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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Behold the Geek's Best of 2008! (Part 2)

The new year is upon us...what have we to show for it?

Well, for starters...


That's right! It's the last installment of my list that made 2008 an awesome year for comics! So which hero or villain made waves? Which fight got us all pumped up? If you're that curious, keep on reading!


Best Fight: Tony Stark vs. Ezekiel Stane, Invincible Iron Man #6

This is a tough one, as there were lots of fights worthy of being called the best this year. But when it comes to the most brutally satisfying fight of all, it has to be Iron Man's beatdown of Ezekiel Stane, the punk who's been making Tony's life a living hell (and killed the Philippine superteam Triumph Division, I might add). After going at it with repulsor rays and jetboot kicks to the face, Tony decides he's had enough. He then proceeds to take off his armor and starts bitch-slapping Stane in his boxers! For a man whose entire deal was being in the bleeding edge of technology, Tony Stark sure knows when its time to get his hands dirty and slug it out the old fashioned way.

Best Moment: Barry Allen's return, Final Crisis #2, Avengers Assemble, Secret Invasion #6

Whaddaya know? It's a tie! And in a medium that's arguably all about the moments, that's saying something. You know when things are getting really dire when somebody who sacrificed his life to save the multiverse comes back to warn you it's gonna happen again. Barry Allen has always been a fan favorite, and we probably all heard that collective scream of "Hell Yeah!" following the big reveal at the last page of Final Crisis #2. When the world's fastest man yells at you to "Run!", you hope to goodness that you can catch up!

And in the most geek-out book from Secret Invasion comes another best moment of 2008. With the entire Skrull army assembling on their yard, every single relevant character in the Marvel U (regardless of which side they were on) decide they need to do some assemblin' of their own. And along with three of the most iconic characters ever to utter the phrase (Thor, Iron Man and Bucky as Captain America), the cry of "Avengers Assemble!" was sounded, making the entire force the largest assembly of Earth's Mightiest! Now that's how you scare any would-be invader shitless!


Best Villain: Norman Osborn

Despite what anybody feels about Secret Invasion, Norman Osborn ranks up there with the creepiest villains you'll have the displeasure of reading about. Aside from being such a pleasantly whacked-out sonovabitch, he's been elevated to a position of power that's gonna make life as a hero in the Marvel Universe a living hell...and if the solicits for 2009 are any indication, it's only going to get worse. I just love how twitchy, how scheming, and how utterly vicious he's become this year...a true villain for the times. A Dark Reign is upon Marvel U., and whether you like it or not, Norman is now in control.


Best Hero: Hercules

What? No Batman? No Iron Man? No hero who single-handedly stopped an intergalactic war? Well, while those heroes probably have had that big-name recognition by birthright, I personally know of no other hero that has developed handsomely into an A-lister by his or herself this year than the Prince of Power, Hercules. Once a surly, hard-drinking womanizer of a demi-god, he's now a surly, hard-drinking womanizer of a demi-god who's such a hoot to read about. From making the Skrulls (the Skrull gods, no less!) look like putzes to giving Amadeus Cho the thumbs-up sign upon the chance of getting some, Hercules has proven this 2008 that he deserves the spotlight!


And that, my fellow comic fans, are the most awesome people, moments, and events of 2008, as decided by yours truly! I don't think there's ever been a more exciting year to be a comic book fan, but here's hoping 2009 proves me wrong!

So let's talk about what's great about 2008 by leaving a comment below. I promise I won't laugh if you promise you didn't! See you on the other side of the year, folks! Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Behold the Geek's Best of 2008! (Part 1)

Okay, so I went ahead and mixed things up a bit, since it seems the extended holidays, um, extended to the delivery of comics to the Philippines. But what the hey, I roll with the punches...so in lieu of a review (I rhymed! Yay me!) let's tackle something I bet you, my dear readers (all 9 of you), want to know what I think about!


It's My Best of 2008, baybee! My first foray into the comic book blogosphere will not go without one of these things! So if you want to know my picks for Best Writer, Best Artist, Best Event Tie-In and Best Single Issue, keep on reading!



Best Writer: Fred Van Lente

I don't think there was any comic book this 2008 that provided equal doses of action, suspense, drama and a little dash of crazy that wasn't written by Fred Van Lente. From Marvel Zombies 3 to his most awesome work to date, Incredible Hercules...let's face it, Mr. van Lente knows how to consistently write a kick-ass comic book yarn, and whatever he's gonna be putting out in 2009, I'll be there to pick it up.

Honorable Mentions: Grant Morrison for his mind-blowingly amazing Final Crisis work...the ones that are starting to make sense, that is...and Matt Fraction, who's action hero rendition of Iron Man continues to be exciting month in and month out.



Best Artist: Leinil Francis Yu

Leinil is a bit of a polarizing figure in comic book fandom...people either love his stuff or hate it with relish. But no one can deny the talent that he poured into Marvel's Secret Invasion main event. And despite not having the experience handling a big event book, Marvel trusted him to see Secret Invasion through, and boy did he deliver! Awesome Super-Skrull designs, big-ass splash pages that stretch for miles...Leinil did the hell out of his work, and despite some artistic oversights here and there, who here can say he didn't give it everything he's got?

Honorable Mentions: If not for the awful delays, JG Jones' amazing work on Final Crisis would have gotten the top spot. Gunihiru isn't making as much waves as I would like to. And I hope to see more of Stefano Casseli and Oliver Coipiel in 2009.


Most Improved Artist: Clayton Henry

I know, I just have to say it. I don't know what Mr. and Mrs. Henry has been feeding Clayton here, but they best keep him on it, because his work on Incredible Hercules this year has been the most staggeringly improved work of any single comic book artist I've seen! Compare this to the stiff work he had on Exiles or Alpha Flight (with the former looking honestly like I drew it...which is not a compliment at all.) and you've got kick-ass artwork befitting a god of Herc's station.

Honorable Mentions: Wellington Alves springs to mind...his work on Nova just keeps getting better each issue. I had my doubts...doubts immediately squashed!



Best Event Tie-In: Captain Britain and the MI: 13 # 1-4 (Secret Invasion tie-in)

Secret Invasion showed just how bad the Skrull invasion was. Captain Britain and the MI:13 showed just how bad the Skrulls were fucked to begin with. Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk gave us an awesome one-two punch of a comic, introducing us to this badass team of unapologetically British heroes and, with it's shocking, out-of-left-field solution to the invasion, single-handedly upstaging the main event book...which, if I remember correctly, is not supposed to happen ever.



Best Single Issue: JSA Kingdom Come Special: Superman

Alex Ross sure knows how to make compelling comics. If I had to choose a single issue that stood out from all those floppies I got this year, it's Ross' JSA Kingdom Come Special focusing on KC Superman. It's memorable because of a few things...one, it's the first comic book Ross wrote and drew and inked on his own. Two, it's his official sort of 'sequel' to Kingdom Come. And three...well, when you see KC Superman so shook up from the death of his wife that he can't even look this Earth's Lois Lane in the face, you get a sobering reminder of the 'man' behind the Superman, and it's that sort of drama that gets me every time. Just a great issue that I won't forget.

Honorable Mentions: Final Crisis #4...Darkseid reborn! That's all that needs to be said, but unfortunately too confusing to stand on its own.


These are just one part of my picks for the Best of 2008...the incredible stories, art and moments that made my year! Check back tomorrow to see more categories, including Best Hero, Best Fight, and Best Moment! I know I'm excited! I'm setting a record for most exclamation points in a sentence!

And if you have anything you want to add, subtract, or otherwise say about my choices, then the comment box is your best friend this year, and any other year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

J. Torres Signing at Comic Odyssey on January 3 2009!

I've never heard of J. Torres (call me poor, aight?) but if he's got books like Legion of Superheroes of the 31st Century and Family Dynamic (which I hear some really good things about) to his name and is inviting you to a book signing/book giveaway, you better free up your schedule!

From his blog:

Attention, Filipino comic book fans!

If you've got nothing better to do on Saturday, January 3, 2009 stop by Comic Odyssey in Robinsons Galleria between 2 PM - 4 PM and meet me and artist Elbert Or. I'll be giving away copies of Wonder Girl and Ninja Scroll, as well as Wonder Woman pins (courtesy of DC Comics). Elbert will be previewing art from our upcoming Oni Press graphic novel Lola: A Ghost Story.

Got that? Better do what he says, coz I sure will!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Baby Jesus, FTW!

After a whole day of feasting, ribbing and talking, the relatives that paid a visit just went home tonight. Tonight! Talk about a hectic Christmas!

But hey, don't forget...with all the toasting, boasting and gift opening, let's all remember whose special day it is today. So let me raise a toast. Happy birthday, baby Jesus! Kick back and relax! You deserve it!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

We'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming soon...come on, guys. Let me savor my first real vacation!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

In less than 24 hours, the champagne bottles will be popped, gifts will be unwrapped, belts will be loosened a notch (or two...or three if the food is that good) and thanks will be given, coz whaddaya know? It's Christmas Eve!

It's been a pretty busy year for me, but not too busy as to forget to greet my ever growing readership! So, in behalf of all of us here at Behold The Geek!...

Marvel Christmas SpecialHAPPY
HOLIDAYS!


Be back after the massive housecleaning...there's still one more important person we have to greet!

Monday, December 22, 2008

More 3.75" Fury Files Reviews!

3 days till Christmas and a blogger's work is never done! Anyway, It seems like everybody's fears about Hasbro's new action figure line, Marvel Universe Fury Files, is slowly being beat down to the ground as the first wave hits stores this month. I've already reviewed Iron Man last time, so now we'll look at my two new hauls, Spider-Man and Silver Surfer.

Hasbro Fury Files Silver SurferHasbro Fury Files Spider-Man
I still don't see what the fanboys see that's so 'zOMG I'm gonna fucking hurl' awful about these, and Fury Files in general, because from what I've seen, they're better looking than expected. The sculpt on Spidey is okay, with the webbing on his costume as sculpted grooves that add a bit of texture to him. The only thing I find lacking is his paint job. Spidey's picture at the back of the pack has a darker blue/bright red colors that I wish this fig had. He's got a pretty dark red on the red portions of his costume, with what looks like a black paint wash to bring out its webbing. The blue portions, however, is a shade of blue lighter than I would have liked. Silver Surfer on the other hand looks pretty impressive, with a great muscular sculpt and a silvery finish that makes the sculpt pop more.

























Spidey and Silver Surfer both have enough articulation for a good variety of poses, which is good for guys like Spidey since he's really not the type to be a 'stand still punching people' kind of guy. What bothers me though is that some of the joints, especially in the feet, are looser than I'd like...and I haven't even played with these guys long enough to do that. I just hope it gets fixed in the later waves or we'll see more leanin' figures in the future!

Hasbro Fury Files Spider-Man
As for accessories, Spidey has what seems to be his webbing in mid-...uh...-web, and Silver Surfer only has the only logical accessory he could get: his surfboard. Spidey's web looks cast in opaque plastic while Silver Surfer's board looks comic accurate and is a dull silver compared to his body. Both have the same mini 'Top Secret' file containing some declassified documents and a registration card (I don't remember Silver Surfer registering...). All of these extras go a little way to justify the P500+ price tag...a little. Nah, who am I kiddin'? G.I. Joe figs have more accessories than these guys, and they don't cost more than 400 bucks! I really want to know why!


Anyway...Spider-Man and Silver Surfer are both great figures, and while they didn't reach the level of quality Iron Man has, the fun factor involved makes up for it. Now you can have two big names in the Marvel Universe in your army! From the looks of it, it's with this line that I may get to complete my Mighty Avengers line-up without spending myself dry, so it's all the more becoming my favorite action figure line right now.

Now I'm just waiting for the clear Human Torch variant and I'm all done with this wave. Let's hope it gets here soon, coz I'm practically foaming in the mouth here!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

...and All I Got Was This Awesome Shirt

It's a pretty late post, but it's still pretty cool!

So I went to the 3rd Toys and Collectibles Christmas Fair yesterday to check out what's up (For more coverage of the event, check out my good Sir Azrael's blog here!). It was pretty fun, with lots and lots of toys and doodads and doohickeys for everybody. Unfortunately I didn't get to find the fig I was looking for there (Marvel Legends Face-off Captain America was nowhere to be found) but I did find something more awesome.

While I don't consider myself to be a fashion plate, I just found these great geeky shirts, made by the good people of Geekerie. From their official site:

Geekerie is a line of shirts that revels in those things you passionately dig and are unapologetic about it. Are you a sci-fi and fantasy geek? A film connoisseur? A music enthusiast? A hardcore gamer? Then Geekerie is for you.

Jeez that just...dare I say it?...fits me to a T!



So I bought one of their shirts, dubbed the Retcon shirt...probably the coolest shirt I will own right now! They promised to put out more cool designs. The great thing about Geekerie is that the guys are genuinely having fun, and seem to be genuine geeks at heart. I got to chat with them while buying their stuff talking about retcons, comics and other stuff, and sir Azrael was gracious enough to take pictures of me with the cute people at their booth!

The girls and guys of Geekerie with the Beholden Geek.


(from left to right) Geekerie, The Geek, and Mr. Azrael Coladilla!

So all in all it was pretty great. I got a great shirt, got to talk to some fellow geeks, and discovered a clothing line that seems to have been created explicitly to my tastes in fashion. If they put out the shirt, I'll be there to snap them up. And if I may humbly suggest, so should you!


Pictures courtesy of Azrael Coladilla (popazrael.multiply.com)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Top 5 Comic Book Animals of the Year

It's that time of the year again when people start compiling a list of things that stood out this year. And while most of them will list the top 5 heroes, villains, covers, moments, titles or whatever, we here at Behold the Geek! pride ourselves in making the lists that count.

So without further to do, here are the Top 5 Comic Book Animals of 2008! Which cuddly, fluffy, feathery characters made headlines? Which of them made us squee with cute glee or raise a fist-pump of a 'Hell yeah!'? I ranked them now so you won't have to!


5. Howard the Duck

He's been downtrodden and ignored to the point of being considered a non-person, but Howard found himself the center of attention this 2008 during the big, bad mega-crossover event called Secret Invasion. While the Skrulls were jobbing themselves out to most of the superhero and supervillain community, Marvel gave fans a treat by inserting Howard ala 'Where's Waldo?' in a panel or two starting with Secret Invasion #6. Fans got a hoot out of checking where Howard would pop up next! And while our pint-sized star didn't get to do much in this event, seeing Howard the freaking Duck standing snug between Stature's breasts made SI a bit more enjoyable than usual.

4. Rocket Raccoon

An '80s kooky character given a new lease in life this year, Rocket Raccoon quickly became a fan favorite during the Annihilation: Conquest event where, together with Star-Lord, Mantis and Groot, he pulled off a daring midnight raid on the Phalanx's Babel Spire and almost crippled the Phalanx's plans for domination. His quirky, exasperated outlook on life as a raccoon in space quickly endeared him to fans of cosmic Marvel, and he's only gotten more popular since. Nowadays he's kicking ass and taking names as member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, double-wielding space pistols on the scum that reside in the farthest reaches of the galaxy.

3. Cosmo

Dogs are cute. Soviet space dogs are awesome. Soviet space dogs who can read your thoughts and mess you up with their minds get listed on the top 5 list of most awesome comic book animals of the year! Our top 3 animal is exactly that, an awesome character find that made comic fans squee like nothing else before it. Cosmo debuted in Nova #8, as the chief security officer of Knowhere, which happens to be a city set up in the severed head of a Celestial. (So now he's a Soviet, telepathic, telekinetic space dog that lives in a decapitated god's head! Now he's just showing off...) Like most retriever breeds, Cosmo is friendly, protective and downright cute...but it was probably his matter-of-fact attitude and predisposition to think with a thick Russian accent ("Pleased to be meetink you!") that made fans take notice...and did they ever!

2. Krypto

You might think that these days, Superman don't need no animal mascots to mess up his style but DC begged to differ, and fans were glad they did. I'm talking about Supes' perennial pet Krypto, who claimed the top 2 spot by virtue of taking part in one of the most awesome comic book fights this side of the super kennel. In Superman #680, after laying waste to Superman himself and taunting Metropolis ala Brad Pitt from Troy, super-strong superbaddie Atlas faced down a very, very pissed-off and loyal Krypto, who mauled him to the point of almost handing his own ass to him in a doggie bag. There was a lot of freaking out in the internets after that...but not as much as our top dog...i mean, cat...

1. "Rage Cat"

It's like DC read our collective minds! In Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns, they introduced us to the Red Lanterns, whose rings were fueled by hate and anger. And while they could have populated their ranks with the meanest, scariest, most demonic motherfuckers this side of the Milky Way, the Red Lanterns decided to get one very special member: a cat named Dex-Star whom fans affectionately called Rage Cat. While only appearing in a few panels melting faces with his acidic blood-spew, his astounding LOLcat-ability gave rise to dozens of pics expounding his ability to be in ur sectorz meltin facez, which spread through the 'net like wildfire! Trust the internet to crown the one animal worthy of being called Animal of the Year!


These are the top 5 animals that made reading comic books a hell of a lot more fun this year. What can I say? Comic book animals are awesome, and I hope it gets even better next year!

So, agree? Disagree? Got something to say but don't know how? Leave a comment and let's discuss! I'm sure Rage Cat wouldn't mind...I think. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Webcomics I Love: Laugh-Out-Loud Cats

If you ever thought of yourself as a LOLcat connoisseur, you just might get a kick out of this:

Laugh-Out-Loud Cats
It's Laugh-Out-Loud Cats, a series of cartoons made by cartoonist Adam Koford, about two hobo kittehs who dish social commentary and sweet home truths about love, friendship and life in general, only in LOLcat-speak!

It's funny and awesome at the same time, and I can literally spend hours on Adam's site just reading every single thing. His art is great, and has a vintage look that adds to the appeal. Vintage + LOLcats = awesome! Be careful, though...too much of these cartoons and you'll find yourself going OMG MOAR!

Good stuff. Check it out!

http://apelad.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Review: Wolves of Odin

Wolves of Odin
So I totally forgot that I ordered SuperRealGraphics' latest offering, Wolves of Odin, last month, and now that I have it in my hands, I’m starting to appreciate Brand's Essence of Chicken a little bit more. But enough about that…I bet you’re itching to know what I thought about the book! Well, in case you’re not, I’m doing it anyway!

The rise of Christianity amongst the north-men has frustrated Odin, Father of the Norse Gods. Out of jealousy and anger, he has transformed three of his most loyal berserkers into unstoppable beasts, and set them loose upon his traitorous ‘followers’. Thor, God of Thunder, takes it upon himself to challenge his father’s madness by aiding a loyal warrior of his own: the Viking Tyr. Along with the help of a witch and two strangers, Tyr must face the wolves and realize his own destiny.

Let’s get one thing straight: the introduction above is probably the closest you can get to a set-up of the story. Wolves of Odin hits the ground running from page one, going straight to the meat of it all, if you will, and it doesn't stop running!

Writer/artist Grant Gould expands upon the simple premise of vikings versus werewolves pretty well, painting a viking tapestry of double-crosses, mysticism and violence using the blood of innocents. Wolves is pretty hardcore, with all the blood and decapitations...the hero Tyr is one badass viking warrior, taking on Odin's werewolves like it was just another Wednesday. I could have sworn I was hearing Dragonforce in the background during all the action scenes! Gould also packs a lot of action, drama and story in such a slim comic, and while some might think that all these 'awesome thing' versus 'awesome thing' stories have been run into the ground, there's just enough depth to this story that it becomes its flavor instead of its raison d'etre.

The art is simple and a bit cartoony. Gould seems to be channeling his Clone Wars style of art to great effect. Although I do have a problem with the inconsistencies in the art, where it would be detailed and fleshed out one moment, then looking sketchy and unfinished the next. But again that's probably Gould's style, and it doesn't distract all that much from the story itself.

All in all, Wolves of Odin is a satisfying read, a done-in-one story that delivers on its promise and premise. Gould has done a pretty good job, and I can't wait for whatever he has in store for us comic book fans next.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hasbro's Fury Files Finally in Manila!

I just heard the news: Hasbro's Marvel Universe Fury Files has finally arrived!

I quickly stopped by good ol' Toys 'R' Us in Trinoma Mall and sure enough, there it was...the first wave of Fury Files figures. There was X-Force Wolverine, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Johnny Storm, Daredevil, Punisher, Silver Surfer and Black Panther, all in neat rows next to the virtually unsellable Hasbro Marvel Legends Banshees and Emma Frosts.

Stopping only to chat with a fellow action figure collector, I snapped up the one figure I wanted (and can afford...I'll get to that later) which was Iron Man. Let's see what I got myself into...

Marvel Universe Fury Files Iron Man
So Hasbro finally dips into the superhero 3 3/4" market with Fury Files, and amid lots of fan ranting and raving, it's finally here. One thing you would notice is the consistency of the packaging throughout the line, with some great graphics and Frank Cho (!) art for the image of the hero or villain that's in the pack. It's also surprisingly easy to open safely to get some LOC mileage!












Now for the fig...I have to say this is probably the best looking Iron Man figure I've ever seen. The sculpt and detail is downright amazing for its size and it reflects Tony Stark's current armor pretty much to a T! The paint is a perfect metallic shade of Iron Man's red and gold, with little to no application errors that I'm afraid the painters might have stabbed their eyes out with a sharpened paintbrush making this figure!

Fury Files Iron ManFury Files Iron Man
And articulation? Pretty much every point of articulation you might see in a 6" Marvel Legend is here in 3.75" size: balljoint head, shoulders, elbows, knees and feet, swivel waist...the only new joint I've seen is the weird pegs for the hips, and even then it's barely noticeable. You can get lots of posing potential with this figure, from action poses to 'standing there looking awesome' poses, and pretty much decent flying poses, if not for Iron Man's inability to look a good deal up or down. His right arm doesn't go all the way down to his side, so he might look lopsided, but I think it has a purpose which we'll get back to in a sec. The joints are pretty strong and tight though, so if you want your fig to strike a pose, it stays that way until you decide otherwise.

Fury Files Iron ManFury Files Iron Man
The one cool thing I enjoyed about this figure is the accessories and cool swag included with it. Iron Man comes with what appears to be a simulacrum of his 'repulsor blast', cast in clear yellow plastic and clips snugly on either of his wrists. At first I felt it was a little bit heavy, and I found it hard to pose Iron Man without the 'blast' dragging him down to the ground. But then the strong joints come into play and once you strike a right balance, it works all right! There's also a "top secret" little folder containing little classified documents, a full size Superhero Registration card and a code that you're supposed to input in their official website, www.furyfiles.com. It's a neat little extra that adds a great deal of dimension to the line than just 'here's your action figure, kthxbai'.

Now we come to the point of contention for me: the price. It's set at P549.75, costing only a little less as some of the earlier 6" Marvel Legends! Egads! I was hoping that for a fig in the 3.75 inch scale, the price would be not unlike, say, DC Infinite Heroes who are also 3.75 inch but cost P299. But then again, Fury Files has waaaay more articulation (and possibly accessories) than Infinite Heroes, so I guess we're paying for that. But my newly found friend and I agreed that until we know how much it costs in the U.S., we can't really say if it's expensive or not. I'm just saying that even for figures this cool, the price point might drive away a bit of sales, given the economy as of late.


All in all, Marvel Universe Fury Files is shaping up to be an awesome set, if not for the scary price. But if you do want to give Fury Files a go, you absolutely can't go wrong with Iron Man!

The Fury Files are available at Toys 'R' Us and Toy Kingdom...so get to it!

Hobo Namor says...

namor secret invasion: dark reign
Speak for yourself, Mr. Imperius Wreck.

Jeez...if this is what passes for Namor these days, I'm scared to think what else passes for quality for Marvel in the coming months. Now I know that's totally unfair, getting on Marvel's case just because of one horribly drawn one-shot...

...but goddamn that's one ugly-ass Namor.



This stubbly, piss-stained version of Namor comes courtesy of the 'superstar' team of Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev, from the Secret Invasion: Dark Reign special, released last Wednesday. There are still copies left, if your stomach can handle it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My (Delayed) Week in Comics

I hate work, coz it distracts me from blogging all the cool stuff (and horrible stuff...find out next Monday!) that happened this week on time. But hey, better late than never! So here's my Delayed Week in Comics, where we have Aspen and co., Captain Britain, and another issue of Final Crisis! Do they stack up? Do they live up to the hype? Let's find out!


First up is Captain Britain and the MI: 13 #8, which sees our heroes in all sorts of deep shit. Plotka's plan for Earth is revealed, while the team deal with both stunning revelations and the oh-so-confusing mechanics of the Dream Corridor! Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk just keeps ratcheting up the tension with each issue so much I'm afraid of exploding next month! We get to see just how badass and level-headed Captain Britain is that he's starting to become a bloody favorite of mine. Also, Lady J (Spitfire) and Blade make a cute couple...if your idea of a cute couple involves mortal enemies locked in eternal struggle for the decimation of either species. This issue ends with the mother of all cliffhangers that this practically compels you to get the next issue to see how (and if) they get out of this one! A solid 8 out of 10.


I sooo wanted to get this cover (see left) but for some reason it disappeared faster than Sentry in a straight-up fight. Why do people keep thinking the same things I do?!

Anyhoo, Fathom #4 continues its steady pace, as Aspen finally reunites with her long-lost brother, all the while the world is gearing up for war with backroom deals, sinister plotting, and paranoia. Writer J.T. Krul is obviously having fun with this series...I mean, where else can you find a Big Bad whose idea of payback on the human race is basically ginormous water balloons dropped on major cities across the globe? That's downright mean, yo! And I'm sooo man-crushing on Ale Garza right now. He can't draw an ugly Fathom comic even if his life depended on it. The series continues to be newbie friendly, so don't be afraid to pick this one up. This one scores a very wet 8 out of 10.


And finally, Final Crisis #5 arrived, and arrived like the fist of an angry New God, as the remaining heroes are making their one final push against Darkseid reborn! The Green Lanterns, Checkmate, Mr. Miracle and even the Super Young Team make their last stands, and some of our heroes start pairing off with Darkseid's minions for the final dance of flesh and steel and DOOM!

The moment Hal Jordan spoke "Then I say we go after him, Guy...and we kick his ass.", you just know the shit is on. Frankenstein and the Titans and the JSA riding to battle on the Metal Men shaped like motorcycles and humvees? It's like Grant Morrison thrives on exploding peoples' heads all over the world! And while I can give Marvel's Secret Invasion its due, Final Crisis is a whole different animal. Every detail is done with purpose, every decision has weight, and you're actually scared for the heroes...and actually excited to see how they'll get out of this one! Though I have to admit that this isn't for everyone, and anybody expecting a straight-up read is going to have a headache. Disjointed scenes are still here, but there's just enough context for you to understand them, provided you just take them at face value.

And the art? Even though FC #4 drawn by, like, 4 different people, you'd hardly notice, and the realism of the pencils work to tell a story this epic. Though they've got to hire a more competent colorist who knows that Shiloh Norman (Mr. Miracle) is black, so as to avoid all the irritable confusion and fanboy whinings (including my own) that pop up from these mistakes. But that's a nitpick at best, and Final Crisis is shaping up to be the book to watch. This one's a 9 out of 10.


So what's the verdict? It's actually been a great week for me, so that took the bad taste from my mouth. Hope my luck keeps goin' till next week!

Got any comments? Suggestions? Agree or disagree, or just want to puke at Jean "Namor" Reno in Secret Invasion: Dark Reign? Let's laugh about it after you leave a comment below. My Week In Comics is up every Friday...so, sorry. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Marvel Bishoujo Statues are Coming!

Pardon my saying this...

rogue bishoujo statue
...but this is the most gorgeous Rogue I have ever laid eyes on my entire life.

It's the first in a series of Marvel Comics statues done bishoujo (pretty girl) style from Kotobukiya, and it's making me lament on my ridiculously pathetic spending power. Marvelous News says it'll be out by June next year, and it'll run ya $59.99 (It'll probably range around P4,000 to P5,000 here in the Philippines, if my math is to be trusted). Man, if they ever do a bishie Ms. Marvel, I'm gonna have to start camping out!

Here are some more pics courtesy of Marvelous News. For the complete write-up, check it out here.




A Helpful Holiday Tip!

Empowered


Martha she ain't, but it's a hell of a lot better than my tree. Ninjette waxes holiday senti-metal in one of Adam Warren's sweet, sweet extras from Empowered vol. 1.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Review: Tomo Vol. 1 and 2

It’s amusing that, when I can’t find a Christmas gift for my pamangkin, I might use the money for it to buy myself one. Which I did, hence my review of an American manga series that proves to be more than meets the eye.

Hana would be like any other thirteen-year-old immigrant trying to fit into life at an American school, but she also battles hostile animal-like warriors from the dimension of Argon Falls. In discovering secrets about her identity and her past, Hana bravely faces her enemies and realizes her divinely given purpose.

And with that, we are introduced to the world of Tomo, a graphic novel series from Zondervan Publishing. I bought the first two volumes (actually the two available ones), I Was An Eighth-Grade Ninja and My Double-edged Life (P175.00 each from National Bookstore), both of which I'll be reviewing today.

Andrew Simmons and Rob Corley, who according to the author bios are veterans of the animation industry, wrote the first volume of the series. I Was An Eighth-Grade Ninja introduces us to Hana Akisame's world, as well as the mystical world of Argon Falls, where animal-like beings are in search of the Spirit Sword, an ancient artifact that will bring Argon Falls (and possibly our world) under the rule of it’s tyrannical ruler, Lord Ardath. As far as first issues go, this one does its job real well. Corley and Simmons has made a very interesting character in Hana. She's very relatable, and has a quiet air of dignity and grace around her that's a refreshing change from all the loudmouthed heroes of her age group. But while she's all shy and friendly, make no mistake...Hana is a trained kunoichi (female ninja), and if you piss her off, she'll break your arm (or at least threaten to...she's actually really nice!)

Volume 2, My Double-Edged Life, sees Hana deal with some very vicious bullies as well as a friendship that’s gone south. To make matters worse, the wolf-men have found out where Hana lives, and it’s gonna take more than some fancy karate moves to defend the Spirit Sword!

Jim Krueger (yes, that Jim Krueger...of Earth X and Avengers/Invaders fame) takes up writing duties here, fleshing out the characters and their back stories , as well as upping the badassitude of everyone who lives in Grandpa's dojo. The fight scenes here have to be seen to be believed...this Hana is a young girl you wouldn't wanna mess with!

Both volumes were illustrated by fellow Filipino Ariel Padilla, and his work looks pretty typical of stylized American manga. That’s not to say it’s bad, though. His art is cute, and Volume 2 in particular ups the action quotient of the whole series so far by 300%, with pulse-pounding sword fights and fisticuffs that would make even Daredevil take notice. Though I often get the feeling that I’ve seen some of the characters’ facial expressions before (and I’m pretty certain I know which manga it was taken from), since this is a young adult comic book I don’t think the book’s intended audience would mind that at all.

But what’s really amazing about this series is, you’d never realize that this was from a Christian publishing company. Unlike most Christian comic books I’ve seen that proselytize or namedrop Jesus every other paragraph, Tomo manages to teach good morals like compassion and forgiving your enemies without sounding hamfisted or corny, and it works a whole lot better because of it.

All in all, Tomo is a great read. It's got a strong female lead, moral values that can actually be learned through it (not hammered into you), and enough action and fantasy to appeal to kids and adults alike. I highly recommend giving this to your kids or nephews...and don't be surprised to find yourself hoping you can borrow it after they're done!

My Rating: 8/10

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The true casualty...

First off...

R.I.P.
JANET VAN DYNE
1963-2008

But to be honest, the most devastating casualty of Secret Invasion isn't Wasp...

It's Nick Fury.

Nick Fury, the man who supposedly saw the 'big picture', the man who saw that Skrulls have infiltrated our world before anybody else, the man who was so paranoid he holed himself up to uncover the truth. He even had that wall with photos and shit like he had some big plan cooking. And for what?

To scrounge up 5 young amateurs as 'cavalry'.

I wouldn't have had any problem with it if Marvel Chief Architect Brian Bendis didn't build Fury up as someone with a part to play in the final days of Secret Invasion. Mighty Avengers # 12 had that splash page with the photo wall, with the wheels in Fury's head already turning and thinking of a way to stop this invasion. Granted that I may be reading too much into things, but then again if it wasn't important it wouldn't have been discussed, even at length. As it is, Fury's contribution to Secret Invasion amounted to 6 extra supers and a big-ass gun for himself, providing little more than covering fire for everybody else.

I actually hoped Fury was the big savior in all of this, where he didn't show up in Secret Invasion #3 just to rescue the Young Avengers. In a perfect world (and a more coherent story), Nick would have come out in Secret Invasion #7. I know I'd get goosebumps seeing Fury come out of hiding as his plan comes to fruition, saving the day with a hell of a lot more than a team that includes a guy who can make chains catch fire or a fat guy with a magic book. Maybe have him get the Skrull-detector device instead of Reed? Anything to justify having him go through all that trouble researching who is or isn't a Skrull only to go trigger-happy and blast anything that moves anyway (see Ms. Marvel).

But then again, maybe that was the plan after all...to have Nick recruit these kids so he can have a cast in his new title after Secret Invasion, Dark Reign: New Nation. Fuck meaningful character development, right? Too bad it wasn't Nick that got turned into a germ bomb, if only to save him from the humiliating way he's been handled lately.

Oh, Nick. Whatever you had in mind would have been a mighty badass entrance. Now they just took out the 'bad'.

Friday, December 05, 2008

My Week In Comics: December 5, 2008

This week has been Wow with a capital w, as we comment on my love for boobies and reviews of the new Marvels and the most awaited finale of them all, Secret Invasion #8!


It says a lot about me when I ragged on Jungle Girl Season 2’s first issue, only to grab the second one the moment it came out. Either I’m a glutton for punishment, or I’m just too much of a Frank Cho fan…or maybe both. Damn you, Frank Cho!

In all fairness, Jungle Girl Season 2 #2 is a more exciting read, so it’s not as tedious to flip through. Jana and her guy pals are still trekking towards God Mountain for reasons unknown, and they meet a submarine captain on the way (who checks out Jana’s prodigious mammaries and asks, “Americans?” I see what you did there!). Togg learns how to fix submarine engines while Jana is still stuck trying to understand what ‘museum’ or ‘bikini’ means. Ditzy blondes are the best!

However, Cho’s story still reads like a guided tour through the different parts of a plot, and Doug Murray’s scripts don’t really help ease the cringing (but I have to say he’s improving). But we at least get Adriano Batista’s beautiful, more action-packed art. Couple that with an ominous cliffhanger, and this book gets a 7 out of 10.


My kababayan Jay Anacleto gets a legendary gig doing interiors for Marvels: Eye of the Camera, whose first issue came out this week. I l-o-v-e, LOVE Anacleto’s art here (check out his rendition of New York’s cityscape! Breathtaking!), but I sorta hoped Kurt Busiek’s writing were up to par.

Whereas the first Marvels by Busiek and Alex Ross focused on the ordinary man’s reactions to the first sightings of ‘superheroes’, and the impact these guys had on their ordinary lives, this new iteration seems to focus on Phil Sheldon’s personal life, with the extranormal beings and events happening around him only as a backdrop. It’s all good, as we get to sympathize with Sheldon and all, but the magic, the awe, the virgin eyes and ears feeling isn’t there. It’s like today’s cynical Marvel U’s mindset got transplanted to the 1960’s. The jumpy narrative timeline was also confusing to say the least. A newbie reader would find it fascinating enough, even if it got off to a staggering start. This gets a 6 out of 10.


Then there’s Secret Invasion #8.

What...the...FUCK?

I was saving up my grief for this issue, and for good reason. 7 issues, 2 big fights, with the last issue having the backs of the entire Marvel U roster against the wall so hard you can cut the tension with wire cutter…only to get the final, supposedly climactic issue, in an anti-climactic flashback?! You could so literally hear the comic-reading populace screaming ‘cop-out!’ at this point it’s ridiculous!

The Wasp’s death (and supposed threat) conveniently removed by a wave of Thor’s hammer. The heroes become conveniently pissed at a quite-alive Veranke shortly thereafter (all the casualties of the last 7 issues brushed off like it was nothing, but Wasp gets rubbed out, and all of a sudden, now they’re all like ‘oh, it’s on, bitch!’). Norman Osborn gets the kill shot, which in turn gets televised all over, thereby making the rest of the populace sympathize with the well-known mass murderer, who suddenly gets appoin…man, I can’t go on. There's just so much going wrong with this issue!

This issue was more of a set-up for Dark Reign than a satisfying ending to Secret Invasion, which it should have been. Bendis chose the easy way out, using predictable, convenient events taking place of actual plot to get to the desired ending faster, as if Dark Reign was the better story and he can't wait to unload all this crap so he can move on to the next shiny, new toy. Even the return of the replaced heroes was met with just 'Oh, welcome back! Let's go grab a beer!' I’m so insulted as a reader and as a comic book buyer right now. Congratulations on being the first (and hopefully only) book I reviewed to get a 1 out of 10.


Like I said…wow. A week full of surprises…I guess I’ll be seeing more of you, Jungle Girl. As for Marvel…yeah, thanks but no thanks. Consider this my change in status quo.

Agree? Disagree? Got something different to say about Secret Invasion? Let yourself be heard (by me, even!) by leaving a comment below. My Week in Comics is up every Friday. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Top 5 Comic Book-Related Merchandise

Nothing screams out "I'm a comic book geek, dammit!" than comic book-related merchandise. Like the Superman shirts and sandos you always give your nephews for Christmas or the Batman lunchbox that made you the envy of your friends in kinder…you don't need to say a word to let the world know you've got the comic book bug real bad. But which comic book-related merchandise shout it the loudest? Which of them rank as the best of the bunch? And with the holidays rolling around, which would make great gifts for your geeky friends? I ranked them now so you won’t have to!


5. POSTERS

There’s a reason why I’m not an interior decorator, because my answer to ‘what would make a great focal point for a room?’ would always be ‘a poster of the Goddamn Batman’. Posters these days are pretty hip, with comic book companies routinely pumping out high-quality lithographs, glicees or what have you of your favorite comic book characters. Whether it’s a shot of every Avenger known to comicdom, or simply a pin up of a half-naked Witchblade drawn by Ale Garza, you can bet a comic book fan has at least one plastered on a wall, marking his territory like no other.


4. ACTION FIGURES

Action figures are a staple of comic book merchandise, and for good reason. They look amazing, they’re collectible, and they allow you to act out your most awesome (and often sickest) comic book fantasies. These days, toy lines like Marvel Legends and DC Direct's assortment of figure lines have been putting out the most sought after action figures around, and it just keeps getting better. Want to stage a different ending to Civil War? Or do you just want to see Batman punch out Galactus? It’s all in your hands now.


3. BUSTS/STATUES

It’s comic books coming into the realm of fine art. Busts and statues of your favorite comic book characters are big-ticket items, made popular by companies like Bowen Designs due to their amazing sculpts and attention to detail. Amass a ton of these and you can make your house into your own comic book Louvre! Minus the boring paintings and naked men of course (at least, until a Dr. Manhattan statue rolls around!).


2. CLOTHES

The myth of geeks not having much fashion sense is being busted as we speak, but it wouldn't hurt to wear your love for comic books on your sleeve (or on your chest or back)! Clothes let you show you're a fan of comic books by wearing it wherever you go, like T-shirts emblazoned with the Superman or Batman logo, or shirts printed with your favorite comic character. Clothes like these make you stand out from the crowd (or blend in one, if you're in a comic convention!)


1. PROPS/REPLICAS

It could possibly be the Holy Grail of comic book geekery, to which every other comic-related merchandise is compared. They're full-scale comic book replicas and props, and they've given a whole new dimension to comic books. It's insane what sorts of things companies like DC Direct or Windlass Studios have made a real world equivalent of: the Key to Hell from Sandman, Thor's hammer Mjolnir, a Green Lantern Power Battery (perfect for use with your very own power ring!)...there's even a goddamn Infinity Gauntlet for when you want to exercise your godly prerogative to annihilate the universe to impress your girlfriend! Forget conversation piece, these companies have now made it possible for you to go out with a power ring on your left hand and an uru hammer on your right, and battle your best friend for the last potato chip!


Those are the top 5 comic book-related merchandise as ranked by yours truly, and they make our little hobby a tad more awesome just by existing!

If you want to know more about the chotchkes I just wrote, just click on the links I so generously provided. If you agree or disagree with the list, let's talk about it by leaving a comment below. Now to pray for somebody to give me one of these for Christmas...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Webcomics I Love: Scary Go Round

The British as we know them now are known for their pubs, their teeth and their humour (thought I'd throw in a courtesy 'u' in there for ). Now there's one Briton who decided to add one more thing to that list: silly, girl webcomics.

Or at least, that's what I'd like him to add.

Ya see, this bloke named John Allison has created something of a gem of a webcomic that I can't help but browse around every day. It's called Scary Go Round, and despite the name, the only thing you should be afraid of is not reading it. The 'comic mostly focuses on chapters in the life of reporter Shelley Winters, as she deals with delinquents, trendy twenty-somethings and the occasional goblin!

It often rambles on, as would be expected of the Brits, but the payoff is when you stick with it and get a kick out of Shelley's adventures. And the hip and quirky art alone is reason enough to keep coming back.

But hey, why do I have to stand here convincing you? Get to the site and start loving it already!


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