Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Countdown 6

In case I don't catch you later with all the hustle and bustle of Christmas...

Marvel Holiday Special 1994
But hey, remember who we're celebrating all this for! Here's an advanced Happy Birthday to Baby Jesus...he's gonna grow up awesome!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Countdown 5

Spidey and MJ during happier times in this great pinup by Rurik Tyler (1991 Marvel Holiday Special)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Countdown 4

Rogue and Joseph share a d'awww moment under a snowy Christmas evening courtesy of a deadline-strapped Joe Madureira. (Uncanny X-Men #341)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tron: Legacy Movie Review

As a total Tron newbie, I was hesitant to catch Tron: Legacy in theaters. I wasn’t familiar with the original Tron movie, only the fact that it’s a cult classic and a part of popular culture. But it seems that the marketing guys knew my one true weakness: cool-as-hell trailers. A couple of those were enough to get my butt plopped down on a cushy seat in Robinson’s Movieworld, with 3D glasses over my eyes, enjoying the premiere of Tron: Legacy.

Tron: Legacy begins with the mysterious disappearance of Kevin Flynn, the main character in Tron. Flynn leaves behind a business empire and a son named Sam (Garett Hedlund). Fast forward some 20 odd years later and Sam Flynn is still embittered by his father’s disappearance...until a mysterious message coming from Kevin Flynn’s old arcade sends him on a digital adventure of a lifetime.

One thing I immediately liked about Tron: Legacy is how it bridged the gap between two films more than 20 years apart. I would have thought picking up where Tron left off was hard, but Legacy made it look seemless. One scene has Sam going over the old Flynn’s Arcade, and it’s like a time capsule opened up, complete with Journey and Annie Lennox songs. It’s like you’re stepping into another time, into a future you can't wait to see.

I’m really impressed with how visually stunning this film is. If the visual effects and designs of Tron were considered state-of-the-art at the time, then Tron: Legacy takes it all and upgrades it to the Nth power. Trading in Tron’s white circuited leotards for some futuristic-looking black leather, Sam and co look absolutely cool. The environs are sleek, sterile and streamlined, and just taking it all in on the big screen is breathtaking.

I always found it fun to see actors returning to roles they were known for. Jeff Bridges returns as Kevin Flynn here in Tron: Legacy, but now he’s older, wiser, and sometimes channeling a little bit of The Dude from The Big Lebowski. The big bad CLU is also played by Jeff Bridges, only 30 years younger and completely rendered in unsettling CGI. Tron newbies Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde round out the main cast and are fun to watch, but you’re really only watching Tron: Legacy for Jeff Bridges being a badass hippie going all The One on the citizens of the Grid.

If there’s one thing I could fault this film, is that it’s easy to get lost in all the eye candy, forgetting the pretty slim story within. While I found myself cheering for our heroes, hissing at the compelling villain, and hoping for a happy ending, it's the digital world you notice the most. But that's just me.

Be warned: not all of the film is in 3D. I found it annoying that the first 15 minutes of the movie wasn't in 3D at all, and the rest in the film's 3D comes and goes. Couple that with the movie's dark and lightless environment, and I found myself not wearing the glasses most of the time. I felt shafted on the P300 I paid to see this in 3D. I'm going to watch this again in normal 2D, then maybe I'll appreciate it more.

Still, I enjoyed Tron: Legacy. The story and the characters didn’t drown in all the beautiful CGI, more like they stayed afloat above the water as best they can. I could forgive a few hours of shallow storytelling to see a badass Jeff Bridges walking around kicking computer-generated ass in a world as gorgeous as this. Bottom line, stay for the pretty pictures, and maybe stay for the story. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Week in Comics: Uncanny X-Force #3

Uncanny X-Force came out with one of the biggest boasts in comic history: they're mission is to kill Apocalypse. And from the looks of it, they might actually pull it off. But not if the Final Horsemen have anything to say about it!

Last issue, the team of Wolverine, Archangel, Psylocke, Fantomex and Deadpool got its deck swabbed by Apocalypse's Final Horsemen, some of Apoc's most powerful generals. This week, in Uncanny X-Force #3, it seems like it's the end for our ultraviolent heroes. Riddled with diseases and their minds and bodies continuously being raped by hienously powerful mutants, it's going to take skill, teamwork and a little bit of luck for X-Force to get out of this one.

Uncanny X-Force is shaping up to become one of my favorite new series. It's raw, intense, and with just enough snark and humor to spice it up. I love Rick Remender's idea for the Final Horsemen, the last line of defense for Apocalypse should all other iterations of the Four Horsemen fail. We get to see their origins in this ish, and their powers are simply awesome. Here's hoping they become a thorn in the X-Force's sides in the long run.

I also love how smart this team is. In a far cry from how other writers do superteam dynamics ("You, you and you hit 'em high. Me and him hit 'em low." Every. Single. Time.), Wolvie's team thinks on their feet, drawing up contingency plans, using each member's strengths to finish an objective, instead of just throwing everything they've got on an enemy and hope it's just a sizzling heap when the smoke clears. That's okay once in a while, but it's refreshing to see a team acting like it should: as a team.

Speaking of team, Uncanny X-Force isn't a one-man party. Jerome Opena serves up his grittiest work yet. From Wolverine and Death's disease-filled stand off to the atmosperhic pencils in each panel, the art sets the mood like a good comic should. This is a good looking comic, period. Opena's easily becoming one of my favorite artists.

Uncanny X-Force reads like an awesome violent action movie, and I love every minute of it. When the creative team makes me curse the fact that the next issue is still a month away, you just know this is good stuff. Uncanny X-Force #3 gets a 5 out of 5. Pitch perfect. Pick this up on sight.

First Impressions: DC 75th Heroclix

It's been a while since I've touched anything Heroclix. Wizkids folding and Wizkids being bought by NECA whizzed by, and I missed the boat when they pumped out their Hammer of Thor, Arkham Asylum and Web of Spider-Man expansion sets. So when I saw Wizkids/NECA's latest set celebrating the 75th anniversary of DC Comics, I decided to jump in. The Philippines was pretty lucky to get these waaay ahead of the announced release date of December 16 (much to the chagrin of those on the greener side of the pond), so I got an early taste of Heroclix DC 75th.

I swallowed a bit when I found out that a booster was selling for P600 a pop...Lord knows how much a brick (or a ten-booster pack) costs now. A couple of expansions ago it was like P450 a booster. Wow. Times change. The figures did too. Let's take a look at what I got!

It must have been hard choosing just 60 characters from DC Comics' rich 75-year history, but they've pulled it off. From the obscure to the new, every era is represented, and I love it.

DC expansion sets have always been powerhouses stat and power-wise, and DC 75th is no exception. Some of the new traits, special powers and stats introduced here will be pretty useful to many a gamer. Except for me of course, since I absolutely suck at Heroclix.

The sculpts are as good as they can be at this size. I especially like Osiris' paintjob, and Aquaman here looks badass riding a tentacle into battle.

But then, there's these guys. I dunno, personally I love it when figures for a tabletop miniature game that lets you recreate comic book battles look like they're actually battling instead of standing around waiting for someone to hit them in the solar plexus. Zamaron (the blue girl in purple and pink above) has got to be the laziest sculpt I've ever seen. She's just standing there rigid like she's playing for keeps in a game of 'stop-dance'.

In what's probably a first, Beast Boy gets four figures in this set, one in his normal humanoid mode and three in his animal forms. I got his Bear and Cheetah forms, each with their own powers. And he can swap forms whenever he wants. Cool.

I'll end this post in a funny yet awesome story. I went to Neutral Grounds a few days ago to try my luck again with a DC 75th booster. My girlfriend was with me, so I let her pick out a booster for me. She didn't want to at first for fear of jinxing me, but in the end she picked out a booster.

The first figure I saw inside? Barry Allen, one of my most wanted Super Rares from this set!

Let's just say I owe my girlfriend a lot more than kisses after this!

Those are my first impressions on this auspicious set. I'll try my luck again soon since the selection is pretty interesting. Till then, thanks for reading!

Christmas Countdown 3

This picture isn't gonna end well. Just a feeling. Marie Severin gives us an awesome FF holiday. (1991 Marvel Holiday Special)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Countdown 2

Wolverine delivering presents. All's right with the world! A great piece by Tom Morgan (1993 Marvel Holiday Special)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Countdown

It's gonna be a good Christmas! Jim Lee serves up this awesome 2004 holiday card from DC Comics.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

S.H. Figuarts Masked Rider Faiz Review

I've been a fan of Masked Riders since I saw Masked Rider Black kick monsters in the face when I was a kid. There have been tons of Riders since then, each of them more, shall we say, flamboyant, than the last. But when HERO TV premiered Masked Rider Faiz, that's when I was really hooked.

There was something about his design that clicked for wasn't as busy as, say, Hibiki or Blade, and the tech he used was pretty much down-to-earth. He used a cellphone to transform, for goodness sakes! Also, the hero wasn't some wangsty, mysterious pretty boy. He was scuffy dude who didn't even want anything to do with being a Masked Rider, but he takes the burden anyway, if it means protecting the dreams of others. Because that's what true heroes do.

And so when news came out that Bandai is making an S.H. Figuarts of my favorite Masked Rider, I didn't think twice. When he got to our shores, I snapped him up immediately, hence the review of S.H. Figuarts Masked Rider Faiz I'll be doing today!

SHFiguarts Masked Rider Faiz
Masked Rider Faiz's box is undeniably his, his name emblazoned in red over an all-black box unlike other Figuarts' silver boxes. It really stands out, and it fits the character well. This is a box I'll be taking care of for years.

SHFiguarts Masked Rider Faiz
Out of the box, Masked Rider Faiz lies snug sandwiched in clear plastic. Bandai obviously didn't skimp on accessories, as you can see that almost every weapon and doodad Faiz used in the series is included.

SHFiguarts Masked Rider Faiz
Faiz looks awesome once you get him in your hands. Everything about Faiz is recreated in amazing detail, from the grooves in his eyes to the tiny Rider Gear belt around his waist. Paint apps are clean all around, though my Faiz had some scuffed plastic, and faded metallic paint where the red should be. A red Pentel pen should fix that up, but I really shouldn't have to do that. Still, it's a minor annoyance.

SHFiguarts Masked Rider FaizSHFiguarts Masked Rider Faiz
Bandai used a new, beefier body for Faiz, which I like. As Masked Rider Kabuto helpfully demonstrates for us, Faiz looks bulky and better proportioned when put beside someone like Kabuto, who uses one of the leaner bodies in S.H. Figuarts. Some people might have a beef with that, but I love how Faiz looks like a person actually wearing armor.

SHFiguarts Masked Rider FaizSHFiguarts Masked Rider Faiz
Accessory fans will go nuts over this guy. Faiz has tons of them! He's got a miniature version of his Faiz Phone, which he can use to activate his other weapons, or to simply call his girlfriend and say he'll be home late.

SHFiguarts Masked Rider FaizSHFiguarts Masked Rider Faiz
He also has a Phone Blaster, which is simply his cellphone bent slightly to resemble a handgun. A Phone Blaster with a Faiz Pointer attached is included. Now that's what I call going the extra mile for fans...I don't even remember the Pointer being used that way!

SHFiguarts Masked Rider FaizSHFiguarts Masked Rider FaizSHFiguarts Masked Rider Faiz
Speaking of which, he also has a separate Faiz Pointer that you can peg onto his lower right leg. In the series, he used it to pinpoint an enemy when he's doing his Rider Kicks, making him the first Rider to have horrible aim.

There's also a Faiz Shot, said to be a digicam in the show, which doubles as brass knuckles for his Rider Punch. Now, I don't know what the heck a Kamen Rider needs a digicam for, but for punching people in the face, it works just as well.

SHFiguarts Masked Rider FaizSHFiguarts Masked Rider Faiz
Finally, there's the Faiz Edge, his laser sword. The detail on this baby is amazing, and its perfect for beating up scrawny Riders.

SHFiguarts Masked Rider FaizSHFiguarts Masked Rider Faiz
To top it all off, the front of Faiz's Rider Gear can be swapped out with separate pieces that signify whether he's got the Faiz Phone on or not. It's a very welcome touch that shows how much Bandai strives for accuracy in their figures.

SHFiguarts Masked Rider FaizSHFiguarts Masked Rider Faiz
As you can see, articulation is standard S.H. Figuarts. He can pull off pretty much any Rider-y move you want him to do, and he'll look great doing it. His joints have a great range of motion, though his chest armor restricts how much he can bend down. Despite the fears that Faiz's feet won't be die-cast since he's a new sculpt, it was a welcome surprise that his feet are indeed die-cast, which helps stabilize him a bit.

SHFiguarts Masked Rider FaizSHFiguarts Masked Rider FaizSHFiguarts Masked Rider FaizSHFiguarts Masked Rider Faiz
Considering how much I got him for, Masked Rider Faiz is a steal. Tons of accessories, extra hands, and a great looking figure...what more could you possibly ask for? Masked Rider Faiz is a welcome addition to S.H. Figuarts and is probably Bandai's best Figuarts figure yet. I'm glad my favorite Rider got made, and even more glad to have gotten my hands on him before Christmas!

SHFiguarts Masked Rider FaizSHFiguarts Masked Rider Faiz
Hope you found this review helpful! Comments and suggestions? Hit the comment box below and let me know! Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Week in Comics: Vampirella #1

Ever since I saw Vampirella, I really wanted to get to know her. A sexy vampire alien in a skimpy red thong? What's not to love? Fortunately Dynamite Entertainment gave Vampirella here a new lease on life with Vampirella #1, introducing her to a new generation of fang fans hopped up to the eyeballs on Twilight. But make no mistake...this is no sparkly vampire we're talking about here. She'll rip your throat off and feed it to you. That's how she rolls.

In this issue, Vampirella stalks the night, contemplating on the wickedness of humans while wearing sunglasses in the evening. She's in search of somebody important, and not even a late-night mugging is going to stop her from fulfilling her mission!

You know, there's a good comic in here somewhere, buried underneath the stilted dialogue. Writer Eric Trautmann doesn't seem to know how people normally talk, or maybe he lives in a part of town where two-bit muggers say, "Best be on your way, yeah?". He shines with Vampi's internal monologue, though, showing us her disgust with the evils that humans are capable of while cares enough to save us despite of it.

There are a few gems here and there, and Vampi shines in all of them. This is one badass vampiress, not afraid to break her nails while she breaks jaws and stakes hearts. Wagner Reis' art keeps up with the action well enough, all gritty and bloody just the way Vampirella likes it. I do have an issue with the numerous people flying through the air backwards for no apparent reason. They seem to have been punched or clobbered, but no evidence is shown of it happening.

I'd be remiss not to mention Vampirella's new costume. The covers show her wearing her iconic white-collared red thong suit and black boots. But inside she's gone the way of Wonder Woman, opting for slacks, a red shirt and a trench coat. A textbook bait-and-switch? Who knows. So far I'm okay with her street clothes, but I hope she goes back to her traditional costume down the line.

I really wanted this comic to succeed and give Red Sonja a run for her money, but so-so writing and art let this issue down. This could have been Vampirella's big break, and she should have burst into the comic scene fangs bared. As it is, it's pretty forgettable. This is a 2.5 out of 5.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Behold the Geek! Holiday Gift Guide for Geeks 3

Welcome to another installment of Behold the Geek!'s holiday gift guide for geeks! The holiday season is upon us, and if you're having trouble deciding what geeky gifts to give your friends, family or loved ones then these series of articles is for you.

We've covered geeky shirts and awesome books for gifts, and now let's look at toys! Toys never go out of fashion during the holidays...even grown-up geeks get to play with some! Here are some fun and geeky toy gift ideas for the geeks in your life.

Revenge of the Fallen Optimus Prime Cyber Sword (Toy Kingdom, P1,399.75)

Hear me out on this one, guys. Sure it's a over-sized roleplay sword based off of Optimus Prime's arm blades from the movie, filled with lights and sounds only kids might probably appreciate, but imagine if you will that you bought two of these as a gift for your Christmas exchange gift partner. Now imagine your friend dual-wielding two of these babies and screaming, "I'll take you all on!" as both of you re-enact the awesome forest fight scene from Revenge of the Fallen. Break out your wallets!

Iron Man 2 Mighty Muggs: Mark VI (Toys R Us, P1,199.75)

Mighty Muggs are Hasbro's line of cute vinyl toys with huge heads, Powerpuff Girl hands and lots of attitude. They're great for display and, if you're a dude, is sure to get some conversation going with girls who notice. Which is why you should get someone special this Christmas a Mugg or two. Might I suggest the Iron Man Mark VI from the Iron Man 2 movie toyline? It's the sleek and awesome movie armor design translated into the coolest Mighty Mugg ever!

Angry Birds Plush Toys ($14.99)

Ever played Angry Birds on the iPhone? I have (well, not on my iPhone, but on my office mate's), and I can attest to the strangely addictive yet frustrating feeling of launching mad birds on rickety pigs' houses. Now you can get the Angry Birds fan in your life the chance to own a licensed Angry Birds plush toy! These squishy toys are about 8 inches in height, and come in the different varieties of Angry Birds you see in the game! They're on pre-order here ready to ship by December.

The A-Team Van (Toy Kingdom, P1,000)

B.A. Baracus figure not included!

The A-Team van is one of the most iconic vehicles in pop culture, and now thanks to the recent movie remake of The A-Team, there's now an A-Team toy van available! I thought the movie was freakin' awesome, and you can spread the love by giving your geeky friends a 1:18 scale replica of B.A.'s beloved ride. It's got electronic sounds, a working side door and it fits most 1:18 scale figures (think G.I. Joes) in them. Sounds like a plan!

DC Universe Classics Action Figures (Toys R Us, Toy Kingdom, P1,299.75)

DC Universe Classics are some of the best 6-inch action figures around, with some of the most popular characters (and even the most obscure ones!) from the DC universe getting the DCUC treatment. I know most of us geeks collect action figures already, even DCUC, but you can spread the love by gifting some to people who could use a good action figure to fiddle around with in the office. And hey, Blue Beetle here is in development for a live action treatment, so you can say it's official TV merchandise!

Harry Potter Infrared Battling Wand (ThinkGeek, $22.99)

Just in time to celebrate the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (whew!) comes the Harry Potter Infrared Battling Wand from ThinkGeek. If you know a Harry Potter fan who'd want nothing better than to straight up duel random people on the street with glowing sticks, gift them with these! It's got real lights and sounds and lets you shoot infrared beams at your opponent while you duel, fulfilling people's dreams everywhere. Now there's a toy that does something good for the world!

And that wraps it up for my ideas for great holiday gifts for you and your geeky friends! If you've got other geeky gift ideas, send me a comment and let's talk about it! Now I can't wait for Christmas!

Thanks for reading!

BtG! Holiday Gift Guide: Shirts

BtG! Holiday Gift Guide: Comics/Books

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Week in Comics: November 19, 2010

Artifacts, blades, cowboys, demons and more pervade this week's comics! What have I gotten myself into? Read on to find out!

Marjorie Liu wraps up X-23's Wolverine Goes to Hell tie-in arc in X-23 #3. Laura continues to fight the demon currently possessing Wolverine, and she's going to lose that battle unless she summons the one thing inside her he can't beat!

I love Liu's scripting here. It's very introspective, which I think is a match for X-23. As a former assassin forced to kill, she's trying to find her way to becoming 'human' again, and Liu illustrated it beautifully here. It gets a bit melodramatic at times, but given the context of the story, I think it works. Props to Will Conrad for the killer art, but I especially liked Sana Takeda's work in the flashbacks. I'm a sucker for manga art, and I don't think I've ever seen a prettier X-23 than Takeda's. A good ending to a great starting story arc for X-23. This is a 4 out of 5.

In The Flash #6, Geoff Johns ends his The Dastardly Death of the Rogues story arc with a flourish, as The Flash is finally brought before a futuristic judge for the murder of the future Mirror Monarch, while the dastardly future Top is making sure his future is clean by cleansing the past the hard way!

It's a pretty convoluted set up, what with the Top trying to undo the wrongs of the future by changing the past which is scientifically proven to mess things up (or didn't Back to the Future teach him anything?), but Johns does his best to make it work.That, or he just thought to dazzle us enough with Flash's high-speed antics, which you'll get an eyeful here. All that fast and furious action was handled by Francis Manapul's pencils really well, and the literally sketchy nature of his art is absolutely growing on me. This a great book, and as a whole the arc was more than I could ever hope for in mainstream comic books. This one is an easy 4 out of 5.

Paul Dini hands over the reins to Zatanna to writer Adam Beechen in Zatanna #7, where Zee visits Hollywood to oversee the opening of a museum dedicated to magical paraphernalia from wizards and magicians long gone. Unfortunately for our Princess of Prestidigitation, the magical items gain a mind of its own, and it's dead set on ridding the world of force!

It's a satisfying done-in-one to say the least. Beechen's got Zatanna down pat, though the issue is a bit too wordy for my taste. Zatanna explains almost anything relevant to the plot in liberal detail, something a good flashback panel or two would have done better. But that's just me. There's action aplenty enough to get you interested, with Chad Hardin's art looking as good as ever. I still love all these little adventures, something most comics forget to do. So this one's an easy 3 out of 5.

Top Cow's Artifacts event chugs along with Artifacts #3, as The Darkness, The Witchblade, The Angelus and the Rapture come together to plan their next move. Unfortunately for them, the Big Bad is already amassing his own Artifact-wielders for a final showdown of ultimate destiny!

Again, another easily digested issue from writer Ron Marz. Three issues in and I don't think any newbie should be afraid of picking this up. Readers unfamiliar with the story and its players will find plenty of new information as well as a few exciting possiblities waiting for them on the horizon, while guys like me familiar with Top Cow are treated to an exciting build up to what promises to be an epic showdown. Alliances are formed, there are backstabbings (literally!) aplenty, and you really feel like you gotta find out what's next.

Michael Broussard's art continues to kick ass, although he really needs to work on his sequential storytelling. Panels that need drama, that need pop, simply don't. It kills the illusion and it's a shame, since this is a great book otherwise. While the $3.99 pricepoint for only 20 pages of story still sting, I think it's still worth a shot. I give this a 4 out of 5.

And so we come to The Sixth Gun #6. It's Sinclair, Becky, Billjohn and the residents of the Maw against General Hume's henchmen and the army of the undead! Last man standing wins!

Writer Cullen Bunn and artist Brian Hurtt have really outdone themselves with this issue. It's the ultimate wild west showdown with zombies, animated souls and the full powers of the six magical guns at work. Every twist is satisfying, every scene just builds up the tension until you come to the final face off between Hume and Sinclair, and where it goes from there has got to be read to be enjoyed. The art brings its own share of the weight, if not more. The rain-soaked zombies, the chilling atmosphere, the guns blazing lends the issue an epic feel to it, like you're watching the climax to the greatest western film of all time.

I don't think I've ever read a more satisfying and beautiful ending, or a more satisfying and beautiful storyarc in modern comics than this. I'm seriously geeking out at this stuff. It's that good. And there are more adventures to come? Bring it on! This one's a solid 6 out of 5. Don't waste your time on other comics. Pick this up now. Pick up the first five issues while you're at it. Do it!

Wow! Now that's how you give people a great week in comics, guys! Heck, that's an understatement if I ever wrote one. This is an awesome week in comics! Agree? Disagree? Why aren't you reading The Sixth Gun yet? Drop me a comment below and let's talk about it! That has to be rectified! Thanks for reading.
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