Friday, December 30, 2011

Mini-Reviews: War Horse, The Muppets, Limitless

We’re coming up on January which means that we’re approaching three things relevant to this blog: 1) My Top Ten Movie list, 2) The Academy Award nominations and, of course, 3) Beta is Dead’s Second Year Anniversary. On top of that I have an extremely specific film in mind for my first review of 2012, yet I had wanted to write a few more before then. It seemed like a good time to play catch-up so I decided to do another round of Mini-Reviews and do a few of movies I’ve been meaning to do but haven’t been able to.

Like last time this will be shorter and more to the point, lacking the rant elements of my normal review. Less funny: perhaps. More likely to result in me being looked at a serious reviewer: Maybe. And in the end that’s what’s important: the recognition and praise of total strangers.

Today I’m reviewing Limitless, The Muppets, and War Horse. Click below to check them out.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

I in fact watched original film adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo last year with the intention of reviewing it for this blog but for whatever reason I never got around to it. With the Hollywood “remake” looming I planned on re-watching the film this past summer and reviewing it then but again I didn’t get around to it. So, kind of out of nowhere, the new film was suddenly out in theaters and I still hadn’t reviewed its predecessor. Sometimes you just have to say “I’m beat” and move on.

So anyway this flick, like the 2009 version, is based on the best selling Swedish novel of the same name (Though technically in Sweden its original name translates to “Men Who Hate Women”, which is a depressingly accurate title) by Stieg Larsson, the first book of the Millennium Series. Apparently when he was 15 years old Larsson saw a young woman being gang raped. The scene haunted him for decades and he never forgave himself for not helping her. This led him to write these books, which deal heavily with the theme of sexual violence against women and the deserved backlash towards the men who committed them. The books are international sensations and so movies were inevitable. The three books were all turned into films in Sweden and the movie we are reviewing today is the first attempt on Hollywood to get a piece of that sweet, sweet Dragon Tattoo cake.

God help us all.

Okay, so this film is directed by David Fincher who also directed my favorite movie Fight Club as well as one of my favorite films of 2010 The Social Network, both also based on books. So, in theory, this flick has a decent chance of not completely sucking despite Hollywood’s seemingly unending goal of ruining everything that is good and pure on planet Earth. If you recall in my review of the Social Network I very briefly mention that Rooney Mara had been cast in the lead role and that I was unhappy with that decision. Well...

Find out more after the jump.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Housekeeping: KZOO Music Scene and SMCS Podcasts

Happy Holidays, everyone. And, in case I don’t get to post before then, Merry Christmas. I again apologize for the severe lack of updates throughout November and December. As I said before I was working on, and failing to complete, a novel for National Novel Writing Month. I’m hoping to get back in the swing of updating more often; I’ve said several times in the past that I want to dedicate more of my life to this blog and the best way to do that is to keep writing after all. 

But today I want to get some housekeeping stuff out of the way as there are a few outstanding issues I wanted to make you aware of. 

Number one is that earlier this year I was hired as a featured writer for KZOO Music Scene, a local music website. However within the last month I was promoted to Head Writer and thus I now oversee a staff. I mention this because if you’d like to see something written by me that’s not inherently nerdy go check the website out. My articles are listed as being written by some guy named “Jason S. Leverett.” Also you can find profiles on a bunch of local Kalamazoo bands and also other Michigan bands as well so if you’re a music lover it’s a cool site to check out even if you actually hate my writing style (But if you did then why are you here?). 

Number two: I’m happy to announce that the Saturday Morning Cartoon Show Podcast is back! Long time readers will note that I periodically do a companion blog for the weekly radio show I co-host in Kalamazoo and the resulting podcast. Since this past summer, through no fault of my own, they stopped uploading. Happily they’ve begun again, though they’re not in order and there’s a ton of them missing. Still there’s Life with Louie, Eureka’s Castle, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and others so there’s still some good stuff to find. Click here for the link. Remember: click the “RSS feeds” tab once you find the SMCS archives for the new entries. 

Those are the two important things but since I’m doing all this self-promotion anyway I’d like to remind you all that I’m in a band. That band has a new page full of music you can check out. Click here if interested. Again Happy Holidays, everyone. I’m hoping to get a several reviews out of the course of the next week. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nerd Rage #9b: More Superhero Marriages

Oh no!  I suddenly can't relate to Spider-Man anymore!
Everyone knows young people NEVER get married!!!!
Last time we talked about Superhero Marriage and I plan on continuing that today.  It was going to be one long blog but the length was getting out of control, thus the need for breaking it up.   If haven’t checked it out yesterday’s post d so by clicking here.  So far we’ve discussed the relationships that ended for one reason or another but for this blog we’ll look into those that have managed to last.

Happily Ever Afters will be found below.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Nerd Rage #9a: Superhero Marriage (150th Blog)

I deeply apologize for the lack of updates in November.   I kind of let things get away from me there.  Long story short I was participating in (And failing at) National Novel Writing Month and whatever writing I did last month I did for that.  Then I was kind of burnt out from writing.  Also I got a writing job for Kzoo Music Scene and I have been a bit busy with that as well (But I’ll properly plug that later this week).  Then again I didn’t get any comments or e-mails asking about where I was so I’ll go ahead and assume you guys weren’t all that worried.

Anywho if you have in fact been eagerly anticipating the 150th blog of Beta is Dead your dreams have finally come true.  Today, as with pretty much all the major and minor milestones I celebrate here, we’ll be talking about comic books; especially the topic of Superhero Marriages.

How long before DC tries to have another "Wedding of the Century" stunt?
If you read my 100th (And 99th) blog you’ll recall that I was particularly bothered by Marvel Comics' decision to retcon the marriage of Spider-Man and his long, long time love interest Mary Jane Watson.   While I had several reasons for my distaste one of the bigger cons I had for it was the reasoning behind why it needed to be erased in the first place.  Now at the time I didn't think too much of it, aside for my overall disapproval towards Spider-Man comics that continues to this day, but recently I've started wondering if comic book creators have something against their characters being married.  Now superheroes have be through divorces in the past and certainly wives and husbands have died off before as well but in one of the more frustrating aspects of the DCnU reboot this past fall has been that DC Comics have removed several established marriages in the hero community.  This was no doubt an attempt, or maybe even simply a “side effect”, on their part to re-establish their characters as being younger (And probably “hipper” since as we learned from Spider-Man no superhero can be “cool” and “married”, yuck-yuck-yuck). So the current Flash The False, well established grandfather Barry Allen, is no longer married to Iris West (Whom he married decades ago), Superman and Lois Lane have reverted back to the Silver Age of Comics where she somehow had been too stupid to figure out that guy she knows in the glasses is also the Man in Steel, and Wally West (The One True Flash) and Linda Park…well I’m not even sure Wally still exists in this new continuity, let alone his two children who have surely been erased.

This has made me think: traditionally how have superhero comics (Particular Marvel and DC since they both seem to be tied to traditional much more than small imprints like, say, Image Comics) treated holy matrimony and do writers seem to actively prefer single heroes.  I don’t have the answer to that.   But I thought I would talk about superhero marriages in general.

The sanctity of marriage is challenged after the jump.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review: The Three Musketeers (2011)

Okay Hollywood, listen up: calm down with all the goddamn remakes and reboots for a while.  Please.  How many times are we going to make films based on The Three Musketeers?  This will be the third one released in my lifetime and I’m getting a little sick of it.  Regardless here we are today not unlike last year with the Robin Hood film by Ridley Scott.  That film was pretty damn mediocre at best and Scott is a really good director.   This film was directed by Paul W. Anderson whose film list includes the Resident Evil movies, the first Mortal Kombat movie, and the Death Race remake.  If that doesn’t sound alike the resume of a director you’d expect to be making an adventure film based on a literary classic you’re not alone. 

For what I assume is a very, very small minority of you currently reading this blog this film is based on the first and most famous book in the d'Artagnan Romances series written by Alexndre Dumas, a fictional account of the life d’Artagnan.  As far as I can tell this film differs from most of its predecessors in that it’s an unrepentant action film.  To put it simply this is a 21st Century action film based on a 19th Century historical novel (Set in the 17th Century).  And since by “21st Century Action Film” I mean “Copied from Zack Snyder’s 300” you can begin to see why I had doubts going into this movie. 

Full review below.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Anime Review: Murder Princess

Is there a cooler name for an anime than Murder Princess?  I have seen my fair share of anime with badass titles: Darker than Black, Soul Eater, Princess Nine (Shut up! I like what I like!).  However Murder Princess tops them all!  It’s so out there and invokes a lot interesting images just by hearing it.   I’ve been hoping to watch this anime for a long, long time based solely on the name.  Yeah, yeah; I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover or whatever but have you seen that title?   It’s awesome!

Based on a two volume manga by Sekihiko Inui Murder Princess was adapted into an anime in 2007 by Marvelous Entertainment and Bee Train…Bee Train of course being the company responsible for El Cazador de le Bruja.  You know, that anime I hated because it was as boring as the day is long.  In fact Murder Princess came out right before that atrocity series.   Honestly this show seems to share some thematic similarities with the Triple G Trilogy (That’s “Gay Girls w/ Guns Trilogy” for you newcomers) in that it stars two women, one of whom is a trained killer, and that they share a strong bond.  Apparently this show is considered a Yuri anime (i.e. “Girls’ Love”) by some sources but honestly it’s mostly ambiguous at best and I wouldn’t put too much stock in it were I you.  Anyway it was licensed by FUNimation Entertainment in 2008.

Also this anime is an OVA or Original Video Animation and thus only six episodes long.   As I’m pretty sure this is my first time reviewing an OVA I’ll briefly talk about a bit about them. OVAs are straight to video (Or DVD nowadays) anime.  Which isn’t at all uncommon here in North America, of course, but we don’t usually think very highly of such releases as they tend to a bit on the cheap-ass side of things.   However in Japan OVAs are much more popular and tend to have higher budgets and better production quality than their television counterparts likely due to its (Usually) short episode count and longer production time per episodes (Which can in some cases can last years between releases).

Full review after the jump.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Review: 50/50

I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt!  I’ve been a fan of his since 3rd Rock from the Sun but it was actually with the awful film GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra did I start to realize that he can pretty much play any role given to him.  Along with a choice few others I feel that he is the future of Hollywood.  Since 500 Days of Summer America has finally taken notice of JGL and he’s been getting a lot of big roles lately.  His most recent film is 50/50 and I’m letting it be known right now; if it’s got JGL in it I’m going to try to watch it.  Next year he’ll star in a bike messenger film that looks kind of freaking ridiculous but I’m fairly sure I’ll be there opening weekend nonetheless. 

Directed by Jonathan Levine this film is loosely based on screen writer Will Reiser’s own real life battle with cancer.  As a point of trivia Reiser is very good friends in real life with comedic actor Seth Rogen who pretty much plays a fictional version of himself in this movie.  Rogen also acts as a producer because that’s kind of his thing now, I suppose.  Last time I reviewed a Rogen-related film it ended poorly but does the inclusion of JGL do anything to soften the blow?

Click below for the full review.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Anime Review: Highschool of the Dead

We’ve talked a lot about comic books the last few months.  So let’s take a break (At least until, oh I don’t know, four blogs from this one) and focus and something else for a bit.   How about some anime?

 Highschool of the Dead, or simply H.O.T.D., is an 12 episode anime series based on a still as of this writing ongoing manga by brothers Daisuke Satō (Writer) and Shōji Satō (Artist).  It was aired in 2010 and produced by Madhouse, the studio responsible for many noteworthy works including Trigun, Ninja Scroll, Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad, Nana, Monster and the recent string of Marvel Anime that has been popping out the last year.  Now I’m somewhat cheating here because I have seen this anime in its entirety before re-watching for this review.  It was last fall; I was watching around the same time I was watching Black Blood Brothers.  I was going to review it then but I realized that it had just been licensed by Sentai FIlmworks and scheduled for a 2011 release so decided I would wait until it was commercially, and legally, available to everyone before I advertised it here.  The title of the series is probably pretty self-explanatory; this is a horror/zombie drama starring Japanese high school kids, which I assume makes half of you roll your eyes and possibly the pique the other half’s interest.  To set the tone of this review I must let you know that the manga version o this work was named one of the Top Five Worst Manga at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.  So obviously we’re off to a good start. 

Full review after the jump.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Review: X-Men - Schism #5

This is it: the final issue of X-Men: Schism.  I have to say I when I first heard about this comic I was really excited about the prospect of the X-Men being put at odds with each other mainly because I thought it be neat to see the an X-Man versus X-Man scenario.  However this miniseries disappoints on every level.  Mostly.   But I’m getting a head of myself.  So far I have been underwhelmed for three issues and then in the last one I actively became kind of angry over the writing.  If you haven’t done so yet check out those reviews: Issue #1, Issue #2, Issue #3, and Issue #4.

X-Men: Schism #5 was written by Jason Aaron with art by Adam Kubert on pencils, Mark Roslan on [Digital] Inks, and Jason Kith on Colors.  X-Men: Regenesis #1 has already come out by this point and I have indeed read it.  Soon the “new” X-Men books will be coming out and the new status quo for the team will begin.  Of course, as with this comic, this new direction seems considerably less interesting now that it’s here than it did when it was announced.

Full review after the jump.

[Warning: Tons of spoilers ahead]

Friday, October 14, 2011

Nerd Rage #8: Final Thoughts On the Intitial DCnU

The DCnU does its best to remind you that Aquaman is awesome
We were solidly in Month Two of the Great DC Reboot of 2011.  When I first herd about this big company spanning relaunch I was upset and extremely skeptical, but now after having read a number of the new titles…well, I’m still upset.  Yes I admit that I have read some good comics and I know that there are several comics I didn’t read that have been critical successes as well.   However I still feel like there are a lot of problems with this whole stunt, and it is a stunt.   As of right now I’m sure DC Comics doesn’t care too much about whatever is being said in general (Like, if DC were to read this bog they probably wouldn’t take it any mind) because the bottom line is they killed in sales in the month of September.  Of the top twenty spots seventeen were DCnU books, including all of the top five.  Compare this to Augusts’ sales where things were much more evenly distributed (But Justice League #1 was still the top seller).  Even if a million people went on the internet to declare their hatred of the comics good sales would keep DC motivated to make more of the same.  They’re a business and that’s what businesses do.  Even so these numbers are still in the short term.   Before the new comics came out none of us really knew which ones would be good and which ones would be crap so I imagine most of us just bought what looked good and seemed to gel with our sensibilities.  Not every comic in the top twenty was really all that great after all.  It will be interesting to see what the coming months will tell for DC and whether they can keep this momentum up now that fans have a better idea where to put their money.

Also I’d like to point out that Batgirl #1, Batwoman #1 and Wonder Woman #1, three books I gave positive reviews of, all made it to the Top 20 while Red Hood and the Outlaws #1, which I hated, did not.  I feel somewhat vindicated.

In any event today I want look at the new DCU and discus a bit more on what changed and speculate if it’s good or bad.

More rants after the jump.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Review: X-Men - Schism #4

So I said the next time I would review an X-Men: Schism comic it would be Generation: Hope #10.  That was the intention but to be perfectly honest the Schism Checklist may have overestimated that book’s importance.  Basically it’s the events leading up to Idie saving the lives of the civilians at the Mutant History Museum from her point of view.  It’s supposed to, I guess, give us a look at the type of person she is (Which guess is a “Debbie Downer”) but not only do I still not really care about the character but the issue itself has none impact on the storyline as a whole.  But if you want a Panda Score it would have probably been 3 out of 5, neither good nor bad.  Let’s move on.  For reference you might want to check out parts One, Two and Three

This issue is again written by Jason Aaron with art from Alan Davis (Penciler), Mark Farmer (Inker), and Jason Keith (Colorist).  We’re now at the “Make or Break” portion of the comic.  So far this comic has been a combination of silly and dull but has slid by with an average score thus far.  Will it continue to disappoint or will Aaron pull out an awesome story from an otherwise mediocre one? 

Full review after the jump.

[Warning: Lots of spoilers here. You’ve been warned]

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mini-Reviews: Captain Atom, Teen Titans, Firestorm, Stormwatch

As I mentioned in the last blog I wanted to catch up with all my missed posts from the past few days.  The easiest way to do so was to write them all at once but in an abridged form.  I’ve wanted to try doing Mini-Reviews for a while now but haven’t gotten around to it.   This seems like a good time to try it though.  So these reviews will be much shorter than normal and lack a lot of the more “rant” elements my reviews tend to have, nor will they have the huge amount of information ad background I usually give; just my thoughts on what I read and what I liked and disliked.

So the reviews I’ll be doing today are Captain Atom #1, Teen Titans #1, Stormwatch #1, and The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #1.   Check them out after the jump.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Review: Wonder Woman #1 (2011)

If you don’t think Wonder Woman is a badass then you and I have nothing to talk about!

Assuming you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know that I am very partial to strong women, especially when they are the main characters.  And as far as superhero comic books go they don’t come stronger than Diana.   One of the most iconic and recognizable women in not only comic books but in American pop culture Wonder Woman is one of DC Comics’ famed “Trinity”, alongside Batman and Superman, who are considered the company’s top heroes not only in real life but within the fiction as well as they typically seen as the example for other heroes to aspire to.  In theory.  Unlike Bats and Supes Diana hasn’t traditionally been a heavy seller.  While Superman usually stars in at least two ongoing titles a month and Batman in about seventy-nine Wonder Woman struggles with just one and has been canceled more than once because of that.  As a result DC has on numerous occasions tried to reboot and revamp the character in order to attract readers, most of them unsuccessful and sometimes laughably so (Remember that period when Wonder Woman had no super power, learned martial arts and ran a goddamned boutique?).  The most recent example of this was literally just over a year ago in Wonder Woman #601, under our old friend J. Michael Straczynski, when her entire origin and history was thrown out (Possibly only temporally, though I don’t think it was ever truly resolved) but more importantly her classic costume was replaced with a more “modern” and “hipper” (Though ironically not original) look with pants and a jacket.  There was HUGE media buzz over this; you almost certainly saw the images!

Wonder Woman Reboot #475
So OF COURSE a year after the most recent disappointing reboot of Wonder Woman DC has opted to reboot her AGAIN.  At this point it’s clear a lot of people don’t really care about Diana that much these days, especially with the recent surge of popularity Green Lantern has over the past few years.  However I maintain that at her core Wonder Woman is a fantastic character but she suffers from all these “Bold New Directions” and a string of writers who clearly have no idea how to write for the character.  The number of writers to have successfully “gotten her” and how to do so have been few and far between and as a result Diana is probably the most inconsistently written character DC has.

So here we are again: Another Wonder Woman #1 (Titled “The Visitation") and I have no idea how many of those there have been (639?). However this issue is written by Brian Azzarello, famed writer of 100 Bullets.   It is also being drawn by Cliff Chiang whom I’m less familiar with but on the other hand he’s impressed me after listening to some podcast interviews with him.  In theory this could be a recipe for brilliance.  In theory.

Full review after the jump.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review: Blue Beetle #1 (2011)

Blue Beetle #1 is one of those titles that certain diehard fans have been demanding for the last few years which implies that in theory this should be one of the bright spots of the DCnU. Sure a lot of back-story and character development has been lost.  Sure Starfire has basically become little more than fan service.  Sure there are tons of characters, a lot of them women, who are mysteriously absent from the comics.   At least we DC answered our request for   to get his ongoing title back, right?   Right?

Jamie’s last book was somewhat sabotaged by the fact that DC had a few months prior published Countdown to Infinite Crisis wherein the former Blue Beetle Ted Kord, a character often thought of as a joke, was written as an inanely badass hero that made many fans who didn’t care about him at all beforehand suddenly declare him to be one of their favorite characters (It was that well written)…only for him to be murdered in that same issue and replaced by Reyes not long after.  Understandably pissed off at DC for playing with their emotions a lot of fans (Myself included) refused to embrace the new Blue Beetle which undoubtedly hurt sales.  The problem?  The new Blue Beetle was actually a really awesome comic.  D’oh!  Jamie was a likable, responsible, and realistic character who ended up being a very unique type of comic hero with a very strong supporting cast and the book ultimately downright fun superhero action.  His relationship with his family and friends was different from every other teenage superhero history because very soon after he acquired his super powers he was instantly teleported away for a whole year causing his loved ones to think he had died or possibly even simply abandoned them.  The struggled of regaining their trust and, in some ways their love, played a huge role in th e expertly written drama of the book.  To be frank Blue Beetle was one of the best books of the 2000s, probably THE best book you never bothered reading, and if people like me and probably you as well had just picked it up when it was still around life in general would have been better for us all.

But hey, on paper we have a second chance to make it right. This was my main motivation to pick this book up because I didn’t want to live with the shame I’ve been holding these past few years of not supporting one of the best superhero creations in history.  Anyway this book is titled “Metamorphosis Part One” and is written by Tony Bedard with artwork by IG Guara (Pencils) and Ruy José (Ink).If you couldn’t tell by now this has been one of my most anticipated books of the reboot.

Full review after the jump.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: Red Hood and the Outlaws #1

Before we review this thing let’s briefly talk about Jason Todd.

Jason was the second person wear the identity of Robin, after Dick Grayson.  Initially a carbon copy of his predecessor Todd’s background and personality was altered following the companywide reboot (Sound familiar) Crisis on Infinite Earths.  The new version of the character was disliked by fans so greatly that DC held a phone poll to let fans decide if Jason would survive the events in the classic story A Death in the Family; they voted to kill him (Although years later the validity of the vote is in question as apparently some asshole in California called hundreds of times with the vote of “Kill Him”).  Batman would consider Jason’s death his greatest failure and use it as a reminder when dealing with new sidekicks and partners (This is partly why he treated the Spoiler so bad, presumably).

However Jason was brought back to life seventeen years after that phone poll (In real time) but now he was an antagonist to Batman rather than ally.  Todd, calling himself the Red Hood, initially became a brutal vigilante who took things 100 times farther than Batman usually would.  Over the years Jason suffered from inconsistent writing as DC couldn’t agree whether he should be a straight up villain or an antihero.  During the events of Battle for the Cowl Jason finally become an irredeemable, and crazed, villain and that was pushed to even further depths in Grant Morison’s very good Batman and Robin where he basically became Dick Grayson’s (As the New “Batman”) archenemy.  The point is that the way his character development has ultimately worked the last few years the Red Hood has become a psychotic super villain who is obsessed with destroying everything Batman stands for an replacing him as the new, monstrous protector of Gotham.  A role, I must add, that he was excellent in.

So let’s give this guy a solo title, shall we?  Because...why the hell not!
Jason Todd in his natural state
I’m not the biggest fan of villains getting their own superhero books, though it’s certainly not something that should never tried once and a while.  Secret Six is the best example.  But under normal circumstances I wouldn’t touch Red Hood and the Outlaws with a ten foot pole.  However it also stars Arsenal who’s been one of my favorite characters since 2003 during Judd Winick’s run on The Outsiders and I was hopeful that the horrifying changes to his character over the last few years would be undone in this reboot.   Anyway this comic was written by Scott Lobdell and drawn by Kenneth Rocafort and his title “I Fought the Law and Kicked It’s Butt”.  And no, after reading the story I don’t think that title makes a whole lot of sense.

Full review after the jump.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Anime Review: Baccano!

Today we’re looking at an anime that was suggested by a reader I know only as “Naturealmondco”; they listed it as one of their favorites and I certainly had heard of it as its pretty dang popular.

Baccano! was originally a Light Novel series written by Ryohgo Narita and drawn by Katsumi Enami that began in 2003 and is still ongoing (Uh oh…).  An anime adaptation was produced by Brain’s Base in 2007 and FUNimation Entertainment released it in North America in 2009.    It’s a shorter series; originally thirteen episodes with a three episode OVA released later (In the American release they were all packaged together).  It’s no secret that this is an acclaimed anime series, one of the best rated ones of the last decade, but I hadn’t seen it yet at all and everything I heard about it I’d pretty much forgotten about.   So the question is did I agree with everyone else or was it an overrated, overhyped mess.

Full review after the jump.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Review: Batwoman #1

F***k yeah, Batwoman!  It’s about goddamn time!  For background on Batwoman check out my review of Batwoman #0 from last year.  Now if you haven’t noticed by now I’m a huge Kate Kane fan and have been eagerly anticipating this new series for damn near a year now.  Now considering that Batwoman #0 came out last fall I’m sure you’re wondering what the hell took so long for her to get to Batwoman #1

When Batwoman debuted in 52 back in 2006 it was to a large amount of fanfare about diversity and progression (Some of it a little dumb).  They said the ultimate plan was to get her in her own title but then a long while passes and nothing happens.  Finally in 2009 DC announced that Batwoman would take over the lead character status of Detective Comics, as seen in Batwoman: Elegy.  That book was awesome and was supposed to spin-out into its own title but that never happened.  Eventually Greg Rucka, one of Kate’s creators and primary writer during her Detective run, left DC for independent work (And later Marvel Comics) leaving the would-be soldier’s fate up in the air.  Thankfully J.H. Williams III, the artist for that run of Detective, stepped up to take the reins of Batwoman.  DC finally announced an ongoing Batwoman series in 2010 written by Williams and co-written with W. Haden Blackman and co-drawn by Amy Reeder (Meaning Reeder will take on art duties later).  The problem was that DC had dated the comic earlier than Williams was prepared for and ultimately the book was pushed back to February of 2011.  As a compromise Batwoman #0 was created and released in November of ’10, which if you recall I really loved it.  Unfortunately by the time winter came around Batwoman was pushed back again to April, apparently due to problems with the art (I think that’s right; I might be remembering it wrong).  But by the time April finally came around DC canceled the book!  At the time no reason was given, though most people assumed that it was just going to be pushed back to sometime in the fall…or go the way of Vixen’s book during the DC Implosion.   In the wake of the announcement of the DCnU things became clear: DC had decided to delay the book until the fall to coincide with the reboot of the continuity; what’s the point of starting a new series in April when it was going to be canceled due to companywide mandate in August anyway.  

So finally here in September I have a copy of Batwoman #1 in my hands.  Sadly all the press, all the build-up and all the publicity Kate had when she was first created is all gone by now as DC failed to strike while the iron was hot.  Hell, and potential readers DC got form BW #0 is likely mostly gone as it’s taken so long for the follow-up to come out.  This issue is titled “Hydrology Part 1: Leaching” and it seems that while Reeder (Shockingly only one of two women currently working for DC as creators) is on the creative team on this particular issue she’s not involved as Williams does all the art.  So we’re ten months passed from Batwoman #0 and two years passed from Batwoman: Elegy.  Was it worth the wait?  And can Kate survive without Greg Rucka?

Find out this and more after the jump!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Review: Demon Knights #1

Gone, gone the form of man.  Rise the demon…ETRIGAN

Two things: 1) I don’t know much about Etrigan the Demon other than he was a creation of Jack “The King” Kirby, is a jerk, and talks in rhyme.  At least he does sometimes.  So in honesty I’m not all that interested in an ongoing title starring the character.  2) While I’m a big fan of the fantasy genre I’ve never really cared about it in comic form.  I’m not against it I just haven’t really found any that I was terribly interested in.  Except for Bone, I suppose.  So really under normal circumstances I almost certainly would have never picked Demon Knights #1 on my own.  The only reason I did last week was because Paul Cornell seemed to be the only person who treated to the infamous Batgirl of San Diego Comic-Con with any sort of dignity (Read her story here) and I decided to buy this book.  Also The Lady, who is the biggest Whovian I know, pointed out that Cornell apparently was also a writer for Doctor Who and she got excited.

This book was written by Cornell with art by Diogne Neves (Pencils) and Oclair Albert (Ink).  The story is titled “Seven Against the Dark”.  Even though I think Cornell is a rock star I have no real way of knowing if he’s any good at what he does; I never read any Doctor Who novels.   So I’m jumping in pretty blind here.

Full review after the jump.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Review: Mister Terrific #1

Today we have another example of DC Comics attempting to increase the diversity in their books by taking a well known black character, who has never starred in his own book, and finally giving him a solo title.  Mister Terrific, aka Michael Holt, was created in 1997 by John Ostrander and Tim Mandrake and based on the original Mister Terrific from the Golden Age of Comics.  Though not possessing super powers he possesses a brilliant mind and an aptitude for science which he uses to create the T-Mask, which renders him invisible to technology, the T-Spheres, which have a large verity of functions including holographic projection, generating electric charges and granting limited flight.   For most of the character’s existence he has been associated with the Justice Society of America.  He is super badass, succeeds in everything he does and is informally known as the world’s third smartest man…a title that is repeated every goddamn chance anyone at DC gets.

Mister Terrific #1 is written by Eric Wallace with art by Gianluca Gugliotta (Pencils) and Wayne Faucher (Inks) and is titled “Software Update”.  Without a doubt, after Batwoman #1, this has been my most anticipated comic of the reboot. I  truly believed that Mister Terrific is one of the coolest characters DC has to offer and I often wondered why he wasn’t in the spotlight more.  So I was hoping that this book would be one of the best titles released this month and be one of the few bright spots of this whole DCnU mess.  I mean...he’s black.  He’s a black superhero and I can’t help but be partial to that fact since I’m black as well.  I like seeing myself in superhero comics and it’s nice to pick up an issue of something that’s not one of a thousand white dudes.  But after all this time does the character stand well on his own or fall flat?

Full review below.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Colombiana

The world needs more female action heroes.  Yeah they exist but they’re a bit few and far between.  Milla Jovovich probably counts with her roles in the Resident Evil films and others and Michelle Rodriguez, who’s known for playing almost exclusively tough chicks, might count if she ever actually starred in a film rather than play a supporting role…or actually survived the film. But in general we don’t really have lady action stars the way we have with the dudes.  And I’m not certain Zoe Saldana would have been my first choice to star in an action vehicle.  She’s so…skinny.  Seriously, she’s rail thin.  I can see bones, man.  Then again I never really thought of Liam Neeson as being any sort of action hero and yet he keeps getting cast in action films (Though truth be told Liam Neeson seems to say “yes” to any offer he gets considering he stars in about eleven thousand films a year.) 

Anyway Colombiana was directed by Olivier Megaton (Badass name) and billed was being made by the people who did 2008’s Taken, which was a surprisingly cool film.  This usually implies that the movies are similar since it has the same creative team.   However it has become obvious to me that they really just meant it shares the same producer which means…almost nothing for the quality of the film.   I wasn’t going to watch this movie but, wouldn’t you know it, every single movie I planned on seeing for the past month had left theatres by the time I was ready to go see one.  It was either this or Bucky Larson: Born to be Star.  Colombiana it is. 

Full review after the jump. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Review: Batgirl #1 (2011)

So let’s briefly talk about Barbara Gordon.  Like with Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown I have a lot to say about this character and her story, but it really deserves a post of its own so I’ll be as brief as I can.  

Barbara is the second Batgirl but the first serious attempt of giving Batman a competent female ally who wears the symbol of the Bat (The previous Bat-Girl, and her aunt the first Bat-Woman, was little more than bumbling sidekick).  Barbara, on top of being the daughter of Batman’s longtime police contact Jim Gordon, was not a teenage sidekick but rather a full grown woman, with a PhD. in library science (I think.  Feel free to correct me in her degree was in) and a skilled fighter who operated without Batman’s permission or training; she didn’t need either, mainly because she’s goddamned awesome.  She even retired as Batgirl after years of service to use her abilities for other, more practical pursuit (Yes that happened).  However in the 1988 comic The Killing Joke she is shot in the stomach by the Joker and permanently paralyzed from the waist down.  But because, as we established, Miss Gordon is a badass she soon becomes Oracle, an information broker and world class hacker who aides various superheroes in the war on crime (And eventually establishing a network between them) and begins employing agents to fight the forces of evil on a global scale, the most famous of whom were the Birds of Prey (Including her best friends Black Canary, The Huntress, and Lady Blackhawk).  Over the years she has become not only one of the very few disabled superheroes in comics but frankly she was more effective, and invaluable, in this role than she ever was as Batgirl.  Unfortunately, for reasons seemingly due to low sales of Stephanie Brown’s Batgirl title and the idea that they wanted to bring familiarity for casual readers back to the book in the Great DC Reboot the powers that be in DC Comics decided to return Barbara to her classic role as Batgirl, restoring her legs in the process, in Batgirl #1.

The trade-off is that it’s being written by Gail Simone who is one of the best working writers in comic books today, having written Secret Six and being most famous for runs on Birds of Prey.  There is also art by Adrian Syaf (Pencils) and Vicente Cifuentes (Inks).  This issue is titled "Shattered".

Like with my Spider-Man: One More Day review this is a pretty controversial comic but I want to focus on whether this is a good comic on its own merits rather than because of my personal feelings on who is or who isn’t Batgirl.  Still I do want to very quickly state my opinion on the matter before we get into the review: Yes, I agree that Barbara Gordon has no business returning to the role of Batgirl.  While I’m not happy they decided to restore the use of her legs I can live with that aspect but de-aging her (Which they have done) and putting her back in that identity feels like a straight up demotion.  You likely wouldn’t see Dick Grayson return as Robin or Wally West return as (Ugh) Kid Flash (At least freaking I hope not. Has Wally been accounted for yet?).  Barbara graduated from being Batgirl a long time ago and moved on to bigger, better, and more important things as Oracle and I find it a bit ridiculous that I’m being expected to take her seriously here.  She used to wage cyber-warfare on global threats and use her genius to regularly help save whole nations and even the world.  Now she’s gone back to fighting muggers and gangbangers on the streets of one city? Please.

Oracle reacts to Batgirl #1
 Actual review after the jump.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: Static Shock #1 (2011)

Let’s try to keep this review shorter than yesterday.

Created by the late Dwayne McDuffie and John Paul Leon in 1993 Static was one of several heroes developed by Milestone Comics, an imprint of DC whose mission statement was to address and possibly help balance the severe lack of minority superheroes.  In 2000 a cartoon based on the character called Static Shock was broadcasted giving Static a significant boost in mainstream exposure (Putting him heads and shoulders above his fellow Milestone characters).  In 2008, noticeably several years after the cartoon had ended, DC finally decided to bring Static into the DC Universe proper (They did the same with other characters from the Milestone continuity but Static was clearly the bigger deal) where he was mainly associated with the Teen Titans.   Throughout his return to comic book DC had been saying that a new ongoing title, something Static hadn’t had in years, was in the works for a 2011 release.  However Static Shock #1, as it was titled, was canceled earlier this year before it had a chance to see print but we now know that was likely done in order to save the title for the DC Reboot this month.

This issue, titled “Recharged”, was written by Scott McDaniel and John Rozum with pencils from McDaniel and inks by Jonathan Glapion and LeBeau Underwood.  There has always been a serious lack of black superheroes with ongoing titles and this is one of three new solo books staring an African American crime fighter in DC’s Reboot.  Was it worth the wait?

Full review after the jump.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review: Justice League International #1 (2011)

I shall now begin my review series on the Great DC Reboot of 2011.  Because of lack of money and also interest I won’t be reviewing all 52 titles but rather I’ll picking the ones I had something of an interest in.  If you need a refresher of which ones those were click here and here.  As the DC reboot began with Justice League #1 it’s only fitting that I begin my coverage there...but since I don’t give a crap about anything going on in that book let’s take a look at Justice League International #1 instead.

 JLI isn’t a new concept.   Since its debut in the 60s the Justice League of America always seemed to get rebooted every few years, getting major changes in the roster and setting.  Following a blundered re-launch fans have nicknamed “Justice League Detroit” DC gave the reigns of the book to Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis who, after being told they couldn’t use most of the company’s biggest names (Ironically due to a companywide reboot following Crisis on Infinite Earths) they decided to use several lesser known characters and take the book into a more comedic route.  The title was dubbed, of course, Justice League International.  While this would severally damage several characters over the next twenty years by typecasting them as comedy characters who kept getting their character development reset to match their portrayal into that book it did create a very strong cult following for several of the team’s more prominent members to this day.  Those members included (But not necessarily limited to) Booster Gold, Blue Beetle II (Ted Kord), Fire, Ice, and Guy Gardner and his bowl cut.  They’re have been a lot of call backs and reunions featuring the majority of these characters over the years, most of them not taking itself terribly serious (Such as the Giffer/DeMatteis created Formerly Known as the Justice League miniseries).  But finally in 2005 following the awesome yet terribly infuriating death of Ted Kord in Countdown to Infinite Crisis this started to change as DC attempted to move Booster Gold away from his comedic “sellout” persona once and for all which they did successfully in 52 and Booster’s follow-up solo title where he became basically the most badass character in the DC Universe.  Following the trend in the pages of Justice League: Generation Lost Booster, Fire, Ice, Captain Atom, Blue Beetle III aka Jaime Reyes and eventually a new Rocket Red teamed up to accidentally form a new, more insanely awesome version of the JLI.  While I never got to finish that book what I did read of it was some of the best superhero comic writing I’ve ever read and cemented my status of a fan of the various characters that appeared.  This book was supposed to lead into a new ongoing series featuring this new revamped team where Batman and Booster teamed up to start the team in earnest.  That didn’t happen, presumably because it would have been too much awesome for our space time continuum to handle.

The JLI we deserve, but not the one we need right now?
The comic I'm looking at today was written by Dan Jurgens with art by Aaron Lopresti (Pencils) and Matt Ryan (Ink) and is titled “The Signal Masters Part 1”.  So if this isn’t a follow-up to Justice League: Generation Lost then what the hell is it?  And what’s the point? 

Click below for the full review…and answers! 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Review: X-Men - Schism #3

I’m perfectly willing to admit that I may have jumped the gun about Cyclops being killed at the beginning of the last Schism review, but in my defense I did mention that it wasn’t even close to being confirmed and that I might, in fact, be jumping the gun.  Plus if you read superhero comics you should know by now that Marvel and DC are practically biting at the chops to murder your favorite character and focus more comics on Wolverine and Batman.  Anyway we now know for sure that Cyclops will survive Schism because Marvel has fully released the promos for the Regenesis branding of post-Schism comics.  It also appears I was slightly wrong when I said that the team was splitting into two books, Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine and the X-Men; it seems that there will be eight books, four working with Cyclops, four for Wolverine.  For Ole “One-Eye” it’ll be Uncanny, as well as [Non-Adjective] X-Men (Made up of almost all women), New Mutants, and Generation Hope.  Wolverine has his semi-self titled book, X-Men: Legacy, Uncanny X-Force, and X-Factor.  The promos seem to confirm which X-Man is going where but since in theory it’s all spoilers for the current storyline (Gee, thanks Marvel) I’ll avoid listing it all here.  However I will say two things about this: 1) Eight X-Men comics is likely about four too many.  2) The Uncanny squad seems to include Cyclops, three former villains, and an X-Man who is clearly under the influence of an artifact of limitless evil power.  So what, it’s like an X-Men version of the Suicide Squad or something?  A “Task Force X” so to speak (Hey-yo!).

Fanboy Rage: AVERTED
X-Men: Schism #3 was again written by Jason Aaron with art this time by Daniel Acuña.  So by now we can tell that they are bringing in a bunch of different artists for this series, and I’m guessing each artist will also being doing one of the comics in the new direction [UPDATE: This doesn’t seem to be the case].  Obviously if you haven’t been keeping up with this review series you’ll need to check my reviews of Issue #1 and Issue #2.   I’ll wait.

When you’re done click below for the full review.

[WARNING: Decent amont of spoilers in this review.  Be aware!]

Friday, September 9, 2011

SMCS Companion Piece #19: Sailor Moon

Yes, this is really late.  I wanted to have this up by midday this past Saturday but unfortunately real life things kept me from working on it and I HAD to upload the Rise of the Planet of the Apes review first because I’m now working on the mantra of “Don’t Watch a New Film in Theaters Until I’ve Reviewed the Last Film I Saw”.  Thus this post is super late.

Anyway this past weekend of the Saturday Morning Cartoon Show we “watched” none other than Sailor Moon.  Now obviously I talk a lot about anime on this blog so it goes without saying that I have stuff to say about this show.  I did indeed watch this series as a kid, along with Dragon Ball Z which in a lot of historically relevant ways can be seen as the sister series to this show as far as American Television is concerned (Though weirdly it’s in the fanficiton world it is extremely associated with Ranma ½ which is odd as they don’t have much in common other than both taking place in Tokyo).  This was my least favorite of the two, which is actually kind of saying something, but hell if I didn’t watch every single episode during its runs of syndication and Cartoon Network.   In any event this is a particularly long and complex property so be prepared for a rant-like post.

It is originally known as Bishoujo Sailor Moon in Japan (Officially translated as Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon outside of it) and based on a manga of the same name beginning publication in 1992 by Naoko Takeuchi.  It actually is the sequel, more or less, to a slighty earlier manga called Sailor V (Sailor Moon apparently was a modified version of that comic when Sailor V began being propositioned for an anime).  An anime adaptation of the comic began soon afterwards.  The franchise was a huge hit and even to this day it’s a high money maker for Toei Animation.  The cartoon is split into five series: Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon R, Sailor Moon S, Sailor Moon SuperS, and Sailor Moon Sailor Stars.  It was released internationally throughout the 90s and came to North America in 1995 by way of DiC Entertainment.   Actually before DiC nabbed the rights to the show they competed in a bidding war with Toon Makers which they obviously ended up winning.  Now before I trash the shit out of DiC’s version of Sailor Moon, and I will, I want to take a second to state that as bad as things were they could have been a lot worse as Toon Makers actually did some proof of concept work on the show before they ultimately failed getting the rights.  Check it out:

Holy crap!  That kind of puts the “Sailor Moon Says” segments into perspective, I’d say.

More horrifying American Sailor Moon stuff after the jump.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Who hasn’t ever heard of Planet of the Apes?  It’s one of the most famous, and most parodied and referenced, films of all time.   Even if you haven’t seen it yourself you certainly know the final reveal scene (“YOU MANIACS!!!”).   The film was so successful that it spawned four sequels, with varying levels of quality (Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, and Battle for the Planet of the Apes), as well as two TV shows.  Knowing that Hollywood loves stealing and reusing ideas it should be no surprise that a remake would eventually be made.   And 20th Century Fox did just that in 2001 with a Tim Burton directed, Marky Mark Mark Wahlberg starring movie that was supposed to be the first in a new series of films.   Except that it was awful, had a bizarre ending (Though it’s been stated the ending would have been addressed in the aborted sequel) and pretty much universally panned.  Fox quickly decided to sweep the franchise under rug following its release.

But bad ideas, such as remaking a beloved movie franchise, never truly die so it was just a matter of time before Fox tried again. Hoping that ten years would have been enough time for Americans to forget the previous failed attempt (Spoiler: It wasn’t) they green lit another remake.  Actually in per-production it started as being a prequel to the original film, but seeing as the films work on a Stable Time Travel Loop it’s actually impossible for a true prequel to exist within the original continuity without it being a remake of “Escape from...” and “Conquest of…”. Instead the studio decided to change it into a reimagining (Sort of) of those two films to act as the first in a new series of movies….or at least I assume they did.  Understand this: this cannot be a true prequel to the original film!   It has to be its own continuity because it can’t fit into established cannon.  Okay?

Originally titled “Caesar” (Likely changed because the studio feared no one would go see a Planet of the Apes movie that didn’t have “Planet of the Apes” in the title) Rise of the Planet of the Apes was directed by Rupert Wyatt, and as far as I can tell his only other film was The Escapist which I’ve never heard of let alone seen.   Still the fact that this isn’t a straight remake greatly helps the possibility of this movie not being a disaster.   All remakes of classic films are bad ideas in principle but reimaging of classic films are only mostly all bad ideas in principle.  It’s a clear step up!

Full review after the jump.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Beta Vs. DC Reboot: Part Two

Batman: Back to the Well #1
The New DC Universe starts today.  Regardless of mine or anyone’s feelings this is happening and it will affect the state of DC Comics for the foreseeable future possibly for the better, possibly for the worse.   I’m sure by the end of the year we’ll know have a better idea which way things are leaning.  Yesterday I ran through about half of the upcoming DC titles.  Today we’ll look at the other half.

I will mention one thing before I get into it.  It has been announced (Via Twitter? Groan) that Stephanie Brown will be appearing in the New DCU as The Spoiler.  We already knew her tenure of Batgirl is over but I assumed she was going on the shelf along several other characters DC can’t seem to decide where they fit into all of this.  I’m torn on this. As you may recall I love The Spoiler but I was warming up to Steph as Batgirl. I think I’ll be happy that she’ll be around but I’d be lot happier if she was starring in an ongoing feature.  How about a Black Bat/Spoiler team up book?  I’d buy the hell out of that.

Still no answers about whether she was ever Robin or even Batgirl in this new universe.  Oh well, we’ll see soon enough.

More Reboot Titles after the jump.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Beta Vs. DC Reboot: Part One

Because fans have been demanding a low-powered, t-shirt wearing Supeman for years
So back in June I first brought up the 2011 DC Reboot.  It had only recently been announced, there were a lot of questions and a lot of hot emotions flying around that had to be reined in due to the risk of making knee jerk reactions.   But it’s been a few months now and I know a lot more about what DC has in store for us and a lot of questions have been answered.  Right now I feel I have a much better grasp of everything and that I can give a more thought out opinion on the matter. *Ahem*

Goddamn it all to hell!

Look, there are a lot of positives about the reboot.  And it is indeed a reboot.  We now know that this is a new universe with a new continuity where superheroes have only existed five years at most (That’s not one of the good things).  Titles in general will indeed be more accessible for “new readers”; this being a new universe, albeit one that shares similarities to the one that it’s replacement, that is basically starting from scratch could in theory bring in a whole new generation of readers.   Characters that didn’t have ongoing titles will be receiving them shortly and several of them are black which is damn cool.  I’ve also changed my tune about WildStorm being incorporated into the universe.  The way I see it (Now) a lot of story possibilities are opened up if these characters are part of this new universe, and there’s something kind of neat about books like WildC.A.T.s or Gen¹³ being a part of the DCU proper.  Plus if comic book characters like Captain Atom, Plastic Man, The Question, Static and, of course, Captain Marvel can be incorporated into DC’s main continuity then why not Jenny Quantum?

Despite all this I still feel like the cons outweigh the pros.  With this change I still feel like DC is telling me “We don’t really care about your business, so stay if you like but we won’t miss you if you leave.”  Still it’s impossible to really say too much about all this because even if a lot of the ideas on paper look incredibly stupid and insulting in practice DC may come out with a lot of winners writing wise.  After all they do have a lot of talented guys (And mostly guys, sadly) working on these books so there could be great stories being written and technically that’s the most important thing.

In a possible futile gesture to give DC a chance to keep me from turning my back on them and becoming Marvel exclusive I’ve decided to check out a number of these books.  And since I have a blog where I review stuff I figure I might as well write up what I thought about them.  Starting this week DC will release Justice League #1 and as I understand it will take place in the past, unlike most of the other comics coming out.  As I look at the list of comics I know for sure I’m not going to buy them all as most of them I’m not all that interested in.  Some of those I won’t be reading for political reasons.  But there are a few that I am super interested in buying, possibly thousands of times over.  So let’s take look at where I stand with these individual books.

More after the jump.

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