Inside Pulse A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Thu, 02 Oct 2014 03:57:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse no A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse Blu-ray Review: Graduation Day Thu, 02 Oct 2014 03:57:28 +0000 After the twin sensations of Halloween and Friday 13th, filmmakers realized that there was a market for slasher flicks. Teenagers couldn’t get enough of watching other teenagers being tracked down and murdered. There was a rather simple formula to these films: a major event, a bunch of unsuspecting teens and an unbalanced mysterious person with a weapon. The pints of blood converted into big bucks. This is what led to Prom Night, New Year’s Evil, My Bloody Valentine, April Fools Day, Slumber Party Massacre and other body count boffos. Graduation Day came out early in the wave of mutilation, became a box office hit and gained fine cult following over the decades thanks to VHS. Graduation Day finally graduates to 1080p on a Blu-ray-DVD combo.

Midvale High School is super proud of their track and field team. You can tell because they actually have fans in the stands that aren’t merely parents waiting to drive the kids home. There is a high price to pay for such exceptional athletic expectations. Laura Ramstead (Ruth Ann Llorens) drops dead after winning a major race. Was she pushed too hard by her teammates and overzealous coach (Rat Patrol‘s Christopher George)? Ensign Anne Ramstead (Patch Mackenzie) takes time off from the navy to collect her sister’s diploma and athletic honors. At the same time that Anne arrives, one of the track teams runners is chased down on a trail and stabbed to death. All the viewers knows is that the killer had switchblade, a sweatshirt, black leather gloves and a stopwatch. Is Anne getting revenge for her sister’s death. The killer’s face stays hidden as the murders are handle with POV shots. Director Herb Freed (Tomboy) does a fine job of using Dario Argento’s slasher perspective tricks.

What makes the movie click is how most of the classmates don’t seem to care that others are being slaughtered before the graduation ceremony. They are too busy partying. They break out the roller disco love with a band called Felony busting out the early ’80s beat. It’s a shame that roller disco was shunned by the masses instead of turned into an Olympic sport. A movie can only improve with age when there’s roller disco on the screen. Such is certainly the case with Graduation Day. The movie also has plenty of other elements clicking for it. Scream queen Linnea Quigley loses her top. The principal character has little faith in the kids. The filmmakers do a fine job keeping us guessing to the identity of the killer who keeps track of his victims by crossing out their faces on the team photo.

The teen slaughter genre is still alive and well thanks to kids embracing The Hunger Games. There’s still an audience that doesn’t mind seeing a few peers get culled from the yearbook. Graduation Day is a movie that deserves a reunion viewing as school gets back into session.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer cleans up the image, but maintains the gritty charm of the low budget slasher. The audio is mono. The disco roller party will be cranked on your speakers for maximum effect.

DVD that has all the features of the Blu-ray.

Audio Commentaries are provided by the producer and a group of film fans. Producer David Baughn breaks down so much about the film’s production. He explains what he had to do for distribution. The second track by The Hysteria Continues allows the film fanatics to geek out each other with tidbits about the film, cast and crew.

Acting Out in School (8:46) reunites us with Patch Mackenzie. She had issues with the director on how much of a red herring to slather on the character.

Surviving the Class of ’81 (12:22) features director Herb Freed memories of the production. He wasn’t thrilled at the audience response during an early screening.

Graduation Day Blues (11:34) lets producer David Baughn guide you through his career including working for Russ Meyer.

Cutting Class (7:20) is how editor Sandoff ended up working on the Halloween franchise.

The trailer (2:04) pushes the joy and fears of high school graduation.

Graduation Day is one of the classics from the original slasher era in America cinema. The Blu-ray will help it reach a new generation of high school students with the warning that they must pay attention when classmates are being picked off by a serial killer.

Vinegar Syndrome presents Graduation Day. Directed by: Herb Freed. Screenplay by: David Baughn, Herb Freed & Anne Marisse. Starring: Christopher George, Patch Mackenzie, E. J. Peaker, E. Danny Murphy & Michael Pataki. Rated: R. Released: September 12, 2014.

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DVD Reviews: September Fun from Vinegar Syndrome Thu, 02 Oct 2014 03:50:13 +0000 Vinegar Syndrome brings us into Fall with three releases that take us back to school, the convent, Hawaii and World War II.

Peekarama: Cry For Cindy, Touch Me & Act of Confession is a triple bill courtesy of director Anthony Spinelli. Before he entered the world of adult cinema, Anthony had small parts on numerous TV shows including Green Acres, That Girl and The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Once he went behind the camera, he became a prolific filmmaker in the other movie industry. The threesome on this collection show his characters being both probing and profane. Cry For Cindy (1976 – 86 minutes) explores why a hooker (Amber Hunt) commits suicide. In her case, it’s the harsh truth of what she did for love. Her boyfriend thought she was able to afford his medical school bills by modeling in the big city. Turns out she was turning tricks and her pimp wasn’t ready to let her retire after she married the doctor. The movie has the people at her funeral recollect how they helped her along in the business. This is not the usual eulogy for such a somber event. There’s an almost R-rated cut of the film for those who want a less penetrating view of the action. Touch Me (1971 – 78 minutes) takes us back to the start of group therapy. Psychologist Dr. Lloyd Davis (Tom Stevens) wants to explore the resistance people have at sharing pleasure. Instead of having people sit around in chairs in his office, he takes things to a natural extreme. He starts out the evening with a breathing exercise, but soon it’s everyone stripping down. They explore their hang ups, fears and desires with a complete hands on approach. Some people have more hands on them than others. The film attempts to sound like a documentary. Any reliable institution of higher learning only used this movie for department sponsored bachelor parties. What’s interesting is that this film was released a year before The Bob Newhart Show aired. Although odds are that Touch Me had no influence on creating the TV show that featured group therapy. Act of Confession is straight up nunsploitation. What dark desires lurk inside a nun’s heart? This movie does its best to express the fantasy. Novice Sister Beatrice (Kim Durey) is on the verge of her big vows to the sisterhood. As that day approaches, she is overwhelmed by her dreams of unbridled lust. First it’s merely forbidden desires with her fellow novice nun. These lusty fantasies build up until she has a full on romp with the Big Guy. The movie was thought lost until they uncovered a 16mm of the version that could run on Cinemax After Dark if the executives there wanted to be cussed out by the Pope. Spinelli’s three movies aren’t the most comfortable of romantic films since his characters are filled with a lot of repressed anger and disturbing issues.
Peekarama: Mai Lin vs. Serena & Oriental Hawaii is a double feature from director Carlos Toblina (Marilyn and the Senator) that features Mai Lin and Jade Wong. Mai Lin vs. Serena (1981 – 79 minutes) is a tricky logic question. Can there really be a loser when two actresses compete to star in an adult film by doing adult things that end up being filmed for an adult movie? That’s exactly what happens when Mai Lin and Serena go all out to impress director Carlos Toblina. The two women stop at nothing to outdo each other in physical exertion. How does one truly judge such performances? The duo do their best with anyone who wanders across them while the competition is in progress. Oriental Hawaii (1982 – 79 minutes) is about what people did before AirBnB. A dad tells the family that times are tough and they’re going to have to take in boarders to make ends meet. The grown kids who won’t leave home are at first angry about the new living arrangement. Their frustrations fade away fast when Mai Lin and Jade Wong knock on the door. The two girls are doing their best to get through the university. But very quickly the duo give the family an adult education. This film put the University of Hawaii on the academic map. Or at least had plenty of people putting up “Room For Rent” signs on the Honolulu campus. The trailers for the films are the bonus feature.
Prisoners of Paradise (1980 – 78 minutes) is Bob Chinn’s epic tale of what really happened in the Pacific during World War II. The big surprise is the return of Chinn’s set from Sadie. The tropical decor seems to have lasted longer in the business than star John Holmes. Why not? It’s a good and sturdy set that fits the action. The same can be said for Holmes. He’s an American sailor whose ship gets sunk. He washes up on the shore of what he thinks is a deserted island. But this is not the case. He’s on Japanese territory. What makes his plight worse is that this is also a Nazi outpost run by Hans (Sadie‘s Heinz Muller) with his blonde assistants Ilsa (the legendary Seka) and Greta (Sue Carol). Jade Wong is a mute assistant. It’s up to John Holmes to rescue the American prisoners from the Nazi trio. He has only one weapon and he uses it as much as he can on Ilsa and Greta. Mai Lin also has a role in the action. The film is less disturbing than Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS. The film plays more like a really dirty version of McHale’s Navy. The Polynesian set once more elevates the cast.

Prisoner of Paradise is the must have of the trio mainly because of the on screen talent of Holmes and Seka. The trio from Anthony Spinelli are interesting to watch because of their diverse approach to adult entertainment. Carlos Toblina’s double feature is just pure fantasy especially about what happens when two co-eds move into your house.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic for all the titles except 1.33:1 on Act of Confession. The transfer restoration job by Vinegar Syndrome makes these films look better than when they were released. The “nice” cut of Cry For Cindy wasn’t restored so you can see how brutal they could look. The audio is mono for all the films. The sound is fine for the low budget productions.

No additional bonus features.

Peekarama: Cry For Cindy, Touch Me & Act of Confession, Peekarama: Mai Lin vs. Serena & Oriental Hawaii, Prisoners of Paradise will allow you to turn your TV room into a Time Square cinema.

Vinegar Syndrome presents Peekarama: Cry For Cindy, Touch Me & Act of Confession, Peekarama: Mai Lin vs. Serena & Oriental Hawaii, Prisoners of Paradise. Starring: John Holmes, Seka, Mai Lin and Jade Wong. Released: September 12, 2014.

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Review: Thor #1 by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman Thu, 02 Oct 2014 01:00:03 +0000

Thor #1

Written by Jason Aaron

Art by Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson


The short of it:

Roxxon is deep in the Norwegian Sea looking for…something, they stay vague about what exactly. It doesn’t really matter though, since they see mountains that shouldn’t exist and wind up being Frost Giants who destroy their sub, eat their sharks, and lay havoc to their underwater base with giant maces and axes. That THAT big oil! Up on the moon the people of Asgardia stand behind the All-Father and All-Mother as they attempt to talk to the Odinson, who has barely moved for weeks as he tries and fails to lift his hammer. Odin presumes Thor has been placed under a spell by one of his foes, but Freyja tells him of the events of Original Sin, and Thor won’t share the words Fury whispered to him to cost him his hammer.

Odin decides to his some Odinpower to fix the worthy issues, but finds that he enchanted a hammer so magical that he himself can not lift it. Freyja tries to ease her son by reminding him that he’s a hero with or without a giant hammer, but Odin’s ravens arrive to warn him of the Frost Giants on Midgard. Odin calls to return to Asgardia, Freyja calls for battle, and the two bicker until Thor stands up and walks off, saying he’s off to get a weapon before going home.

Back under the sea, the Roxxon survivors huddle up for warmth as they await their fate when Malekith arrives to explain why they’re there and to find what Roxxon dug up for himself. Thor charges in on a giant goat, wielding a giant axe, and Malekith prepares to have fun at his old foe’s expense. They fight as the Dark Elf taunts the Odinson, finally taking the upper hand as Frost Giant hands rip into the base and grab hold of Thor. Malekith talks about Thor’s lack of a hammer, and then proceeds to maim the God of Thunder.

Back on the moon, a shadowy figure stands above the hammer, states that there must always be a Thor, and then reenchants the hammer as she lifts it up to become the Goddess of Thunder.


What I liked:

  • Roxxon has attack sharks. Sharks with tech on their head and, what looks like, shiny golden metal teeth. So awesome, so Bond villain like.
  • Odin is back! The badass, angry, ultra dick they call All-Father! And he’s not happy with the fact that the All-Mother still wants to be in charge! Fun Odin is fun.
  • Any time a main characters gets maimed in a first issue, you’re off to a good start.
  • “Move, you blasted hunk of uru! ODIN COMMANDS THEE! I am the way and the wrath and the wonder! I AM HIM WHO SPEAKS WHILE GALAXIES OBEY!”
  • Russell Dauterman has breakout potential. This issue looks fantastic, and if he he sticks around for a while then this book will, at the very least, be a visual treat for his issues.


What I didn’t like:

  • There needs to be more consistency with the inscription on the hammer. It flips for the sake of readers way too often.
  • Too much time on Thor not being worthy, not enough on his fight with Malekith.
  • Odin is quick to go try and blame Loki, but the last I saw Loki was the one who went to bring him back to Asgard in the first place (still need to finish the Thor and Loki mini).


Final thoughts:

Odin is back in Asgard? Damnit, I knew I was forgetting something! As soon as I finish I’m going back to read the last issue of the Thor and Loki mini.

Not calling this book “Lady Thor” is going to take a lot of self control and willpower.

I seriously doubt that Freyja is the new Thor, but I’ll be damned if the book didn’t hint at it. At the very least she’s behind the new empowering.

So, here’s a nitpick that comes from one part my feelings on Marvel and their attempts to diversify their lineup with status quo shakeups, and one part from actually having read Thor: God of Thunder (for new readers, that’s the previous volume by Jason Aaron that ended two weeks ago, and that this is literally the next arc of that book with a shiny new number one)…Future Thor has the hammer. I mean, yeah, sure, there’s a long ass time between now and when that Thor exists, and at any point in between he could regain the hammer, but the point is…he regains the hammer. The ticking clock over this new Thor is already going, and I’m pegging it to expire at the same time as Falcon America. Next May. Possibly as late as August, but with enough lead time and backup artists, they’ve already proven with Superior Spider-Man that it only takes a year to do thirty-one issues, a few annuals, and call it a day.

Thor’s arm, on the other hand, that may last a bit longer. Old Thor is lacking an arm, and in something that amuses me greatly, Jason Aaron’s version of the character is not the first one I’ve seen like that. Dan Jurgens had done the same thing with his Future Thor in The Reigning at the end of his run. It seems Thor can’t escape eventually having one arm, one eye, and a big ass hammer.

There was a time and a place where this would have been Thor: God of Thunder #26.

Please tell me that Thor just has several Dwarven Axes, because if he busted out Jarnbjorn for this…dude. That’s the axe that caused literally every problem in Uncanny Avengers, why would you go anywhere with it?

Overall: 8.5/10×120.jpg

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Avengers Now Spoilers & Review: Captain America #25 by Rick Remender & Stuart Immonen Leads Into Marvel Comics’ All-New Black Captain America #1! Wed, 01 Oct 2014 23:30:52 +0000 Avengers Now (spoilers here) delivers an all-new diverse Captain America (with more here) to the masses!

Captain America #25 Avengers Now Spoilers Preview Review 1 Captain America #25 Avengers Now Spoilers Preview Review 2 Captain America #25 Avengers Now Spoilers Preview Review 3
Captain America #25 Avengers Now Spoilers Preview Review 4 Captain America #25 Avengers Now Spoilers Preview Review 5 Captain America #25 Avengers Now Spoilers Preview Review 6

CAPTAIN AMERICA {7th Series} #25 Review & Spoilers


Captain America #25 Avengers Now Spoilers Preview Review 7“untitled” (21 pages) ; epilogue (4 pages) ; promo ads (6 pages)

Story by: Rick Remender
Pencils by: Carlos Pacheco w/ Stuart Immonen
Inks by: Mariano Taibo w/ Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors by: Dean White, Veronica Gandini & Marte Garcia
Letters by: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Covers by: Immonen, Von Grawbadger & Garcia; McNiven & Hollowell; John Tyler Christopher; Kalman Andrasofszky
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

After all the doom-and-gloom, there is a lighthearted feel and much-needed levity to CAP off this current volume of the series.

I will openly admit that I haven’t followed this current run of the series. I admired Rick Remender’s grandiose scope of storytelling in Uncanny Avengers but in my current state, I can’t be bothered with super-long overlapping arcs even if I understand the reason for them. The reCAP page works nicely considering it’s all I need to give this book a proper send-off.

Steve Rogers narrates the extent of Sam Wilson’s heroism. Now, believe me or not, I always liked B, C, and even D-listers from the Marvel catalog of characters. Falcon was one of them from way back in the day when he co-starred in Cap’s first volume as well as when he was mandatorily made an Avenger by the U.S. Government in issue #181 of that series (1979) to fulfill the status quo. The fact that he’s become a full-fledged Avenger (fleshed out nicely during Geoff Johns’ run) and kicked major ass in the Winter Soldier movie and continues to kick ass on the animated Avengers Assemble is the true testament to this character who’s been around 45 years!! At any rate, Sam is a hero through-and-through due to his overcoming adversity and sacrificing his life for others.

Interlude #1: Arnim Zola tries to make his daughter Jet Black see the error of her ways. To employ a cliché: he wants her to return to the dark side. Given Jet’s steamy affair with Falcon (issue 22), it’s clear her allegiance is to the Avengers. Zola tries hard to convince her of his ‘weakness’ by mentioning fatherly love towards her. Being the battle-hardened warrior that she’s become, Jet is not convinced in the least. She really puts him in his place by defining and describing the pathetic, deformed, rotten oddity that is her father.

As the Avengers gather around Sam’s limp body, the tension is relieved when Sam eulogizes himself in the most deadpan way (no pun intended!) He flatters himself with his good looks, charm, and way with the ladies. On top of that, he explains to the heroes and readers how he survived — Vibranium wings given to him by Tony Stark. Tony being Tony has to cut in and pat himself on the back, trying to steal Sam’s thunder. Sam keeps up the humour by telling Thor he wishes he could just imbibe mead instead of being put in the medical bay.

Jet jumps for joy upon seeing her paramour alive and kicking. The happy reunion is cut real short when Sharon Carter icily blames Jet for all the damage that’s been done (destruction, betrayal, etc.) Sharon presents cold-hard evidence that can’t be disputed. The term “restrain” is used three times (just to make it clear!). I chuckled when Sharon says “Gag her while you’re at it.” How can the Mighty Avengers just stand there and let her escape? Luckily, Ian is in hot pursuit.

Interlude #2: Zola family reunion, part two. Jet has such contempt for her ‘brother’ that she sneers at his pleas and runs right back to Daddy. Of course Zola was right all along about the ‘heroes’ that she foolishly befriended. Back to Dimension Z via teleportation.

The next five pages focus on certain heroes’ poor attempts at humour. I groaned and rolled my eyes at Hawkeye cracking wise and attempting to one-up Spidey and ribbing the Vision who insists that he’s the real funny one in the room. How cliché is that? The android is the most human of all. Even though Hawkeye admits to trying to ease the tension, it just doesn’t work. The same goes for the bitching about the lack of food and prolonging the joke by having three of the group’s powerhouses blame/admit whoever ate the appetizers. Honestly, this scene just doesn’t work. I see that the point is to establish or demonstrate the camaraderie among a throng of Earth Mightiest Heroes but *blah* UGH!

True to form, the title star has to throw in his own joke for good measure — his brand new identity: General Geriatric!! Talk about self-effacing humour! Steve has never been known as the funny man hence the dead response to his lame codename. All the members respect him too much and have always seen him as super-serious.

The last three pages are the real nitty-gritty for this issue. Sam as the new Cap looks beyond awesome in the full page spread on page 19. I really like the design since he gets to keep his wings. Forget Falcon! This is the latest version of the American Eagle. The final touch is the passing of the shield. Cap wouldn’t be Cap without it (no matter who has the mantle). Thankfully, Sam is not a man of many words and he utters the battle cry that any leader of the group has ever uttered: “Avengers Assemble!” I squealed with his casual approach when saying “Let’s give it a whirl…”

It’s official. The Marvel Universe has a new Captain America!!!

Epilogue: Hydra lives up to its name since its many heads keep popping up. A typical secret meeting takes place at Castle Hydra. What’s on the agenda this time? The crowning of the new Captain America! Oh, dear…Someone within the organization is really close to Sam. This will eventually lead to betrayal. The big question is who is it exactly? It’s an Avenger since s/he was present during the ceremony and had to leave early to gather with the Unknown Council. Whoever this is, s/he has known Sam for years but avers that no one person can truly see into the heart of another. Two new players enter the field: Chancellor Cassandra and The Drain. I have no prior knowledge of them so I assume they are brand new. This epilogue is set up to be continued in the All-New Captain America #1.

Too many artists working on a single issue!! Talk about a collective effort. Although it’s not uncommon to share credits/tasks, I wonder why it took two top artists, two inkers and three colorists to put together twenty-five pages of story. The art is definitely inconsistent. I continue to dislike the ‘cartoony’ way some artists illustrate. Pacheco does this on page 1, panel 4. What is that?? The Avengers look downright laughable even if they are mutate versions of the originals. On the flipside, Immonen does the full page spread justice with Sam’s new duds. Stellar stuff! He does the faces quite well expressing Steve’s and Jet’s shock on page 1, panels 2 and 5. He nicely shows the many faces of Arnim from contempt to disdain to determination. Jet has her range of emotions as well from surprise to anger to relief and ending off with spite. Sharon is no spring chicken but she looks too haggard despite her ‘real age’. Nice little touch with Sam shaving his face as he is newly christened.

The inks and colors work in synch with the pencils. The smoke from Sam’s lifeless body as well as Tony’s boot jets are depicted realistically. The teleportation effect is shown magnificently in the white cascade. The best is saved for last — the glint off the shield on page 20 and fully flushed out on page 21.

Joe Caramagna is one of the many letterers under the VC umbrella (Virtual Calligraphy, natch!) He uses italics for Zola’s speech, smaller-sized letters for Sharon’s “Dear God ” remark as well as Sam’s mutterings when he comes to, big bold letters for “Sam” exclaimed by Steve and Jet, and lastly the all-caps “AVENGERS ASSEMBLE! ” in raging ruby red.

Spy-fi (clever play-on-words) seems to be the new genre for the re-launch of this title.

To acknowledge and honor the All-American Avenger, I give this book 9 stripes out of 13 [69%]
(right from the U.S. flag).


Just for fun — Spot-the-Avenger: [some are unidentified] [not counting Steve or Sam] [50 in all!]

page 14 – Rogue, Sunfire, Wasp [panels 1, 2]

– Dr. Strange, Shang Chi, Spectrum, Red Wolf, Stingray, Sunspot, Moon Knight,  Cannonball, Captain Universe, Star Brand, Havok, Nightmask, Smasher, Hyperion, Spider-Woman, Iron Fist [panel 3]

– Beast, Jarvis, who’s the guy in the wings? [panel 4]

page 15 – Captain Marvel, Luke Cage, Hellcat, Daredevil, Hercules, Captain Britain,  Quicksilver, Thor, Hulk, Machine Man, unknown blue guy, Living Lightning?, Vision, White Tiger, Scarlet Witch, Black Panther, Mockingbird, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Spider-Man, She-Hulk [panel 1, front view]

Shang Chi, Firebrid/Espirita [panel 2, back towards the readers]

page 17 – Manifold [panel 4]

page 20 – Nomad (Ian Zola) [panel 5]×120.jpg

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Wednesday Comments – Close To Getting Dropped Wed, 01 Oct 2014 17:00:41 +0000 I’ve got a decent sized pull list. Actually it’s probably too big. I’m positive that I get too many comics. But they make me happy and I enjoy reading them.

That said, there are some books that are teetering close to getting dropped. Sometimes it’s because I’m not enjoying the book as much as I used to. Sometimes it’s because I tried it out and it didn’t take. And sometimes it’s because there’s a creative shift brewing.

Here are some books on the chopping block at the moment.

Wonder WomanWonder Woman is as good as dropped. As soon as Azzarello and Chiang’s final issue has been read, I’ll be dropping that book. It’s not just that I loved their run, but I’ve got very little interest in the power couple Finch.

I like Wonder Woman as a character and she’s deservedly an icon. But David Finch didn’t impress me with Dark Knight, a book I read for way too long after I’d realized it wasn’t for me. I won’t be following Diana’s adventures for much longer.

Red Lanterns & Swamp Thing
– Speaking of departing creators, Charles Soule will be leaving DC as he’s Marvel exclusive now. Provided they continue on with him, I’ll give Red Lanterns and Swamp Thing a few issues to see how they carry on without Soule at the helm.

I loved what Soule did with Swamp Thing, he really carried the torch from Scott Snyder. Swamp Thing has been a great book. Red Lanterns succeeded despite the tough sell premise of characters vomiting blood and being linked to the Green Lantern franchise.

We’ll see how they look after Soule leaves, but they’ll be on thin ice.

Green Lantern & Green Lantern Corps – These books are perennially on thin ice. I’m not a fan of what Robert Venditti is doing on Green Lantern. That’s not really fair, perhaps it’s an editorial mandate. But Venditti’s name is on it, so he’s getting assigned the blame for Green Lantern.

I don’t like how Hal Jordan is portrayed. I’m not enjoying Green Lantern nor Green Lantern Corps. I don’t like the what’s been done to John Stewart. I don’t like the direction the Green Lantern franchise is headed in. I’m hoping that Venditti and Van Jensen get moved off the Green Lantern titles after Godhead.

Outcast – I’ll be honest, this book barely had a shot. I’m not all that into supernatural stuff. I’m not big on demons or possession. But I figured I’d try the book out, especially considering Robert Kirkman has a pretty decent track record.

But the story just hasn’t grabbed me. I’ve picked up the two most recent issue, but I haven’t read them yet. I’ll do my best to ride things out for the entire first arc. Plus worst-case scenario, maybe I’ll be able to see the issues when the show starts.

So those are books that I may not be reading in a couple months time. Am I wrong for wanting to drop them? Drop me a comment if you think I’m being too harsh.

Anyway, it’s Wednesday so go out and buy some fresh new comics from your local comic shop.×120.jpg

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Marvel Comics Weekly Event Review & Spoilers: Death of Wolverine #3 by Charles Soule, Steve McNiven, Jay Leisten & Justin Ponsor With 3 Covers Including Variants! Wed, 01 Oct 2014 13:35:35 +0000 Death of Wolverine #3 Spoilers Preview Review 1 Death of Wolverine #3 Spoilers Preview Review 2 Death of Wolverine #3 Spoilers Preview Review 3

DEATH of WOLVERINE #3 (of 4) Spoilers and Review

“Seppuku” (21 pages) bonus material (7 pages)

Story by: Charles Soule
Art by: Steve McNiven and Jay Leisten
Colors by: Justin Ponsor
Letters by: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover by: Steve McNiven, Jay Leisten and Justin Ponsor
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

The hits just keep on coming!!! Despite a two-week unplanned hiatus *groan* this book is back on the shelves!!

This was one of the fastest reads I’ve ever experienced regarding a comic book! I couldn’t believe I was done reading it when I came to the last page. Fast and furious doesn’t begin to describe it! Somehow, Charles Soule manages to expertly advance the action and incorporate the main elements of Logan’s history into the bare essentials.

Picking up exactly where things left off last issue, Kitty Pryde has her hand phased through Lady Deathstrike’s chest. Being the ruthless fighter that she is, Yuriko calls Kitty’s bluff in terms of killing her and attempts to take down Kitty with a back flip. Little does she know that this Kitty is well into her adult years and isn’t some meek, mousy mutant. Although she doesn’t deliver the killing blow, Kitty phases her hand through Yuriko’s hand causing enough damage that she easily commands the crazed killer to depart.

Kitty not only served as a deus ex machina with her abrupt appearance at the end of issue #2, she has another ace up her sleeve (or in this case, back pocket) — regeneration serum for Logan. Our main man is more than flabbergasted when he wonders about the acquiring of this remedy but Kitty is determined to save her mentor/good friend. As alluded to the title of the story, Kitty thinks Logan is suicidal. He corrects her by saying that in fact the situation is quite the opposite: he wants to live and live long along to stop the bounty on his head body. Kitty respectfully and rightfully reminds Logan that she’s no push-over and that she has a shared history with Ogun (once again, from way back in the Kitty Pryde & Wolverine mini-series, published in 1984-1985).

Fast forward to Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens in Tokyo. Logan and Kitty find themselves sitting on the edge of a pond trying to figure out the mastermind of the whole plot. Viper, Deathstrike, and Ogun were just morsels in a bigger food chain. Logan instinctively knows there’s a bigger mind at work tugging at all the strings. Logan has an existential epiphany — he knows that the cycle of violence is endless. There’ll always be someone else to get him, healing factor or not. He sees all of these bloody pursuits in slow-motion. It’s realistic that he embraces the inevitable and comes to grips with the fact that the best minds on the planet (Beast, Mr. Fantastic, Iron Man, even Kitty Pryde) cannot provide the magical solution to the on-going problem. Death comes for all, as the saying goes. This is the very heart of the matter!!! Page 7, panel 5: it seems that Logan would gladly commit suicide by impaling his head through his chin with his fist closed and even saying “SNIKT”. Kitty dismisses him immediately. Logan truly knows who he is down to every single fiber of his being. He welcomes old age since it’s a sure sign that he can’t erase past mistakes and has to advance like the rest of us mortals. By ageing, he will have to atone for all the horrible things he has done. I really like this take on things by Charles Soule — regeneration = redemption. Once Logan gets on in years, there’s no going back.

Maybe I’m too ‘relaxed’ in my reading and I don’t overanalyze enough, but boy was I shocked when I saw Kitty kiss Logan and profess her love to him =-0   Of course in the back of my mind I thought “there’s no frickin’ way that this has ever been touched upon!” In the end, I was right. Turns out Ogun took over Kitty’s body. What was the tell? When s/he mentioned Logan’s past dead loves who could never measure up to the young Kitty Pryde. Logan has always been a gentleman through and through despite his feral, savage nature. He never saw Kitty in that light and rightly so.

History repeats itself with Ogun having easily possessed Kitty’s body. Ogun is the one who offered the cure to Logan’s affliction. He has no altruistic motives. He’s an opportunist through and through. *sigh* As it has always been for a man of Logan’s station, there’s only one outcome to the situation: a fight to the death. NERDGASM!!! Logan suits up in samurai armor when knocked into some random home. Steel and sword pale in comparison to the fact that Kitty is fighting Ogun to regain control of her body. I like how Kitty emerges as the ultimate victor despite Logan’s valiant attempt at fending off one of his oldest enemies. The way Logan touched Kitty/Ogun’s face reminds me of the Vulcan mind-meld. Is that all that was needed to interrupt the incursion? A touch to the face?

Kitty ends up okay (of course). The mastermind is revealed!! MAJOR SPOILER!!! It’s none other than Abraham Cornelius, overseer of the Weapon X Program! (strong suggestion: read Barry Windsor Smith’s story “Weapon X” from Marvel Comics Presents #72-84, printed various times in trade paperback.) She urges Logan to pursue Ogun who obviously has taken over another body. Logan manages to follow him to some warehouse in an unidentified part of
Tokyo. When he peers inside, there’s another tie to his past — another experiment/escapee of the Weapon X Program: Cyber. He’s deader than dead despite having Adamantium enhancements. Ogun tells Logan that Cornelius has become an eclectic collector and that Logan is the ultimate achievement. Mr. Soule, showing his versatility as a writer with widespread knowledge, uses the term “seller’s market” meaning that Logan is the crème de la crème in terms of product a.k.a. he’s literally one-of-a-kind at an exorbitant rate.

The sinister scheme is elaborated upon. Cornelius wants to have Logan go to his secret facility in the Nevada desert in a place mockingly/sarcastically/appropriately(?) named Paradise Valley. Ogun offers Logan an ultimatum — if Logan leaves Japan to pursue Cornelius, Ogun will take on another body since he was weakened in his fight with Kitty and not hunt him. If Logan refuses, the man whose body is possessed will die in a vat of acid. Ogun brings out more vials of regeneration serum. Logan refuses them but makes one thing clear: he’s coming after Cornelius.

Final page: Dr. Cornelius is gritting his teeth and looking at some snapped wires reflected in his glasses.

WWOOEE!! What a handful (or should I say clawful?) to absorb! The pacing is quick but necessary given that this is only a four-part mini-series with a definite ending in place.

Steve McNiven’s pencils are a vast improvement despite the two-week delay. I find that he does faces best especially on the titular character. Kitty Pryde looks a lot better. She no longer has that Medusa-like hair. Logan looks the part of his name: somewhat bestial but still recognizable as a human. Ogun’s oni mask is terrifying and rightly so since he’s an ancient evil.

Jay Leisten continues to put a fine touch to McNiven’s sketches. I especially like the blurred effects, Logan’s full head of hair, Ogun’s mask, and both the samurai and Cyber armours.

Red is the main colour of this book although it isn’t as obvious aside from the backdrop pages and the title of the story. Justin Ponsor highlights this best with Yuriko’s garb, the leaves on the trees, the hood that Kitty sports, the red circle around Logan on pages 11-12 (exactly like the sun in Japan’s flag), the red border of panels 3-4 on page 14, and Ogun’s mask.

What a wild ride!! A solid 3-for-3. This book gets IX out of X (9/10) in honour of the Weapon X Program.

Weapon X Wolverine BWS 2×120.jpg

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The Gold Standard: Marvel’s Diversity NOW! Initiative Tue, 30 Sep 2014 21:30:36 +0000

I miss Spider-Girl.


I know, I know, as infrequently as I seem to show up to expel my sage words of comic wisdom, that never seems to be forgotten. I loved that book, and I miss it every day. I miss the idea of a Marvel canon that actually moved forward, of characters finding their eventual destinies, of generations actually spinning out of the silver age of Marvel, as opposed to just locking that entire generation in at a set point in time and making it last for fifty years.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, Marvel NOW! is all sorts of new and exciting with all sorts of new avenues to the future, but look at them. Just…just look at them and tell me that you actually see long term potential in any of these, and not just Marvel doing a short term status quo shake up before getting back to basics.


  • Wolverine dying
  • Falcon as Captain America
  • Thor can’t lift his hammer, so now there’s Lady Thor
  • Parker Industries
  • Smart Hulk
  • Steve Rogers is old


I can’t imagine the majority of these still being relevant talking points come 2016, especially the Captain America stuff. Remember Bucky Cap? That was a thing, and it was going pretty well, and then we got a Captain America movie. What does Marvel do? They kill off Bucky Cap so Steve can have his job back, then unkill Bucky because he was A) popular and B) had a major role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That’s Marvel, in a nutshell. It’s why Starlord looks like the Andy Dwyer Chris Pratt version. It’s why Nick Fury is black. It’s why Agents of SHIELD is getting a book despite the canon’s not resembling each other at all.

Now, before I rant too heavily, I do want to praise Marvel for making a good call with having Sam Wilson become the new Captain America. If you’ve gotta replace Cap, Sam SHOULD be the top choice. I said the same thing back before Bucky Cap became a thing. It’s not even a diversity thing, it’s the fact that Sam has been Steve’s best friend and partner since the seventies, and that it makes him simple to ease into the role. He retains the supporting cast, he’s able to continue different plot lines, and it doesn’t necessarily jettison Steve out of the book despite him being an old man. He’s the smart choice.


That said, it’s 2014, why are they just now prepping for Sam’s first ongoing solo series? How has he only has a mini series to himself since debuting? How has he always been the back half of “Captain America and…”? Marvel has literally never given him a chance to succeed on his own, always labeling him a bit player, or a high quality supporting cast member, but never assuming he had leading man potential. Making him Captain America changes that because the name Captain America sells books regardless of who is wielding the shield. Just like how Iron Man is going to sell whether it’s Tony, Rhodey, or anybody else, and how Spider-Man didn’t take a sales dip for Ben or Otto as Spidey. Like how X-Men sells regardless of which characters are on the team. That’s Marvel, everything is so well branded that they have a built in readership just on name alone.

Right now Marvel is getting all kinds of love for their love of diversity; because Falcon is Cap, because Thor is a woman, because Ms. Marvel is a Muslim girl. Marvel is forward thinking, Marvel is progressive, Marvel is speaking to the readers of today, yadda-yadda-yadda, etc etc etc.

This is Marvel that we’re talking about, who are somehow receiving praise for their support of female characters. Do a few attempts at ongoing titles right now completely erase their awful track record? Black Widow just had the tenth issue of her solo series, which is a milestone since this is her fifth solo series, and the only one to surpass six issues. Carol Danvers is Captain Marvel which is an upgrade, and they just relaunched her book so they could raise the price by a dollar and bring on an actual artist (the book is pretty damn good, actually). Elektra just got cancelled, again, after Marvel brought over the Batwoman creative team to launch it and try to piggyback on the overblown controversy concerning DC’s mandate against marriage.

spiderwoman-land spiderwoman-manara

Spider-Woman is getting ready to get a new book with a pair of awful covers, and some terrible Greg Land art (I haven’t seen it, but it’s Greg Land, so it has to be terrible), and it’s in such heavy demand just like that long awaited Bendis six issue ongoing series that spun out of an event two years beforehand. Storm has an ongoing series, which is one of those “Really?” moments that I love so much; because this is her first actual ongoing series attempt after a few minis in the nineties. First attempt, sit on that, this is Storm, former leader of the X-Men, the picture of the diversity they’re bragging about, and Marvel has never barked up that tree before. Oh well, who the hell cares, THOR IS A WOMAN NOW!


How many solo titles has Luke Cage had? Yes, he’s the leader of the Mighty Avengers (for now), and he previously led the New Avengers, and is a lifelong Hero for Hire, but why hasn’t Marvel gone with Luke Cage #1 as an attempted ongoing? Why is Falcon the new Captain America when the last time they gave him a solo run was a four issue mini in the eighties? Black Panther tends to get real and solid attempts as an ongoing, but at the same time, they let BET President Reggie Hudlin write a version that was offensive to everybody who read it, and in the process pretty much shit all over the critically acclaimed Priest run (which was ended for the Hudlin run). Because it mattered more to have T’Challa get married to Storm and call her ‘Boo’ then to ever bother mentioning the amazing work Priest did.


Marvel only has balls when it fits their marketing strategy, and that is based pretty much entirely around movies with a lesser emphasis on hot button issues.

Honestly, I wouldn’t be so irritated by it all if it didn’t feel so damn forced.

Falcon is the new Captain America, but the second he debuts there’s going to be a ticking clock over his head until Steve come back.

Thor is a woman, until Thor is Thor again.

Wolverine is dead up until they need to bring him back, then Wolverine is going to be back to normal.

Peter Parker is going to have his own company all the way up until he doesn’t and he’s taking pictures for Jonah again, because who really thinks that he’s never going to be shuffled back to that? Anybody else remember when he was a high school science teacher?


The problem with shuffling up the status quo at Marvel is that they always leave themselves ways to snap back to what came before; there is no risk of actual change anymore. Superior Spider-Man was awesome, but everybody knew that Peter would be back within two years (in time for a movie), and sure enough, he was. Avengers: Age of Ultron is out next year, what are the odds that Steve Rogers is a powerless old man in the books while kicking ass on the big screen? What are the odds that Marvel skips on that money? Hell, what are the odds that shiny new Steve Rogers Captain America number one (which will probably have a super shiny chromium variant) doesn’t cost five or six bucks?

Really, all of this is why Marvel desperately needs a regular What If?! title, so that they can ask these questions in the healthy environment of a one and done story, or a brief mini. Where they can tell their story without having to snap back to status quo once it’s done, which in the case of most stories, just castrates them. I mean, I’m not saying that they can’t shake up the status quo, but there are better ways to do it. A Falcon number one is worth a thousand times more than a Captain America number one where Falcon is Cap, because one of those things has a chance at longevity.


Next time!

  • What if we had What If?!
  • Whatever happened to Elseworlds?
  • Spider-Girl?
  • Booster Gold and the Old 52


The Gold Standard

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Blu-ray Review: Gone With the Wind (75th Anniversary Edition) Tue, 30 Sep 2014 17:11:55 +0000 The year 1939 saw a record number of films that have become classics, such as Stagecoach, The Wizard of Oz, Gunga Din, Ninotchka, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. So many of the films during that year have endured and are still just as loved today as they were when they were released. In fact, that year is well known as being the best year for films in history. But even still, none can match the scope and grandeur of Selznick’s Gone with the Wind.

The film is a glimpse inside the prestigious lifestyle of a plantation owner in the Old South before, during, and after the Civil War. Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) is the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, and is the belle of every ball in the county. She woos every man in sight, yet has her sights set on neighbor Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard) who has just announced his engagement to Melanie Hamilton (Olivia de Havilland). Ashley and Melanie marry, but that doesn’t sway the stubborn Scarlett. She marries two other men in order to make Ashley jealous, and her plan backfires. Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), a blockade runner from Charleston with a bad reputation, has had his eyes fixed on Miss Scarlett and tries, unsuccessfully, to convince her to marry him.

But of course that’s just the romantic story line of the film. The rest of Gone With the Wind is about how the Civil War ravished the South, and Atlanta in particular. Scarlett has always known a life with servants; Mammy (Hattie McDaniel, in the role that won her an Oscar) has been Scarlett’s personal servant since Scarlett was a baby. When the war breaks out and the slaves leave their posts on the plantations for serving in the Army, the privileged are left to fend for themselves on their plantations. Scarlett returns to her home at Tara, her family’s plantation, and she must make ends meet on her own.

The four hour running time of Gone With the Wind moves surprisingly fast. So much happens in the film that there is not one single minute that feels boring. For those unfamiliar with the story, it is highly recommended to seek out a copy immediately. Take one single rainy, lazy Saturday to watch the film in its entirety, or break it up over two evenings, stopping at the Intermission.

This edition may be for hardcore fans, but rare is the person who sees the film without becoming a hardcore fan. The keepsake 75th Anniversary Edition comes with a book about Southern fashion of the Civil War time period and highlights Scarlett O’Hara as a fashion icon. It also comes with a collectible handkerchief with Rhett Butler’s initials, and a San Francisco Music Box Company music box that plays “Tara’s Theme”. It’s amazing that Warner Brothers was able to top their beautiful 70th Anniversary edition. This edition does not have some of the same extras, so it is the perfect companion piece for a collector. Both editions will be forever cherished by every Gone With the Wind fan.

The film is just as gorgeous as ever on this blu-ray edition. The sound is typical of films of this era, with the occasional pop and crack that adds to the nostalgia.

Disc 1 – The full feature film with optional commentary track by historian Rudy Behlmer

Disc 2 – Special Features:

The Making of a Legend: Gone with the Wind – This is a two hour long making of that is narrated by Christopher Plummer. It outlines the entire process of making this film from obtaining the rights to the book to the Oscar ceremony where the film was nominated for 14 and won 9. (02:03:00)

Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Presents 1939: Hollywood’s Greatest Year – A really fun documentary about the amazing films that graced the silver screen in 1939. Imagine trying to make Oscar predictions during that year!

Melanie Remembers: Reflections by Olivia DeHavilland – The famous actress who played Melanie Hamilton gives stories from the film, from auditioning for the part, and decisions she made about how her character was portrayed onscreen. (38:40)

Gable: The King Remembered – A documentary about the actor that chronicles his entire life. His young life, how he became an actor, his marriage to Carol Lombard, and his war efforts. A very nice tribute to the iconic actor. (01:05:00)

Vivien Leigh: Scarlett And Beyond – This documentary about the actresses life is hosted by a very ’80s-looking Jessica Lange. This was very fascinating as it shows more of the films that Leigh did and her affair and marriage to Laurence Olivier. (46:05)

Dixie Hails Gone with the Wind – An old news reel of the footage from the premiere in Atlanta. (04:01)

Historical Theatrical Short: The Old South - Although it never mentions the film, this short was created to introduce audiences to the culture of the times depicted in the movie. It is actually a very informative short about cotton production in the South. (11:19)

Atlanta Civil War Centennial – This is footage from the 1961 theatrical re-release of the film, again held in Atlanta. David O. Selznick, Vivien Leigh, and Olivia De Havilland were in attendance. This is video footage, no audio. (03:41)

International Prologue – This was added to the international release of the film to explain the Civil War to foreign audiences. (01:17)

Foreign Language Versions – Different scenes from the film in French, Italian, and German. (02:27)

Theatrical Trailers – The 1939 Announcement Trailer with no shots from the film, the 1961 Civil War Centennial Trailer, the 1967 70 mm Re-Issue Trailer, the 1968 Re-Issue Trailer, and the 1989 50th Anniversary Trailer

Awards – List of the Academy Awards, and NY Film Critics Circle Awards

Disc 3 – All New Special Features:

Old South/New South – A documentary about how the South has changed since the Civil War.

Gone With the Wind: Hollywood Comes to Atlanta – Historical news reel footage of the cast and crew arriving in Atlanta and given a tour by the mayor.

Disc 4 – Bonus DVD

MGM: When the Lion Roars – A six hour documentary of the golden age of cinema and MGM.

Gone With the Wind is a classic that every film buff should have in their collection, and every Gone With the Wind fan will treasure this 75th Anniversary Edition.

Warner Home Entertainment presents Gone With the Wind: 75th Anniversary Edition. Directed by: Victor Fleming. Starring: Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Olivia DeHavilland, Leslie Howard. Written by: Sidney Howard. Running time: 233 minutes. Rating: NR. Released: September 30, 2014.×120.jpg

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The Weekly Round-Up #251 Mon, 29 Sep 2014 20:00:18 +0000 Best Comic of the Week:

Outcast #4 – Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta are really firing on all cylinders with this title.  It’s not the thrill-a-minute ride we usually expect from Kirkman’s writing, but is instead a well-paced, methodical exploration of how things would work for somebody in Kyle’s position (i.e., somebody who seriously angers the demons that possess people).  A detective has tracked Kyle down to see if he can help him with a very personal case, while strange things happen at Kyle’s neighbour’s house.  Kirkman is setting up a number of plotlines, including marital problems for Kyle’s adoptive sister, signalling that this book will be around for a while.  Azaceta is a great artist for this type of book – his work is moody and evocative.

Quick Takes:

Amazing X-Men #11 – You know, I love Alpha Flight, but that team has hardly been handled properly since John Byrne left their first title.  They’ve been starring in this arc of Amazing, but the story has become so predictably post-Byrne Alpha Flight as to be a little brutal.  The appearance of a bunch of Wendigo has, of course, led some of the combined teams to the Spirit Realm to confront the Great Beasts, the consummate AF antagonists.  Beyond that, the characters aren’t being handled very well.  I find it creepy that Puck has hooked up with Talisman, a young woman he’s known since she was a teenager, and I really don’t know why they turned Aurora into such a self-centred bitch.  The X-Men, especially Iceman and Rockslide, are basically playing comic relief in their own book, and in general, I’m getting a little bored.  I expected a lot more when I saw that Chris Yost and Craig Kyle were writing this title, as I’ve really enjoyed their previous work on New X-Men and X-Force.

Armor Hunters #4Robert Venditti brings this event series to a satisfactory conclusion (excluding, of course, the Aftermath issue coming out next month).  The various Valiant heroes face off against Primary and the remaining members of his squad in a huge final battle.  This event has worked very well, largely because in the Valiant universe, big events like the trashing of Mexico City and Los Angeles feel like they might have some actual repercussions in months to come.  I also feel like this event has helped define Aric’s role in this continuity, and it has made me more curious to learn more about where the X-O Manowar armor really comes from, and why this suit, which was in the possession of the Vine for so long, seems so different from the other armors that the Hunters fought.

Baltimore: The Witch of Harju #3 – This was a disappointing mini-series.  I think that, once the vampire threat was extinguished, it might have been time for Lord Baltimore to hang up his harpoon and peg leg, at least for a longer break than he had.  I’m not clear on where this character is headed anymore, and everything feels too familiar.

Captain America #24 – Proving once again that even the most jaded and burned comics fan can succumb to the hype, I thought I’d check out what is happening in Captain America prior to Axis.  A big part of my reasoning is that I’ve always liked Falcon, even if he’s only rarely been utilised well in his many years of hanging around Cap’s and the Avengers’ titles, and I’m curious to see how he’ll work wearing the Captain America costume for a while (I’m not so hype-prone as to believe that this storyline will last more than eighteen months).  Anyway, Rick Remender has spent a lot of time building up to this, and I like his suggestion that everything that has happened, including Jet’s betrayal of her father, were all part of Arnim Zola’s plans.

Chew #43 - Tony is barely in this issue, as his daughter Olive embarks on her first mission (with Colby and Poyo), and does most of the heavy lifting.  As always, this is a delightful issue, although the last page suggests that the next one may get a little brutal.  I read recently that sales on Chew are slumping a little of late.  I can’t imagine starting this series and not sticking with it.

Cyclops #5 – I’ve really been enjoying Greg Rucka’s writing on this series.  In this issue, Young Scott and Corsair lure bounty hunters to the planet where they’ve been trapped so they can get off that world.  Rucka is determined to show that the younger version of Scott still contains a lot of idealism and goodness within him, and so he has him strike an interesting bargain with the hunter’s servant.  I hope that, when John Layman comes aboard as writer, the quality level stays as high as it has been.

Deep Gravity #3 – Gabriel Hardman, Corinna Bechko, and Mike Richardson have put together a very taut and exciting science fiction story that balances a number of different elements perfectly.  The surviving crew of the Vanguard have to figure out how to save themselves from falling to Poseidon after their ship became crippled (we learn how this month), while also avoiding the strange and dangerous creatures they brought aboard the ship.  The writers have done a lot of good character work in a short amount of space, while also keeping the plot moving quickly.

Harbinger: Omegas #2 – Toyo Harada is staking his claim on the Earth (or, at least on a portion of Somalia formerly under al-Shabab control), and while the governments of the entire planet are working to stop him, Peter Stanchek is doing nothing at all.  Joshua Dysart does a terrific job of weaving this story into current world events, and is really setting Harada in place to achieve his dreams, if he can figure out what he really wants.  I am sad that after the next issue, Dysart’s excellent run with these characters will be over, at least for now.

Loki Agent of Asgard #6Returning after its Original Sin-mandated hiatus, Al Ewing continues to impress with this title.  Loki is back on Earth, but now Dr. Doom is after him because he’s learned that the god of mischief will be a problem for him at some point in the far future.  The battle between Doom and Loki is handled on a meta level, reminding me a little bit of the way Neil Gaiman might have written such a situation.  Jorge Coelho comes in to replace Lee Garbett on the art, and does a very good job.  Apparently this story is part of the “March to Axis” but I have no idea how, nor do I care.  It can be read on its own merits.

Letter 44 #10 – The crew of the Clarke is under attack (or are they?) while the ‘Blades Brigades’ come under a different sort of attack in Afghanistan.  This issue is lacking much of the political aspects that often make it stand out as such a unique sci-fi series, but almost every scene in this issue is important.  I’ve loved this book, and the work that Charles Soule and Alberto Alburquerque are doing with it, since it began, and my enthusiasm is not diminishing at all as it nears the one-year mark.

Low #3 – My usual experience with Rick Remender’s creator-owned work is that he launches his series with spectacular beginnings, but slowly his books kind of fizzle out.  Compare the ends of titles like FEAR Agent or Strange Girl to their beginnings, and sometimes it feels like a lot of the promise was lost somewhere along the way.  That is not the case with Low, which has been getting better and better with each new issue.  I didn’t love the start of this series, but felt that this issue was fantastic.  Stel is determined to make her way to the surface of the Earth to search for the interstellar probe that has just returned, except that nobody goes to the surface, since it is so toxic and dangerous.  She convinces a political leader to allow her to take her disgraced and suicidal son Marik with her, but he has no interest in helping her.  Stel’s eternal optimism has become the main focus of this character, and on a dying world, apparently optimism is not enjoyed by anyone.  The art on this issue, which has our two heroes traversing the ocean alongside a number of strange characters while wearing elaborate dive suits, is quite beautiful.  I was a little down on Greg Tocchini’s earlier issues, but his style really helps nail this one.  I’d considered dropping this title, but if it stays like this, there is no danger of that happening.

The Massive #27Over the last two years, I had kind of forgotten the significance of the title of this comic, as well as the central missions of the Kapital and Ninth Wave in the post-Crash world.  Now, with this issue, Brian Wood has brought everything back into focus, as a reunion of sorts leads to a massive (see what I did there) change in the status quo of this comic.  I really enjoyed this stuff, as we see yet again just how pivotal Mary is to this entire series.

Mighty Avengers #14 – I liked this title, which ends with this issue, before being relaunched as Captain America and the Mighty Avengers, after the Falcon takes over the iconic shield.  My hope is that the next iteration, while keeping the excellent cast and writer (Al Ewing), hews more closely to the ‘Mighty’ team’s mission statement – to help the average citizen of New York.  I also hope that Greg Land stays away from the book, as it was his art that I think scuttled this title before it had a chance to attract an audience.  I know it’s why I almost never bought it.

Mind MGMT #26 – Meru’s journey takes her to the first Immortal, as Matt Kindt keeps his series moving along.  Mind MGMT is always an inventive and interesting series, and this month, Kindt has the side texts (which are usually from the Mind MGMT Field Guide) incorporate themselves into the book’ main text.

New Avengers #24 – Last week’s Avengers, which kicked off this new 8 Months Later arc, was a pretty exciting comic.  The New Avengers look into the future is a lot more bleak.  Namor and his Cabal have been destroying alternate Earths to protect the 616 from the threat of the incursions, but with each mission, Namor has been finding it harder and harder to rein in his allies.  This is not surprising, since one of them is Thanos (who, thankfully, doesn’t get any Death-worshipping dialogue).  Namor turns to Doom for help, which doesn’t go well (it’s quite the week for Dr. Doom, between this book and Loki), while the Black Panther and his sister attempt to destroy Namor’s stock of weapons in Wakanda.  I think Jonathan Hickman must really have it in for that African nation, as he’s had Thanos and the boys lay waste to it off-screen.  I’m curious to see where Hickman is taking this whole storyline, as it’s set after the upcoming Axis event, but also feels like something that will have to be retconned away by the end of the story; too many changes have taken place in the Marvel Universe in this storyline so far that aren’t likely to become the new status quo.

Pariah #8Philip Gelatt and Brett Weldele bring this series to a very interesting close.  The Vitros are faced with a choice – return to Earth, or launch deep into space looking for a new home.  The decision is one that each Vitro has to make for him or herself, and that leads to some pretty interesting scenes, as characters that we’ve gotten to know, and others we’ve never seen before, wrestle with their decision making process.  I’ve enjoyed this series a great deal, especially since most of the plots have been presented as problems to be solved.  I took a chance of preordering this series (the logic being that with Brett Weldele involved, I’ll love the art no matter how the story goes), and I’ve very glad that I did.

Pop #2 – I felt pretty ambivalent about the first issue of Pop, a new series about vat-grown pop stars and the horrible people that control them (and, by extension, our reality, since pop music has such a central role in creating the zeitgeist).  This issue, however, worked a lot better, as Elle, the woman that escaped from her pod, drops DMT while a Joey Ramone look-alike tracks her down.  There’s nothing terribly groundbreaking about this book, but it is enjoyable.

Roche Limit #1 – There has been a wealth of good original science fiction comics being produced in the last few years, with titles like Letter 44, Deep Gravity, Pariah, and The Fuse more than satisfying a segment of the comics market that is usually underserviced.  At the same time, these titles have risen the bar to a point where a new series has to work to stand out in the niche.  Roche Limit sounded promising – a new series set in a decaying and more-or-less failed colony poised at the edge of an energy anomaly.  The writer, Michael Moreci, has put in a lot of effort in terms of establishing backstory, including a write-up about the man who founded the colony, and seeding it with a strange new drug, Recall.  The problem is that, with all the groundwork laid so well, the story itself appears to be a pretty standard “rogue cop goes looking for missing sister; gets involved in organized crime” kind of story.  There are plenty of interesting story elements, but I don’t care about the main character, or the guy who decides to help her out.  Everything about this story, aside from the novelty of some aspects of its setting, feels like something I’ve experienced before, and that’s disappointing.  Moreci relies a little too heavily on his narration to explain away a lot of things, and artist Vic Malhotra doesn’t really do anything too spectacular to make the story stand out.  I’m going to pick up a few issues and give this book a chance, because it’s the type of project I like to support, but I’m hoping that it feels a little more fresh and new soon.

Saga #23 - It’s Saga.  There are unexpected things happening, some great dialogue, and wonderful art.  At this point, there’s not a whole lot to say about this series.  If you like it, you’re going to like it.  There are no bad issues.

Secret Avengers #8 – Ales Kot’s strange series spends most of this issue addressing the issue of Maria Hill’s having hired MODOK to work for SHIELD.  We learn just what MODOK’s own plans are, and what has caused them to be derailed, while Hill and Spider-Woman try to figure out how to proceed amid all the weirdness that Kot has dropped in their laps.  This is definitely not your typical third-tier Avengers comic, but if Kot is able to pull off what he’s going for with it, it may end up being pretty memorable.

Sex #16 – Joe Casey continues to impress with this tightly controlled yet sprawling examination of a retired Batman figure.  I’ve come to be very interested in the different character arcs that Casey has been building, and am pleased to see that the book likes it will continue for some time.

The Sixth Gun #43 – As Cullen Bunn moves ever closer to what I assume will be a big finish, this book carries ever more promise of big things happening.  Drake, Becky, and the ghost of Screaming Crow know where the Grey Witch is, and what she’s planning on using the Six to do, but their quest for new allies has hit a few snags.  We see a number of faces familiar to long-time readers at the end of this issue, which is kind of cool, but what I like best about this month’s chapter is the scene where we see that Becky still contains some of her innocence and joy at the world, although Drake and Screaming Crow know they have to trample on even that to achieve their goals.  Brian Hurtt draws that scene (and really, the rest of this book) brilliantly.

Umbral #9Antony Johnston and Christopher Mitten are really taking their time with this series, with the end result being that the pace is kind of slow.  Rascal and Dalone are travelling with a bunch of Wodelings now, and their other friends, who hate each other are searching for them.  Most interesting in this issue is the fact that one of the Umbral, who whispers to Rascal when she sleeps, is trying to make her suspicious of Dalone and his motives.  I’d like to see the speed of this series pick up a little, but I am enjoying it quite a bit.

X-O Manowar #29 – Despite the fact that there is an official ‘Aftermath’ epilogue to Armor Hunters coming out next month, Robert Venditti uses this issue of X-O Manowar to wrap up a number of threads from that series.  First, Aric is officially given a title from Colonel Capshaw (hint: It’s the title this comic has been using for almost two and a half years), and then has to go help figure out what to do with Malgam, the guy whose body has been half-taken over by the armor.  Like most of Armor Hunters, this is a solid issue helping set up where this series is headed.

Comics I Would Have Bought if They Weren’t $4:

All-New Invaders #10

Bodies #3

Brass Sun #5

Edge of the Spider-Verse #3

Empty Man #4

Guardians of the Galaxy #19

Magneto #10

New Warriors #10

Rachel Rising #28

Red Sonja #12

Storm #3

Bargain Comics:

Amazing Spider-Man #4Here’s something I don’t understand:  If the spider that bit Peter Parker, giving him his abilities, then went on to bite another person, wouldn’t she have the same abilities?  It seems weird that she would have developed more and different powers, doesn’t it?  Anyway, this is the first Original Sin tie-in, where Peter learns of the existence of a younger woman who has been locked away since being bitten, because of something to do with a villain I’ve never heard of (really, Marvel, it’s time to bring back the explanation box, or at least use the recap page at the beginning of the comic a little better).  I don’t know what this Morlun stuff is all about (is this left over from the JMS era?), so that kind of killed some of the sense of danger around this issue for me.

Magneto #2 – It’s rare that a writer can write a convincing Magneto.  It’s too easy to go all bombastic and Stan Lee-ish with the character, or to wallow in Claremontian over-writing.  Cullen Bunn does feel the need to revisit his roots in the Holocaust, which is too easy a go-to, but I like the way he has him quietly investigating the disappearance of homeless men, which is connected to an Omega Sentinel thing.  I don’t understand how Gabriel Hernandez Walta is not a bigger name artist by now.

Superior Spider-Man #32 – It felt like a breath of fresh air to read the adventures of old Doc Ock in Spidey’s body again.  The time travel stuff has gotten kind of old, as has the alternate reality stuff (it’s like there are no new ideas anymore), but I did enjoy seeing Otto use his brains once again.  I have no idea who this threat that the entirety of Spider-Verse is going to be built around, or why he’s so angry at spider-based heroes, but I’m intrigued.

The Week in Manga:

20th Century Boys Vol. 16Once again, Naoki Urasawa switches things up with this volume of his long-running manga epic.  The first half of this volume returns to the childhood of the main characters, but this time, we see things from the Friend’s perspective.  Urasawa suggests that the Friend’s whole life, including his machinations that put him on top of the world, were because Kenji and his friends weren’t interested in hanging out with him.  It rings a little false, but there it is.  The rest of the book takes place three years after the end of the last volume, in what is now known as the Friendship Era, which has elements of the Orwellian.  Tokyo is walled off from the rest of the world, and is kept in the past, as Otcho discovers when he makes it over the wall.  I love this series.

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The Voice Spoilers: Sneak Peek At Tonight’s Episode Mon, 29 Sep 2014 19:04:44 +0000 The Voice!]]> Here’s a sneak peek at tonight’s all-new episode of The Voice!×120.jpg

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