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Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Week in Comics: August 31, 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.


I love freebies. Just want to throw that out there.

I got an October calendar and a Marvel Universe Saga freebie inserts along with my weekly pulls, which is really a big plus when it's a light week like this one. The Marvel Universe Saga in particular is interesting because it recaps everything that has happened in the past year, just so newbies can get into today's comics with minimal amount of effort. From Secret War to the Secret Invasion, it's got everything you need to know about the Marvel Universe. And I like it.

I wonder if DC can do the same with their universe...

Anyway, two comics this week. Away we go!



MIGHTY AVENGERS #17 (Secret Invasion tie-in)

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Khoi Pham
Inkers: Danny Miki, Andy Lanning
Colors: Dean White
Letters: Dave Lanphear
$2.99/P150.00



Since the start of Marvel's Secret Invasion event, this title has become a recap page of sorts, where Brian Bendis goes to explain in length how heroes were replaced by Skrulls. This particular issue, however, is different. Here we see Skrull Pym in a diner, enjoying little Earth delights like coffee with chocolate syrup. Skrull Dugan shows up, and Skrull Pym tells him what he doesn't want to hear: that he wants to tell the Skrull Queen that their Invasion plans are doomed to failure, and he wants out. Let's just say Dugan doesn't take kindly to that sentiment, and proceed to do what any good Skrull wanting to remove any seditious elements from their ranks would do...

I've criticized the past few Mighty Avengers issues as being reduced to a flashback rag, but this issue redeemed itself some. We at least see some useful insights into the Skrull invasion, from how the Skrull's new shapeshifting process works, to its complications/side effects. As for Koi Pham's work, it isn't as sharp here as it was in Incredible Hercules, which he also penciled. It still does the job, although it doesn't make the better grade here. At least it's a done-in-one that's a shave above the issues before it.

My Rating: 7/10


NOVA #16 (Secret Invasion tie-in)

Writer: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artist: Wellington Alves, Geraldo Burges
Inkers: Scott Hanna
Colors: Guru eFX
Letters: Cory Petit
$2.99/P150.00



A Secret Invasion tie-in I never imagined would exist. Nova answers a distress call to some planet, only to discover it's a trap launched by Skrulls to eliminate the very human Richard Rider and ensure the victory of the Skrull invasion of the Earth. They would have succeeded if not for a last-minute save by Kl'rt the original Super Skrull, posing as, well, a Skrull. Needless to say Nova learns of the Skrull invasion and goes back home to help. Kl'rt hitches a ride to aid him...but can our hero trust someone whose race is invading us in the first place?

Well, it's no secret I love Nova, but this just doesn't do it for me. Maybe because it's being shoehorned into Secret Invasion and I've had enough of the tie-ins without my favorite title becoming one. Regardless, it's still Abnett and Lanning, and it's still pretty awesome. It has its share of big hero moments for Nova, and where else can you see Skrulls posing as aliens who look like adorable little kitties?

Alves and Burges do well as the tag-team artists for this book, their work alternating seamlessly. The Skrulls actually look pretty menacing here. And did I mention the kitties? Adorable, I tell you!

So it's not just another Secret Invasion tie-in here. Nova is chugging along at its awesome pace as always, but I hope this doesn't further stain D&A's great run so far.

My Rating: 8/10

So what's the verdict? Well, with just two reviews, it's pretty easy to see. It's all well in good in my comic book reading week. Secret Invasion is, well, invading Marvel's landscape right now...but it looks like the invasion is shaping up to be less than stellar. Let's hope otherwise. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

4 ON THE FLOOR Week 7: More awesome than I remember!

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.



Like my new logo? I've been wanting to make a logo for my brand-spankin' new beginning for this blog, but work, life, love and a lot of other concerns didn't allow me to do so. Now that I made it, I just stepped back, looked at it and said, "Damn, that's pretty neat."

It doesn't really look plain at all! Woe be he who says otherwise!*


******

And now we come to 2006. A new beginning if I ever saw one!

To me it felt like it was just a couple'a months ago, trying to stay awake with 2 bottles of Red Bull, a brush and a dream...

Come to think of it, not that it's any different now than it was back then.

But yeah, 2006 was sort of the shiznit. I got rid of some excess baggage, I graduated, I got a job, I got a girlfriend...

Wait a tick, 2006 was even more awesome than I remember!

So what do you remember of 2006? Tell me all about it! Don't tell me you've forgotten already!



*i mean if you got some constructive criticism on my logo, I'm all ears. Like, literally all ears. Have you seen my ears?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dark Lich's Linkblog...Tuesday Edition!

I love linkblogging, even though I've never done it before. I love to URL dive and to search the web for tidbits about stuff you and I love. I hope this gets you through the day!

- D & D Miniatures is still going strong, and a new set is already underway called Demonweb. Spoilers for the set can be seen here and here.

- Marvel plans on releasing a sequel to Marvels, with original writer Kurt Busiek writing and our very own Jay Anacleto on art duties. More on that and the FAN EXPO being held in Toronto in this article courtesy of Comic Book Resources.

- Comic book artist/writer Gerry Alanguilan says what's on his mind about the Anti-Obscenity bill being reviewed. To be honest, the bill is pretty ludicrous, but let Gerry tell you exactly why.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Free komiks in Web Komiks!

With the onslaught of e-anything (e-books, e-cards, e-girlfriends...), it seems that e-comics is all but an inevitability.

And a group of people are doing just that. But not just e-comics...more like web komiks.

Komiks is a Filipino term for comic strips or comic books, and the Philippines has a rich history in this art form. Now this art form gets rejuvenated in the world wide web, particularly with this new site Web Komiks.

Web Komiks is a website that offers free online comic books for everyone, from strips to full stories encompassing popular genres such as sci-fi, fantasy, horror and comedy. At the upper left corner you can click on a genre you want to look at and it will take you to a page containing all the titles/stories currently in stock. From there you can just click on the story you want to read and voila! Amazingly rendered and written web komiks, written and drawn by well-known Filipino komiks illustrators and writers. And have I already told you its free?

Not to mention the artist and writer's profiles reads like a who's who in the Filipino komiks industry (I've only heard of some of them, but their credentials are particularly stellar). It's nice to see that there are people still enamored with the komiks culture and continue to make it grow. Every time I see the artwork and the stories there it takes me back to the old komiks my grandparents had when I was a kid.

It's already gaining a fan following even with its initial offerings. We still don't know when the next installments and the next waves of stories will come next, but I really wish these guys the best and hope they update soon!

As always, links below:

Web Komiks -- your Pinoy Komiks portal

Also, if you want to know more about komiks:

The Philippine Comics Art Museum




Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Week in Comics: August 24, 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.


Another installment of My Week in Comics is up. I'm realizing just now how hard it is to write reviews, but I hope that with practice I can get better, and possibly faster. With that, let's see what's in store for me this week.


YOUNG X-MEN #5

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

$2.99/P150.00



The opening storyarc for this new title comes to a shocking conclusion, as Donald Pierce is finally revealed to be the mastermind behind the Young X-Men and the New Hellfire Club kicking each other's butts for no reason. Greymalkin kicks Pierce's ass to return the favor (with help by Magma) and set off to stop all the madness and Pierce once and for all!

This issue wraps up the maiden story arc of the Young X-Men neatly, albeit a little too neatly. Donald Pierce’s motivations are lost to me (probably it’s explained in the myriad of other mutant-related comic book events before this) and so his final battle with the Young X-Men comes off as nothing more than a slap fight between nerds and a really scary robotic bully, and for the same pathetic reasons. The Young X-Men, however, are motivated by the legacy of the X-Men name, and while they question their actions under Pierce’s twisted guidance, they still want to be known as heroes.

Ultimately, everything just moved too fast for me to comprehend. It didn’t help that Yanick Paquette kept drawing Magma with huge boobs (along with every other female in this title), distracting me from the real message of this issue. Not that that’s a bad thing, though. Magma’s hot (pun intended). Paquettes’s good enough for this story, though I guess the art was better at telling the story this time.

It’s got a pretty tragic and hardcore ending, and one wonders what’s next for these young heroes. But will anyone stay long enough after this to find out?

My Rating: 6/10


IRON MAN: DIRECTOR OF S.H.I.E.L.D. #32

Writer: Stuart Moore
Artist: Carlo Pagulayan, Steve Kurth
Inkers: Jeffrey Huet, Andrew Hennessy
Colors: Joel Seguin
Cover by: Adi Granov
$2.99/P150.00




Iron Man faces off against rogue agent Nicolas Weir, who is assimilated into a giant floating metal brain and is raring to blow up every single weapons system in the world. Needless to say Iron Man dispatches Weir quickly (way too), and hunts down the mastermind behind all this, with explosive results.

This issue sees Iron Man saving the day like always, but does so in a lampshaded way, as if it's a hard sell to readers that Iron Man is capable of such bravery. Nicolas Weir being literally bitchslapped by Iron Man into remembering who he is ("Stark. God I---I hated you. But I never wanted to kill anyone...") to Stark's internal monologue on the lives he has touched 'with these iron hands' are just some of the moments that made this all feel heavy-handed to say the least.

We all know what Tony Stark is going through these days, his guilt over the deaths in Civil War and in his last story arc...but writer Stuart Moore felt that we need to be reminded of it every step of the way, to the point of literally showing all the persons whose demises he felt responsible for as ghosts hovering over him on-panel. "I remember them all..." Stark says, facepalming his way to sullen despair.

Carlo Pagulayan and Steve Kurth's pencils, however, were okay in this issue. It will take the bright red and yellow colors of Iron Man's suit to get used to (I'm used to the matte finish myself) though.

All in all a somewhat disappointing start for Stuart Moore and co. Maybe they're still finding out what makes Iron Man tick and how to make his voice their own. Hopefully they find out soon before they descend to mediocrity under the shadow of the creative team before them.


My Rating: 5/10


INCREDIBLE HERCULES #120

Writer: Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente
Artist: Rafa Sandoval
Inkers: Roger Bonet, Greg Adams
Colors: Gracia with Calero and Trevino
Letters: Joe Caramanga
Cover by: John Romita, Jr.
$2.99/P150.00



Herc and his God Squad proceed to close the book on the Sacred Invasion, hard. Finally facing the Skrull gods Kly’bn and Sl’gur’t, the God Squad realize that the only way out of the Dreaming is through these two, and so it’s gods versus god for the fate of the world, and the universe entire!

Once again, Greg Pak knocks it out of the ballpark. Throughout this invasion, he has made the God Squad into a likeable bunch of deities who, while all-powerful, come off as all too human. Amadeus Cho, who has always been Hercules’ foil in his adventures, decides that the foil should come off so Hercules can finally let loose. And let loose he does, to satisfying results. When Hercules finally says, “I’m ready to play god!”, what comes next is a shot to Kly’bn’s kisser heard ‘round the multiverse!

Not to say that kicking ass is all there is to this book (though they’re certainly the most satisfying parts of it!). Pak wraps up this little number with a touching insight into what it takes to be a real hero, while leaving dangling plot threads and a gigantic twist at the end that promise even more adventures for every one involved.

As for Rafa Sandoval's pencils, he leaves none desired here. Each of his panels ripple with muscle and energy, certainly complementing Pak’s kinetic and grandiose story. I could look at Herc and Kly’bn’s fight all day and it still geeks me out…that’s how awesome it looks.

What this issue entails for the Secret Invasion of the Skrulls, we don’t know, but what’s clear is that this major victory for Earth just dropped the Skrull invasion’s effectiveness a peg or three. When Earth’s heroes are mowing down your forces this easily (especially the very god you worship!), it’s making the Skrull invasion look, well, pathetic to say the least, don’t you think? But that’s for another post of this blog. Regardless, this is a smashing good issue all around…one that’s certainly at the top of everything I’ve read so far!

My Rating: 10/10

So what's the verdict? Well, we got one major winner in Incredible Herc, but everything else just fell badly. I'll give the others another issue before I decide to drop them. Money's tight and I need to get my money's worth.

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

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Night Fights...Ladies Night with Huntress!

There's a first time for everything...including Bahlactus' Friday Night Fights...Ladies Night!

Here's a particularly nasty case of one-upmanship courtesy of Huntress.

click to enlarge, as always

Awww indeed.



Don't mess with Huntress in Birds of Prey #92, courtesy of writer Gail Simone and artists Paulo Siqueira & Robin Riggs

Thursday, August 21, 2008

ANOTHER box of Marvel Heroclix: Secret Invasion

Like I said, I'm willing to buy a few more packs of Marvel Heroclix: Secret Invasion, spacing it out per week. I was supposed to buy another pack of D & D Miniatures Dungeons of Dread, but I simply realized that I just can't sustain buying something that costs more than 500 pesos. With that said...

I'm glad that I didn't get any duplicate figs from my last buy. I got Lightspeed, Immortus, Punisher, Arachne and my rare, Malice.

I was once again pretty stoked, since Punisher (see left) was one of my wants in this set. All I need is the Sentry and Iron Man and I'm done with this. Hahaha!

Anyway, the sculpts are okay. I really don't get the absolute visceral hate towards the sculpts in Secret Invasion, since I have some of the figs on hand and they're exactly as you expect them to be. Though Malice's face leaves a lot to be desired (can you say butterface?) and the black dots for eyes are in each and every one. Punisher is awesome though. The special power is awesome too.

Knowing beforehand the stats for these figs, I'm pretty pleased. It seems that designer Seth Johnson is cutting back on the power of these figs and focusing on defense, as anyone you didn't expect to get an 18 defense got one (Arachne for instance). I'm not too familiar with her character though so I can't say if its comic accurate.

I got a Skrull Kill Krew BFC...wished it was a feat though, which I need in multiples. It might seem awkward to file these flimsy feats and BFCs with the heavier cardstock of past sets but I'll live.

I'd like to point out that Heroclix has upped their price by a dollar with this set, from $11.99 to $12.99. In today's economy, that's a pretty big increase. But what's getting people up in arms about it is that the other cardboard elements (should we call it paper elements now?) like bystander tokens and special objects are now gone. Couple that with flimsier cardstock of the paper elements (I'm using it!) and I figured they had a major cutdown in costs, which should translate to decreased price. So imagine the surprise that everybody and their mother was in an uproar over the increase. But anyway, as long as people buy, Heroclix will still live on.

So that's that. A pretty good haul and another want satisfied. As always, if you have anything you'd like to add about Secret Invasion or just want to talk about blind buying boosters like I did or want to challenge me to a game (please don't...I'm a beginner), just leave a comment below.

Gotta go, I gotta make more money to buy more Clix!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

4 ON THE FLOOR Week 6: Rose-y Cheeks

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.


Hey, even if I've officially renamed this to BEHOLD THE GEEK doesn't mean I can't celebrate my anniversary, right? Right. So rest assured 4 ON THE FLOOR will continue to run. We still haven't scratched the epidermis of it all, folks!

*****

I thought my childhood fear of Night of the Living Dead could not be pushed from its pedestal...but something came and scared the shit out of it so hard they jumped willingly out of the way.

Okay, I don't wanna start this off in the scary vein, but damn...The Exorcism of Emily Rose is right up there with the scary ones. It didn't help that I was sitting just 5 seats away from the front row. Every time Emily Rose did her demon face it was like she was literally all up in my grill like you won't believe. Not to mention that my date that day (see last 4 ON THE FLOOR for ideas) wasn't supposed to watch this but she did. And I never heard a peep from her.

I didn't get to sleep that night. Every time I closed my eyes I would see that image and it would freak me out. Needless to say I never stayed up after 3am after that...though it did wonders for my school attendance.

Oh, and I just found out recently that Jennifer Carpenter, who played the titular character in the movie, is starring in my favorite show Dexter. Huh. I knew that face was familiar. At least now I can enjoy her performance sans the twitching and awkward convulsions. Way to go!

So, anyone up for swapping scary stories before the next 'flooring? Leave a comment below and let's talk about it...or not. There's still more to floor, folks...so keep it locked here!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

BEHOLD!!!!

This is it, folks.

There's no turning back.

I've finally reached my decision. Finally thinking that it's now or never.

From this day forward, the next generation of comic blog comes to light.

No more emo. No more love sick posts.

No holds barred. No retreat, no surrender. That is Spartan law.

Okay, I just lost my train of thought. But regardless. I welcome you to a new beginning. Think Happy Thoughts has run its course (at least, here at Blogger. My Happy Thoughts are not just contained here. There's also here and possibly here.) and it's time for a change.

It's now time to BEHOLD THE GEEK.

My geekiness knows no bounds, and you will see it in this very blog. My love for comics, toys and anything related to both will be talked about, dissected and made fun of...be it Heroclix or He-Man, comic books or comic babes. If I love it, it's in here.

And I hope you love it too.

Finally caved in: just ONE box of Marvel Heroclix: Secret Invasion



Yeah so I finally gave in and bought myself a pack of Marvel Heroclix: Secret Invasion instead of saving it up for something far more important.

For the uninitiated, Heroclix is a tabletop strategy game using miniaturized sculptures of well known (and sometimes not so well-known) heroes and villains. Kinda like chess with super powers and dice. More can be explained here.

Anyway, going back to my pack, I remembered all the uproar this set had in different forums, especially in HCRealms, where the people there stirred with such zealous furor slash fervor over things such as sculpts, game stats, collation, quality control, the changing of the card stock of the character cards...even the game's designer, Seth Johnson, wasn't spared from their wrath. Being the indecisive shit that I am, I planned on sitting on Secret Invasion for a while until I get my lust for Heroclix going again. But, as I realized when my girlfriend and I went to the mall today, my will's kung-fu is weak...hence the pack of Marvel Heroclix: Secret Invasion.

At least I let my girlfriend pick a pack for me, so if I get crap, I can blame it on her. Hahahaha...wait...let me get this...hello? Oh hi, sweetie! I was just...no, sweetie I was just jok...yes, sweetie I know it doesn't work that way...I know but there are ants out there it gets hard to sleep...yes, sweetie....I'll love it very much. Okay...just ready the leash...okay, bye. Love you.

Okay where was I? Oh yes, the pack.

Opened the box and there was Skrull Yellowjacket smiling at me (I think). There was also Gravity (new guy), Goliath (the guy who died in Civil War), She-Thing and my rare, Spider-Girl. Pretty good haul, especially since Spider-Girl was one of my wants in this set (thanks to my girlfriend's golden hand!).

Sculpt-wise I believe the fears were a bit founded, though I don't think it was any different from the supposed 'bad' sculpts we had in Crisis. Skrullowjacket in particular looks a tad more awful than I'm used to, and Goliath looks like John Rambo after a Beef and Potato burrito or two. Seriously, you could literally hear him scream a slurry "ADRIAAAANNN!" with that face.

Stats...well...after the powerhouse-filled set that was Crisis, I was a bit floored by all the starting 9 attacks and 16-17 defenses on everyone except for Spider-Girl. I guess I have to buy a couple more of these babies before I make an informed review.


The cardstock of the feats and battlefield conditions have been downgraded to the same flimsy stock used on character cards from Crisis. It will take a lot of getting used to...I mean, the last BFCs and feats were hella thick...like freaking Pogs-thick. But as I said, it will take geting used to. And I will hopefully.

I guess that's enough for that. More of my experiences with this set once I get more figs. Sorry if this is old news...I'm from the Philippines, and stuff comes in slow where I am. But still...at least you know what I know!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My Week in Comics: August 17, 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.


It's always fun to pick up your weekly load of comics, although I' m sad that I had to drop Red Sonja for lack of anything happening that's of interest to me. Anyway, here's my reviews for the comics I DID pick up this week, which includes Skrulls, Skrulls, and demons and demigods!

Oh, and I just LOVED the Daredevil Saga pamphlet/comic I got with my purchase. Comic companies should do that more often, as it hooks new readers into reading established titles like this one. With that said, let's continue...


WONDER WOMAN #32

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Aaron Lopresti
Colors: Matt Ryan
$2.99/P150.00




The Ends of the Earth storyarc comes to a hard-knock conclusion, as Wonder Woman faces D'Grth in the real world for the salvation of her soul...I think. Also, Agent Tresser comes face to face with intelligent gorrilas and Donna Troy. If it doesn't make sense, it's absolutely not my fault.

Gail Simone ends this ambitious story with a bit of flourish, but the segments that pop up in between Diana's fight with D'Grth are disjointed and ultimately distracting. There's no emotional weight to the barbaric bickering of Claw, Beowulf and Stalker, making me wonder if Gail wanted me to care about what they were saying and doing or not.

In the end, what Gail started as an epic journey into what makes Wonder Woman divine ends feeling like a filler arc, which is sort of disappointing. Hopefully the team of Simone and Lopresti will start moving forward at this point and give Wondy and co. a conflict we can all care about.

My Rating: 6/10


CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI 13 #4 (Secret Invasion Tie-in)

Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Leonard Kirk, Jesse Delperdang
Colors: Brian Reber
Letters: Joe Caramanga
Cover by: Brian Hitch
$2.99/P150.00




With the rest of the MI:13 either locked down by Skrulls, incapacitated or otherwise inconvenienced, its up to a newly resurrected Captain Britain to beat the Skrulls senseless...and we don't mean Queensbury Rules-style!

Once again, this book outshines all of the Secret Invasion related books (including the main mini itself!) by managing to squeeze all sorts of awesome in each page. So awesome, in fact, that the Skrull invasion looks so ineffectual against the might of the British heroes. When faced with obviously flustered Skrulls proclaiming that they're willing to pull out the heavy weapons just to defeat him, Captain Britain just looks up and goes "Oh, I'm sorry. Am I making you nervous?" Genius, I tell you.

What's amazing is the fact that the awesomeness is not the only thing that makes this book worth more than its cover price alone. Paul Cornell's storytelling is fast-paced but he doesn't rush things to their conclusion. He just let's the plot unfold as it should so when the surprises come bursting from the shadows, it makes it all the more satisfying. And while I didn't see "House of M"-like resolution for the British Skrull invasion coming, it will most certainly have fans ranting and raving. But it was done in such a tongue-in-cheek fashion that it looks so logical in comparison!

Also, Leonard Kirk's art is growing on me. I like his clean lines, his detail and his sense of scale. Not to mention he draws a pretty good-looking Spitfire. Win-win for everyone! If you haven't been pulling this, do so now!

My Rating: 9/10


YOUNG AVENGERS/RUNAWAYS #2 (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
$2.99/P150.00




Another Secret Invasion tie-in book, this time focusing on the Runaways and the Young Avengers. Last issue we saw them walking around town only to run smack-dab in the middle of the Skrull invasion in New York. We know now that the Skrulls are looking for Dorrek, the supposed savior of the Skrull race...who is actually the Young Avengers' Hulkling. The Runaways' Xavin, who is also a Skrull, distracts the invaders long enough to get Dorrek to safety. Unbeknownst to them all, the Skrulls just sicced their most dangerous warrior to hunt them down...

I got into this title because I love teens (in a way that won't get me arrested) and since I've been wanting to read the Runaways for a while, I thought it was a good jumping point to see what's up. This issue reads like a teen disaster flick, with the kids trying their best to either get to safety or save the world. Both teams get an equal share of the spotlight, and they both do their share of fantastic heroics. The Runaways' Molly, for instance, totally pwned a Skrull through two panels that it makes her my most favorite Runaway ever, next to Goth girl Nico of course.

It does get confusing at times when you don't know which are Runaways and which are Young Avengers or who is who, since I've never read about both teams. It doesn't help that artist Takeshi Miyazawa's manga art makes it hard to distinguish anyone. Xavin's human form and Victor looked so much alike that it made me do my squinty look trying to remember who the other was.

All in all it's an okay issue. Not so unreadable but not so engaging either. I felt that it reads like Japanese manga what with all the drama and the cut-off sentences and the stylized action, which I guess is what the creative team was going for. It delivered what it promised, although at the back of my mind I was hoping for something more out of it.

My Rating: 7/10


SECRET INVASION #5

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Leinil Yu, Mark Morales
Colors: Laura Martin, Emily Warren
Letters: Chris Elipoulos
$3.99/P200.00




The not-so Secret Invasion continues to chug along, as Captain Marvel gets mental with Norman Osborne, Agent Brand goes on a rescue mission, Maria Hill tells Jarvis-Skrull exactly where to shove his threats, and our Savage Land Avengers still can't decide who's who until the very end...and with that, I think that's the end of the Skrulls' secret invasion right there.

Kidding. Make no mistake...a lot of things things happen in this issue. Bendis goes through scenes at a fast clip, moving from space to the Helicarrier to the Savage Land in rapid succession. Having no prior knowledge as to what Agent Brand can do, Bendis has made me respect this character with what she did here. Our heroes at the Savage Land, however, didn't fare so well, so they come off as the most boring parts of the book. At this point I'm pretty tired of the "who's the Skrull" bit everybody's playing there...it was fine when it started, but when you've beein standing around for hours giving each other the evil eye and asking each other "are you a Skrull?" (like they'll even tell you!)...it gets hella old. Let's hope the next issue takes care of that little bit.

Personally, I felt this was Leinil's stronger work. Although I wish the inker would lay off on the hard lines everybody seems to have. I LOL'd at the giant splash page where the apparent leaders of the world were shown telling the world about the Skrull's invasion plans. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the president of the Philippines was one of those world leaders shown, and now Filipinos are talking about it. Leinil Yu (who is Filipino) even went so far as to defend his work in a blog comment, saying there's no hidden message and no agenda to his drawing Madam President in S.I.. I really wish he didn't say anything at all, coz now the conspiracy theorists here are probably taking what he's saying as guilt. But whatever. Though one wonders if the world leaders here were holograms or have the Marvel Universe's leaders Skrulls all this time?

So the issue isn't so bad. It's not great either. It did what it had to do to advance the plot, though if it was all it did I wonder why I have to pay more than what a usual comic costs to get what a usual comic can give me...

My Rating: 7/10

So what's the verdict? Unfortunately Captain Britain and the MI:13 wasn't enough to save this week. The rest fell into some sort of middle ground. The Secret Invasion event is starting to bore me. Let's hope (like I always do) it picks up after this.

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

Saturday, August 16, 2008

COMIC NEWS: The 1st Manila Comic Convention

I was supposed to blog about comic book conventions in the Philippines but it seems that the local blogs have already been buzzing about the upcoming convention that boasts of going "where no other comic convention has dared", which is the 1st Manila Comic Con.

A pretty big boast, considering that I can count with one hand the comic book conventions that have ever been held here (the annual Komikon comes to mind) and they’ve been mostly just toy/comic book bazaars slash exhibits along with the prerequisite cosplay contest like any other convention. I’m sure local comic fans have been clamoring for a comic book convention not unlike some of the popular ones like the San Diego Comic Con and Wizard World (which are held in the States, so unless you’re already in the States or have money to go there, being in those conventions is just a pipe dream). You know…comic books, big name talent as special guests, discussion panels on the business, the art, the celebration of the medium we all love?

Anyway, I'm excited but I won't hold my breath. I'll pass judgment when more info is available. For now, if you want to know the progress, along with the official press release, just click on the links below.

Manila Comic Convention (Yahoo!Groups)
Manila Comic Con official website


Friday, August 15, 2008

Another day, another blog?

Okay, now you would notice that I've been setting up my blog to be as efficient as it can be. I'm as excited as heck right now and it shows in the way I'm still awake right now at 2 AM trying to make the choice of making a new blog or renaming my existing one (which is, of course, Think Happy Thoughts) into something more comics appropriate.

Jumping into the comic book blog fanwagon without a parachute!

I want to make a new blog but I don't want to lose the history and the momentum I've been building up these past couple of months. If I just rename Think Happy Thoughts I don't lose the history, but my 4 ON THE FLOOR celebration will be thrown out of whack.

See what being giddy with coffee and comics can make you do?

More on this breaking development in a couple of days. I want to make this as perfect as possible. And when you're channeling your inner Virgo, you won't exactly settle for anything less.

Where's Chuck Norris when you need him?


Thursday, August 14, 2008

6 Simple Steps to Start Reading Comic Books

You’re seeing Iron Man or Batman from the Dark Knight everywhere. You watch the show Heroes on TV and wonder where they got the idea.

You’re now interested in reading comic books.

If you are, then congratulations on discovering what could be a very rewarding hobby of reading and collecting comics. Nowhere else can you find the kinds of stories and the awesome art that you can see in comic books.

But with the sheer amount of stuff out there, it may appear kind of daunting to jump in for the first time. Not to mention the economy ain’t exactly swinging in anyone’s favor, so you want to be sure you’re getting bang for the buck.

Thankfully, reading comics doesn’t have to burn your pockets. You just need to know these few simple steps and tips to get you started.


1. Think about what you want.

It may sound simple, but it’s actually the most important step you must do if you want to start reading comics. Unless you have tons of expendable income (which I think you don’t since you’re reading this :D), you can’t just buy comics willy-nilly and just pick and choose what you want from that. You need to know what kinds of stories or genres you like. Do you like sword and sorcery kinds of stories? Crime dramas? Straight up superhero adventures? Knowing what you want will make you sustain reading and make you keep coming back for more.

2. Ask questions! Jump in! Research!

So you finally know what you want, and you want to start looking for comics about those kinds of stories. Thankfully, we’re in the Internet age, where information is just a mouse click away. There are literally tons of sites and forums that you can use to research about comics.

Three of the biggest comic companies, Marvel, DC and Image, have websites that have listings of the comics they offer (and they have a lot!). Comic book sites like Comic Book Resources is one of the best out there. They have comic book previews and reviews that you can use. There are also discussion forums where you can talk to comic fans and even ask on where to start. The sites I mentioned (especially Comic Book Resources) have their own forums so you can start there.

But if you’re not an Internet kind of guy (or girl, I ain’t biased: D), then you can go straight to comic book or specialty bookstores you know and ask the people behind the counter. Some of the people in shops like these are knowledgeable about comics and they might give you some pointers on where to start.

A note on reviews, though: if you find reviews about a specific comic you want to try out and most of it’s positive or negative, it most probably is. But sometimes there’s a lot of bias there since it might not be about THEIR favorite stories. In the end it’s up to you to know whether a book is good or not.

3. Try it out!

You know what you want, and you have a list of comics you think will interest you written on little Post-its. Now you need to go find those comics and buy them.

You can find or ask around for a comic book shop near you (in the Philippines, we have Comic Odyssey, Comic Quest and Filbar’s). Specialty bookstores might also have some comic books but most of them might be graphic novels or trade paperback collections. If you’re strapped for cash, don’t buy it all at once. Pick a title or two that you think is the most interesting and start from there. If you’re lucky you just might pick the ones that you might like the most!

4. Start making money!

I’m assuming you’ve read the comics you bought and want more, but you can’t because:

  1. You don’t have enough expendable income or
  2. You don’t have money of your own

In which case there’s only one solution: start making more money!

Compared to movies, DVDs, or computer games, in my opinion comic books are pretty affordable. You can come back to it again and again and find something new with each read. With that said, you can sustain your comic book reading by finding some odd jobs to do. You can ask your parents or neighbors for money in exchange for doing some small tasks or jobs like washing laundry or cleaning your room or whatever. If you’re a professional already it won’t hurt to chalk in a little overtime or two. Hey, more money wouldn’t hurt. Especially if you’re starting to like reading more comic books!

5. Don’t be afraid to drop it.

In the course of your comic book reading you will come across some titles that you don’t feel like reading anymore, whether because of an uninteresting storyline, or some uninspired art, or maybe you just can’t sustain buying another issue. The best solution for that is to just stop buying that particular title. If you’ve been buying for as long as I have, it can get hard to drop a title you’ve been buying for a while (call it being a completionist or just simple habit). But in the end you’ll learn to distinguish the good books from the bad ones, and you (and your hard-earned cash) will be better for it.

6. Just have fun!

In my opinion, this is the most important tip of all. Comic books are fun, and they should be read for the same reason. Giggle when you see a badly drawn panel. Cheer out loud for a character you just met in an issue. Blog about some awesome story or fight scene you read somewhere. Share the comics you bought with friends or family, or better yet, read it with them. In the end, reading and collecting comics should be an enjoyable experience for everyone. Trust me, you won't imagine it as anything else.


There you have it, folks. Follow these steps and you'll be reading and enjoying comic books in no time! If you think I missed a step or two or just want to rant and rave about this guide, just leave a comment below. It'll go a long way in improving this list in the future.

Now try saying the title of this post five times as fast as you can. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

4 ON THE FLOOR Week 5: Teenagers...

4 ON THE FLOOR is a weekly look at the history of the Dark Lich's blog, what's happened since then, and whether people still read his blog. All of it in celebration of the 4th anniversary of Think Happy Thoughts.


I’ll just keep it brief for you guys.

I was 21, she was 13. She liked me, I liked her, I said I love you, she said I love you too, but in the end I was the one who was saying it from the heart while she was just saying it coz it, like, sounded, like, really cute.

Okay, so I really can’t just explain what happened between us in such a short gist like that. But in any case, just don’t fall in love with a teenager.

What you're saying vs. what they hear

Did I just make sense there? Apparently not, but I guess back then I didn’t make sense to her either. Hers is all about the new and trendy and hip and guapo, while mine is all established and tested and old. And when she met someone more interesting than me…

The sound of a dropping hat never sounded so loud.

And yes, I tried to stick something about comics in this post. I’m clever that way. Or not.

Things will start to get scarier (and I do mean hell raising scarier) on our road to the 4th anniversary of Think Happy Thoughts! I don’t think I’ve met anyone who has experienced something as unique as the little story I just told you, but if you’re out there and want to share, leaving a comment is free!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

My Week in Comics: August 10, 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 pretty okay week for comics for me, with two Iron Man tales, a great Fathom relaunch, and a crisis finally unfolding as it should.

FATHOM #1

Writer: J.T. Krul
Artist: Ale Garza, Sal Regla
Colors: John Starr
Covers by: Ale Garza, J. Scott Campbell, Michael Turner
$2.99 / P150.00

Fathom relaunches with a new number 1 issue, as we go back to our heroine Aspen now chilling in some beach across the border, hoping to live in peace. Unfortunately for her, she now has to deal with the return of not-so-welcome family members and an invasion of oceanic proportions. What’s a bikini-clad girl to do?

Even with the untimely passing of Fathom’s creator Michael Turner, the title is in undoubtedly good hands with J.T. Krul, who handles the writing chores here. Krul manages to keep the story engaging while being newbie-friendly, explaining the world of Fathom and what’s happened so far in dialogue here and there, so you spend more time enjoying the story and not stumbling over stuff like who the “Blue” or Killian is and why he wants to destroy us surface-dwellers.

Art-wise, Ale Garza’s work is gorgeous, and is reminiscent of Turner’s art style. That’s not a bad thing though. Garza’s art is curvier and more fluid, and he draws some pretty women. But it maintains just enough familiarity for Fathom’s current fans to enjoy.

All in all it works like any good #1 issue: it introduces the characters, sets up the current storyline, and hooks the reader to keep buying and reading the rest of the story. Fathom #1 does that and more, which makes it one of the ‘better’ #1’s out there.

My Rating: 9/10


IRON MAN: VIVA LAS VEGAS #2

Writer: Jon Favreau
Artist: Adi Granov
Colors: Adi Granov
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
$3.99 / P200.00

It’s been months since I’ve seen the first issue of this series that it came to a point that I almost forgot I was pulling this. Anyway, Iron Man is enlisted by Elsa Bloodstone into researching some more about the giant dragon statue she discovered somewhere in China, as she didn’t check the statue’s label in the first place like any good tomb raider would. Mayhem ensues when they find out that the ‘statue’ is actually an old friend of Iron Man’s that goes by the name of Fin Fang Foom. Oops.

Jon Favreau, the director of the Iron Man movie, is writing this mini-series, and his styling shows through the way the entire thing is set up. The snappy one-liners, the build-up of suspense, to the climax and the action…there’s a definite ‘movie feel’ in this issue, which to me feels a tad formulaic. Favreau’s puppet ‘strings’ are definitely showing here, which is a shame considering Adi Granov’s art style serves his story well. The nod to Foom's first appearance in the first words he uttered upon awakening here was a nice touch, though.

Granov has a sense of scale and detail that works well with the story, and no one draws a more kick-ass Iron Man than him. The only thing that prevents me from enjoying Granov’s work here is the way he draws the characters in ‘paper doll’ poses and expressionless faces. I have to concede that his art is more suited for pin ups and covers, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Foom’s redesign, though, is one of the coolest I’ve ever seen, and one that has to be seen to be believed.

My Rating: 7/10


INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #4

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larocca
Colors: Frank D'Armata
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
$2.99 / P150.00


Zeke Stane is pulling all the stops on his plan to destroy Tony Stark, and he plans on hitting him where it hurts the godawful most (not exactly where you think). Meanwhile, Stark cooks up a plan to make Stane reveal himself, while Pepper has second thoughts on the big metal thingy sticking out of her chest that’s keeping her alive.

An okay issue from Matt Fraction. More of a breather than showing anything exciting happening (that’s a lot of –ings!), let’s just say that this is probably the issue before Stane and Stark’s possible dust-up with each other and their respective weapons. The Triumph Division, the Philippines’ very own superhero team, is shown again in this issue, but with apparent relatives or descendants of the old team that stepped up and took over the mantles of their unlucky predecessors. It was okay until Iron Man spouted some cheesy lines in favor of the team. “The Philippines is in great hands. Long live the Triumph Division”. Seriously, that’s enough ham and cheese to make a sandwich, and I’m Filipino!

The art takes a dip in this issue, though. Salvador Larocca’s pencils are inconsistent throughout, from crisp lines in some pages to muddy and light in the others. And once again, colorist Frank D’Armata’s work is really distracting. Everyone, even Maria Hill, is hitting the tanning booths a little too much. And the aforementioned Hill is sporting a brownish colored ‘do, even when all the other Marvel books currently show her having black hair. Heck, everything is just too damn brown!

Hopefully they all find some middle ground in all of this before it’s all too late.

My Rating: 7/10


FINAL CRISIS #3

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: J.G. Jones
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Rob Leigh
$3.99 / P200.00

Now everything is starting to make sense! When you’ve got super powered beings falling like flies and major players getting neutralized in ways you wouldn’t imagine, you just know some big shit is going down. Thankfully the remaining heroes (and a few returning ones) are starting to step up and take arms to prepare for the coming Apocalypse. But will that be enough?

I’ve said in some comics forums that writer Grant Morrison makes you feel that you just missed out on some great party so he’s going to keep telling the story to everyone else like you’re not even there. But I take it back a little with this issue, which reads like how a straight up story should. You finally get a sense of how big this event is, from Libra unleashing the one equation that could bring the world to its knees (finally cementing his status as a foe to be feared, instead of being just a self-centered lunatic.) to Wonder Woman’s smack down with a newly costumed Mary Marvel. The disjointed scenes and panels, however, are still here, which makes it look like all the good stuff is happening in other books. But while it may still be confusing, it's not as bad as the first two were.

The story is complemented by J.G. Jones’ pencil work, and his style adds a somewhat cinematic feel to it, similar to Bryan Hitch’s work in Marvel’s Ultimates. This is probably Jones’ best work so far in Final Crisis…minimal mistakes, just great art.

This issue gave me some of my faith back in DC’s major event, and now I can’t wait to see what happens next.

My Rating: 8/10


Well, 2 out of 4 ain’t so bad, so it was a pretty good week in comics for me. Let’s just hope Invincible Iron Man and Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas steps up its game and Fathom and Final Crisis continues to be as good as it is right now, if not better. Which I’m really hoping they will be.

Got any questions, comments or violent reactions? Leave a comment and let’s discuss! My Week in Comics is up every Sunday. Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 08, 2008

A big change is coming...

If you've been paying attention these past few weeks, you would notice that I've been slowly blogging about comics in general. From comics I pull each week, to comic book news, views, and curios.

They say that in order to run a successful blog, you should first find the one thing you are most passionate about and write about that. Well, if there's only one thing I'm passionate about in this world, it's comics.

And what that means is, Think Happy Thoughts will change in a big way. A very, very big way.

As I count down to the 4th Anniversary of Think Happy Thoughts, I am also counting down to a new beginning with this blog. I'm tired of writing about stalking my crush and dating 14 year olds. I'm up for something different. Or at least, as different as I'm used to.

I'm going to blog about comics.

More info will come as soon as I decide upon it. First, I gotta find a new name for this blog. From what I've seen, all the good comic book blog names have been taken.

Or are they?

If you wanna help me find a name for my new comics blog so I could start a bit earlier, just leave a little somethin'-somethin' in the comments. I'm all ears.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Why so serious?

Hey kids!



Let Happy Galactus flash you a disarming smile as he sucks out the life essences of your planet, leaving it a barren, lifeless husk!

Who wouldn’t want to snuggle up to a face like that? Amirite?



Proving that smiles make the world go round is the Galactus figure from Hasbro’s Marvel Superhero Squad line. Now I gotta get one!


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

4 ON THE FLOOR Week 4: Finding the voice part 1

4 ON THE FLOOR is a weekly look at the history of the Dark Lich's blog, what's happened since then, and whether people still read his blog. All of it in celebration of the 4th anniversary of Think Happy Thoughts.



I bet you're wondering why I've been droning on and on about love for four straight weeks. When are you gonna get to the good stuff?

The thing is, back then, the good stuff involved me nursing a bottle of San Mig Lite and an inferiority complex, trying to tell someone I liked them while scoping them out with binoculars a couple of yards away, hoping I don't get caught.

Short answer: It was all I could ever write about.

I thought I could break the monotony of this blog by dabbling in random stream of mind posting. I probably thought I was some sort of James Joyce prodigy, typing up whatever shit my mind can spit out as fast as I can type it and expected people to like it...

But yeah, most of them were...about...uh...love...again. Damn.

Not that I didn't keep trying, though. so I came up with writing witty reviews about shows I discovered or movies I watched. It was right there and then that I realized I was better at this than I initially thought. Man, if there was one thing I learned in those days, was that Abby Cruz was the fucking bomb and Bestfriends was the most insightful slice of TV programming I have ever seen in my life. If the Emmys teamed up with the Oscars and the Tonys and decided to give out some sort of amalgamated statue for "Greatest TV Show Ever", Bestfriends would have won. Every single time.

Oookay...so they were two things. On second thought, that show also gave me those silly ideas of courting my friend in the first place!

And I'm back where I started.

Thankfully for you, I have much wider material to draw upon now! So if you wanna read more about my adventures dating somebody almost half my age, rubbing shoulders with celebrities and all the hijinks a blogger like me had to go through to come up with a blog like this, catch the next installment of 4 ON THE FLOOR, our road to the 4th anniversary of Think Happy Thoughts!

And hey, if there's a better time to ask me about Bestfriends, it's now!


Sunday, August 03, 2008

My Week in Comics: August 2, 2008

None of my pulls were out this week…again.

I know, I know…why make a My Week in Comics column if you don’t buy comics every week, right? Right.

But trust me, this is far from bad. All this means is that I have MORE comics to review for you guys next week. And more comics mean more fun for you and me. I won’t have it any other way!

Okay, so that’s a bad excuse, but still, the show must go on…so this week I’ll review comics that I think is worth picking up if you haven’t been already. It’s a good exercise in picking up contextual clues and what not, and to see if my comics radar is not as whacked as I think it is.

I have NOT read any of these comics. Dipping into the unknown (and into your savings to buy these comics) is what makes comic books so much fun! Take note that while it would seem that I read comics only for the art, I am actually more partial to great stories, and I only notice the art first since comic books is such a visual medium that I can’t help but notice that first. With that said, read on!

DYNAMO 5

I’ve been seeing this in the list of titles shipping every week but I never bothered to know what it is. Now that I saw a preview, I found out that it was created by Jay Faerber, the same man who brought us Noble Causes, the superhero soap opera from Image Comics.

I’ve been hearing nothing but good things about Faerber, and seeing penciler Mahmud A. Asrar’s work, especially in this week’s cover, makes me think I would enjoy hunting down the first couple of issues of this title, and so will you.

WITCHBLADE

I can only say one thing about this: artist Stjepan Sejic is a god among men. If any of you doubt the power of Photoshop, let Mr. Sejic steer you into the right train of thought. This guy’s an artistic freak, pushing the boundaries of what can be done in comic book art. I say if you’re going to pick this up just because of Sejic’s art, that’s already a great reason in and of itself!

Oh, and Ron Marz is awesome too.


GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, the writers behind Annihilation, Nova and Annihilation: Conquest, launched a new team of GotG, whose roster reads like a cosmic all-star cast: Starlord, the new Quasar, Drax, Gamora, Adam Warlock and the irrepressible Rocket Racoon!

I haven’t picked this up since I’m already pulling Nova, but from all the reviews I’ve been reading, I’m missing out on a lot of good stuff. Abnett and Lanning’s golden touch with anything cosmic, and Paul Pelletier’s amazing pencils, make this title a must have.


There you have it. Three awesome comics I have never read yet, and if you haven’t either, I suggest we both do so right now!

If anybody else thinks I’m missing out on any more awesome comics, drop a comment for me so I can check it out! Thanks for reading!
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