief for Mutant problems. The first story line "E is for Extinction" changed everything - as it was revealed that, if the mutant population kept growing at it's current pace, homo-sapiens would become the dominant species on the planet. This first three issue story arch also introduced the X-Men to one of their most powerful new foes - Cassandra Nova.


In a subversive on-going plot point, Cassandra Nova, who seemingly was defeated by the third issue, had in fact taken over Professor Xavier's mind. It was further explored that Nova was in fact a biological twin of Xavier. Supposedly killed in the womb, only Xavier was born - but Cassandra Nova was eventually brought into the world as a kind of physical psychic doppelganger. With Nova in control of Xavier's mind, she announced to the media that Xavier was indeed a mutant, making the X-Men more public than ever. She then got in touch with the Shi'ar Empire, to visit Empress Lilandra - and then control Lilandra, tearing the Shi'ar Empire appart. Nova came back to the X-Men in a big way, with enough fire power to destroy the X-Men for good.

The core cast of the X-Men was streamlined.


Cyclops lead the X-Men, and seemed to be completely respected by the writer. He was no longer the straight boring leader next to Wolverine, he was one of the most driven and powerful members of the team. Things also took a bad turn for Scott, as he fell into an affair with Emma Frost.


While Scott's infidelity was a blow to Jean Grey, she was quite busy with her expanding powers - which where growing at a tremendous rate. The series ended with Jean Grey dying, and finally passing onto the other side, where she let go of Scott and became a higher being.


Emma Frost, formerly the White Queen, was the biggest curveball Morrison gave fans. Reformed and wanting to teach, the seductive and manipulative Emma became a great catalyst for drama in the team. She was also given a new secondary mutation, being able to turn into a diamond form. Emma might not have been expected by many fans, but she turned out to be an incredibly inspired choice, and is still a core leader of the X-Men.


Wolverine went over quite the makeover under Frank Quietly's art. Taking cues from the movies, Wolverine's hair was slicked back, and he sported a leather uniform. He was also shirtless - which didn't completely work. A white undershirt was eventually added - which finally made the whole uniform work great.


The Beast was one of my most favorite characters, which is why I was very nervous when I heard Morrison and Quitely where changing Hank McCoy's look. A secondary mutation underwent Dr. McCoy, making him more feline looking. This was an abrupt change - but ultimately a welcome one. The degnified and cultured nature of Beast shined through quite well.


With the slimmed down main cast in place, Morrison was able to expand focus on some new younger mutants. Emma Frost became mentor to a 5 young Frosts-in-training, a hive-mind psychic collective called the Stepford Cuckoos.


Morrison also focused in one two utter misfits. Beak was a dorky kid to begin with, made worse by being an over grown chicken who couldn't even fly. Angel Salvadore became the newest teen tag-along to Wolverine, and also became a teen mother, giving birth to a group of Beak's children.


These troubled students at Xavier's where put in charge of Xorn, a new mutant who had a star for a head. The zen-like Xorn seemed like a great edition to the cast, as his powers and attitude where fascinating. He even seemingly cured Xavier of paralysis, giving him the ability to walk. Xorn teaching these kids was not an ideal situation, though, as in a shocking turn of events - the seemingly pronounced dead Magneto was in fact Xorn all along. Nanites and magnitisim where what gave Xavier's his legs back - and in a crushing blow Magnus took over all of New York.


The take-over by Magneto was the big finale of Morrison's run. Much of it, sadly, was retconned later on, making Xorn a person imitating Magneto. This took some air out of the big ending, but it still stands as a great reveal.


There where other great adventures and new ideas during Morrison's run. Kid Omega, a student at Xavier's, took the school hostage, seemingly beliving in Magneto's views more than Xavier's. Wolverine also found out that the "X" in Weapon X might not be what it seems, as a larger portion of Weapon X was revealed, called the Weapon Plus Program. Wolverine was only the 10th itteration of his program, and a new mutant, Fantomex, was introduced. Fantomex was very different, as had a central nervous system outside his body in the form of a flying saucer.


While Morrison revolutionized the X-Men in his own book, there where other good stories to be found as well. Chris Claremont was given his own book, entitled "X-Treme X-Men" where we followed the adventures of Storm, Rogue, Bishop, Gambit, and the new enigmatic Sage on their search for Diaries that told of the future. The series didn't continue that well after the departure of artist Salvador Lorroca, but it was a nice change of pace into traditional Super Heroics.


When Morrison left the series, the X-Men felt rudderless once again. Many of Morrison's ideas where haphazardly retconed. It seemed like this age of tremendous X-Men tales was coming to an end - until Buffy and Angel creator Joss Whedon surprisingly took the baton and continued the story of the X-Men where Grant had left off.

Whedon put the X-Men back in costumes, determined to make them Super Heroes again.


While this was somewhat of a departure from Morrison's style, the X-Men where simply written so deftly and so creatively, that it seemed like all the magic of the X-Men had never left.


Many new story lines where begun. Cyclops, in particular became the badass of the team, using his powers in spectacular fashion, and leading the X-Men in truly difficult times. All the while "coping" with the loss of Jean Grey by becoming very intimate with new girl friend Emma Frost. Wolverine didn't take that very well.


Fan favorite X-Man Kitty Pryde returned to the X-Men. Sharing many of the same heroic qualities as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Kitty became a stunning character under Whedon's pen. She was portrayed so well, and so sweetly, that it struck many as to why she was ever gone in the first place.


One of the biggest surprises of the first 6 issues was the return of Colossus. He had died a while ago in a very controversial way, seemingly sacrificing himself to cure the Legacy Virus. Turns out his body was revived by alien technology, and the X-Men found him where he had been locked away. It was truly touching to see Kitty and Colossus finally reconnect, and all the more tragic when Kitty was lost at the end of Whedon's run.


Whedon also brought in some solid new concepts, like the Danger Room becoming sentient and alive, and introducing a great new tag-along for Wolverine, named Armor.

After Whedon left the X-Men, the tremendous high of this era of the X-Men finally came to an end. It was a fantastic and wild ride - and I hope the X-Men manage to reach such prominence and quality again. But, for right now, the X-Men are totally getting their butts handed to them by the Avengers.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Glory Days of the X-Men Part 2

X-Men Blue Team

Besides the Claremont, Wein, and Byrne era of the X-Men, there was another time when the X-Men's popularity simply overflowed. Never before did the X-Men gain such notoriety, as they appeared in a fantastic Animated series on FOX, and began appearing in not one, but two monthly titles.

X-Men #1 was one of the biggest selling X-Men issues. Released with four interconnecting covers, the issue featured Claremont and Jim Lee at their absolute best.

X-Men Gold Team

With two on-going titles, the large cast of X-Men where allowed to breath, as their ranks where broken into two segments. Uncanny X-Men featured the Gold Team, lead by Storm with Jean Grey, Colossus, Iceman, Archangel, and Bishop. In the new singular X-Men title, the seemingly more popular cast of the Blue team was lead by Cyclops, with Wolverine, Jubilee, Gambit, Rogue, Psylocke, and Beast.


It seemed like, in combination with the X-Men TV series, and the stunning success of X-Men #1, that the costumes of the X-Men where once again etched in stone. It would be many years before artists would begin changing the famous uniforms Jim Lee designed. It was a great testament to how stellar and versatile his designs where, that they lasted so long.


During this era of the X-Men, Jim Lee was putting out some of his absolutely best work. He did not stay around for long after X-Men #1, as he famously left Marvel to help found Image Comics. His short time on that book, and his many issues on Uncanny X-Men, left a definitive impact on the X-Men and comics in general. There seemed to be a sweeping clamor for artists to be put first, instead of writers - which was one of the reasons Chris Claremont left after only 3 issues of X-Men. While this did lead to a bit of style over substance, the stories the X-Men had in the years after Lee and Claremont where still tremendously rich.


One of the best things this new X-Men era gave us was the return of Magneto, more powerful and more opposed to the X-Men than ever before.


The 90s era X-Men also expanded to newer X-Titles, like the revamped X-Factor, featuring many odd fan favorite characters, lead by Havok and written by Peter David.


Another X-Title to prosper during this time was X-Force, a revamp of the New Mutants lead by the mysterious Cable. X-Force debuted very near X-Men #1, and proved almost as popular. Rob Liefeld came into the book with a sense of energy and excitement, if not skill with anatomical structure. Like Jim Lee, Liefeld was another artist two dropped off the book he helped launch to peruse independent work with Image Comics. This was probably one of the harshest blows to X-Force, as so quickly it was left in disarray, and only declined as the years kept going on and on.


Before the decline of X-Force, however, the team proved to be the kicking off point for one of the best X-Men Cross overs. This series was my introduction to the X-Men, and I have re-read these issues so many times, and learned so much about every single team. I am referring to the X-Ecutioner's Song, a 12-issue cross over that saw Professor Xavier seemingly shot dead by Cable. The members of X-Force where hunted down and captured. It soon became apparent that Cable was not the shooter - as the story began to introduce Stryfe, Cable's cloned twin. Many of Cable's secrets where revealed in this series, as we found out that Cable was the time-lost son of Cyclops and Jean Grey. The whole event ended in a brutal confrontation between Cable and Styfe, ending with Stryfe releasing the Legacy Virus, as disease that killed only mutants and would be a bane to the X-Men for years to come.



These fast paced days of the X-Men made them shine bright, but they eventually began to wane as time went on. Many controversial story lines began. Magneto returned and pulled out all the Adamantium in Wolverine's body. This revealed Wolverine's Bone Claws for the first time. To Marvel's credit, this change in Wolverine was not a one-time event, as it took several years before Wolverine would be given back his Adamantium Claws.

Another cruel twist during this time was the defection of Colossus to Magneto's side. This wasn't a sudden change, as it was building for a long time. Peter's family where killed in Russia, and his little sister, Illyana was infected with the Legacy Virus, and tragically died. All these events made Peter loose faith in Xavier.

While the 90s are blamed for many deficiencies in the comic industry at the time - it was a still an amazing time to be reading comics. The X-Men where never more popular, and while the group suffered through many changes in the years ahead, they held on to that popularity for a long time.