Saturday, September 27, 2008

4 ON THE FLOOR Week 11: Americatatonic

4 ON THE FLOOR is a weekly look at the history, the passion, and the puzzle that is the Dark Lich's blog. All of it in celebration of it's 4th anniversary.

Is it a telling sign when you'd rather stay in the office for aircon, sleep and free internet than to go back home and sleep in a bed for 3 hours?

Yes, yes it is.


America. That's where it's at.

I know, I know. It seems like everybody and their mother or dachshund wants to set foot on the Star Spangled Nation. I know I did, and it was one of the most humbling, exciting, excruciating and wonderfully mind-blowingly awesome things that has ever happened to me.

Up to now I'm still salivating at the memories of every single awesome thing I've experienced back there. I hung out for hours at Barnes & Noble reading graphic novels and manga to the point of wanting to set up a bed and just make it my permanent address. I ate at Denny's, In & Out, Taco Bell, Applebee's and White Castle, accumulating enough cholesterol to make Marlon Brando proud. I remember watching TV until the Girls Gone Wild commercials come on, and I wouldn't get tired of them replaying themselves a couple of times until I fall asleep.

I visited my very first comic book shop, Hot Comics in New Hope, and I remember freaking out the store employees for taking almost an hour just walking around and browsing comics until deciding to buy just one comic book to give for my friend's birthday (being the only foreigner in the shop and wearing a leather trench coat while doing this didn't help matters probably). I recall fondly passing out at the mind-blowing price mark-off on books at Book Warehouse...I'm still furious at myself for not having enough dollah-dollah bills to buy out the whole damn store.

And of course, the cherry topping this whole experience is driving for two days to New York and officially rendering me catatonic due to extreme geekgasm at seeing Times Square up close.

No Naked Cowboy, though, so I consider my last trip a failure.

But at least it gave lots of interesting blog fodder!

And speaking of blog fodder, we still have TONS more to talk about, as we near the 4th anniversary of this blog! It's gonna get creepy, it's gonna get stinky, but like all good stories, it's gonna come out all right in the end! So let's keep talking! If you have anything you would like to discuss from this post (I wonder if the people from Hot Comics read my blog?), then the comment form below is your best friend.

Meanwhile, I've got to take a break. All that mind-blowing takes a lot out of you. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The "My Girlfriend Rocks" Post!

Wait! Don't shut down this tab or browser or whatever! It's not what it looks like!

It's just that today, my girlfriend and I will celebrate our 2nd anniversary together. As one of the very scant few women who really noticed I exist to the point of actually agreeing to go out with me, I treasure her muchly. And as such, I dedicate this post to her.

I love her for a lot of things, and those lot of things are too mushy to be in a comic book blog, so I'll just talk about the one thing that concerns this girlfriend knows I love comic books and is actually okay with it.

Now I know some of you might think I overreact, saying it's not so abnormal, but I assure you it's not so normal given the situations and given the country I'm in. But anyway since she knows I love comic books then I'm an easy person to give gifts to on special occasions. Hence, I'm here to talk about the comics she gave me as gifts, and whether they're good or not.

Of course, I'm going to say they're good, because she knows what I like, and because I love her that much...right, dear? :)

MARVEL CROSSOVER CLASSICS: THE MARVEL/DC COLLECTION VOL. 3 This was my girlfriend's first comic book gift to me, knowing how I love comic books. It's a collection of crossovers from Marvel to DC to Wildstorm (who is already owned by DC, remember?). It's got the crossover tales of Superman and Hulk, Batman and Daredevil, Batman and Spidey, Batma--nah he's too awesome to keep doing crossovers. Anyway, most of it is hit and miss but it's still a good read.

I love Steve Rude's work here in Superman/Hulk. His 1960's style really gave me the impression that this story happened during the two heroes' early years. I especially hold dear the crossover of Team X (Remember Maverick?) and Team 7's early years written by former GI Joe scribe Larry Hama. I find his love of the term "mop" (as in "let's mop up the survivors with intersecting fire!") and his uncontrollable urge to squeeze in military terms and callsigns (Hama actually used to be in the military) to be annoying but utterly addicting.

Oh and it should also be noted that my girlfriend got this for me because she didn't know which particular hero/universe/genre I liked, and so she decided to get me stories that encompassed everything at once. Genius.

EX MACHINA VOL. 1: THE FIRST HUNDRED DAYS A monthsary gift from way back when my girlfriend found out I wanted to get into reading Ex Machina but didn't have the funds to do so. One of the most prized possessions in my collection, due to its significance and the fact that Mitchell Hundred, aka "The Great Machine" is one of the most interesting comic book characters I have read in a long while.

Ex Machina
is the story of Mitchell Hundred, a civil engineer who got into a bizarre accident, which gave him the ability to control and command machinery of any kind. He uses this new found power to become the first super powered hero, The Great Machine. After a couple of adventures (including stopping the most memorable tragedy of our age) he decided that he would do more good running for Mayor of New York City, and this is where his story starts. This trade paperback compiles the first five issues of this landmark series, and writer Brian K Vaughan and artist Tony Harris packs so much good stuff into this trade that it's absolutely criminal.

There you have it. Two trades I hold near and dear to my heart, and seeing and reading these things over and over reminds me how much my girlfriend rocks. And I wouldn't have it any other way!

Hey, I'm probably not the only one with a rocking girlfriend who loves (or at least tolerates) our comic book lifestyle. If you want to share, or just want to comment on anything you've read, leave a comment below.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a date to go to. :)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dark Lich's Linkblog: Watchmen Movie Edition!

ICv2 has an excerpt from the L.A. Times interview of Alan Moore, where the award winning writer comments on the upcoming Watchmen movie and Hollywood in general. The full article, of course, is just a click away.

Well, we all know where Moore stands when it comes to movies about his works, and he's quite happy with the legal predicament the film is currently in. For more on Watchmen's legal woes, there's articles here and here. If all that information means jack squat to you, Comic Book Movie graciously explains all that lawyer-y legalese hullabaloo in layman's terms here.

Oh, and in case you haven't read a lick of Watchmen, or you're like me and have only tasted it for the first time (an analysis about it to come in the future!), PopMatters has an article that can get you up to speed in a jiffy.

Personally I can't wait to see what happens, as it looks cool enough. But if you've read Watchmen already, do you think it will live up to the book, or at least to the hype surrounding it? I honestly don't think so, what with all the complex layers of storytelling genius Moore has written. We'll have to see.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My Week in Comics: September 19, 2008

My Week in Comics is a weekly look into my…uh…buying habits. Keep in mind that the reviews to be read here are not coming from a jaded, old comic book enthusiast but more of a wide-eyed fan of these monthly installments of yum or mush.

A bit of bad news...due to the falling value of the Philippine peso, comics here are going up in price again. So the usual P150.00 I so enjoyed these past few months are going back to P165.00. P15 may not seem so much, but it all adds up faster than Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind. I don't know what that will hold with my comic book pulling future, but we'll have to see. Suffice to say I'm sad that I have to drop some stuff if they're not up to snuff. With that said, let's have a bit of good way of reviews of this week's comics!

MIGHTY AVENGERS #18 (Secret Invasion tie-in)

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colors: Daniel Rudoni
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Cover by: Marko Djurdjevic

What's in it: Flashback again! It's got Nick Fury sending his new Secret Warriors out a wild mission with no pay off, under the guise of "training". Of course, the kids being the softies they are, question Fury's leadership skills, along with his sanity. Oh, and the Skrull Invasion! Almost forgot that...

Why you should care: If you care about whether or not the Secret Warriors had training, or if you just want to see Stefano Caselli's distinct and great-looking art (and not Khoi Pham's as previously and erroneously solicited) then this is the book for you. On the other hand...

Why you might not: The book has nothing you haven't seen or known beforehand. Unlike the last issue, there's no revelation, no character growth (unless you consider all the 'training' they had under Fury as 'growth'). I kinda winced at the V for Vendetta-style interrogation sequence that ends exactly how you thought it would...I mean, Yo-Yo aped Natalie Portman's "You tortured me!" line! Kind of lame.

Also, Nick Fury comes off here as a paranoid old man who just enjoys seeing kids in pain...a far cry from the 'badass mother-shut yo' mouth that has a plan to save the world' I thought they were building him up to be.

Quote of the moment: Nothing in particular pops out in this issue. Tsk.

Overall: If there's a single 'flashback' issue this Secret Invasion needed, this isn't it. 6/10

YOUNG X-MEN #5 (Manifest Destiny)

Writer: Mark Guggenheim
Artist: Yanick Paquette
Inkers: Ray Snyder
Colors: Rob Schwager
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover by: Terry and Rachel Dodson


What's in it: It opens up with a punch to Cyclops' kisser heard round the world, and it goes pretty much downhill for the team from there. The Young X-Men struggle to cope with their uncertainties about themselves and others, and it doesn't help when they discover that one of their own is dirty, dirty traitor.

Why you should care: Guggenheim makes up for a lackluster opening story arc with an issue that fleshes out the team dynamic more. These kids feel like they have gone through a lot, and their motivations and real feelings about each other come out well. You can practically feel the tension between Rockslide and Ink, and Guggenheim makes the latter come off as cocky, but with a bit of uncertainty within him as well. And the art, while a bit of a loose fit with the story, was adequate.

Why you might not: Apart from the printing blooper I saw, there isn't much to not like about this issue.

Quote of the moment: Cyclops' "You can, you know", just before letting Rockslide cry on his shoulder (or at least try to, given the circumstances) is pretty poignant. Certainly warmed me up to the otherwise rigid leader of the X-Men.

Overall: Finally, a Young X-Men issue that makes me want to know what happens next, and that's all I can ask for when it comes to comics. 8/10

IRON MAN: DIRECTOR OF S.H.I.E.L.D. #33 (Secret Invasion tie-in)

Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Sean Chen
Inker: Sandu Florea
Colors: Jay David Ramos
Letters: Joe Caramanga
Cover by: Adi Granov

What's in it: I'm still surprised they waited this long for Iron Man to tie into their major event. But anyway, its War Machine's time to shine in the wake of Iron Man's apparent demise (as seen in Secret Invasion #2), and his unique answer to the Skrull invasion is something you have to see to believe.

Why you should care: It's got War Machine doing what he does best, dishing out massive firepower with his shoulder-, chest-, hip-, wrist- and back-mounted weapons! He also gets reunited with his former Force Works teammate, Cybermancer. And there's a big reveal at the end, literally, as Rhodes transforms into a giant mecha version of himself to fight the Skrull threat!

Why you might not: You can practically feel that Christos Gage is not having fun with this issue, what with uninspired lines he kept giving War Machine that I expected better from him. Also, the secret ship Tony supposedly designed as a contingency plan in case anything bad happens to him smacks of convenience and deus ex machina.

Quote of the moment: "Bring it." -- War Machine's message to the Skrulls after transforming into a giant space mecha. Bring it indeed.

Overall: Sets up War Machine adequately enough, and it gives IM's title something to do (besides Invincible Iron Man), but other than that, I could have done without this issue. Saved from the failing grade due to the head-asploding awesomeness of Adi Granov's cover.7/10

CAPTAIN BRITAIN and the MI:13 #5

Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Pat Oliffe, Paul Neary
Colors: Brian Reber
Letters: Joe Caramanga
Cover by: Brian Hitch, David Yardin

What's in it: No longer a Secret Invasion tie-in, the MI:13 focus on solidifying their super-hero community structure, starting with the hiring of Blade, the Vampire Hunter! Meanwhile, Faiza Hussain lets the Black Knight meet her parents, with hilarious results. Also, what's this issue without a shocking ending?

Why you should care: It's got Blade! It's got a cameo by Captain Midlands! And it's got the Black Knight explaining Faiza's role in the MI 13 look like a marriage proposal!

Why you might not: The book feels like filler, albeit a somewhat useful one, and the scenes with Faiza's family is confusing at best. Either make a coherent sentence or not make one at all, dear. Also, the ending was practically telegraphed the moment Blade appeared in the book, which makes it sort of anti-climactic, doesn't it?

Quote of the moment: "I never realized you were British..." -- Captain Britain, musing what probably half of the world's comic reading population don't know or forgot about Blade. Thanks a lot, Guillermo del Toro.

Overall: It's a pretty underwhelming followup to Cornell's explosive Secret Invasion tie-in arc. Here's hoping it picks up the pace in the next issue. 7/10


Writer: J.T. Krul
Artist: Ale Garza, Sal Regla
Colors: John Starr
Covers by: Ale Garza, J. Scott Campbell, Michael Turner


What's in it: The forces of Killian begin their assault on the surface world with devastating results, while Aspen and Chance confront a prisoner who might hold the key to finding Aspen's lost brother.

Why you should care: Fathom's creative team turns the heat up a notch as the surface world suffers the first wave (pun intended) of attack from Killian's elite forces while the US answers with equal force. Krul is building up to something big with this story arc, and it's interesting to see where this all leads to. Also, Ale Garza's work is gorgeous as usual, his panels detailed and kinetic, though he could benefit from being a bit more kinetic than usual.

Why you might not: It's actually a pretty easy book to get into, so I don't see anything that might turn off any readers old and new.

Overall: Another Fathom issue that does better than people expect. 8/10


Writer: Grek Pak, Fred Van Lente
Artist: Clayton Henry
Colors: Guru eFX
Letters: Joe Caramanga
Cover by: Arthur Suydam

What's in it: It's got Hercules getting it on with Namora (but not in the way you expect!)! It's got Cho feeling like a third wheel! But all that's about to change when Amazons, in a blaze of guns and fury, kidnap Cho to use him as a paramour for their queen! Luckiest kid in the world.

Why you should care: This issue is a fun respite from all the heavy drama going on in the Marvel U. Pak and Van Lente are making Hercules such a fun character that I'm beginning to become a serious Herc-head. Not to mention Clayton Henry's detailed art is just amazing to look at, and has improved A LOT since his days in Exiles. And hey, a dose of Mini Marvels at the end just tops it all off.

Why you might not: If you don't like hot girls, gun fights and Amadeus Cho getting some, then I couldn't possibly imagine why you would want to read this.

Quote of the moment: Not really a quote, but damn if the sound effects of this book isn't fun. Where else can you hear explosions that sound "SPROY-BLOOOOM!!!!"?

Overall: A fun romantic romp with girls, guns and gangsta style violence like only gods can provide. 8/10

So what's the verdict? Well, everything fell into some sort of middle ground...nothing particularly bad, nothing spectacularly good either. But then, we have to be thankful for small mercies like these, right? Regardless, it's been a pretty good week, but here's hoping it gets better.

Got any questions, comments or violent reactions? You are more than welcome to leave comments below and discuss anything that might have interested you in this blog post this week. My Week in Comics is now up every Friday. Thanks for reading!

Friday Night Fights...Ladies Night!

It's another Friday Night Fight...and its gonna get real messy!

They asked for a female fighter, and I don't think you can get any more fighter-ish than a girl cloned from the deadliest, scruffiest sonovagun in the Marvel Universe!

So what happens when X-23 meets Wolverine in less than stellar terms? Let's watch.

Dirt in the wounds? Why didn't I think of that? Better yet, why didn't anyone think of that but her?

Coz she's X-freaking-23, that's why.

What's that, Wolvy? You were saying something?

That's what I thought.

Thanks, Bahlactus! It's been a bloody blast!

This week's fight comes from the Avril-inspired team of Craig Kyle and Chris Yost from X-23: Target X #6. No, seriously. Avril Lavigne would look good with foot claws.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Why start blogging about comic books?

People ask me why I've started blogging about comics. And to be honest, I've been asking myself that too. Before all this, I had no idea about the very scope of comic book blogs in the web. These days, I'm totally floored by the sheer amount of stuff out there! Funny blogs, serious blogs, smart blogs, dumb blogs...the list (literally) goes on and on. Who in his right mind would still want to wade in the already congested waters of comic book blogdom?

Well, you're looking at 'im.

But with the tons and tons of comic book blogs out there, what can I offer in my blog that no one else in the internets can? I mean, I understand that the 'better mousetrap' analogy applies to comic book blogs. Some have the 'out-of-context-comic-panels' schtick down pat, others have insightful comic book commentary drawn from years and years of experience that I could never possibly match, let alone duplicate, in my lifetime. But what can I talk about that no one else (or at least a staggering minority) can with some sort of palpable authority?

To answer that, I guess I have to look at my credentials.

I'm a non-jaded comic book fan. I never lived through the Golden or Silver or Bronze age or whatever. I don't hang onto to comic book continuity like, as Joe Casey once put it, a fucking life preserver, unless its integral to the story I'm currently reading I don't have any preconceived notions about how comic book characters should act. I take comics for what they are: a sometimes fun, sometimes scary, but altogether enjoyable respite from the nasty, nasty world out there.

I also dream of breaking into the comic book business someday. I've conceptualized a handful of stories that I can't wait to put into paper*. I've doodled a dozen comics when I was a kid (the art and writing of which I think I'll mercilessly subject you to in a future post). Comics are my life, and I can't imagine a more awesome reality than me writing or drawing a comic book and having people enjoy what I do.

I mean, isn't that what comic books are supposed to be about?

So I'm a comic book writing geek that sees the pure, unfiltered fun to be had in the little funnybooks we read each month. If that isn't specific enough, I don't know what is. But one thing's for sure...I've got a unique perspective to comic books that I would love to write about. I try my hardest to be accessible to comic reader and (especially) non-reader alike. And if it gets them to come and join this little hobby of ours, then all the more reason to keep writing.

I guess the future of this blog depends on what I'll post next, right?



God, I can't handle the pressure!!!!

Anyway, thanks for reading this little rant/rave/reveal. If you wanna discuss comic blogs, comics, or me (hopefully me, but that's just me), just leave a comment below and let's talk about it.

But man, what to write next?

*Stories which, due to my Rorschach-level paranoia, I will not openly discuss for fear of people stealing it. You know how everybody loves a good idea!

Friday, September 12, 2008

25 Years Ago...

...I wasn't born yet. But now I am, so there you go.

I love birthdays, because birthdays are probably the only time of the year you can act like you own the place because, hey, it's your special day!

And coincidentally, my special day is today.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. The man known as Dark Lich (tm) was born this day, September 12 (by the time you're reading this). Which makes him a Virgo. Which makes him smart, grounded and loved by the ladies. My horoscope says Virgos like to lie too, but who believes horoscopes anyway?

So I say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to me, and I hope you don't mind the shaking you'll feel when I bring all my ninja pirate cyborg zombie friends for a little toasting to my name while rocking out.

And yes, that's exactly how it will look like.

God, I love birthdays.

My Week in Comics: September 12, 2008

My Week in Comics is a weekly look into my…uh…buying habits. Keep in mind that the reviews to be read here are not coming from a jaded, old comic book enthusiast but more of a wide-eyed fan of these monthly installments of yum or mush.

First things first: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MEEEEE!

Anyway...early isn't it? I finally got around to having my weekly list shipped to Comic Odyssey's sister (literally) store, Planet X Comics at the Trinoma Mall. It's closer to my office, so I can pick up my comics earlier. With this, my reviews will now hopefully be earlier, and will be relevant to you because of it!

You will also notice that I'm trying out a new review format. Just trying to spice up my writing skills and what not. Let's see if this helps you decide better. With that, away we go!


Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Bernard Chang
Inkers: Ray Snyder
Colors: Rob Schwager
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover by: Terry and Rachel Dodson

What's in it: Agent Nemesis demonstrates how hard it is to meet the parents...meanwhile, Wonder Woman goes to Hollywood to meet with movie producers wanting to make a movie about her! But it's not all fun and games when an ancient evil decides to force Diana to confront the sins of her past!

Why you should care: Gail Simone has Hippolyta meet her daughter's suitor for the first time, and she could not have played it out any better. Seriously, if your girl's mom, who you know can face down 300 Spartans and an army of Nazi goons with guns all by herself, asks you if you've already had sex with her daughter (before marriage, you curr!), you better make damn sure you know the answer!

Also, Bernard Chang's artwork is as gorgeous as his predecessors. He leaves nothing to be desired, except for more of his Wonder Woman art.

Why you might not: The villain introduced here is portrayed as someone so popular, who seems to have ties to our hero's past that Simone felt she didn't need to name her at all. Also, all the wonky scenes with Hercules, Max Lord (complete with reverse neck action!), and disco (I kid you not) guilt-tripping Wondy felt disjointed and weird that I didn't catch what the hell all that was about. All in all the Hollywood scenes got me scratching my head, which is never good. Otherwise, though, you'll live.

Quote of the moment: "Babies, babies, babies" -- Hippolyta telling Agent Tresser what she wants from Wondy and him. Nice.

Overall: A bit good, if you consider the letdown the last story arc was. Glad to have Simone and co. go back to doing what they do best. 8/10


Writer: Aron E. Coleite, Joe Pokaski
Artist: Dan Panosian, Mark Brooks
Inkers: Danny Miki, Troy Hubbs
Colors: John Rauch with Antonio Fabela
Letters: Albert Deschesne
Cover by: Brandon Peterson

What's in it: The Future Ultimate X-Men travelled to the past and kidnapped Reed Richards of the Ultimate Fantastic Four! The rest of the UFF ask the present day UXM for help, and they...uh...get it. But all is not well with the Future UXM either, as they deal with a traitor among their ranks! But why did they do what they did, and why is it so important to the Ultimate Universe?

Why you should care: It ties in to the upcoming Ultimatum event, so it's important that you read this. It's also got a sweet cover by Brandon Peterson...which is the only reason I picked it up in the first place.

Why you might not: Granted, I've never read anything from Marvel's Ultimate line outside of the Ultimates, but story gets confusing at times. It didn't help that the interior art lent itself to the confusion. Characters are saying something while their facial expressions either say the exact opposite, or overreact altogether. Sue Storm is smiling while saying something completely angry and urgent, and in another panel, after Reed was kidnapped by the future Ultimate X-Men, her expression can only be described as "annoyed", instead of the real fear you expect them to feel after seeing strangers kidnap one of your friends and family. You could practically hear her say "Man, that sucks. We have to rescue him again?"

Quote of the moment: "I'm coming, Reed. I'm coming." -- Ben Grimm running to save his bud from the Future UXM. Which totally does not sound good on paper if you read it out loud.

Overall: If you're an Ultimate Universe fan, this is pretty good. Otherwise, you're better off picking up core titles of said universe if you want the whole story. Oh and Brandon Peterson should totally do a title or two. He draws pretty covers. 6/10

RUNAWAYS/YOUNG AVENGERS #3 (Secret Invasion tie-in)

Writer: Chris Yost
Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa
Colors: Christina Strain
Letters: Joe Caramanga
Cover by: Michael Ryan, Rick Ketcham and Christina Strain

What's in it: The titular teams finally come face to face with Chrell, the one who's hunting down Hulkling, also known as Dorrek, the prophesied savior of the Skrull race. With the rest of the teens either battered or broken by Chrell or the Skrull assassin's hands, its up to Xavin the good Skrull to end this madness once and for all!

Why you should care: Christ Yost has the teens' voices down actually feel for the kids as they face the fight of their lives. Every one gets their own Big Darn Hero moments, and Molly puts up the cutest tantrum ever! The real clincher: the ultimate badass Skrull assassin (hee hee too many asses) gets taken down by a single headbutt to the head, causing Nico to exclaim "No! Seriously, what the hell? Were we supposed to know that Skrulls' secret alien weakness was getting head-butted?!" Actually I kinda agree. And man how sweet that is.

Also, Takeshi Miyazawa really lets loose with his art this issue, and I'm glad for it. I'm a fan of manga, you see, so I'll scoop it up as fast as cookies and cream.

Why you might not: You're obviously wanting to read this because of the titular heroes, so expect a lot of cheesy dialogue. Otherwise, I can see if this isn't your cup of tea.

Quote of the moment: See above. In fact, see the book. It's loaded with these!

Overall: An action packed ending to the kids' participation in the Secret Invasion, and another book that's making the Skrulls look like total cosmic chumps. Bravo, you guys. You just spoiled the ending of the event for me! 8/10


Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Leinil Yu, Mark Morales
Colors: Laura Martin, Emily Warren, Christina Strain
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover by: Gabrielle Dell'otto

What's in it: Mar-Vell meets Noh-Varr! Skrulls beat up hippies! Nick Fury and friends beat up Skrulls! And now thankfully, every single remaining hero (and some villains!) meets up in New York, coming face-to-face with Veranke and her Skrull Army! It ain't exactly 300, but from the look of things, it's gonna get real bloody real fast! But is there something the Skrull Queen isn't telling us...?

Why you should care: Three names: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor. The Holy Trinity of Marvel stand together to face the Skrull threat, along with possibly every single character in the Marvel Universe. Oh, and I cried seeing Howard the Duck popping up in between Stature's breasts of all places during the big hero splash page. Luckiest. Duck. Ever.

Leinil and the art team kicks their work to high gear with the last few pages, and when all hell breaks loose, you can't help but sit back and just take in the awesome art they've done. I mean come on...Skrull Galactus? Genius.

And wait, are those Initiative guys copping a feel with the giant Cassie Lang? Ikaw talaga, Leinil! :D

Why you might not: This book is nothing but bits of plot threads being brought together to set up the obviously coming finale. If you don't accept this, you might not like it one bit. But hey, Skrull Galactus!

Quote of the moment: It's a tie between Nick Fury's "Yeah? Well my god has a hammer!" and the legendary "Avengers! ASSEMBLE!". The latter gave me chills by the way.

Overall: I'm an old-school fanboy...I take comics for what they really are: fun. And this book has enough "Hell yeah!" moments to geek you out. Make no mistake, this issue is all kinds of awesome. 9/10

So what's the verdict? A lot of fun comics this week, but I got burned trying out something for the first time. Not that it happens a lot mind you. Regardless, the good books obviously ganged up on the bad one, so it's a good week to be a comic book fan!

Got any questions, comments or violent reactions? Then leave a comment below and let's talk about it! My Week in Comics is now up every Friday. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

50 Things I Love about Comics

Talk about late...but this is a nice challenge, and it's really great for people to see that there are TONS of stuff to love about comics. Here's mine...not necessarily in order, though I geek out easily so things at the top are a bit more awesome than the others. Let's go!

1. Keitaro and Naru in Love Hina. My vision of a perfect love story.
2. Heroclix!
3. "...Who the hell do you think I am? I'm the goddamn Batman."
4. David Lapham's Stray Bullets, for being the first true indy and noir comic I have ever read. I still crave more of that to this day.
5. Sgt. Rock
6. "Why so serious?"
7. Frank F'n Cho (which I'm sure is how he says it)
8. Spider-Man's Iron Spider costume. Yeah I went there.
9. "I am OMAC. No city is closed to me!"
10. Nova as written by Abnett and Lanning
11. "No more Skrulls."
12. X-Man
13. Swimsuit specials
14. God bless you, Ed Benes.
15. "Joe Madureira finally finishes Final Fantasy XXXII. Gets to work on Battle Chasers #9" -- Wizard Magazine
16. Frank Frazetta
17. subsequently, all the crazy-ass facts I keep hearing about Frank Frazetta
18. Stan Lee, who is possibly immortal as long as comic books exist!
19. "Hulk STRAIGHT!"
20. Ultimate Hawkeye turning up the badassery to staggeringly dangerous levels.
21. Ultimates 1 and 2
22. Nodwick! I love the cute chick in glasses!
23. Free Comic Book Day!
24. Caliber? Really?! Caliber?! That's! That's RADICAL!
25. The fact that we Filipinos have a rich history in comic books, and some of my fellow Filipinos are the most sought after in the comic book industry. Makes me proud to be one for once.
26. Comic Odyssey
27. Getting discounts at Comic Odyssey just for buying often
28. Waiting for the list of titles to ship on Thursday to appear on my inbox
29. Collecting fake 1992 Marvel Masterpieces cards
30. Forge with Quick-Draw Action!
31. "Snikt bub snikt snikt bub bub bub snikt"
32. J. Scott Campbell on Danger Girl. Man, those were the days.
33. Comic book toys
34. Comic book blogs
35. Comic book forums
36. "Doesn't matter what the press says. Doesn't matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn't matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tells you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world - No, you move."
37. The talented Mike Wieringo (we'll miss ya, Mike)
38. Bill Sienkiewicz
39. Neil Gaiman's Sandman...just an awesome, awesome series
40. Greg and Tim Hildebrandt for making me think I could make it big painting. I appreciate the gesture. :)
41. "Oh God, now I'm ejecting things I haven't even eaten yet."
42. The hype surrounding World War Hulk. Just the hype, okay?
43. Mini-Marvels. Each blessed one of them.
44. The first X-Men Movie. You will believe a man can pop knives out of his knuckles.
45. "Who is this Superman? I defy him!" -- General Zod, Superman II
46. The Golden Age. My parents weren't even born then but I find it incredibly fascinating, and unintentionally hilarious.
47. Galactus!
48.Watching my comic book collection grow each month, to the point that I need a new long box!
49. The fact that I can answer pop quizzes on anything about comics that would have the book-wise scholar stumped.
50. Captain Marvel: Shazam, Shazam, Shazam!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Someone Has to Say It...

Sounds like something I would totally do, by the way.

That's me imprinting myself over Joe Shuster's totally gorgeous art from the George Roussos Sketchbook. Thanks to Mr. Door Tree by the way. His site totally made my day. :)

4 ON THE FLOOR Week 9: Did you just say ANIME?!

4 ON THE FLOOR is a weekly look at the history, the passion, and the puzzle that is the Dark Lich's blog. All of it in celebration of it's 4th anniversary.

I love telling people that my job consists of me watching anime all day, and most through the night. All the way through the wee hours of the morning. It automatically equals fun!

Of course, I don't tell them that after I watch said anime, I then write scripts to sell them to potential advertisers and viewers, then capture clips from dozens of tapes to a computer for about an hour and a half so I can make a sequential video 30-45 seconds long. After which I sit down to post-production, putting on graphics, sounds, and other bells and whistles and hope that the finished product will get past the judgment of my boss, his boss, their bosses and the managing director before even having the hope of being aired.

So yeah, I get paid to watch anime all day. Very lucrative if you ask me. If not for, you know, the writing/capturing/editing/post-production/checking/hoping part.

But hey, this job made me into somewhat of a minor celebrity in certain local otaku circles. I can't even go to a local anime convention without people saying "You're the voice-over guy?!" and cute girls in schoolgirl and fantasy uniforms wanting to take pictures with me. And you just can't beat recognition like that.

And so I continue slogging off through the wee hours of the morning, churning out plugs left and right (these days mostly in the right), safe in the thought that I'm now an important fixture in anime culture.

Just don't let my bosses know that I think so.

So what do YOU do that's so important? I really wanna know! And while you're at it, keep checking back for more 4 ON THE FLOOR! More history! More madness! More excuses to why I only post once every 4 months! It's an anniversary like you won't believe!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fond Memory Syndrome...with X-Man!

While browsing through HCRealms, I read about a little tidbit called “Fond Memory Syndrome”. It’s not exactly a real syndrome, far as I can tell, but it did stir up some memories in me. Let him explain to you what it is in this forum post.

What Fond Memory Syndrome is, is that something you found quite enjoyable and awesome years ago isn’t so enjoyable and awesome to you once you revisit it now.

I tried it out when I was rummaging through my single long box of comics and pulled out my run of X-Man. My first issue, and quite possibly the first comic book I ever owned, was X-Man #23 (Against the power of BISHOP!). The moment I finished reading it from cover to cover, I was hooked. I loved uber-powerful characters, so X-Man was my proverbial cup of tea.

In case you don't know, X-Man was Nate Grey, the test tubed baby of Scott Summers (better known as Cyclops, the leader of the X-Men) and Jean Grey (better known as…uh…Jean Grey). Now I don’t want to delve into all the time travel paradoxes associated with the Summers’ clan, safe to say all you need to know about Nate is that he was designed to be the most powerful mutant on earth.

Yes, folks. Nate Grey outclasses even Professor X in the ‘most powerful mutant’ department. He was so powerful that it was said his powers rival that of a souped-up Dark Phoenix. And get this…it was prophesied that if he were to ever die, Nate will explode with psionic energy, taking half of the Earth with him.

And yes, I've said 'power' too many times in one paragraph. Including this one. But when it comes to X-Man, too many is never enough.

And because of that awesomeness, I followed his adrenaline-filled adventures as often as I can. Until I started buying comics again recently (using my own money), never did I have a continuous (okay, semi-continuous) run of issues from a single title.

Whatever writer Terry Kavanagh dished out, I devoured diligently. Roger Cruz was one of my early inspirations in comic book art. Everything about this comic was so awesome for me back then that I would defend it in discussion boards or blogs.

But yeah, coming back to it with Fond Memory Syndrome…well, you notice the little things a bit more without the "hell yeah!" booming through your ear as you breeze through your copy.

For example, taking a page from Brian Cronin's previous run ins with extreme exposition, I browsed through my entire run realizing that I was sitting on a literal goldmine of nothing but that, where every other issue delivered some sweet gems like these.

Yes, folks. That's how they talked in every single page. Ten Second Toms all of them., reminding us and themselves what they just did a couple of seconds ago. But that pales in comparison to this...the word that writer Terry Kavanagh liked so much he used it as much as possible in his entire run. Guess which word that is.

From X-Man #30

from X-Man #47

From X-Man #51

As for the art, well...Roger Cruz (a regular penciler of the series) was one of my first inspirations in comic book art (I was young and poor, sue me), It wasn't so if weren't for people calling him out for apparently swiping off Joe Madureira. Which, I just found out just now, isn't so unfounded at all.

WTF is up with his feet?!

But hey, I love Joe Mad, so win-win!

Finishing my run of X-Man, I came to the conclusion that while Fond Memory Syndrome is all I have for this title, it's a fond memory nonetheless. Reading it again took me back to the simpler times of comic geeky fandom, where there weren't any civil wars yet, and nobody ever thought about what they'd do with one more day.

I mean, where else can you get a comic book that doesn't shy away from referencing Aubrey of all things?

"...closer to her than to...MEEEEEEEE!"

God, I almost wrote like that one time.

Who said '90s comics suck?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Final Booster Theory with D & D Miniatures

When my best friend and I went to Neutral Grounds today, I was sad to see that they didn't have any Marvel Heroclix: Fantastic Four starter sets stocked at all. So what am I gonna do with all this money I have? Maybe I could have saved it for a rainy day or something...but no~! I ain't leaving that mall without chotchkes to gloat over!

So I asked my best friend one of the most important pieces of advice I can ask of him: do I get a booster of D & D Miniatures: Dungeons of Dread, or a booster of Marvel Heroclix: Secret Invasion?

After pondering the quandary for a couple of hours (while looking and geeking out at Marvel Legends figs and Transformers at Toy Kingdom), we mutually decided to spend my money on one booster of Dungeons of Dread, which was the last booster of its kind in the shop.

Now my best friend here believes (I think it's already been established as fact) that the last remaining booster is often the most awesome one, where your chances of getting a super rare figure increases exponentially or where tons of your favorites magically appear inside as if you just wished them to existence. I was skeptical, because apart from a few glancing coincidences here and there, I've never had the pleasure of buying the last booster of its kind on the rack and finding my wants on every slot or plastic baggie.

Nevertheless, I wanted to give my best friend the benefit of the doubt. Sure enough, after buying the last remaining booster, I pulled...

a Warrior Wight

Vampire Spawn (that I've been crushing on for the longest time)

Orc Raider
Giant Centipede

Dwarf Chieftain (for my dwarven army)

Elf Archer (for my good wilderness warband)

Tiefling Warlock (just coz it looks cool)

and a freaking Death Knight.

One booster, holding almost all my wants from the Dungeons of Dread set, was right in front of me. A booster that would have been a very serendipitous booster in sealed play (what with all the evil undead inside!), was in my hands.

I now believe in the "Final Booster" theory.

And yes, that's just for buying one booster.

Maybe you should too.

My Week In Comics: Invincible Iron Man #5

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larocca
Colors: Frank D'Armata
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos

Last issue, we saw Tony Stark (it's amazing that post-Civil War, we can call them by their real names without it sounding awkward) use Ezekiel Stane's hatred for him to his advantage, throwing out bugged Stark technology and guessing correctly that the son of Obadiah will scoop them up to fuel the upgrades on his person. Now, Stark has opened up four of his major business locations all over the world for guided tours, one of which he expects Stane to be in. Sure enough, Stark finds him and what comes next is a furious battle of armor vs. armor, Iron Man vs. Iron Man 2.0. But can our hero survive a fully upgraded and totally angry Ezekiel Stane?

Judging from this issue, it seems that for once, Matt Fraction and co. are doing something right. Maybe it's because its the climax of their story arc or because I'm easily blinded by all the pretty repulsor lights and histrionics of superhero fights, but it doesn't matter here. This issue stands alone well on its own. Fraction maintains a steady pace in this story, the tension doesn't let up and it only keeps building up until the big fight at the end, where he finally lets loose with Stane's character. Zeke demonstrates just how far removed from the original his suit is, declaring "You're a relic, grandpa." before he totally unloads on Stark. You're actually scared for our hero, and for good reason.

Salvador Larocca's art takes a noticeable improvement in this issue...or maybe it's because he doesn't have to draw that many faces, what with the two shellheads fighting in their armor and all. But again, it doesn't matter here. His art is more detailed, and his fights more kinetic. And thankfully colorist Frank D'Armata is laying off the super-browns in this issue somewhat, the people in this issue not looking like they got burned in God's little oven or looking like Filipinos (i.e.: Me).

Invincible Iron Man proves the better of Iron Man's two titles this month, with killer art, killer story, and a killer ending that will possibly shock everyone (except for me of course...). What's next for the Iron Avenger? Thankfully, this issue makes me want to find out.

My Rating: 9/10

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Issues over Swimsuit Issues: What's the big deal?

Admit it. You've read one of these before.

Amazing Heroes did it first. Marvel then popularized and published them regularly during the early '90s, and soon other publishers followed suit. And by suit, I mean the kind that's so awesome it had to be named after a totally nuclear testing site.

Yes, that's supposed to be Rogue. Go figure.

They're comic book swimsuit issues. Magazines that had tongue-in-cheek renditions of your favorite comic book characters frolicking in the summer sun in, well, swimsuits. Totally irreverent, totally out of continuity, totally without any sort of educational value whatsoever.

So why do some people hate swimsuit issues so much?

Whenever a publisher announces they're putting out a swimsuit issue of some sort these days, some well-meaning comic fans heave a collective "le sigh" and argue about how gimmicks like these are undermining the supposed 'reputation' of comic books.

But why am I, as much a product of '90s comic books as they, totally okay with them?

Is it because I don't care about the image of the comic book industry in general either way, or is it because I don't find anything wrong with issues that, ehem, highlight how good-looking comic book characters are?

Honestly, if people think that these kinds of magazines undermine anything, or that it furthers the image of comic book fans as loveless, xenophobic fan-wankers still living with their moms, then they're seriously misrepresenting the comic book fanboy culture already. There's a comic book for any kind of reader out there. If ignorant people think swimsuit issues are representative of comic book culture as a whole, then might we direct them to some Watchmen or Marvel Adventures or Stray Bullets? Let's enlighten, not hide.

I mean, taking in the fact that Iron Man is wearing swimming trunks over his armor, what's not fun about this at all...? that Sersi topless?!

Man, swimsuit issues are teh most awesome idea ever!

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