Flame and Fury (Just some character ideas I'm working on)

Two college friends who accepted a business internship are cursed by an, unknown to them and the world, angelic demon who happens to be the company's owner and CEO. One cursed with the rage and vanity of a dragon, the other with the hunger and savagery of a werewolf. Eventually freed by a fellow supernatural, the pair retain their powers and use them to help mankind where they can and aid their guardian angel in his war against the encroaching demon threat.

  • Transformed Name: Flame
  • Real Name: Donald Havok
  • College Major: Engineering
  • Powers: Super Strength in the area of 20 to 25 tons, Super Durability due to his near-impervious dragonscale, Slow-regenerative healing factor, Enhanced Speed, Flame Projection from the mouth and the ability to light himself on fire, Flight provided by wings, Wisdom of the Draconic Elders, Razor Claws and Fangs, Flame Immunity, Cold Vulnerability
  • Transformed Name: Fury
  • Real Name: Maximilian Miles
  • College Major: Psychology
  • Powers: Super Speed at several times the speed of sound, Enhanced Strength, Enhanced Senses, Healing Factor, Great Stealth, Sonic Howl, Razor Claws and Fangs, Full Moon Strengthening (boosts all powers), Hunter's Instinct (danger sense), Silver Vulnerability (damage from this source negates healing)
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Keys to success for Captain Marvel's movie, or movies.

To anyone reading, I threw this together quickly off the top of my head in the midst of the whirlwind of movie announcements Marvel has made today. So if there's anything that seems like a big miss, that's why.

So here are what I think will be the keys to success for Captain Marvel:

1: Showcase Carol's personality. Carol is one of the most intriguing females in the Marvel Universe. Unlike many, she was never the cardboard female simply there for group dynamics. She's been a strong and independent keystone for much of her comic career. The secret here is to not simply make her a 'female superhero'. Draw upon her uniqueness; have her headstrong, type-A personality at the forefront, but show us her compassionate and humorous side as well. It might sound like a lot to balance, but if we can see all the dynamics of Tony Stark's character in Iron Man, why not Carol's? Plus, seeing as how she is going to be the first Marvel female with her own solo film, she needs to prove out of the gate that she can run with the big boys like Cap and Thor. But she needs to appear human as well, with faults. Have her seeking counsel for PTSD from the recent brushfire wars in the Middle East (Carol was a USAF pilot after all) from a psychologist, namely one Dr. Karla Sofen, and it shows us the flaws and strengths of this top female of Marvel.

2: Link MCU Earth to MCU Cosmic. Carol is the perfect connector to the heroes of Earth and the cosmic heroes like the Guardians of the Galaxy. By having Carol's origin still tie into the Kree Empire, and hopefully eventually having her become an Avenger, Carol becomes the strong bridge between Earth and the cosmos. Sure, we've seen a bit with Thor and a mild link between Thanos' cameos in Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, but Carol serves as the Earthling connection to the greater universe. Plus, this connection easily segues into the next necessary element...

3: Compelling villain. Carol's rogues gallery is, well, let's say lacking...to put it mildly. She is without a well-known big baddie like Green Goblin or Joker, but Marvel has done a really good job at taking lesser known villains and fleshing them out into big screen baddies. Iron Man's Obediah Stane anyone? And outside of comic fans, how much of the general public knew who Abomination, Winter Soldier, Loki, or Ronan the Accuser were? Carol has some solid rogues, but to start her off it has to be the Kree. The Kree, specifically Ronan, were a large part of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Not to mention their seeming implications in Marvel's weekly TV show: Agents of SHIELD. They are known to the moviegoers now, and could use a bit more fleshing themselves. Carol's first villains could easily be a Kree force looking to take over Earth so the Skrulls cannot. This ties the solidly into Carol's origin, since she is 'half-kree' since absorbing Mar-Vell's powers, and even sets up a later Skrull invasion Carol can spearhead. Either way, the first movie's bad guys definitely should be Kree. After that, the Skrull or even Brood would be cool, especially if another alien race reaches out to Carol to help fend them off another planet (GotG tie-in for Captain Marvel 2, perhaps?). Now keeping in mind what I said in part one, Carol's increasing revelations to Dr. Sofen could eventually lead to Dr. Sofen seeking out an alien power source and becoming Moonstone, one of Carol's greatest enemies in the comics. So it should go: Kree, Skrull or Brood, and finally Moonstone.

4: She needs to become an Avenger. This may seem strange, but there needs to be a point, even if an after-credit scene, where Carol is officially approached and inducted into the Avengers. Carol is one of the longest standing Avengers and she needs to be approached for the team for the MCU. The timing works perfectly considering Captain Marvel will be debuting well after Age of Ultron and before the newly-announced Infinity War, and if Thanos is the big bad in Infinity War the Avengers need all the help they can get.

So there you have it, a few basic ideas for how to make Carol Danver's first solo venture a success. The big question then becomes: who will play the First Lady of Marvel?

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Indie comics that need their own movies.

Like most things in the comic world, Marvel and DC have really been monopolizing and killing it at the box office in the department of comic book films. Whether it's Batman or Captain America, or teams like the Avengers or the Justice League, Marvel and DC seem to have the competition pushed out. But just like their comic sales, that doesn't mean there isn't room for the indie companies to make their mark. Here are a few movies I think could be successful from the indie companies:

  • Bloodshot - Blade has proved there is a market for R-rated, violent heroes with attitude and a mean streak. Valiant's super-soldier shares characteristics with the already successful Winter Soldier, Blade, and even some similarities with the popular Metal Gear videogame franchise. Bloodshot would be a great cross between old 80's/90's action and the current wave of super hero flicks.
  • X-O Manowar - This one could come dangerously close to being viewed as an Iron Man knockoff, but anyone who gives it a chance will quickly see otherwise. X-O has the opportunity to blend fantasy and superheroing into one great amalgam, not to mention could be loaded with great visuals and epic battle scenes. X-O's protagonist, Aric, also has the potential to be quite the unique screen character.
  • Wolf-Man - One of Image's works, Gary Hampton was a CEO attacked by a werewolf and cursed. Despite this, he tries to use his curse to do well in the world and protect his city. The great thing about the Wolf-Man story is that it centers not around Gary's powers or struggles against his foes, but the effect it has on Gary's relationship with his family and the tension and problems it creates. With the success of the Underworld films, I think it definitely proves this modern take on a classical monster can still draw a crowd.
  • Spawn - Sure, Spawn had a (terribad) film in the 90's, but Al Simmons needs another, better, shot. Spawn is a classic tale of tragedy, and the film potential is incredible. Especially with modern special effects, there's no reason this franchise should not be given the opportunity of a reboot. It would do well with the non-linear "flashback" and "current" storytelling of Batman Begins or Man of Steel and also has far too long and in-depth a story for one film. Spawn could easily, and should have, his own trilogy. The problem Spawn will face is he no longer has his monumental following he did in the 90's, and is not nearly as current as the rest of the list. It could hurt his chances as a draw, but there are still a great number of Spawn fans, myself included, that would love to see Al have another shot on the big screen.
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Top 5 Space Marine Chapters

5. Ultramarines

The Roman-inspired figurehead of the Space Marines of Warhammer 40k. They are considered "bland" and "dull" by some, but these noble warriors are considered to have singlehandedly held the Imperium of Man together after the Horus Heresy. Courageous and and highly disciplined, these warriors follow the teachings of their Primarch and the the edicts of the Emperor, and later the Inquisition, to a fault. This can make them narrow minded, but they also incorporate tactics of other Chapters for a well-rounded approach to combat.

4. Blood Angels

One of the most noble, and most feared, of all Space Marine Chapters the Blood Angels are known for a ferocity in battle matched only by a civility outside of combat. This is due to a culture forged by their Primarch dating back to the Great Crusade, where Sanguinius tried to hide a dark secret: a genetic flaw in the Blood Angels that could cause them to enter a mindless "fury" and attack both friend and foe, seeking to not just kill but drink their blood. Despite this, the Angels remain stalwart defenders that are quick to fight the Imperium's battles, often leaving their ranks far below maximum strength.

3. Soul Drinkers

The Soul Drinkers can make a claim that perhaps none other in the galaxy can: they are free. Truly free. Whether you speak of the corrupt Imperium or the enslaving Chaos Gods, the Soul Drinkers have rejected both. Still, they follow the Emperor's teachings of protecting Mankind, despite being hunted by the Imperium itself. In the multitude of Space Marine Chapters, this streak of independence is almost unheard of, and the extent the Soul Drinkers took it to is completely unique.

2. Space Wolves

In the grim dark of the far future, the mighty legacy of the Vikings lives on with the Space Wolves. One of three founding chapters originally distrusted by the first Space Marine Legions, the Wolves have distinguished themselves with a history of courage and unmatched bravery and ferocity in combat. This is good, because they also have a history of anti-authoritarian ways and are one of the most extremely Codex Astartes deviant chapters. While they are not quite as concerned with human life as another particular Chapter, they do not blindly follow the decries of the Inquisition and question their methods consistently.

1. Salamanders

The fire-born sons of Vulkan, the Salamanders love to engage in mid-to-close ranged combat with powerful flame and heat based weapons like melta guns, flamers, and the rare combi-bolters. Every Salamander is a trained artificer, and have some of the best armor, weapons, and wargear in the 41st millennium.The Salamanders believe that the primary duty the Emperor bred them for was the protection of human life of the Imperium. Because of this the Salamanders care more for human life and maintain a closer relationship with the humans of their home world, Nocturne, than any other Chapter. Salamanders retain the full memories of their previous lives before ascending to Space Marines, and some even maintain relationships with their previous families. Always viewed warily by other Chapters to to their ember-red eyes and coal-black skin, considered by some Chapters as 'mutant', the Salamanders earn respect throughout the Imperium by a willingness to charge into battles and give their lives purely to protect the people of the Imperium. While not quite as anti-authoritarian as their Space Wolf cousins, the Salamanders do question the Inquisition and their methods since the Inquisition tends to view individual human life as disposable as long as it keeps the Imperium running. There are strong hints that the Salamanders would break away from the Imperium, but that without the Imperium, no matter how corrupt, Mankind as a whole would fall to Chaos and alien threats. Their unique outlook on human life and their duties as soldiers, combined with their courage, ferocity, and skill in battle, make the Salamanders the most interesting and best of the Space Marine Chapters.

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Arkham Series Review

I may be a bit behind the curve, but as I buy games late/used for a cheaper price (sue me!) I've only recently completed Arkham Origins, completing the current Arkham Trilogy. I'll go through some positives/negatives and my hopes for the franchise going forward:

Arkham Asylum

Makes sense to start at the beginning, so we'll start here and with the good. This was, at the time, probably the best super-hero game I'd ever played. The controls were great, and you gained access to the plethora of gear Batman has at his disposal. Sometimes you needed fists, sometimes you needed brains, but you always felt like you were having a Batman experience. It had a very creepy vibe to it, as it should considering it's in the Asylum, and many of Batman's rogues like Joker, Scarecrow, and Poison Ivy were done very well. It's combat system was very well done, if not a bit clunky but I'll discuss that in a moment, and allowed you to seamlessly use martial skill and gadgets in combat just like the Dark Knight.

The bad? Well let me start with that combat system. The combos were easily interrupted if foes separated, breaking up your chain through no fault of your own. The countering system, while awesome, also felt like it needed some refining. The game also didn't incorporate stealth as well as I would have liked. Batman is a ninja, but you couldn't do any quiet takedowns. That seemed like it should be a basic aspect of the character, but it was non-existent. While some villains were handled very well, others not so much. Bane was very poorly done, and was just a lumbering Brute. I don't recall Bane ever being that way in the comics, and the closest thing would be his awful portrayal in the Batman and Robin movie. Riddler was "there". You dealt with him, but he made no appearance. Instead there's just a long line of tedious trophies to get. It was fun to figure out, but over done. I prefer his scan-riddles to the seemingly endless array of trophies that need gathering. Then you go through all that...and still never see him? Pretty anti climatic.

Overall, I give it a 7.5/10. Great game, and great starting point. My hope, at the time, was that Arkham City would take what groundwork Asylum had laid down and build upon it. Speaking of...

Arkham City

Ask and you shall receive right? Arkham City nailed everything. It added the silent takedowns, refined the combat system, improved the movement/grapple system, and solved the problem of distance between foes breaking combos. You got even more gear, saw more Batman foes (Mr Freeze, Ra's Al Ghul) and the added bonus of an open world of a sorts to traverse and explore. You also got to explore concurrent events of Arkham City as Catwoman, and the challenge mode incorporated not just Batman, but Nightwing, Robin, and Catwoman. It had plenty of side missions, and even incorporated greater detective work to find other less "active" criminals like Hush. You even get to see Riddler!

The bad? Really, it boils down to Riddler and Bane again. Perhaps it is because they are my two favorite Batman villains. Riddler has even MORE trophies, so it's even MORE tedious to get to him. I get that that is HOW Riddler is, and how it must feel to pursue him as Batman...but 400? Really? They added more scan-riddles, which was awesome, but there's just too many trophies. Bane is STILL a lumbering brute. So disappointing. Also, the boss battles were anticlimatic. Grundy and Clayface feel like what is essentially the same fight. Deadshot was a cakewalk ended in one blow, as is Riddler. Joker is just a fodder gauntlet. Penguin is a joke. I get many Bat villains are more about the detective work to get to them, but that's why Bane's mishandling in the game is so upsetting, you don't get that epic martial battle he always provides (when well written) in the comics. Mr. Freeze and Ra's Al Ghul's fights were awesome though.

Overall, 9.5/10. This dethroned Asylum as the best superhero game made. It was as close to perfect as it could be, and still has great replay value for me. Oh, and the variety in Batsuits available only add to the fun.

Arkham Origins

So we come to the prequel to Arkham Asylum, and it's most recent installment. Did it improve on Arkham City? Let's see. First off, we get the awesome martial boss fights I wanted. Deathstroke, Bane (YES BANE), Shiva? All pretty very well done, especially Bane and Slade. They also incorporate great detective work for some missions and enemies. We still have the open world, but now it is damn near all of Gotham. Because the map is so large, we get "drop points" where the Batwing can drop you off for quick travel. Great, and smart, addition. We see Batman's first interactions with several of his rogues, and we actually see him make mistakes in game that an older, more experienced Batman would not. Bane especially gets treated with respect, and is easily the hardest boss of the game (as he should be, especially on the harder difficulties). We also see his own great intellect, as he figures out who Batman really is and finds the Batcave. Unfortunately, we also see how he goes from that to a lumbering brute, which I guess was necessary given his appearance and persona in AA and AC.

The bad? Well, the twist is pretty predictable. Since it's been out awhile, I'll assume anyone reading this knows it: Black Mask is Joker. While it is great seeing Batman's first interaction with Joker, making it a prequel after the ending of Arkham City (Joker dies) feels like an "oh sh*t we killed our money-making villain" reaction. I would've preferred the spotlight on a different Batman villain, even though I thought the Joker was very well done. He was violent, crazy, giddy, and completely psychotic. Everything Joker should be. The combat system is somewhere between City and Asylum. Not as clunky as Asylum, but not nearly as refined as it was in City. The challenges in the Vigilante and Nightmare ladders (Dark Knight and Dectective were both very simple) go from easy, to moderately challenging, to absurd. I enjoy a challenge, but at a certain point it's too much and I don't even want to try (sorry, I never bothered to "master" critical hits). Crime scene reconstruction was cool at first, but after awhile (and especially on repeat plays) it becomes tedious. It feels more advanced than the detective system in Arkham City, but maybe Bruce found it tedious too and that's why it was streamlined in Arkham City. Also, the shock gauntlets. These babies make the game too easy when you get them. Combat becomes a joke, and not to mention it raises the question of why Bruce gets such an effective tool in a prequel and not have it or use it later on? Most of his gear feels less effective in this game (no line launcher yet, for example) but other things feel more advanced and beg the question why they aren't there or as good in Asylum (glue grenade, concussion charge, and the cryptographic sequencer is much better in this game than in Aslyum). I get the gameplay should be improved in each newer game, but I feel if you're going to make a game a prequel then your equipment should be LESS refined than it is in a future installment, not better. Crimes in progress is a neat idea, but also become insanely tedious and eventually annoying. AND MORE RIDDLER PICKUPS?! Oh, and I ran into several annoying glitches throughout the game after experiencing none in AC.

Final verdict? 7.5/10. Just because it should be the BEST in the series, but it failed to live up to Arkham City's legacy. The boss fights, overall, are better in my opinion, but the story and everything else falls short. Especially when it comes to glitching.

Ok, so, we've heard the reviews for the existing three games. So what do I want to see moving forward? Well, a few things:

First, no Joker. He's dead. Leave him dead. Don't have someone else "become" Joker. Let's explore some other Batman antagonists. I know the next one is supposed to be about this "Arkham Knight", so let's explore him. If he HAS to be an existing rouge, make him a lesser known one that has proven to be a challenge for Bruce in the comics like Prometheus.

For the love of god, NO MORE RIDDLER TROPHIES! It is the easiest, cheapest excuse to "prolong gameplay". Riddler is notoriously hard for writers to get right in the comics because they don't know how to make him engaging without making him similar to the Joker, but Snyder has succeeded with his recent Zero year arc. Either take a page from his book and use that as inspiration, or leave him out of this game. I know I am not alone in saying Riddler trophies, at least in the mass volumes they had in Arkham City, detract from the gameplay enjoyment, not enhance it.

Greater use of other, lesser Bat-rogues. Expand on Hush, we hardly got to see him and I personally wanted to see him put to better use in Arkham City. We know he has Bruce Wayne's face, and know he wants to ruin Wayne, why not run with that? Let's see an independent, Jokerless, non-grieving Harley Quinn. She was always at her best in the comics when Joker wasn't in the picture in my opinion anyway. We got a glimpse at Azrael and the Order of St. Dumas and some sort of prophecy that involves Batman, expand on that as well. My point is, there's a lot to work with, without Joker.

Mixed boss types. Arkham City had more stealthy, detective style boss encounters that required problem solving. Origins had mostly martial, hand to hand fighting style bosses. Let's mix it up, shall we? Titan is gone, perhaps we could have Bane start to regain his past knowledge/self and get back to being that powerhouse martial fighter? Maybe Deathstroke makes a return? Then we can have more problem solving encounters as well. Clayface could make a return and be similar to his New 52 self, where freezing grenades don't effect him. Riddler could revolve around problem solving and detective work to find and thwart, without making it about trophy collecting. Give us the best of both worlds, Batman is good at both worlds!

All in all I am optimistic about the series moving forward, I just hope they make a compelling, non-Joker centric story for Arkham Knight.

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Post-Spiderverse Random Idea

Spiderverse is being advertised as "every Spider-Man from every universe ever", and that includes some we'd never seen such as Gwen Stacey's "Spider-Girl". We have also seen that Kaine will be involved, and Ben Reilly somehow. There's even a small teaser on the pre-released cover of Spiderverse that Agent Venom looks like he'll be making an appearance.

This is where my thought process kicks in. Venom has been in a limbo-esque holding pattern since his ongoing was cancelled and he joined the Guardians of the Galaxy. I was hoping that this was going to be an elbow rub moment for the character by being attached to the hottest team in Marvel right now, what with their blockbuster movie just having been released. Unfortunately it hasn't panned out that way. Certainly, it has only been three issues (four if you count the Free Comic Book Day issue) but he was barely in two of the three, and didn't even do anything of major note. Instead of being a big introductory arc for the super-symbiote-soldier, writer Bendis gave us a lame duck arc which once again revolved around Star Lord's problems with his dad (in case you didn't already know that, which if you follow the Guardians then shame on you). Certainly, Planet Venom is upcoming, but I must aadmit as an avid Agent Venom fan I am cautiously excited.

So where am I going with this? Simple. Post Spiderverse we need to have Spider-Man and Venom in a monthly team book.

Yes, I am going there. Let me explain. In his heyday (late 80's-early 90's) Marvel couldn't keep books with Venom on the shelves. The only thing that made them sell faster was when he would partner with Spider-Man. The first Carnage arc, Maximum Carnage, Lethal Protector, Separation Anxiety...all featured great team ups between these two on-and-off bitter rivals. However the problem with Venom at the time was he was hosted by Eddie Brock, a man with a deep hatred for Peter. So even though their partnerships were great, they could never last by definition of their relationship. Not to mention their vastly different approaches to heroing.

Enter: Flash Thompson, the Agent Venom. Once Planet Venom is over, get Thompson out of space (and Bendis off Guardians, but that's another story for another day) and back in New York. Peter now knows, via Captain America, that Eugene is wearing the Venom symbiote. His best friend is under the guise of one of his most dangerous rivals. Flash doesn't know that Parker is Spidey, but he DOES idolize Spider-Man. Thompson doesn't share Peter's "no kill" stance but he isn't quick to draw blood like Eddie. It's a last resort. Their similar outlooks but vastly different approaches to struggles could make for great stories.

'Spider-Man and Venom' is a title that practically sells itself. Certainly for a while there Marvel had a few Spider-titles flying around between Amazing and Avenging, and also Superior, Superior Team-Up, and Superior Foes. Not to mention Venom and Scarlet Spider. However now there is really going to be just one: Amazing Spider-Man. Venom and Scarlet have both been cancelled and joined other teams, Superior has ended (Team-Up with it) and Superior Foes is going to be ending soon. DC has several Batman titles (not complaining or praising, simply stating) and they all sell well, and Marvel is even running two Hulk titles at the moment (there were several titles with Wolverine be he's, well, dying. So why not add a second title for your flagship character and his greatest fan? Not to mention the potential fanbase for the merging of these two in the same title. Like I said earlier, I don't think I need to go into great detail for anyone to see the story potential here.

As for writers I feel a great man for the job would be Cullen Bunn. Bunn has written lighter-hearted and goofy characters like Deadpool (he's done several minis) so I feel he could handle Peter well. He already has a history with Thompson, as he wrote the latter half of Flash's solo and did an outstanding job with the character. I feel he has the writing skill and the experience to balance the military minded Thompson and the good-natured joker that is Parker. Christopher Yost has written great work with Spider-characters as well, and has handled them great. Considering New Warriors is supposed to be ending soon, he's going to have some spare time anyway.

As for an artist I'm not sure, as I'm not sure of anyone off the top of my head that would be a good balance for both characters.

Anyway the point being that this is a title that needs to happen. With all the Spiders on a seeming collision course to defeat Morlun and his "family" in Spiderverse, it's a perfect opportunity. So there you go Marvel, I just did some free work for you.

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My Hero/Heroine Top Ten *Updated 17 August 2014*

This has become something fun for me to look at every few months. I like seeing where my tastes are, what I'm digging, and put my thoughts out there as to why certain characters are great. This is comic book characters only, as this is ComicVine. However, I will give honorable mentions to a few non-comic (not primarily comic anyway) characters that I believe deserve shouts.

Honorable Mentions (underlined characters are former top tenners): Supergirl, Spawn, Snake Eyes, Captain America, Nightwing, Wolf-Man

Non-comic honorables go to Goku, of Dragonball Z fame, Drizzt Do'Urden, the Drow Ranger of the Forgotten Realms, and Hazon Dak'ir, the Space Marine Psyker of the Salamanders Chapter.

Now, the list!

9. Kaine

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. For the longest time Kaine was in my top 3 favorite characters (I loving called the "Spider Trinity") but after his solo was cancelled, my interest in the character tanked. Sure, he's in the current New Warriors run, which I read the first five issues of, but it just doesn't feel the same. Maybe it's because Kaine really isn't a team player, and it feels forced. I don't know.

He's still awesome, don't get me wrong. The attitude, the powers, the characterization...but it just doesn't seem to work with the team. Maybe I'll need to try it again someday, but by putting Kaine on the New Warriors actually caused me to lose some interest in the character.

When I need my Kaine fix, I just re-read his awesome solo series. If you want a look at the character, I suggest you do the same.

8. Green Lantern

This one came out of no where, right? Well a few weeks ago I was in the Barnes and Noble graphic novel section and decided on a whim to pick up a volume of Green Lantern because the action looked good after flipping through the pages. I'll admit the only reason I never gave any of the Lanterns a chance was I found the idea of a power ring stupid. Yeah, I was very open minded when I was younger.

Anyway, I read through New 52s Green Lantern Vol 1, and rapidly found myself returning for the other volumes. In about three weeks I'd found myself having torn through the first three volumes of New 52 Green Lantern, Blackest Night, Sinestero Corps War, Wrath of the First Lantern...you see where this is going.

Anyway Hal Jordan just was such a great character. I could relate to the idea of a man within a rigid organization that constantly believes in their cause but chafes in the face of their rigidity and rules. Lets just say it's gotten me in trouble in the Air Force more than once.

Great stuff, and I can't wait to read more of it.

7. TMNT

Damn it all Gang Green just keep getting better and better. IDW really has something special on their hands with the TMNT and the new direction Eastman has taken them with this reboot. No amount of praise I can lavish upon it will do it justice, but pick it up and you'll see why I look forward to it each month.

Oh, and Shredder and Krang teaming up? Things are about to go from awesome to...well much more awesomer.

6. Captain Marvel

Carol Danvers' Captain Marvel title in consistently one of the best books Marvel puts on the shelves month to month. When people think of a female face of comicdom, most probably go to Wonder Woman. Not me. Carol is THE comic book alpha-female. She's tough, compassionate, intelligent, and sexy. She doesn't take any sh*t, but is open-minded. Marvel seems to be on a high with her, as she is consistently guest starring in other titles (she's a regular Avenger, so we aren't counting that obviously) like Guardians of the Galaxy and Hulk.

Carol spent years plagued by bad writing, where writers spent more time on her guy troubles than on who she actually is. I've always been a fan of hers, but Carol has really gotten fantastic treatment the last few years and is no longer a fringe player but a major mainstay and powerhouse on the Avengers as well as dynamic leader on the team.

I hope her push continues, Carol deserves it. There's a big push and desire for strong females in the forefront of comics, and Carol deserves to be at the spearhead of that push.

5. Hulk

Old Jade Jaws drops a few spots, but holds onto a top 5 spot for me. It's not his fault, but I'll get to that later. What can I say about Hulk that someone hasn't already said? I'll simply quote myself for a moment:

Realistically, Hulk is the power and Bruce Banner is the character, but both deserve mention. The classic Jekyll and Hyde story taken to absurd extremes, Banner is a man plagued by his own inner demons. He must exercise restraint and control every moment of every day, lest he loses it and turns into the Hulk. And when that happens, well, we all know: Hulk smash. The story did stagnate a bit over the years, but now that Banner and Hulk have come to terms with one another, and live in mutual acceptance, the stories have taken an engaging, and amusing, turn.

Now Waid did a lot to expand Banner as a character, but didn't spend a lot of time with him Hulking out. We have a new writer at the reigns of the Green Goliath, and hopefully Duggan will find the perfect balance of Hulk action and Banner characterization.

4. Rocket Raccoon

For the record, this isn't bandwagoning. I actually got into the Guardians of the Galaxy because of Agent Venom's announced joining of the team. After reading volume 1 of Bendis' run, I dug into the older DnA stories. Rocky rapidly became my favorite character.

You want attitude? He's got it, and enough for the whole team.

You like action? Look at that gun! And that's a smaller, less destructive one.

You like brains? He builds all the Guardians' weapons, armor, and comes up with all their battle strategies. He builds weapons to exploit enemies' weaknesses...he's a god damn furry Batman!

You like cuteness? He's a raccoon! Look at the fuzzy cheeks.

OK joking aside, he's just plain awesome. He's got a bit of a sad origin, but what heroes don't really? He's the heart of the Guardians' team, and despite his attitude problems has a heart of gold himself. He's even a bit of a counsel for Quill, who goes to Rocky when he's having self doubts or issues. Plus, he got Tony Stark to admit Rock's smarter than him. That really doesn't factor into why I like the character, but it brings a smile to my face whenever I say it.

3. Batman

What's to say? Who DOESN'T like Batman? Even on some small level, we all do. He's been the focus of some of comics greatest stories, and the recent wrap up of Zero Year just reinforces that. Zero Year was a very different take on the beginnings of Bruce Wayne as the Caped Crusader. Plus, Riddler is my favorite Batman rogue and he looked absolutely awesome in it.

Batman is at his best when he isn't doing something ridiculous in the Justice League like drop kicking Darkseid, but when he is in the mean and dirty streets of Gotham. The recent Icarus arc in Detective Comics was a great demonstration of him proving he's the World's Greatest Detective, and like I said previously Snyder did his best work to date in Zero Year.

There's nothing I can really say about Batman that hasn't been said by me, someone else, or their mother a thousand times over.

He's simply the God Damn Batman.

1B. Spider-Man

Cop out with the 1B right? Well, it's my list so suck it. Like Batman, what can I say? I will say this: I'm glad Superior Spider-Man is over.

It was interesting, and a very unique take on events, but Dan Slott really mis-characterized or downplayed many supporting cast members of Spider-Man to make it work. Still, it was very entertaining and a breath of fresh air for the Spider-Man title. Glad to have Peter back in the saddle though.

I'll take another cop out and simply quote myself:

Based on the previous selection, this should come as no surprise. Spider-Man has been my favorite since I was a kid. Hell, it's because of his cartoon I got into reading comic books. Peter Parker was the outcast, the nerd, the bully target. He grew up to be the everyman: money problems, family troubles, and struggling to live up to example of his role model: his Uncle Ben. We all know: "With great power comes great responsibility", and this mantra has led to Peter being on the receiving end of more beatings than he should, but he refuses to compromise his morals. Like Batman, Peter has been host to some of the greatest stories and holds some of the most iconic villains in comics, and he is still my favorite to this day. More or less...

1A. Agent Venom

Thompson holds fast to his place at the top of the pyramid. I'll quickly, and one last time I promise, quote a previous posting since my feelings haven't changed:

Based on the last two, this should not be a surprise. Flash Thompson gave his all for his country, and the country gave him a second chance. Bonding with the alien symbiote that once belonged to none other than Flash's hero Spider-Man, Flash has acquired the very same powers of his hero, only more powerful and some unique ones. Combining those powers with his conventional and black ops military training, Flash was a deadly and skilled super soldier. He made the crossover from super-soldier to super-hero, when he spared the life of his nemesis, Jack O'Lantern. Since then, Flash is a man who will kill only as an absolute last resort. He hasn't always been host to the greatest stories (crossover constraints will do that), but his hero career is still in it's infant stages compared to others on this list. The reason he beats out Spider-Man for the number one spot here is my own personal connection to the character. As a serviceman myself, I understand the hardships and have seen the lasting effects of war Flash experiences on real men and women. He speaks to me on a personal level, and I hope he continues to fight for us all.

Man, that's some heartfelt stuff right there isn't it? But it all boils down to the fact that Eugene is a badass. What's more interesting now is that Peter Parker now knows Thompson is the man behind the mask. Unfortunately, Thompson is off world gallivanting about with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Honestly, he hasn't done much there yet. Truth be told since he's joined none of them really have. Drax got his ass kicked by Gladiator, but that's about it. Bendis makes me nervous as a writer, because I have a love/hate relationship with him. I keep hoping he's going to honor the groundwork laid by Remender and Bunn from Thompson's solo series, but like Slott in the "Darkest Hours" arc of Superior Spider-Man I keep fearing he'll say "the hell with it" and do his own thing.

There's a lot to be excited for if you're a Flash fan though. Being put on the Guardians, getting the shoulder rub with Marvel's newest blockbuster movie and currently heavily pushed franchise team has got to be a good outlook for Flash's future. Hopefully it leads to a boost in his own popularity and a new solo for him. Not to mention we will soon be getting a Symbiote Planet arc.

Bendis, my favorite character is in your hands. I say this with respect, please don't screw him up.

Now if you've read this far (hell, if you read any of it) you're probably all like "lol Granite u dum u cant count u only put nine not ten toopid!". Sorry, that's just how I always imagine internet trolls talking. Anyway, yes, I only put nine. I did it for a reason. Green Lantern opened me up a bit and reminded me to be open minded. So, if you've read this far, who would you recommend I check out? I am open to anyone and everyone. If it's a character I've tried and haven't liked I'll let you respectfully know, and thank you none the less.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

Cheers,

Granite.

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The Expendables 3 4/5 Stars

Now before I get into this in any way I disclaimer this: this review is based on my experience and enjoyment of the film. I am not being lenient, favorable, or harsh. Movies, as is anything in life, is about perception and taste. If you don't like the movie, write your own review of it explaining why. If you have any criticism here, make it of my review and not the film itself. Having said that, thank you in advance for taking the time to read this.

So, if you're see Expendables 3 you've probably seen the first two, and you should have some idea of what's going on within these films. The Expendables 3 is every bit the action-junkie movie the first two are, but is so much more as a movie. Where the first two were pure actionfests with a linear plot and no real theme or message, the Expendables 3 is one that keeps the linear plot but adds a few underlying themes that separate it from its predecessors.

The basic overview is that Barney Ross (Stallone) and his band of merry men have a mission go awry, which ends in the shooting of one of the team members. The shooting is done by none other than Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), who was an original Expendables member with Ross. Ross dissolves the team, citing age as an issue. They should have gotten out of the jam fine, and would have fifteen years ago, but they simply can't keep up in the new world. Enter the young crowd, the new Expendables, the next crop of action stars if you will.

This is really one of the great enjoyments of the film. Stallone, Lundgren, Statham, and the other "older gents" all know their time as action stars is at it's end, or should have ended long ago. In real life, an Operator is considered in his prime in his early thirties to early to mid forties, where he has the perfection combination of experience, intelligence, wisdom, and yet is still relatively young so his body can still do the hard work. Guys like Stallone are well and above this age limit, so the movie has fun with this fact.

The new team comes in to help Ross get revenge on Stonebanks and fulfill a CIA contract, and Ross quickly learns that the newer breed packs a more varied array of skills than his previous band. Tech-saviness is a requirement, not just marksmanship. You need to be tough AND smart, a redundant theme throughout the movie. The new group gets captured, and from there it becomes pretty obvious what will go down.

Now this is not a "shut up and enjoy" type movie where you should just shut your thinking processes down for the sake of enjoyment. This movie really does give you more than that. There is a great deal of tying in characterizations, themes, messages, and little nostalgic nods to previous films and even real life experiences of each character and actor. For example, there is a nice quip made by Snipes about his getting thrown in jail for tax evasion, and Banderas' character being a live-action version of Puss'n'boots pining to get back into an action scene he'd long since been taken out of (Banderas was a huge action star in the 80's to mid 90's for those who remember).

There is also the fact that this movie satirizes it's PG-13 rating. Both previous Expendable films wore R-rated badges, but this one mocks it's PG-13 rating. The violence is not toned down in the least, the only difference being the degree of language in the movies. If you take a moment to think about it, the level of violence in PG movies these days matches that of it's R-rated counterparts, but things like language and nudity push it over the line. I guess a guy getting his head blown off is more family friendly than a pair of breasts.

While everyone plays there characters well, there are a few standout performances.

Harrison Ford seems to be having genuine fun, and gets to say some things that Dr. Henry Jones Jr would never get to say. He plays a former helicopter pilot, and channels some of his old inner Han Solo.

It was great seeing Wesley Snipes back. He still has all the moves and attitude he did in movies like Passenger 57 or the Blade trilogy, and he had the great on-screen charisma with Stallone that the pair shared when they played enemies in the early-90's Demolition Man.

Stallone and Statham still have a great chemistry together. For two guys that, to my knowledge, have never worked together before the first Expendables movie they have chemistry you would have thought belonged to two longtime friends or coworkers (they could be friends, I don't know their personal lives).

The standout here was Ronda Rousey. Unlike many women in action films, she is a far cry from the "tough lady" who needs saving or serves as eye candy or a romantic interest. In fact, she's none of these things. There is one scene where she's in a mini skirt and heels and beats the hell out of a few guys, but it's a scene that lends itself more to the idea that a woman can be both tough and sexy, not one or the other. The rest of the film she is dressed the same as the guys, no heels or low-cut tops, but still maintains an aura of femininity and sexiness. Being an MMA fighter she really gets to showcase her stuff, and surprisingly doesn't ham up her lines (a fear I shared with Batista in Guardians of the Galaxy). All in all she had a certain magnetic screen presence and kicked as much ass as any of the men, and without dressing down or trying to look hot I still found her incredibly sexy. I like tough women, sue me. In all seriousness though, I could see her being a big female action star if she ever left the MMA scene.

Gibson's Stonebanks is like a Martin Riggs gone over the edge, and is teeth-gnashingly evil. He really digs into being the badguy, and does a damn good job of it. He's by far the best villain of the trilogy.

The movie ends with a climactic scene that would have made Joel Silver smile, it is so completely over the top. I accept it because, like the entire film felt, it is a bit of Stallone's action swan song. The movie also has a conclusion that is a bit of a passing of the torch, the old guard paying respect and accepting their own finality and the skills of the new breed. Expendables 3 feels like a movie series that could continue with a new breed of Expendables. Or perhaps, it's taking a shot at that concept in current Hollywood as well.

You don't need to be a action aficionado to enjoy Expendables 3, but it certainly doesn't hurt. It is certainly not without it's flaws and shortcomings, but it is fun and has far greater depth than its predecessors. It is certainly a great sendoff for its gathering of the last action heroes. Overall I give it 4/5 stars, and a definite must-see for action fans. If you aren't an action fan (my wife isn't) you'll still likely have fun with it (she did) but not as much as I found myself having.

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Movie Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3/5 Stars

Like a lot of people my age, the TMNT were a big part of my childhood. I loved the 90's movie, and it's sequel. TMNT 3...well, that movie never happened as far as I'm concerned. The cartoon, the recent IDW comic, it's all been something I've always enjoyed.

So, I was excited for this film.

I walked in expecting a fun movie, without any real anticipation of plot or story structure.

I got what I expected.

It is a fun movie. It's got lots of action, lots of laughs, and is entertaining. It's a lot like Hercules, which I previously reviewed, in that I was entertained by it even if it wasn't good. But this movie didn't seem like it intended to be a GOOD movie, but an ENTERTAINING one. There is a difference.

Like I said, there's lots of action here. In today's age of CGI, the turtles can move very fluidly and the action moves seemlessly. If you want some good fantasy martial arts insanity, you'll enjoy this flick. They definitely spent more time developing the action scenes and choreographing them than they did on developing plot or characterization.

Speaking of characterization, each turtle fits his archetype as we all know them, and that's it. Leo is solemn and always serious. Donnie is nerdy and loves techno-babble. Mikey is a surfer-dude. Raphael actually has the most character depth, since he spends most of the film as the tough-guy badass, and has a scene of heartfelt familial emotion. Not that it's really led into, or developed afterwards, but it's there.

I, personally of course, thought the turtles looked good. Their size seems off, but there's still decent ninja-ing and good creativity to make their actions ninja-like to compensate for their obvious bulk. Each are a bit unique as well. Mikey is lean and small. Donnie is tall and skinny (not lean like Mikey, but skinny). Raph is big and muscular. Leo is a big of a middle ground between them all.

Megan Fox really, more than anything, dragged the film down. I don't want to harp the point, so I'll be blunt: the girl can't act. Until the turtles make their appearance, and she has to carry the film, I actually think I was in physical pain. Having her as the human lead...I don't know what the thought process was.

Good thing the turtles, their CGI, and their voice-acting save it.

Like I said, it's entertaining but not good. It's, just ok. It's fun, pure and simple. Don't expect good film making, good story, or anything like that. If you're a turtle fan, you'll probably feel something similar to what I do. If you aren't a turtle fan, you probably won't like this movie. I give it 3/5 stars because it succeeded in entertaining me, and that's it.

Thanks for reading.

If you liked my review, check out my reviews for Guardians of the Galaxy and Hercules as well.

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Guardians of the Galaxy: 4.5/5 Stars

Marvel is killing it, in all the right ways, with their movies. Period. Guardians of the Galaxy is a concept that is absurd by comic book standards, let alone mainstream media and Hollywood standards.

Yet, they did it again. A movie starring a smart-mouthed, gun toting, hyper-engineering not-raccoon, two green people, and a tree.

OK in all seriousness, Guardians is a great film. I would not say it is quite on the level of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but it takes the spot of my number two Marvel movie, bumping out Avengers/Iron Man (they change spots time to time).

This is an origin film, by all accounts, of a team and also of each character as individuals. This is also an origin story of Marvel's cosmic end of their universe, and any comic fan knows Marvel has a massive universe.

Honestly the storyboards for this film probably looked like a mess, but it came together. This had the feel of a space western, which is probably the best way I can describe it.

We start with Peter Quill, aka Star Lord, on Earth as a child. We see the events that lead to him becoming a space-faring adventurer, and what it is he does for a living. We quickly see him introduced to, and come at odds with, Rocket and Groot as well as Gamora.

This is one of two falterings in the movie. How the team meets up feels a bit rushed a coincidental. However given that the film revolves around five strangers banding together, I understand that happenstance is needed for it all to work. This isn't a comic where it is continually ongoing and you can take your time bringing the team together.

Once the team bands together, they at first come together out of mutual need and survival. Then they learn they all share common bonds, and come together as heroes against Ronan the Accuser.

Ronan is not a villain I know much about, so going into this I did some background research. His look, his attitude, and everything about Ronan was great. However his big flaw (here's the number two) is we don't really understand why he does what he does. He just seems evil for the sake of being evil. We learn little to nothing about him in the film, and know less about why his goals are what they are. He has presence, however, and considering the Guardians and their beginnings are the main focus of the film it makes sense that a visually awesome and physically devastating enemy like Ronan is used. He doesn't really need much development to be awesome, he just exudes it. Still, it would have been nice to know something.

Peter is the audiences rock in the film. He anchors us normal humans to this fantastical universe with wit and disbelief that we would really have in this environment. Chris Pratt nails the roll and, while Star Lord's origin is slightly different, stays true to his attitude and persona from the comics. He's a lot like a new-age Luke Skywalker in this film: he's the idealist of the group. He wants to be a hero, he wants to help.

Rocket does exactly what I predicted he would: steal the damn movie. He's funny, inventive, full of the attitude any Guardians reader knows, and most importantly has heart. Rocket really is the heart of the team and movie. We actually learn this foul-mouthed gunslinger really has a heartbreaking past, and there is one moment where you see why he is so abrasive that really chokes you up for a moment. Bradley Cooper's voice acting really brings him alive, and he does a great job with it. The little guy is my favorite Guardian in the comics, and he was my favorite here as well. Again, Marvel did good service to Guardians fans by keeping him, like Star Lord, very close to his comic counterpart. If Peter is Luke, Rocket is Han Solo. He's the pragmatist who is the hero in disguise. He wants to only care about himself and saving his own butt, but deep down wants to be a hero as much as Peter.

If Rocket is the heart, Groot is the soul. Groot really adds levity in areas where even Star Lord might be serious, and serves as Rocket's conscience in a lot of ways. He doesn't say much, which we all knew, but he has a moment or two that warms your heart during the film.

Batista I was worried about as Drax. Honestly I thought he would ham up the roll. He did a great job with it. Drax, like in the comics, is a bit off in the head but for the right reasons. Like every other Guardians member he has a rather tragic past, and is seeking revenge for it. On a suicidal level. But this is probably the best acting I've seen from Batista to date, who seemed to be having genuine fun with the roll of The Destroyer.

Gamora was better than I expected, but seemed to fall flattest as a character. She seemed to be turned into more of a love interest for Quill than being, you know, the deadliest woman in the galaxy. She didn't seem to have the edge or mean streak mixed with kindness that her comic persona is. Instead she was just sort of somewhere in the middle, and felt like the character with the least direction. Not bad, mind you, Zoe Saldana does a good job with what she has to work with; however it feels like she simply wasn't focused on during the writing of the film.

Oh, we get to see Thanos, in full, in this movie. And he...looks...awesome. Like, really awesome. I can't wait to see more of him, as we learn a little about what it is he's after and why, and we learn that he is kind of a badass not to be screwed with.

Overall, this movie gets a 4.5/5. Whether you're a fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy comics or not, this is an awesome film. It has plenty of great action, big laughs, but also a good story. The main theme here is family. Each and every member of the Guardians has lost something, something important. The movie shows the viewer that family is more than what you're born into. The characters are strong, and Ronan, while underdeveloped, is imposing and looks awesome. See this movie, I plan on seeing it again.

It's a big universe out there, and Marvel has just started showing us how big theirs is.

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