Batman - Detective Comics Vol.1 Faces of Death

Batman – Detective Comics Vol.1 Faces of Death

Written and Art done by Tony S. Daniel

Russian Roulette (art by Szymon Kudranski with Tomeu Morey

With the “New 52” tagline, DC Comics goes for a more grittier and darker Detective Comics. Tony S. Daniel really pushes the bar over its limits, with harsher tones, and a more aggressive Batman that some readers may be used to. What makes it work is how different it intends to be. This is Batman flying solo, no partners, just a one man act versus some old foes. However in this retread, those old villains are just as calculating as ever.

Within this new run, Batman is up against a new villain that takes on various faces. Unlike Clayface, or Killer Croc, this hideous madman takes people’s identities from their face. With the name like Dollmaker, its pretty convincing that in Batman’s home, there’s usually more than one side to the tale.

Even more bizarre is how Tony presents the Joker, he keeps the basis that they’ve known one another forever. (so its not a direct reboot, but a continuation)

Next on Batman’s watch list is the Penguin, unlike the Joker (Cobblepot) travels with an all-female entourage which spices up his power in town. It does give him a unique edge, unlike his old self in the past tales of Detective Comics. Plus Tony seems to redefine himself with his addition of female characters. They are not helpless whatsoever, but powerful and defiant. (including Bruce’s new love interest, Charlotte who has a sister that gets into a lot of trouble).

I honestly cannot wait to see what else Tony is capable of with this new run of Detective Comics. Its sleek, sexy, and just as captivating like the more recent Batman R.I.P. chapter.

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Batgirl (2011) two books review Flood & The Lesson

Batgirl –The Flood

DC Comics (2010/2011) Run

Bryan Q. Miller (Writer)

Art Team 1= (Pencils) Lee Garbett, Pere Perez

Art Team 2= (Inkers) Jonathan Glapion, Richard Friend, Rodney Ramos, Pere Perez, Walden Wong, Trevor Scott

Art Team 3= (Colors) Guy Major

(Letters)Pat Brosseau, Travis Lanham, John J. Hill

(Cover Artist) Stanley “Artgerm” Lau

With a revamped DC Universe, there’s a new Batgirl. Stephanie Brown, inducted by Oracle (Barbra Gordon) thanks to a nod from Tim Drake (Robin III). Now she finds herself challenged by Gotham itself. From old Batman villains, to a few new ones she meets during her run in the night. An old enemy of the Birds of Prey rears its ugly mug, Calculator. But no thanks to fate Wendy (one of the villains kids) joins Oracle’s team. (Not knowing what and who saved her years ago) Plus a new detective joins GCPD, and works with Steph and her friends. (and has his own past to deal with)

So far this sums up the first two issues. But the ongoing tale is about Gotham falling to Calculator’s dark plan, with technology as his connection to the people. It becomes a no brainer on how he manipulates anyone with touch of a keyboard and some code. Odd part is, the code makes everyone turn into zombies, unaware of their surroundings only knowing to take on any hero left standing.

Next up, Clayface shows his handsome face in town, ready to dish some pain. And cause all sorts of trouble for the new Batgirl.

And it turns out that Steph is good friends with Supergirl (Kara). Upon her return from New Krypton, the two become fast friends. But a girl’s night out turns awry, when a certain vampire escapes from a film screen. And its up to these two heroic ladies to save the night.

Best part about this new series is the writing. As always its intense and always on the move. But it doesn’t feel rushed, its balance with action, suspense, and comedy. Plus the art is always something worth looking at every panel, especially with so much going on. And the covers are simply gorgeous, and definitely reflect on what’s happening in each issue.

Only letdown is that its just a few issues, but it leaves so much open to the reader. So much that they can’t wait to see what happens next.

Batgirl – The Lesson (2011)

Written by Bryan Q. Miller

Illustrated by Pere Perez

Covers by Dustin Nguyen

In this fun mini-series, Batgirl (aka: Stephanie Brown) formerly Spoiler with the Teen Titans. Still with the cape and cowl, dares to face danger with a smile on her face. But it’s the fact that each battle she’s fought so far is just a scrape of what its been like for Bruce decades ago. From college life, and dealing with a gang called “The Scythe” an organization made primarily of shadowy figures that push the minds of its followers to the edge. And Detective Gage comes to know “and love” the three amazing ladies behind the scenes of keeping Gotham safe.

All the while Steph also tails Robin (Damian) watching out for the youth. And kinda forgetting what its like to be a kid. Well Steph is the best one around (literally)

And before the curtain call, more enemies rush in from various continents. Leaving it to one more showdown between someone from her past versus the ladies of a certain hero organization that protects Earth.

The writing is brilliant, makes me wish that this Batgirl had her tv series. Just something about it works, its quirky, fun, and exciting. Plus the art is just easy on the eyes, but keeps you wanting to turn the page. I’d have to say, next to Babs, Steph is the best Batgirl around. (actually she would be a fun girlfriend to have too) Oops reality.

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Amazing Spider-man: Ends of the Earth

Covering issues 682-687

EOTE 682 + 683

Written by Dan Slott

Art by Stefano Caselli

Part 1 – My World on Fire #682

From the start NYC seems to be dealing with normal issues. A normal day where nothing can go wrong, but our old friend Peter begins to get that feeling something is going to happen. Elsewhere off world, a humble set of six familiar faces are gathered to take on the world, with Ock at the helm. Peter, on Earth is beginning to notice that his accomplishments with the Horizon Labs are a positive one. Plus some have helped him take down villains for quite awhile, but he never could patent them on his own. Until today, that old Doc Ock magic rears his ugly tentacle again.

Let me begin here with the writing, its beginning to feel like the most epic adventure is waiting to happen. It builds slow, yet its progressive, like a familiar song on the radio where a listener is waiting to hear their favorite part. Plus the art connects every scene and dialog like a heartbeat. There is hidden detail in each scene, so its best to keep an eye out during every part of this tale. Part 1 is only the beginning folks.

Part 2 – Earth’s Mightiest #683

With his fellow Avengers by his side, Spidey takes on lead point (in the past, that rarely happens). But with Doc Ock’s recent plan in motion, Cap sets up the Webhead as lead captain. With some help, they work together to put a few more pieces together. The same can be said for the Sinister Six, arranging a power play with some old items from old friends hidden headquarters. The stage is set, now its for the biggest brawl to hit the planet!

Honestly I can’t say enough about the art thus far. Its engaging, dark, and light all at the same time. Plus every segment in part 2 seems to carry more shadows. Even from the heroes point of view, nothing is quite clear anymore. Plus its humbling to see the Cap let Spidey take lead, Stefano actually delivers a perspective very few get to see. A leader. There are no wisecracks, Spidey actually feels a lot like Captain America this time around. In addition, the change up in members of the main Avengers team is refreshing. While the old Sinister Six gang seems to scream “I am mad with power” and Stefano’s art clearly delivers that message.

Part 3 – Sand Trap #684

Story by Dan Slott

Art by Humberto Ramos

With the Avengers down, the 5 of the 6 continue to challenge the world powers. Thankfully Spidey has some help, by the same of Silver Sable and Black Widow. Their mission: take down Sandman. Easy huh?

Within this issue, Ramos is taking a few pages from Caselli’s artwork, its bold, and just edgy enough to keep the story going. Plus what type of Spider-man tale isn’t fun with Sable and Widow?

Part 4 – Global Menace #685

The Amazing Trio race against time, and a very angry Rhino only to find themselves stuck in the middle. With no one else offering team support, the work together trying to put the pieces back towards what they’re fighting against. **Sable notices that Spidey has changed since they last worked as a team. But is that a positive or negative sign? When a signal is sent from Ock’s alliance squad, Spidey and his fearless team send a signal through worldwide channels to gather other heroes. Who will win?!

Taking a deeper look into this series, one thing is for sure Dan Slott didn’t want to just write a simple 6 part saga. This is a special treat for any longtime Spidey fans. Its not just about the heroes, but what they face everyday, either standing alone, or with others. But Widow, and Sable? First, Peter does have history with both women, whom he’s saved, and they’ve done the same. Both in deeds, and in life (might even say it’s a bit more..) But then we’d have to hit the rewind button. Plus the alliances that all three of them have made over the years, this mini-series changes everything and what they’ve fought for. I say excellent writing here Dan!

ASM – Ends of the Earth #1 (parts 1&2)

Written by Rob Williams (part 1), Brian Clevinger (part 2)

Art team: Pencils: Thony Silas, Inks: Victor Olazaba, Colors: Wil Quintana

EOTE is a two part mini that covers the globe, as the other heroes work together to stop Doc Ock’s worldwide takeover. It’s fast paced, and completes the mini-series like a fine pizza. Part one focuses more towards Union Jack (when the others fall during the mission). In some ways he’s a lot like Spider-man, with his focus on saving his home. But with a twist, he’s like the Punisher, saving face only when he needs to. This time around he’s not alone, and wants to help. Part 2 focuses on Big Hero 6, a team made up in Japan. They are a lot like the Asian version of the Avengers, which enough crazy tech to make Spidey’s head spin. (actually I’m kinda lost on Big Hero team 6, its just bizarre to see this in a Marvel comic)

EOTE Part 5: From Ashes to Defeat #686

Words – Dan Slott / Artworks: Stefano Caselli

Where we last left our heroes, Symkaira was in ruins, a hell on earth. Now the trio may be down to two, but there’s something else going on behind the scenes. If you thought Mysterio was bad enough, Doc Ock catches on to the “curtain” and things go awry @ Sinister HQ. **Chameleon and Widow share a moment that actually clears up the smoke for years (who is he really?) And for the first time, the fishbowl aligns with the Spider. (no I’m not kidding) And the last two page attack.. mind blown.

(*Stefano’s art in this ish.. mind blown)

EOTE Part 6: Everyone Dies

words – Slott / Art: Caselli

Spidey’s team vs (ulp) The Avengers. So all of Peter’s inventions have become a part of Ock’s evil plan. Every hero that Spidey worked with as a team, now is against him. Are they real or bots? Okay real, this last entry in EOTE is insane (wish this was a movie already) Ock bots = Avenger zombies. Ock’s final move goes into play, heroes unite and fight the biggest bout ever.

Avenging Spidey #8

Words – Ty Templeton & Dan Slott

Pencil – Matthew Clark / Ink – Sean Parsons / Colors – Wil Quintana

Still recovering after Doc Ock’s worldwide chaos mission, Peter and friends search the wreckage to find Sable, sadly they couldn’t find her body, or anywhere. During his chat with Cap, they wrap up that things will mend, and he can take leave. While on patrol, Peter thinks back to a time when he worked Sable, not by choice and did the right thing.

Overall EOTE is an expansive series that is a nod to classic tales of ASM. Plus through all of Marvel’s insane adventures which crosses paths with many heroes and villains. This is a tale many fans have waited to see, and it was well worth it. In my opinion, seeing Stefano’s art I was already sold on the fact that this would be a treat. It didn’t feel like a regular Spidey tale at all. Every story is epic, but lately this one pushes even more boundaries than any other ASM series before. And Dan’s writing has topped out anything he’s done in the past, its solid, bold, and gets to the point of the reader. I can only imagine what the meeting’s had to be like, and how to expand the idea of making a comprehensive story like this one. It is so engaging, you might have to read it several times. A solid read, “Nuff Said” (*TM).

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Amazing Spider Man - Trouble on the Horizon

Covers issues 678-681

678-679 – I Killed Tomorrow

Written by Dan Slott / Art team: Humberto Ramos (Penciler), Victor Olazaba (Inker), Edgar Delgado (Colorist), Michael Del Mundo (Cover Artist)

So after recovering from Spider Island, Peter seeks a bit of breathing room. Sadly that’s not to be, with Horizon Labs unveiling of a possible doorway that can peer into a possible future. The creator of this ingenious device, is a gentleman by the name of Grady Scraps. Oddly enough, he’s one of the brain trust behind Horizon Labs that has been part of the leading from in scientific discoveries. But when the tides turn, its up to this amazing duo to save the day (and run into a certain Silver Sable!)

So how’s this two parter fair? Honestly I like this “cause and effect” tale, it works out in a clever fashion. Its never revealed if everything is changed, but it’s a possibility. Even Madame Web (Julia has taken the helm as M-Dubs btw* **Since the Gauntlet, with the original being axed by Kraven’s loved ones). Slott and his fearless team spin a fun tale that could unfold with any possibility and it works great. Oddly enough, it seems that Peter is trying to regain MJ’s trust again. And well there’s a certain moment with Silver Sable that readers just have to see to believe.

What makes this fun tale work is the art, done by Ramos. I have noticed that his style is getting a bit more softer, while retaining his edgy side from earlier projects. On the plus side, every attention to detail is there, especially the female characters, they each have a unique quality about them that is unique. (just glance by Mj’s face, and Silver’s.. its just lovely to see these two in the same story!) I gotta give kudos to the art team for this one, they take some different steps in creating a diverse tale and even mixing a bit of angles (like the show Person of Interest).

679.1 – Morbid Curiosity

Written by Dan Slott + Chris Yost / Art team: Matthew Clark (Pencils), Tom Palmer (Inker), Rob Schwager (Colorist), John Tyler Christopher (Cover Art)

Uatu (not the Watcher from the outside galaxies) but the kid that works within Horizon Labs. The team has been for a long time in the dark, with just home they are working beside. Their boss has been keeping them in the shadows in regards to partnerships, and projects outside work sourcing. As it turns out a certain blood sucker happens to be behind the scenes. (*and a special appearance from Reed Richards in a non-speaking role)

Within this side story, it actually gives a glimpse of the two sides and how close they actually are. From Uatu’s perspective, he knows things aren’t normal, things have been too quiet since the Spider Island incident (**some issues back – editor) And Peter, has been feeling kinda edgy, and not having a good day at all. What turns out to be a normal day at work, turns out to be an alliance like no other. Plus the art takes a darker, and heavy turn, but during the beginning it seems bright and uplifting. Until we are brought into the scientific labs where it feels a lot darker. (Kinda like “The Jackal’s lab! **way back – Spider Clone saga) And until the last scene, the readers are really left in the dark, till the last page.

Issues 680-681 – Road Trip in Space, Horizon We Have a Problem

Writers: Dan Slott + Chris Yost, Art team: Giuseppe Camuncoli (Pencils), Klaus Janson (Inks), Frank D’Armata (Color Crayons), Cover Art: Camuncoli + Janson + D’Armata

It seems to be a normal day @ Horizon HQ, Jonah Jr chatting it up with his son in space until they lose a signal. So its up to Peter to save the day! (But with one exception, he doesn’t have a spaceship yet he knows a family that does) So with a drop by to the F4 HQ, where Johnny (welcome back buddy!) has taken some r&r. With great haste, the duo sets off for the stars to find out what went wrong. But trouble goes by the name of an Octopus. Working together with John Jameson, the trio finds out that this isn’t quite over.

Being the opening act for the “Ends of the Earth” saga, this two parter is a fun departure from the past couple of issues. Plus its been awhile since Spidey has gone into outer space. Pairing up Spidey with Johnny Storm has got to be the most brilliant idea for a writing team. What makes it more fun is that it feels like a buddy comedy, which is something ASM has been missing for awhile. Although it doesn’t rely on the chuckles to make it a solid tale, it feels like a classic Spidey adventure, and that is a positive sign.

It still sends a chill down my spine with how Doc Ock’s body is now just a corpse.. just to think the poor guy has been axed in the past (by Kaine, an explosion, and killed by a psycho Kraven.. okay this could take awhile) So “Ends of the Earth”, this is going to be a bumpy ride.

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Fantastic Four Ultimate Collection Book 3

Fantastic Four Ultimate Collection Book III #issues 503-513

Writer – Mark Waid

Artists – Howard Porter (Authoritative Action)

Mike Wieringo (Hereafter)

Paul Smith (Gone Fishin & Best Left Forgotten)

Authoritative Action – Waid and his team unravel the mystery behind Doom’s exile (or another hidden agenda). Revisiting Latveria after its decimated people were left behind by its great leader, and promising a great change. The Fan Four family takes the people under their helm. But along the mission, something is not quite right with Reed. This is one of those tales that actually is connected to classic adventures of the past, and wrapping them together wondering if it could all fall apart.

Waid does some excellent writing, leaving various breadcrumbs for readers to find, it becomes more of a Sherlock Holmes mystery, with more twists at every turn. Plus the art is aggressive, and edgy, yet while retaining some light within the darkness of the story. Be sure to read every page carefully, especially the twist. And can Doom really die?

Hereafter – Waid is back for another journey, but this time around its about Ben. Dealing with the team, and working around the loss of a friend. Knowing the Fantastic Four, this family never gives up. But it also teaches a lesson to readers, that faith “can move mountains” even with the blue eyed Benjamin Grimm.

(Foreword – I met Mike Wieringo many years ago, it was right around the time he became part of the F4 team. I wasn’t aware of his diagnosis ahead of time. I actually had a chance to sit down and share some lunch with the kind fellow. It’s amazing what this artist could come up with, especially taking on colors, and making each character his own. His art style felt retro, yet had a modern touch that made it work so well. Even though these characters have been around for decades, he made it his own. During our lunches, I never bogged questions about comics, it just felt like a different discussion. Just the simple stuff, like the people he’s met over the years, and family. It was fun, those were some nice times. I really miss this character, and I’m sure he’s entertaining some old friends still.)

Hereafter in its art form is dynamic, told in a 3 part tale, it feels like a movie with an ending some would actually let the series wrap up with. F4 has always been an unlimited source of storytelling, whether in writing or artform. Here, Wieringo gives readers a glimpse into the “other side”, a world without Benjamin Grimm (aka “The Thing”). How his friends and family would go on without him, and what changed because of the things he’s done then and now. It never lets up on one emotion, each character goes through several, and eventually coming together to find a source of comfort. In the end it’s a touching tale about a family that will beyond earth, or existence to still be together. (included is a special nod to an old friend that many comic book fans may recognize at the end of this tale).

Spider Sense – By the title, I’m sure you well know what character is the center of attention is this fun adventure. After the comeback of Thing, this wacky side story takes Johnny and Spider-man on a tag team quest to set things right about their heroism. Well of course things don’t go as planned, and it becomes a huge mess. With Waid and Wieringo delivering a “Butch and the Sundance Kid” kind of vibe, you know it is going to be good. Except instead of guns and horses, mix well with superpowers, add a villain, serve well with a smile.

Gone Fishin + Best Left Forgotten – Waid and Smith unravel a two parted tale about Susan, with the need to reach someone heart to heart (and of course attention). With Reed brainstorming up new projects, it leaves her with free time, but also feeling lonely as well. BLF actually brings Sue towards uncharted territory, an unlikely team up with one of Reed’s ex-girlfriends (ie – the one that got away).

And it unveils what “could have been”.

FF Ultimate Collection Book 3 is an awesome set of tales put together in a trade paperback. I find myself surprised with this series, and just how far these tales expand and work so well. There is never a dull moment, but a definite page turner. I humbly recommend that any reader of comics must pick up this one, whether purchase or at the library. Well worth your time, and during a rainy day.

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Fantastic Four Vol 4 (Hickman series)

Fantastic Four Vol 4

Writer – Jonathan Hickman

Artists – Steve Epting (583-587) Nick Dragotta (588)

Artist “Uncles” – Mark Brooks

Three

Within this volume, is the tale of how the Fantastic Four, became the Fantastic Three. It was not by some megalomaniac superpower, or a being that was a “world eater”. Just the simple decision of sacrifice for those they love, and protect with their very lives. It all unfolds with the choices that Reed and Sue make, leaving Johnny and Ben behind to take care of the kids. In the onset of the tale, Reed’s quest is to find understanding beyond the norm, and Sue’s journey is venturing beneath the waves.

Hickman delivers clever writing through these pages, never once is it hinted that anyone would die. It is so open ended, with the choices each character makes, whether it’s the adults or kids of the “Future Foundation”. There’s even a journey with Johnny and Ben (where he becomes normal for an entirety of a week) with no powers, just being a human being enjoying life. On the sidelines, the frontlines are crossed beyond the stars, Reed’s quest finds him unraveling a paradox that could undo the fabric of existence. Where Susan’s can ultimately change Atlantis foundation for the future, along with a certain Sub-Mariner by (or is he ever) on anyone’s side.

Epting’s art is expressive, using light and dark texture’s throughout. I remember his previous work with the Captain America series. Here it is constantly focused on each character in a significant way. Where dialog, and expressions remain key to how the art changes. It never leaves the reader sorting through pages to figure out what they missed. But an ongoing read through, just to put some of the most bizarre pieces in the F4 history to date. Then again, this is about the result of the team becoming a three member party.. Epting delivers a dark transfer of what being a hero truly can be by just making one decision.

Dragotta’s entry has oddly enough no dialog to work around. But by simple expressions: on each characters face, whether it’s a quiet scene, a tear, anger, or understanding. It works so well, that it covers several pages, and its emphasis is about what makes this family a foundation as heroes.

Be sure to read the subnotes at the end of the tale regarding the non-dialog issue. Its well worth reading just how much effort that this team put into scripting a moment of remembrance, pain, and healing.

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Amazing Spider Man - Flying Blind

Amazing Spider Man – Flying Blind

Writers – Dan Slott + Mark Waid

Artists – Humberto Ramos, Emma Rios, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Kano

Flying Blind is a collection of tales set right after Spider Island. Issues #674-677. Oddly enough, one of the shortest collections I have read in a while, but it’s definitely worthwhile reading. Although I may be catching up with the series out of order, it still covers plenty of catch up material that readers can dig into.

Great Heights – Writer – Dan Slott, Art – Giuseppe Camuncoli

Covers issues 674-675 – In a three part arc, the aftermath of Spider Island leaves Manhattan a bit more weary than its used to. With normal people becoming spiders and a herald queen snuffed out thanks to Spidey and the Avengers. The tricky part is repairing relationships, and getting back on their feet. For Peter it is a balancing act of being normal for a change. Plus he’s a single guy, with Carlie walking away, until later she submits to working with Spidey (not Peter) anymore. On another side of the island, an old villain rears his wings with a new set of allies, but all is not what it seems to be. And Peter learns a lesson that his life won’t be the same when Carlie has “the talk” with MJ.

I have to give props to Dan Slott for his writing style, in some of his past works it can be a mixed bag when it comes to action, and drama. Writing Spidey tales really opens up more of his imagination on where very few writers would dare go. Within the three part saga there is more drama than action, and it works in a way opening up opportunity for characters to heal some wounds, and not just deal with bruising one another. Plus I have noticed that the relationship spin with Carlie feels very similar to MJ. However its different because Carlie is a forensic cop, and she carries even more responsibility. Slott feels at home getting to show some of Peter’s weak sides, yet still being a witty character. Which is something readers can identify with the classic tales, it never took itself too seriously yet works when it needs to be.

Credit to Camuncoli (that is a tough name to type) There is some aggressive, yet engaging art here. What works with ASM is the diverse art team that comes together to deliver some fascinating art. With Klaus Janson (inker) and Frank D’Armata (colors) *I remember his designs from his Cap run! Oddly enough there are plenty of John Romita Sr. references in each page; it’s insane that these three were able to convey so much intrigue and drama. Even within scenes where there isn’t much going but chat at a coffee shop between Peter and Carlie, there is still a chill in the air. I really love this art team, and hopefully they’ll work together again soon on more ASM adventures.

Tomorrow the World – A Slott and Ramos production (starring the Sinister Six) #676

Taking a different course, this issue focuses on Spidey’s rouge gallery. On two fronts, the Sinister Six vs The Intelligencia, a humble set of characters that have been bent on challenging the world. With one exception, the other team constructed a Zero Cannon (this bad boy can disrupt an energy field, and dispersing it into anywhere they please) In this tales case, outer space, which doesn’t bode well for either side. When both sides clash, there can only be one team left standing.

Definitely a different tale, this pushes a lot of boundaries that fans have come to life about those timeless villains. Plus they even find themselves actually working together. Neither side actually wants to fight, but Slott delivers some heavy blows here. With two super brains clashing, Doc Ock (in a horrible state of health, he’s literally a corpse within a giant mecha octopus. Challenging the Intelligencia leader MODOK (that friendly giant head, and leader of AIM, or otherwise known as the bagmen from a way back Avengers tale). I have often wondered if these two would ever dish out their smarts, and this is that crazy battle that some may have hoped for. But the ending is one some would never expect. (Plus this tale is the doorway for Ends of the Earth out now in a collection format!

With sweet villainy, comes sweet art! Ramos, Olzaba, and Delgado are an insane team when it comes to action, and there is plenty here. Two teams with only one winner. One of the most interesting scenes is just how Doc Ock gets around, within a mecha Octopus, no longer able to express himself in a regular manner. Ock is now just a corpse with eight legs; it feels creepy and weird but also pretty cool. Assembling his crazy allies and transporting them in a gigantic robot is something to see. Plus the gang from either side is very expressive in their diabolical schemes, even while taking blows there is somehow a well-knit brotherhood that strives to survive any challenge they face.

Devil and the Details – Written by Mark Waid, Art by Emma Rios #676

Where there is trouble, or missing gems, there is a Black Cat. Except she might be the cause of her troubles, and this crime could end her life or behind bars. Spidey seeks the aid of his old buddy Daredevil, as they go on a quest to put the pieces together behind Felicia’s mess. Except along the way, a special moment happens, and it’s not with who you think.

This special two parter is just phenomenal, bringing together a fun dynamic duo. Putting it lightly, it’s a buddy comedy, and a love story rolled into one. Spidey and DD are a classic team like no other, sort of like a classic western pair up. Waid delivers some fun one liners, and segments that anyone has fun reading. But once Black Cat gets into the mix, everything changes, especially the romantic aspect. It just leaves so many possibilities open (even being a tie-in story with the regular Daredevil series). Plus the last page just may leave the reader wanting to find out what will happen the day after.

Details with Rio’s style is insane, it feels and breaths like a manga, yet still keeps the classic Marvel vibe. Which is unique with her art designs, they are open, expressive yet engaging and sexy. With Kano its darker, light on edges, and works great in comparison with Rios’s style, its more of a “night and day” design and its solid. Plus both artists express a bit of an old school design, it actually feels a bit Kirby-esque, full of detail, yet there is so much going on within each page. I really want to see them do more art within ASM!

Overall, Flying Blind is a fun read, although a bit on the short side. I wish there was another tale that covers “the day after” with a certain character and Felicia, it feels so open ended. Well that’s probably saved for the next book. On the plus side, each tale works like a great recipe, and you feel humbled after indulging.

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ASM Game review

ASM / Nextgen – PS3/360/Wii

Webs – Many know the origin of Peter Parker, the guy who gets bit by a spider. Gains powers beyond imagination, but at a cost of those he cares about. In the past, his Uncle Ben told him “With great power comes great responsibility”. Taking place a short while after the new film, Peter and Gwen are within the Oscorp Labs, finding out about current research that could change humanity. Only one problem, the test subjects manage to escape their cells, and take on their masters. It’s up to Peter donning his Spidey gear, to save the day!

Arachnid – In the past entries of the film based games, it was Spider-Man 2 that broke the mold. Giving fans the rush: exploring Manhattan, and fighting crime. The biggest shift in game design was that enemies had a free range to bring terror to the wall-crawler. Within ASM it continues tradition, delivering the non-stop exhilaration, and intense battles that fans crave every time they read a comic. What makes ASM more unique is that its stuck to the past, but infusing some intense ideas. +Another fun plus is the voice acting, whether it’s the webhead or his friends, and enemies. It is so well done, none more can be said.

From stealth, to the new sticky web rush (techniques where Spidey can go from one space to another in a split second reaction, with precise aim). Plus Spidey is able to upgrade his skills, starting out with basic moves, eventually branching out and becoming more powerful. Zipping about the city has become even more frenetic, even gaining altitude can cause the webhead to become an intense creature, and speed will thrust you anywhere you want to go. Another hidden feature is in fact that there is no health bar. Players will know if they are getting whacked a bit too hard, when the screen begins to bleed big red web, once it overcomes the screen it’s a big sign you’re in trouble. In addition, Spidey can now use his webbing to feel vibrations from anything nearby. Using this skills comes in handy especially in the sewers, or in certain areas that have interconnected tunnels.

Pros – An intense experience playing the webhead. All of the speed, powers, and agility fans remember every time they play any game. New suit actually shows plenty of detail within the in-game engine. Plenty of areas to explore, and tons of comic book pages to collect! (In the extras section, there are viewable comic book issues from the past, and some present). Character profiles can be viewed as well, plus if you take snapshots of enemies they become part of your photo album. Web swinging has also changed a bit, it’s faster, tougher, and more aggressive. And the viewpoint from Spidey’s perspective happen in first person, and third. Plus if you missed something in a previous story plot mission, visit Peter’s apartment, check out the board to select any that you’ve played.

Cons- Some usage of the “Web Rush” technique may sometimes freeze up during various moments in-game. It actually gets stuck during use of stealth, or hitting key areas using Spidey’s POV.

It has always been tricky to figure out CQC (close quarters combat) especially in enclosed areas. Some will frustrate you, so just relax and it will work out in the end. Like most games lately, there are a few moments where you might find a glitch mid-web swinging about the city or during a fight. Just do your best, and if all else fails just quit and try again later. Plus the QTE (quick time events) almost make a return, but in spurts depending on the situation. Sometimes they may appear during boss fights, or key moments during missions. **However they are time sensitive, so it’s a bit of a stress test.

Greeting Cards – Another timeless piece of the Spider-Man series has been its foes. In ASM there is a multitude, some great, and some small. Including some familiar faces, and a few we haven’t seen awhile. The driving force behind ASM is that those escapees’s turned out to be Oscorp’s genetic mutations that have infected the city. With the aid of Dr. Connors, they work together to find a cure to help the people, and put the pieces together of whom may be behind the madness.

Monster – Just to give a perspective on how different ASM is.. I present a list of fun facts!

+ Mixing up gameplay styles like that of the Metroid series. Big bosses, and insane challenges

Did I forget to mention evil robots?

- Sometimes you might find yourself in a tight spot, just keep trying to figure out your terrain and don’t give up! (even if you wind up being clobbered a few times +Upgrades will unlock the further you progress, or obtain enough XP points

(Okay, you might be wondering XP?! Wait this can’t work. Guess what friend, it actually does. The idea was tested in Web of Shadows, and Edge of Time. Turns out XP is gained from taking out enemies, and completing various sub-mission, to finding comic book pages. Once you gain enough points, you can use them to upgrade your special abilities, and leveling up the wallcrawler.)

+When you obtain a camera from a certain reporter, it is then the shutterbug within is born. Like past entries, the camera is your best friend, and can take a simple photo creating huge buzz around the city. Never know what you might encounter. In fact, these missions also give Spidey an edge, helping spread the word around the city of the dangers that normal people don’t see with their own eyes. **With the aftermath of the Lizard’s attack, Spidey was framed as the bad guy. **How so? See the movie to find out.

All Wrapped Up – Two simple words to describe this game: simply awesome. If you’ve played any of the past Spidey inspired titles, this one you cannot miss. What makes this game unique is that past games based on the movies also went by the wayside with the plot. ASM doesn’t break tradition, but moves it forward carrying its own story that feels like it would be from the recent generation in comics right now. Even though some fans might miss Bruce Campbell’s narration, its still worth noting that Spidey actually gets to narrate some of his misadventures this time around. Like always, there is always something new wherever you explore.

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Smallville Season 10 review

Thought I would share a different kind of post this time around. Honestly I was surprised to find a copy of the last season at a store shelf. Thankfully I had some money saved up, just to obtain the only volume missing in my collection of the series. I pondered for awhile about picking it up a few months back. Because all of the local retailers had the price so insanely high. But I let my conscience take me over, and made up my mind. Bought it, and I felt it was well spent. But the outcome?

I was one of many viewers for the first episode many years ago. Before all the cable crazy insanity of reality junk. Smallville was a show that felt current, and it kept its storyline fresh as it possibly could. Plus story arcs actually carried onto the next season. Leaving all of us wanting more, and eager to see where the characters would go next. One of the biggest fans I know was my grandmother. It was something how knowledgeable all things Superman she really knew by heart. When she was growing up, a battle was just underway, and the world was changing. The printed page was nothing else of its time. Even for comics to actually be published, it was a limited run if you were in a rural place. However she was lucky enough to save a few bits of change to find new tales of wonder. Seeing Smallville brought a calmness to her heart. It also was the same kinship for my mom, whom still is a comic book fan. Her turning point with comics was the more diverse, yet challenging tales of the times.

I find myself in the middle of every season writing in stuff with other fans. Sharing fun things about what my family thought of each episode. The WB (now CW) hosted a traverse community of other eager S fans that couldn't keep ideas quiet. Oddly enough some things mentioned by fans were brought into several key episodes, and kudos were given in unique ways. However a little hidden easter egg of the shows, was the fact that they connected with past comics. Although they were delivered with more up to date ideas with tech, the writing on its own was unique. Characters many of us readers glance through, each page seeing it on screen unfold right through our eyes. But how to take Clark "off the ground" and "towards the heavens". This is what season 10 accomplished.

From sealing renegade Kryptonians, to dealing with Darkseid's armada.. and many more. It made things seem like it would never end. But once a certain moment came back, you knew where it would go, but its the how and drive that keep its momentum going. Even the "crashed" wedding is an awesome unforgettable moment. And the passing of the "trials" in the finale will make anyone whom ever read a comic get that "chill" down their spine. And that flight..

I just want to watch it again.

How do I feel about season 10? Honestly I loved it! And would want to see Tom Welling and friends take on a JLA movie. (if that is to be) Even though WB and DC push for solo titles.. just a compilation of all the heroes in one awesome film. Would it hurt? No, not at all. There is definitely potential from this series to push towards something more epic. It definitely left a mark on storytelling, and its actually changed the way comics are written.

Only one thing is missing.. sadly I lost my grandmother to alzheimers and dementia. Her heart was always in the clouds, and I'm glad that she's found a place to rest. As it turns out John Glover (who played Lionel Luthor) for many seasons. Also supports the Alzheimer's foundation (an awesome group btw!) I honestly don't know why I didn't write about things sooner. This is something I have guilty about for the past two years since then. I just tried to keep strong, with the happier times. But the best part is sharing with those who care, and know what one another is getting through. My grandma definitely believed a "man could fly".

To many friends here, I wish all of you and your loved ones do your best in this world of ours. Support one another, even through the hard times.

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Edge of Time afterthoughts

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who left their thoughts about the game. I have never met an open atmosphere quite like this. Some usually degrade it to a discussion of what subject is better than the other. Again thanks to fellow members here, I will definitely more post often.

Afterthoughts - First I'm surprised at how short the game truly was. Shattered Dimensions felt a bit longer, given 12 chapters to cover as four various kinds of Spidey's. Herein Edge of Time, the chapters are unraveled by each segment taken upon either ASM or 2099. However each mission is shared, so I'm not quite sure how their broken up into between them. It works, but the game just feels rushed, but it does play better than SD.

Second, the dialog really was beefed up given a bit more closure between two main heroes. It no longer feels repetitive, and you won't keep hearing the same one liners over and over. Plus during some key moments both Spidey's share an argument of "making it to point B in one piece" or "hey mob of enemies, I'm kinda tied up here!" And I don't want to forget, that they also comment about the environments' change, especially when the space-time bridge begins to join the timelines in a fracture. Also loved how much both actors delivery into their roles! (you have to play this game to understand how different the dialog truly is)

Third, feeling dizzy, this was an interesting feature I haven't seen before. Sure its a small detail, but when you're being hit by energy waves, everything becomes distorted (I remember it was explored with SD when Noir was gassed then left vulnerable).

Fourth, what I actually miss was some of the first person segments, those were some interesting moments where you felt everything was in your face.

Fifth, storyline = I felt it was a solid and engaging ride. I met Peter David at a past Comic Con. And its great to see his writing style made into a game format. I would have loved to read a script only version of the in-game story. Plus there is a lot more detail in the character descriptions. And I also enjoyed how different both Spidey's actually were. Not by powers alone, but what they could handle (or reconnect with).. guided by a certain voice, or driven to save someone they love. And I won't give a way who the main villain is, longtime fans will be truly surprised!

Honestly, I'm torn on rating this better than SD. If it were a bit longer, I would gladly add more points to this entry. I give Edge of Time a 4 out of 5.

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