Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon Voyager Megatron Review

You can't put a good man down, but the same can be said about a bad one, and no one is as bad and as tenacious as the live-action movie incarnation of Megatron. The dude's been stabbed in the chest, left to rot in the bottom of the ocean, kicked, punched, shot, sliced open and even took a full-on blast to the face with his own gun. But now he's coming back in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the third and possibly final film in the franchise, and we get a sneak peek of Megatron's new 'look' with this new Voyager-class Megatron toy that I'll be reviewing today!

First off, I love how small and economic the new toyline's boxes are. The previous Voyager-class toys were often in boxes too big for them, but Megatron here is in a box that's just right. Just him in robot mode and his MechTech weapon (I'll come back to that in a bit) in as small a space as they could package them in.

Photos surfaced a couple of months ago of a heavily-armored tanker truck that was seen on set during the filming of Dark of the Moon in Detroit. We now know that the truck is Megatron, and we get an eyeful of his new alt-mode with this toy. Megatron converts into a Mack truck, and it's quite possibly the best-looking alt-mode I've seen in a movieverse figure so far. From the sculpted details to the sharp paint apps all over, it's like a scale model Mack truck, and it looks really good.

It's unfortunate though that due to the sheer length of a real-life tanker truck, Megatron's alt-mode had to be scaled down considerably to accommodate a Voyager-sized robot. Meaning Megatron's alt-mode is noticeably small. Like real small.

Now let's check out movie Megatron in all his glory!

Whoa jeez. Okay. Sorry about that, Megs.

Megatron took a severe beating from Optimus Prime in Revenge of the Fallen, and it seems that in the third film he's conscious of his appearance, both literally and figuratively. He's covered in a tarpaulin cloak to hide the damage to his face and body, and his new alt-mode reflects his new philosophy: hide in plain sight. No more alien tanks or wouldn't know this truck was a Decepticon until it was too late.

Transformation is pretty straightforward, and its ironic that Megatron takes some transformation cues from his nemesis Optimus Prime, who also transforms into a truck! The soft plastic "tarp" that covers the tanker in truck mode becomes his hood and cloak, and he looks really sinister and suspicious with it. The hands that end in those sharp claws just sell the look!

Without the cloak, you get a good disgusted look at Megatron's damaged face. His whole right eye's gone, and he's none too happy. Articulation is surprisingly plentiful, and his joints have a good range of motion. He can go from skulking to scary awesome with ease.

The previous two movie toylines introduced the MechAlive and AutoMorph gimmicks, and the latest technology they'll be using on the new toys is the MechTech weapons system, which is basically weapons that morph into different ones. Part of Megatron's tanker becomes his signature arm blaster, and when you push down on one end it morphs into a awesome-looking Fusion Cannon. A cool gimmick, though you have to hold down on the weapon for it to stay in its cooler-looking Fusion Cannon mode. It would have been nice if you can lock it into place.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is shaping up to be an awesome movie. Transformers: Dark of the Moon's premiere is also a good three months away, so I'm surprised to see the movie's toyline trickling in bit by bit into the market. I'm pretty happy with this new Voyager-class Megatron toy. The robot mode's got a lot of personality, the truck mode looks awesome, and he's got me excited for another helping of a live-action Transformers movie. Which is pretty hard to do!

The Dark of the Moon toyline is yet to be released in the U.S., so I guess my country's pretty lucky. But once it drops, this toy gets a high recommendation from me. If you've got more thoughts on this toy, let me know by dropping me a line in the comments box below! Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Most Awesome X-Men Cartoon Intro Monday

I'll assume you remember the old 90's X-Men cartoon. But even if you don't, it doesn't matter, because you'll still need new pants after seeing the most awesome X-Men cartoon intro you'll ever see in your life.

That, my fellow geeks, is the intro used in Japan for the X-Men cartoon, and I don't know whether to feel sorry for the Japanese for mistaking the rest of the cartoon's quality with the intro, or to feel sorry for the rest of us for missing out on a time and place where Magneto summons the Brood from the bowels of Hell to attack the X-Men.

Enjoy your Monday!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sucker Punch Movie Review

On the surface, Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch is the ultimate guy flick: it's got hot chicks in skimpy outfits wielding high-powered rifles, and its protagonist Baby Doll is dressed up as a prepubescent schoolgirl fantasy. But as you go deeper into the film, it dawns on you that you have never seen a film quite like this.

After her mother dies and being left in the care of her abusive stepfather, Baby Doll (played with deadpan innocence by Emily Browning) is sent to a mental institution for accidentally killing her sister. In five days she will be lobotomized, and so she uses her dreams and imagination to escape her inevitable reality. There she draws up a desperate plan to escape. Helping her are the other female patients of the hospital: the spunky Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), the sweet Amber (Jamie Chung), action-girl Rocket (Jena Malone) and the reluctant Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), all of whom in Baby Doll's mind become badass soldiers in the war for their freedom.

Most of the film's plot hinges on the events that happen in Baby Doll's vivid imagination, and so we're treated to some really stunning visuals. This is the Rule of Cool ramped up to 11, where girls in mecha suits fight zeppelins, and a katana-wielding schoolgirl throws down with minigun-toting samurai. Once action sequence in particular, where the girls lay siege to a moving train full of killer robots, is a dizzying yet insanely awesome display of bullet time, gun-kata, extreme close-ups and Snyder's patented "slow down then speed up" technique all at the same time. If something's worth doing, it's worth overdoing, and Snyder gets absolutely high marks on following that mantra alone. We were all WTFing on ever single action scene, and if we were paying to watch all that stylized violence, this film is considered a steal.

But as the film juggles between Baby Doll's reality and the fantastic worlds her mind makes up, the story gets even more incoherent. The lines between fantasy and reality are blurred, and we're left to wonder where it's all happening. The movie boasts of female empowerment, but the girls are ultimately powerless. Evil practically gets away with it, while the good is left to suffer the consequences. As the atrocities in the hospital grow worse with the abuse heaped on them by the slimy warden Mr. Blue (Oscar Isaac in a frighteningly over-the-top performance), you're hoping, cheering for the girls' escape plan to work. But things grow bleaker and bleaker until the film just saps the hope out of you , and in the end you're too tired to really care.

In the end, the only thing Snyder promised that came true is the movie's tagline: you will be unprepared. This movie is a literal sucker punch to every preconceived notion on what a film that looks and feels like this should work. In this case, it doesn't. Watch the movie for the girls in chaps and miniskirts kicking metric tons of ass, and hope it dulls you enough to forget the rest of it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Week in Comics: March 25, 2011

It's Friday, which means its time for the most verbose comic reviews around! What have I gotten myself into this week? Read on to find out!

Rick Remender's gone Deathlok-crazy in Uncanny X-Force #6, as Fantomex and Deathlok kick loads of cyborg zombie ass while finding a way to rescue the World from their (literally) cold, dead hands!

It's a good thing I appreciate some good old-fashioned comic book fisticuffs, because this issue is basically an excuse to show Fantomex beating the living hell out of Deathlok'd versions of Marvel's heroes for a good half of the book, adding to the list of awesome Fantomex moments to date. Sure we also get some small but important character moments from Psylocke, Deadpool and others, as well as some backstory as to why there are Deathlok clones running around in the first place, but that's just the icing on one delicious cake. Add Esad Ribic's dynamic fight scenes and some of the most creative Deathlok designs I've seen (Swiss-knife Wolverine, anyone?) and you get a book that's worthy of a 4 out of 5.

Ten issues in, and The Sixth Gun is still bringing the awesome into my week. I'm still mad at missing issue 9, but The Sixth Gun #10 is just as enjoyable with or without it, which speaks volumes at just how damn well written it is. As multiple forces seek the Six cursed guns for their own ends, Drake Sinclair is in a race to find Becky before a sinister and otherworldly creature finds them first!

I really loved this issue, especially how Cullen Bunn is building up the Six as a threat bigger than anyone can ever imagine. His dialogue is as always compelling and real, and you really feel for Becky as she comes to grips with Hale's betrayal. No lengthy exposition here, no TL;DR, it's Bunn letting the characters tell the story for him, letting them say what needs to be said.

The art is also top-notch, with Brian Hurtt just knocking it out of the park with the details, the visual cues, and the entire setting of The Sixth Gun. He can draw anything, from smoky apparitions to frightening beasts to entire blocks of old-school New Orleans. Together with Bunn's storytelling, makes this book a steal at $4/Php200.

Bottom line is, if you haven't been picking this book up, you are seriously missing out on what is undoubtedly the best-written comic around. This gets a 4 out of 5.

Wow. Two of my favorite books continuing to be awesome. It's a good week! As I hope your week in comics is too!

Comments? Violent reactions? Want to say sorry for not reading The Sixth Gun yet? Leave me a comment below and let's talk about it. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Transformers: Generations Wheeljack Review

It's probably the dream of any modern Transformers collector: to own the complete roster of the first bots who appeared in the 1984 cartoon. The Transformers Classics and Universe lines helped the dream along with awesomely updated G1-inspired designs. We had almost everyone...until the movie came along and the lines came to a halt, and the collection along with it.

Now Hasbro is throwing fans the biggest bone ever with Transformers: Generations and Transformers: Reveal the Shield, two toy lines that will continue where Hasbro left off, giving fans the much-needed upgrades of the remaining original G1 bots like Perceptor (!), Jazz (!!) and of course, the Autobots' resident mad scientist, Wheeljack.

In the G1 cartoon, Wheeljack was the crackpot inventor. Even the sturdiest circuits shake in their housings the moment they hear Wheeljack say, "Say, that gives me an idea...". I mean, we're talking about the guy who thought it was a good idea to build the Dinobots and use their primitive dinosaur brain patterns as basis for their programming...yeah, that didn't end well.

Wheeljack's original toy was a Lancia Stratos Turbo, but today he's a white sports car of unknown make, and a retool of Reveal the Shield Tracks. The car looks absolutely cool, and the painted details are just sharp. They even painted the tail lights red! How considerate of you, Hasbro!

I especially like the type of white plastic they used here, as compared to Autobot Drift's dirty-white opaque plastic. The white is more robust, which makes all the details pop!

Wheeljack's conversion involves pulling a lot of things apart, which is frustrating on your first try. But when you're done, you're left with a bot mode that pays homage to the G1 toy and also updates it for the modern times. Look at that headsculpt and tell me that ain't Wheeljack!

If there's anything I could fault his bot mode, it's that it's wide when he should be tall. Wheeljack's only a smidge taller than Autobot Hound. Special Ops Jazz towers over him. It must be karma.

Anyway, articulation is plentiful on Wheeljack, and he can pull off a majority of poses with ease. His HUGE feet give him amazing balance for someone so top heavy, giving him the ability to drop inept Decepticons with a convincing side kick!

Finally, Wheeljack gets some cool accessories to build his inventor cred. He gets two silver wrenches (retooled from Tracks' missiles) that he can use to either tinker with stuff (!) or dismantle Decepticon faces without the benefit of anesthetics. He also gets his trusty rocket launcher, which you can clip into his shoulder to further drive the G1-inspired design home.

All in all, Wheeljack is a long-awaited and much-welcomed update for the Autobot inventor. Wicked alt mode, a G1-faithful bot mode, and accessories everywhere. The Autobots had to wait a while, but now Wheeljack's here, and he's here to stay.

I got Wheeljack at a toy launch during the weekend, and toy reps say he'll be hitting the shelves next week. With Wheeljack being a fan-favorite that just got an updated G1-inspired toy, you better grab one when you see one. Worth every centavo.

I hope you enjoyed this review. If you got something more to say about the toy, drop me a line via the comments box below and let's talk about it. Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Week in Comics: Artifacts #6

For months, Top Cow has been laying the groundwork piece by piece for Artifacts, their sprawling mega-crossover event. You've met the players, you've seen how all the pieces fit, and here in Artifacts #6, you'll be seeing them punch each other senseless. As its supposed to be.

Last issue, Aphrodite convinced Cyberforce that the Artifact bearers are plotting to destroy the world, and promptly led the supergroup to Sara Pezzini and Co.'s doorstep. In the latest issue, this leads to one of the biggest smackdowns this event has seen yet, as both teams engage in a time-honored comic book tradition of fighting over a misunderstanding before teaming up! But with the discovery of the Thirteenth Artifact, what's in store for everyone involved?

Event architect Ron Marz is letting readers tread a little deeper into the Top Cow universe with this ish with the introduction of Cyberforce, the Thirteenth Artifact and the mysterious Big Bad. Artifacts has boasted of its newbie-friendly nature, where anyone who hasn't picked up a Top Cow book can jump in without feeling like they're late for the party. Here Marz lets loose a little and gives us a taste of the greater Top Cow experience. It almost makes you forget that most of this issue is just an extended fight scene.

Whilce Portacio continues art duties here, and he does it well enough. I do take issue with how rougher and scratchier his art has become in this particular book. It doesn't help that Joe Weems' inks doesn't give enough weight to Whilce's line art, which makes following the action all that much harder. It takes 'grim and gritty' to a whole new level!

Art issues aside, Artifacts #6 at least gave us a big enough payoff, and topped it off with some much-needed action. Six issues in and we're ready to see the story progress to what it's meant to become. This issue has kept me interested, which means it did its job. This gets a 3.5 out of 5.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thor Costume Cards Revealed!

TraderCracks just released a gallery of Upper Deck's contribution to the Thor movie merchandise machine: Thor Costume Cards, which are basically cards attached with pieces of the costumes the actors wore in the movie!

Yes, folks. Soon you can own a piece of Thor's cape, Loki's sleeves, and more!

Questions of authenticity aside, there's just something both weird and wonderful about the fact that thrown in with all these pieces of memorabilia from Norse gods is a piece of Jane Foster's jeans.

The jeans of course were worn by the ridiculously beautiful Natalie Portman, the fact which I'm sure will raise all sorts of questions that I'll let the men in the audience answer for themselves.

Check out the rest of the gallery here.

What do you think of these Costume Cards? Any movies you wish got the Costume Card treatment? Let's talk!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Webcomics I Love: Three Word Phrase

We're gonna fill up this Wednesday's Webcomic I Love with something light. Namely, Three Word Phrase (!

Three Word Phrase is a gag strip comic by Ryan Pequin that's totally inane and a good way. I dunno, I'm probably the last person you'd think would have a sensitive funny bone but I've been busting a gut with some of the stuff in here. Beware the fighting bros and that one dad on fire!

Three Word Phrase. Good stuff. Get to clickin' now!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Sorry for the lack of meaningful content these past few days. The comics aren't coming in, and real-life work is taking its toll on me. Rest assured I'll be posting more stuff here in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, let's check out some of the news coming in!

So you won't be seeing a Sandman TV series anytime soon, "for a lot of varying reasons". I dig Sandman and while I'm excited to see this series adapted into TV, it may be just as well, as a Sandman TV show would highly benefit from TVs broadcasting in four dimensions, which unfortunately hasn't been invented yet.

HeroClix's latest expansion, Giant Size X-Men, comes out on March 16, which is tomorrow! Oh happy day! I've been looking at the previews for a while now and everything is just bitchin', especially this wicked-looking Magneto! It almost makes me want to play again. Almost.

Man, Mars Needs Moms must suck so damn hard, because now that Yellow Submarine remake by Robert Zemeckis might not be made! But the question lingering in my mind is: who wants a Yellow Submarine remake?

There's no such thing as too many screenshots of Sucker Punch, so here's 45 more!

On a more BtG!-related note, during a bout of hunger-induced craziness, I've bought myself a sketchpad. Which means I'm drawing again! For those who don't know, before I knew my way with words, I was an artist first. I'm thinking of posting some stuff I'll be drawing soon. Surgeon General's warning: I suck.

So, how's your year so far?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Top 5 Comics Creators with Crazy Former Jobs

Comic book creators are often comic book people their entire lives, picking up a pencil at an early age, going to some fancy art school and landing that golden comic book gig as a happy ending. But there are others who didn't get the 'Go straight to comic books' card, often working in other professions before breaking into comics.

This week, we look at five comics creators who, before getting into comics, were making a living in lines of work so crazy, you'd wonder why they landed in comics in the first place! We're counting them down so you won't have to!

5. Khoi Pham

Current occupation: Comic book artist for Marvel
Former occupation: Attorney

Khoi Pham made waves when he became one of Marvel's Young Guns of 2009, the next generation of talented Marvel artists. He was the artist for the critically acclaimed Incredible Hercules, took over Frank Cho's art duties in Mighty Avengers, and was trusted enough by Marvel to draw one of their big event comics, Chaos War. A lot of pressure for a dude like Khoi Pham, but compared to his former job, the pressure to meet deadlines in comics is small fry.

You see, before entering the world of comics, Pham was a full-time trial lawyer with a degree in law from the University of Pennsylvania!

"[I] was working full time as an attorney—trying homicide cases and all sorts of crazy things," Pham says during an interview for Marvel. No one knows what he means by 'crazy things', but I bet it involved drunken vagrants and women of easy virtue.

4. Mark Bagley

Current occupation: The definitive Spider-Man artist
Former occupation: Spy

During interviews and appearances, Mark Bagley looks like a pretty mellow guy, always smiling. The sort of cool uncle you wish you had. But what few know is that under that smile lies a dangerous secret...

Well, okay, maybe not that dangerous. In May 1994, during one of Marvel's Bullpen Bulletins (I kinda miss those), Bagley admits, "From '75 to '78 I was a Cryptographic Traffic Analyst for the army. I spent a year in Korea. I had top secret security clearance. If I told you any more, I'd have to kill you!"

Judging from his last comment, we're inclined to believe him. Good thing he's on the right side of good, churning out page after page of art as one of the most reliable comic book artists around and holding the record for the longest continuous run of any art team in mainstream comics today, with the sort of discipline you can only get from deciphering complex coded missives for the army.

3. Larry Hama

Current occupation: Comic book writer
Former occupation: Military Engineer

Larry Hama is well known as having fleshed out the technology and backstory of this little phenomenon in the 80's called G.I. Joe. He wrote most of the 155 issues of G.I. Joe's tie-in comic, and even wrote most of the file cards the 1:18th scale figures came with. G.I. Joe featured some of the most realistic portrayals of military tactics and procedure in comics, which Hama didn't just pull out of thin air.

Because before getting involved with G.I. Joe, Hama was up to his knees in the rice paddies of Vietnam as a member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers!

That's right, 80's G.I. Joe owe their realistic military know-how to Larry Hama's experience as a real-life military man. And while the fact in and of itself is awesome, what's completely mind-blowing is that his expertise in the military was in firearms and explosive ordinance, which makes him one of the very, very, very few people in comics who know a thing or two about the many uses of C4.

2. Jim Balent

Current occupation: Comic book artist/writer for Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose
Former occupation: Gravedigger

Jim Balent caught people's attention when he was tapped to draw Catwoman in 1993, turning the slinky feline-themed criminal into this bouncy bombshell of a cat burglar. But before dipping into the comic book biz, he was dipping shovels into the dead soil as a gravedigger!

If anecdotes are to be believed, Jim Balent, he of the Tarot series from Broadsword Comics, was a former gravedigger before breaking into the comic book business. Wizard mentioned this little tidbit in their Wizard #2000 issue, and no less than Chris Sims himself mentioned Balent's gravedigging days in one of his blog posts. One wonders what made Jim decide to get into comics after such gruesome work, but I guess...*puts on sunglasses*...he just didn't dig it.

1. Jim Steranko

Current occupation: comic book artist/writer, graphic designer
Former occupation: Escape artist

And now we come to Jim Steranko, whose psychedelic art in Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. made it one of the most popular runs of the era. Steranko ranks number one on our list, and for good reason. Because while some guys were working 9-5 desk jobs while waiting for their big break in comics, Jim was busy getting out of straight jackets and heavy metal an escape artist!

Escapology (the art of escaping from restraints and traps) ranks right up there with razor-wire tightrope walking and sticking your head in a hungry lion's maw as dangerously awesome jobs...and Steranko was right in the thick of it, working in circuses and carnivals as the resident fire eater and escape artist. He was so good at it, he even wrote a thesis in Genii magazine on escape artistry, which up to now is still considered the best thesis on escapology ever.

And the best part? He was sent to prison several times while barely in his teens...and he  used his escape artistry to break out almost every time. Like a boss.

And those are the top comic creators with crazy former jobs, giving us hope that no matter what we do in life, we still have a shot getting into comics! Agree? Disagree? Know of any other comic book creators with weird and wild former jobs? Leave me a comment below and let's talk about it! Thanks for reading!
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