Archives For May 2013

image

The epic finale to Wrath of the First Lantern also ends the epic 9 year run of Green Lantern for Geoff Johns. Johns took green lantern from almost Aquaman level to one of the most popular and most powerful characters of the DC Universe. He’s put Hal though the Sinestro Corp War, Blackest Night, and Brightest Day. There have been wars between all the corps and within the green as well. His run on Green Lantern is what got me back into comics starting with blackest night, and now its over. It’s sad to watch him go but with this last issue he did a perfect job of wrapping up the entire run. There is no way to be disappointed with how this issue went. It was a perfect ending to a perfect series. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he does the same with Aquaman that he did with Hal.
The issue starts with a new green lantern recruit ending his training and reading the story of Hal Jordan from the book of Oa. The book gives a quick recap of the events starting with Rebirth and runs up to the end of issue 19 with Hals nose dive off of a cliff. The rest of the narration done throughout the book is done by the cloaked man reading the book. It then jumps back to present time where Volthoom is finally in Oa ready to destroy the guardians along with the rest of the corp. This is where all 4 books come together (like always for Green Lantern cross-overs) , Attrocitus wants the guardians for himself and must fight volthoom to get at them, and Kyle Rayner uses his new White Lantern powers to try to help the Green Lanterns in any way he can.
If you’ve been reading all the titles in the cross-over event the story gets a little predictable at times but still managed to surprise me. The story is brilliant and the guest artists like Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, and others return to the book with tons of amazing splash pages including a 4 page spread at the end.

Score: 5/5

https://i1.wp.com/b-i.forbesimg.com/davidewalt/files/2013/05/microsoft-xbox-one.jpg

I think I’m in the minority by saying I for one am excited about this. If you missed the reveal or don’t want to watch it, don’t worry because NerdSynq will tell you all you need to know. Let’s start with the name, Xbox One, most people hate this name, I personally like it. It represents unity between you and all your entertainment; you are now one with the Xbox. Now let’s get down to what it looks like and what it can do.

Hardware
Again in the minority about this but I like the way it looks; it looks like a sleek, ultra-modern NES. It also now comes with 8 GB’s of RAM (which is how much is in my computer); 500 GB’s of hard drive, Blu-Ray player and built in Wi-Fi and HDMI ports. I know the last two have already been in the Xbox for some time but because I have an older version I am happy these things will be built in, and I haven’t gotten to experience these. The Blu-Ray is perhaps the best addition to the Xbox One considering that was the only thing Sony had over Xbox. Onto the Software!

Home screen
The Windows 8 display, I think it works for a game console or a touch screen. Considering that the Kinect (which I will get to in a minute) is mimicking a touch screen I think the Windows 8 like display will work flawlessly. Besides which the Xbox 360 is running a similar like display already.
Another cool thing added is Snap Mode; this allows you to multitask with the Xbox One. For instance you can play a game and browse Facebook at the same time or watch a TV show and Skype with a friend. However for some of the things, such as the fantasy football line-up, it looked as if the guy was using Smart Glass to manipulate it. Which begs the question why not just use the Kinect?

The Kinect
Okay, here is one of my biggest gripes about the Xbox One. The Kinect comes with it, regardless if you want it or not, and I’m pretty sure you’re going to have to use it. Of course this hasn’t been confirmed yet but it seems like with all the hype they are putting around it you are going to have to install it and keep it active if you want to have your system running. My first thought is ‘Oh, well Microsoft will be changing its name to Skynet soon.’ I’m very concerned with this; I don’t want some guy at Microsoft to watch me playing my games naked.
The Kinect looks to have a similar function to what it does now, basic voice command and hand movements. However they introduced something that new that doesn’t seem to promising, the Instant Switch. Which I don’t think I will work really well just because of the Kinect I’m using now, it has lag and a lot of it. This allows you to “instantly” switch between your games, movies, apps, music and TV.

Entertainment
“TV you say?” TV I say! That’s right they are now allowing us to watch TV through our Xbox, are you tired of switching between inputs to go between your Xbox and TV? No? Me neither. I know what some of you are thinking, “I can just use my Xbox to watch TV, I don’t need cable!” you’d be wrong. From my understanding you still have to go throw your cable provider which kind of sucks.
Tonight was a night filled with partnerships, one of which being the NFL. So now you can watch every game through the NFL and get real time updates, they already had ESPN so I don’t see the benefit to also having a NFL app. Though I’m not a huge sports fan so I won’t be using either app.
Lastly they announced Wake Up, John. A new series directed by Steven Spielberg about, you guessed it, Halo! They didn’t go into what it’s going to be about, but I know people are already going to be pumped just because it’s Halo.

Games
Perhaps the most disappointing part of the night was the games section; they did not once show actual gameplay, just cut scenes. For instances Forza 5 looked amazing the detail of the paint on the car was just stunning… for a launch trailer. Only two other games were mentioned one of which “stole” the show and will be talked about for a little while, that game was Quantum Break. I don’t know how I feel about a live-action trailer for a game that no one has heard of but the couple seconds of the actual game looked pretty dang cool, I love me some time manipulation. The rest of the trailer was just two people talking about some pretty vague stuff. I am excited to see more however; and the last game that got a lot of people pumped up, Call of Duty: Ghosts. They showed a lot of what the game is going to look like now that it is on the Xbox One. It looked fantastic (for a Call of Duty game), and the doggy was adorable; y’know as adorable as a blood thirsty dog with titanium fangs can be. The story is to be written by Stephen Gaghan and the concept sounds interesting enough. However nobody plays the Call of Duty games for the story they play for the multiplayer! It sounds like they are trying to go all out with this; interactive levels, character customization, “better matches”. Plus with the announcement of the built-in recorder for Xbox One, I know this will be a fun experience (even if it is only for 10 hours). I for one hope they can accomplish all they set out for though and I know a lot of people don’t like Call of Duty and say it is killing the gaming community but I disagree.

The Bad
Among the NFL partnership EA also agreed to some sort of partnership with Microsoft. To which I let out an audible “Uh-oh”. Though they won’t say what it entails they have said that they are working on making the Xbox One more “developer friendly” which greatly concerns me. I’m afraid that EA will do their best to ruin Xbox and online game play. But I can put one rumor at ease, the always online factor. This has been confirmed as a fallacy though they never directly said anything about it during the reveal; you can read more about this at http://news.xbox.com/2013/05/qa . Another rumor currently going around is that you will have to pay a fee for used games. This was also not in the reveal however I have looked into it only a little bit. From my understanding you’ll only have to pay for the used game if you want to install it onto your hard drive, which makes sense that way you can’t take it to a friend’s house have them install the game and keep the disc for yourself and both play the game even though only one of you bought it. I don’t have a complete understanding of this because no one has official said anything about it yet, and it looks like we are going to have to wait till E3 to hear more.

Until then I remain hopeful that the Xbox One can live up to my and Microsoft’s expectations and still be a good console. I am super excited to find out more and to buy the system later this year!

Justice_League_of_America_Vol_3-3_Cover-1

 

Justice League of America Issue 3 Review

     As always let’s start with the cover. I may be in the minority, but I am really enjoying the fold out covers DC has been producing lately. It brings back memories of the early to mid-nineties covers when there was an anniversary or a crossover going on.  The fold out not only makes every issue seem like an event, but hints at the story inside.  It is a decent cover, done by the wonderful David Finch, with Martian the Manhunter and Hawkman coming to the aide of Green Arrow while Katana looks on in disbelief.  The attacker is Catwoman with her trademark whip coiled around the neck of Green Arrow. The caption reads, “Who is the traitor in their midst?” 

     The prologue opens with a public service announcement featuring Stargirl being broadcast on television.  Following the P.S.A., Amanda Waller informs Stargirl that the team has gone on a mission that she cannot be a part of due to her being the public face of the team, and any harm or injury coming to her would be unacceptable.  The story then jumps to a fight between the team and the big three: Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.  Katana severs Wonder Woman’s head from her body, revealing that our favorite Amazon is really a robot.  The battle concludes with Vibe letting loose a widespread blast that destroys the androids and brings the action to an abrupt end.  Katana suspects the Catwoman of being a traitor due to her disappearance before the attack. Yet after a quick mind scan, Manhunter deduces that she is not the traitor. 

   The team then sets up a robbery scenario for Catwoman during which she is arrested by the League to maintain the ruse that she is not a member of the team—and to drum up notoriety with the media.  The false robbery is interrupted by Green Arrow when it appears that Catwoman is escaping capture.  When the news helicopters arrive, Green Arrow appeals for his own position in the League and promises to keep Catwoman’s involvement a secret.  The main story ends with Catwoman going undercover in Arkham Asylum, with the intent of infiltrating the Secret Society of Super-Villains. It is—of course—successful.  (There is a mini story at the end of the book that gives a bit of background information on both Manhunter and Catwoman during the aforementioned mind scan. Manhunter sees Ms. Kyle’s life through his own eyes and Selina sees Manhunter’s past through hers.)
Final thoughts on this issue: the story is moving slower than Sherman Klump in quicksand.  I’m not sure if Geoff Johns is being spread too far over too many books, but after three issues the setup should be done. Which is clearly not the case here.  So far, this team does not have enough to be anything more than a pale imitation of the Justice League and I’m afraid it never will.  Perhaps this should have been a miniseries instead of an ongoing monthly in order to set up a fight between the Justice Leagues.  If I may paraphrase Peter Griffin, there are a few things that really “grind my gears” about this book.  The first is that why wouldn’t Martian the Manhunter—arguably the most powerful psychic mind on the planet—know that he is not fighting against living beings?  Secondly, if the plan from issue one holds up, how is Katana in any way a match for Wonder Woman?  If Johns has something up his sleeve with this book he had better pull it out quick before this book gets axed. 

This issue gets a 2 out of 5 stars and has some serious work to do.

UncannyAvengers_8_Cover

Uncanny Avengers Issue 8 Review

     As always lets start with the cover, by John Cassaday and Laura Martin, which is masterfully done.  There is also a Sunfire variant cover, which is a nice touch, because of the whole foreshadowing aspect. It’s no secret that Sunfire is a criminally seldom-used Marvel character, so it is nice to see him get some ink in a major book.  (Speaking of criminal, how is there no confirmed casting of Sunfire in the upcoming The Wolverine movie? I mean, he is the most popular Japanese mutant and he—as of yet—hasn’t even been mentioned! Not even a simple cameo in a movie set in Japan?) While on the subject of the Avengers’ new additions, it is great to see Wonder Man back where he belongs, along with the Wasp; it would not feel like much of an Avenger book without them. Rick Remender has definitely been putting together quite the roster for this; a nice diverse mix of characters, personalities, and abilities.

    Remender is picking up where he left off with the Uncanny X-Force, while delightfully upping the ante even more. This issue begins with Thor attempting to save millions of lives from a falling space station that is hurtling towards the Earth.  He obliterates half of it by hurling Mjolnir through it, while a last second save from Sunfire takes care of the other half. This scene is action packed and looks like something worthy of a blockbuster movie like Iron Man 3. The Apocalypse Twins, Eimin and Uriel, are back in this issue, and are making a huge splash in a short amount of time. From crashing a space station, killing a large gathering of Apocalypse worshippers, and killing a Celestial last issue, they are making their extreme power and presence known.  The twins lure Thor and Sunfire inside their ship and whisk them away to places unknown. Eimin and Uriel touch on Wolverine and Thor’s shady past with Apocalypse and his ilk and make it known they are out to make them, and the world, pay for it.

    The story moves to Sudan where Captain America, wounded and trapped, comes to the realization that this a calculated move.  Someone is pulling strings to get him in this place at this time and has been watching him since he landed. While aboard the Quinjet, Rogue and Wolverine have a conversation where Logan manages not to totally tip his hand about his knowledge of the Apocalypse Twins and Archangel. Janet comes in on the end of the conversation and shows a clear concern over this private talk between “ X-Men types”.  This is an interesting dynamic that Remender has touched on several times throughout this book.  This tension is amazingly refreshing and come on, it would be too cliché if after the Avengers vs X-Men storyline the two teams blended seamlessly after a few issues.  The icing on top of the cake about the Uncanny Avengers, is that the tension seems completely organic. In addition to the natural feel to the drama between the teams, there is no new car smell to it. This beef has been brewing for a while. The book ends with the Apocalypse Twins letting loose a powerful widespread blast of energy and with a last page of pure white.

     Overall this issue was action packed and kept the story moving. Nothing short of a feather in the cap of Remender.  I give this issue a 4.5 out 5.

iron-man-3

As you sit in the theater with your bag of popcorn, soda, and favorite MARVEL hero branded on your chest (could be Ironman who knows)—you start to wrap yourself into the cocoon of storytelling. Anxiety mounts because you know the end is coming, and you wonder how exactly it will happen. Will Tony stumble upon something great? Will they include the little bits that you have come to love from the trilogy? Or will they even wrap it up properly, perhaps MARVEL will drop the ball on this one?

After a prologue in which Tony meets scientists Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). It was, if only for a glimpse, a branch that the story drives on—we make our own demons. Introduced to the concepts of Extremist, which are brushed under for only a second. We catch up with him toiling away endlessly, sleeplessly in the inner workings of his abode—trying to come to terms with New York; hinting towards the soiree. Several times showing that only the mention of the word is enough to send him into a snowballing panic attack.

It shows that there is something more, a peek that there is some change in the foundation of Tony Stark, more so in the man and that through the bravado he can be visibly wounded. Obviously it got to him, brushing elbows with Norse gods, coming close to death and trying to piece together answers. Riddled with uncertainty for the unexplained, and learning that he is, as he puts it “A man in a can.” A full understanding of where he is in the cogs.

However, not without troubles of his own that allow him to take the lime-light. With the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) knocking on his door step, and posing an immanent and viable threat there isn’t much time to leave Tony Stark to wallow. We are, as always, thrown into the fray of high octane action with choppers frenetically bombarding the Malibu villa. There never seems to be a settling moment. Iron Man 3 pulls us to and fro with the usual wit, banter with eternal companion Jarvis (voiced by Paul Bettany), as well as with head of security Happy Hogan (Favreau), love interest Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). One of the biggest draws is how much they tried to cram into this last hurrah, which in fact make it seem cluttered at times. Including daring rescues, acrobatic feats with Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) assisted with the symphony of robots.

But in usual Iron Man fashion the movie breaks into the conflict quick, whisking us into the very experience that attacks the senses. Albeit sometimes overwhelming. Shane Black took the reins, charged forward without fear, and handled the ending of this franchise better than anyone could have expected. All in all it left me wanting more, perhaps it’s the fact that I had only seen it hours ago— it almost doesn’t seem real.  IronMan 3 was far from a letdown but I feel that while it was good, there were parts of the movie that could have been tightened.

GRADE: B+