Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Wake #3 – Review

the wake #3

Has anybody else been a little disappointed with The Wake so far? Not that the first few issues have been bad by any means, but Scott Snyder has created himself a good problem to have: He’s raised the bar very high for himself. The first two issues of The Wake teased us a lot, posed a lot of questions, but didn’t give us a whole lot of answers. It is a horror book, so of course everything wasn’t going to be laid out in front of us to begin with, but the series has a lot going on, has introduced us to a lot of characters and a lot is still shrouded in mystery. Good news though: Issue 3 is the best yet, and is action packed from start to finish.

If Alien is Jaws in space, then The Wake is Alien under the deep blue sea. (A similar concept to Deep Blue Sea as well, actually, but the less said about that movie the better.) Issue 3 sees the crew in a real state of panic as the creature(?) has escaped and isn’t in the best of moods. One fantastically horrifying scene, which involves the monster giving off neurotoxins similar to that of The Scarecrow’s, is a particular standout for shock value alone. The main crew is thinned out, which in my eyes is a good thing and means we can now focus on protagonist Lee Archer and just a handful of others.

There’s a somewhat predictable reveal at the end, but at least it’s progress in terms of driving the plot forward. The art by Sean Murphy once again is consistently top-notch. The inkers/colourists aren’t credited in the book, though whoever’s doing the colours is really bringing the book to life; particularly so with the often use of a moody blue and purple. The Wake stepped its game up this issue and will have me coming back next time. I only hope it continues on the momentum it’s now created for itself.

Score: 8.0

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Batman Annual #2 – Review

Batman annual #2

What I’m most fond of when DC releases Annuals for their books is that they’re usually a standalone story – and usually a prequel too – that doesn’t require you to be reading the mainline book. Of course I am reading Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman on a regularly basis, but to others who aren’t (why not?), it could/should entice them into buying monthly issues. Batman Annual #2 does tie into the current Zero Year story arc ever so slightly, but it cleverly doesn’t restrict new readers from jumping onboard and enjoying it just as much.

Written by new writer Marguerite Bennet (with Scott Snyder helping out with the story) and drawn by newcomer Wes Craig, the tale is told from three different characters – Batman, (new guy) Eric Border, and Arkham’s oldest inmate The Anchoress. There’s one central theme though: Arkham Asylum. Batman’s there to test out Arkham’s level of security, which is like being put through an obstacle course of death (though he seems to be enjoying himself). Eric’s there on his first day as an orderly, and most of his time is spent exploring the asylum. And The Anchoress’ story focuses on how and why she’s in Arkham Asylum.

It’s the interesting dynamic between the sympathetic orderly Eric Border and antagonist The Anchoress which is most interesting, though. Everyone has forgotten and lost interest in Arkham Asylum’s oldest inmate, apart from newcomer Eric. Her tale of how she was first put into the asylum is heartbreaking, but years have passed and she’s clearly become delusional. She claims that the locking up of familiar rogues has turned the asylum into a place that was once used to treat those who needed help – and she’s holding Batman solely responsible. She does a pretty good job of painting Batman as the villain, actually. Considering we don’t get a whole lot of monologue from Batman in the latter stages of the book to see him verbally defend himself, we don’t get to see his point of view or side to the story, unfortunately.

Greg Capullo has really raised the bar with his artwork of Batman since the New 52 debuted, but I’m happy to say I have no qualms whatsoever with fill-in artist Wes Craig. He does a really good job of making The Anchoress look both crazy and creepy, and I hope we see him on another Bat book in the future. What could be potentially labeled a throwaway story, as The Anchoress doesn’t quite fit the bill of the usual Batman rogue gallery and isn’t someone we’ll likely be seeing again anytime soon, writer Marguerite Bennet should be credited for introducing a new villain into the fray and running with it, where so many others would’ve played it safe. Batman Annual #2 won’t go down as a classic standalone story, but it still makes for an interesting and enjoyable read.

Score: 7.8

 

 

Batman ’66 #5 – Review

Batman '66 #5

If you’ve ever wanted to see Mr. Freeze and The Penguin slide down an ice slide together – whilst bickering, no less – to land into a perfectly positioned lifeboat, then good news, this issue has just that! Batman ’66 has been such a change of pace from DC’s mainline New 52 books, and I’m hoping that its success can pave the way for more light-hearted, old-school style DC books. ’60s Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, anyone? ‘Holy Deep Sea Diver’ the possibilities are endless.

#5 sees the Boy Wonder Robin with the responsibility of breaking Batman out of Penguin and Freeze’s ice dungeon, whom Freeze and Penguin seem to have forgotten about. And quick question: Does anybody else read Mr. Freeze’s dialogue in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s voice? It really brings the book alive and adds another layer of comedy to one of the more comical book out there. There’s cheesy lines and slapstick humour littered throughout, all while moving at the as come-to-expected brisk pace.

In my review of last week’s issue of Batman ’66, I expressed my disappointment in how it read like a normal comic does on Comixology (unlike the cinematic transitions we got in the first three issues) but when a book’s this fun and puts a smile on my face, I’ve quickly gotten over it. Besides, I’d be no better than one of Penguin’s goons wearing a t-shirt with goon written on it to nitpick anymore! Non-comic book readers aside, I don’t see no reason why anyone couldn’t pick up Batman ’66 and enjoy it.

Score: 8.5

A Week in Wrestling

Total Divas premier, #askdixie Twitter storm, Paige wins the NXT Women’s Championship, Sandow can’t swim, and last night’s taped episode of Raw

Total Divas premiered on Sunday and…

funny total divas premier

Actual thing Cena said.

I went into Total Divas the same way I expect most other wrestling fans did – curious but with low expectations. To best describe it would be to say if the WWE ever locked up with, say, The Kardashians and awful shows of that sort, then in the words of Vince Mcmahon, “spontaneous combustion!” Total Divas is born. We do get a little glimpse of the real lives’ of the women in WWE, but for the most part it’s a scripted drama. A badly scripted drama.

It may not be aimed at wrestling fans, but being a wrestling fan, I don’t even want the WWE to crossover with the ‘Kardashian-watching demographic.’ Apparently it did quite well ratings wise, which doesn’t surprise me. However, if more people watch this show than Smackdown or Impact Wrestling – which tend to have lower ratings than Raw – then I will have lost faith in humanity. Although it won’t be the first time that I have.

miz girl angry

I think it’s safe to say this girl wasn’t watching Total Divas

I don’t want to talk about the show too much more because, well, I want to get onto some real wrestling! But there was an upside to the show: a glimmer of Daniel Bryan walking his dog. Something I could watch on a weekly basis, actually, and something that should be a web-series. Apart from Daniel Bryan and his dog, though, we got Nikki Bella and John Cena re-enacting a scene from The Playbook, newbie Eva Marie getting her hair dyed red (whilst other newbie JoJo watched like an obedient dog), The Funkadactyls waiting for their costumes to be sewn minutes before their Wrestlemania match, and one of their boyfriend’s wanting to beat up Brodus Clay. Television, folks.

To the other end of the spectrum of women’s wrestling, Paige knocked off Emma in the final of the NXT Women’s Championship tournament to become the first ever NXT Women’s champion. Hooray! And what a great match it was from two future main-roster stars. I don’t really have a whole lot else to say, other than Paige vs AJ will happen one day. Potentially even a Wrestlemania match. In regards to Emma’s future, if her dancing gimmick gets over on Raw or Smackdown as much as it does on NXT, then we could have a new ‘YES! chant’ on our hands. (On our arms.) Sorry.

Paige and AJ Lee

Nope. Don’t get better than this.

Onto Smackdown, which was predominately focused on Cody Rhodes stealing Sandow’s briefcase and throwing it into the sea. Wrestling fans will know that this has been done before before but it really was a nice change of pace to the normal Smackdown ending of, well, ending on a match (usually a Del Rio match). Not only did we get a masterclass performance from Sandow, but we also got Sin Cara rummaging through a dustbin (ironically, his best performance yet). And much to my amazement/disappointment, the google search of ‘Sin Cara rummaging through a dustbin’ came up empty. But picture evidence or not, it happened on Smackdown, I swear! What was he looking for, though? Spare change? Food? A one-way ticket back to Mexico? Rey Mysterio? We’ll probably never know, but I just hope the poor sod found what he was looking for.

Sandow can't swim

Would one of you ignoramuses help this man

Onto last night’s taped episode of Raw, which had a very ‘house show vibe’ to it. A lot of matches, but not a whole lot of progression in terms of building current story-lines and/or creating new ones for Summerslam. But you know what? It was still better than last week’s show, and we got more than a few better-than-average matches. And we got the tables match between Ryback and Cena that has, reportedly, been the dark match of Raw for the past few months or so now. So he can lighten up now he’s no longer going to be put through tables anymore. I’m trying to think of something funny to say but I’ve got nothing, guys. Sorry.

Strangely enough, there was no Orton again on Raw this week, however he was on Smackdown again. Potentially keeping him off Raw to keep him away from the Bryan/Cena angle? There was no Sheamus this week either. Are you satisfied now, hardcore wrestling fans? Maybe one week, just one week, we’ll get a show with no Sheamus, Cena or Del Rio – aka Vince Mcmahon’s favourites, but wrestling fans’ arch enemies. Perhaps this is why their new pay-per-view is called Battleground, no? Book it. And speaking of battlegrounds, last night’s tables match was somewhat of a battleground, wasn’t it? Tables were planted everywhere like mines. I liked it.

d.gif

Before I get off the topic of the fairly quiet Raw, I want to know how in God’s name live tweets were being reported on by Cole and Lawyer if it was a pre-taped show? My only solution is that people in the crowd were tweeting during the show? It’s going onto my list of mysteries alongside the ‘what was Sin Cara looking for’ mystery. Last thought on Raw: Vince Mcmahon’s promo with Daniel Bryan was a little weird, wasn’t it? He doesn’t want neither Bryan or Cena to win? Both Maddox and now Vince have been squeezed into the story for the sake of there being a villain, which I understand but don’t necessarily like. I just hope there’s no outside interference during the big match. But let’s change directions and head to TNA and the whole #askdixie debacle, shall we?

If you read some of the tweets people were sending using the ‘askdixie’ hashtag last week, then you’ll know Ill timing may be describing the Q&A session somewhat lightly. #askdixie was the number one trend in the UK and was also trending worldwide. As one fan simply put it, the good news for TNA: #askdixie is trending. The bad news for TNA: #askdixie is trending. In fact, I think she took such a roasting that she couldn’t do much answering. I mean, just when is Bilbo Baggins going to join the Impact roster? Tell us, Dixie!

There was a lot of heat and bad vibes sent her way, including hate towards Hogan, Brooke and Bischoff, too. In the end it got so blown out of proportion that Dixie sent out a message regarding the recent departures of talent, the state of the company, and future endeavours. The only way I can ever see a wrestling related hashtag being topped would be if there was ever an #asktotaldivas hashtag. Which I would participate in.

#askdixie

Thursday’s Impact itself saw a new X-Division champ in Manic (formerly known as Suicide, and formerly took his mask off for one week then to put it back on). We got three good matches in Mickie James vs Gail Kim, Samoa Joe vs Christoper Daniels, and the standout match between Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles. The crowd then chanted ‘you tapped out’ straight after Hardy tapped out. Way to go, wrestling fans. I don’t understand this whole BFG series scoring system, as points seem to randomly be given out. I don’t know if the TNA creative knows how the scoring system works either, though if I was in charge, I’d just rip off WWE’s King of the Ring format. Just saying. We also got Bully Ray and his Kevin Nash-lookalike lawyer threatening to sue TNA for his loss of the World Title, which, of course, makes no sense, but when Bully Ray’s involved, I’m invested.

And before I go, TNA are teasing an appearance from a mystery man on this week’s Impact, with the latest video stating that it’s not Dave Bautista. Huh? I don’t think anyone really expected it to be Batista, but hey, what the hell! Who could it be? Wild internet speculation so far suggests that it could either be A) Adam Pierce; B) Hardcore Holly; C) John Morrison; or D) somebody else. I’m going with D).

But until next time, folks, take care.

we the people

4 Comics to Buy This Week

Ah, Wednesday. A day just like any other to some, but a comic book reader’s favourite day of the week. Why? Well it’s new release day, silly! Yep, every Wednesday. And this week, as always, there are some fantastic new books on the market. So read on below to find out which five books I think you should buy. Disagree with my picks? Then let me know what I missed out by using the comment section below.

The Last Of Us American Dreams #4

From Arkham City to Mass Effect, it’s safe to say comic books based on videogames have majorly improved as a whole in the past few years, and The Last Of Us American Dreams has continued the trend. Issue four sees the prequel miniseries come to a close, and although those who have played through the game (which is fantastic, by the way) may know the outcome, seeing the events unfold in comic book form from artist/writer Faith Erin Hicks and writer Neil Druckman (of both the comic and the game) is a price worthy of £2.50/$4.00.

Last of Us #4

Batman Annual #2 

Where did this one come from? Oh ok, I know, from the brilliant mind of Scott Snyder, but it wasn’t until last week that I was aware of this book’s existence. Perhaps it got buried under the madness that was SDCC but, nonetheless, shame on me! It’s the first issue that, I believe, isn’t being pencilled by Greg Capullo. Onboard comes artist Wes Craig for the annual, and if ever there’s been a time for his art to shine, the time is now. The annual is another tie-in to the current Zero Year arc, and it’s if it’s as good as last year’s Mr. Freeze-centric annual, then we’re in for a treat.

Batman Annual #2

The Wake #3 

Yep, another Scott Snyder book to pick up this week, as his and Sean Murphy’s underwater horror book looks to be taking a change of pace into the fast lane. The seeds have been planted in the first two issues, but now it’s time to get some answers and see what The Wake is really about.

the wake #3

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #24 

Comixology actually put this up to buy by mistake last Wednesday, but I managed to buy it before it got pulled. And I reviewed it, too. You can read the review here if you wish (beware of minor spoilers, though) <https://scottbarkergaming.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/tmnt-24-city-fall-part-3-review/&gt;. In short, if you’ve been enjoying the City Fall arc, you’ll be glad to know part 3 of the story doesn’t drop the ball, and it sets up the events very nicely for next month’s two year anniversary special. But can Old Hob be trusted?

TMNT 24

 

Marcus Beer – Videogame Journalism’s Biggest Disgrace

Fish and Beer - the creator and the thug

Phil Fish (left) and Marcus Beer (right); the creator and the thug

Marcus Beer, or “Annoyed Gamer” as he likes to call himself, took to Invisible Walls (a chat-show on Gametrailers’ website), and verbally attacked videogame developers Phil Fish (Fez) and Jonathan Blow (Braid). He called them both ‘tosspots’, ‘fucking hipsters’, ‘wankers’, and directly to Fish, a ‘fucking asshole’.

Shortly after the video was posted, Phil Fish tweeted that the recently announced Fez 2 has been cancelled, and that he’s getting out of the gaming industry for good. He said, “and I’m getting out of games because I choose not to put up with this abuse anymore.”

The thug posing for the camera with a cigarette in his mouth

The thug posing for the camera with a cigarette in his mouth

This is cyberbullying from a so-called “Professional Videogame Journalist”. Plain and simple, Marcus Beer is a bully and a thug, and he’s bullied one of gaming’s most promising developers out of the industry. Not only is he single-handedly giving Gametrailers a bad name, but also giving the words ‘Professional’ and ‘Videogame Journalist’ a bad name too. There needs to be repercussions to Marcus’ violent verbal attack.

I know I wouldn’t want to show up to work and be called a fucking asshole, and I don’t think Marcus realises just how hurtful words can be. What’s most frustrating is that Marcus Beer seems quite smug about the whole situation, judging from his Twitter account. I’ve reached out to him on Twitter, voicing my disappoint and lack of disrespect he’s shown as a ‘professional’, but he has not replied.

Fez 2

We’ll never even get to see the game now, let alone play it

There’s young people, myself included, wanting to become a videogame journalist. As somewhat of a veteran in the gaming industry, Marcus should be setting an example for the younger generation to come. What he’s done is quite the opposite of setting an example; verbally attacking a developer is not professional behaviour, and it’s stooping down to the level of playground bullying.

If this is how a professional journalism behaves and gets away with it, then quite frankly, I don’t want to share the same job title as him. Gaming is a form of entertainment and is supposed to be fun; Marcus is turning it into something else entirely. This isn’t the first time he’s acted brash or violently towards others, either, as he often results to name-calling in his weekly show on Gametrailers, Annoyed Gamer. How a man like this ever got into the industry in the first place bemuses me – let alone how he still has a job.

Marcus Beer then had the audacity to ask to speak to Phil Fish in person at Pax, after he’d already called him a fucking hipster, tosspot, wanker and an asshole. And he wonders why the people he’s invited to his show have never turned up? I know I’d steer well clear of Marcus Beer if I ever saw him at a gaming convention.

Fez, one of XBLA's greatest

Fez – one of XBLA’s greatest

He also called Phil Fish ‘whiny’, which is the hypocritical statement of the year, considering whining is exactly what Marcus does on a weekly basis on his show. Marcus is always very quick to point out others’ wrongdoings, but it’s his big mouth and wrongdoings that have finally caught up to him, as he’s crossed the line with his verbal abuse this time. He will now and forever be known as the man that pushed the creator of Fez, Phil Fish, out of a career he loved.

Just to clarify, I don’t think Marcus Beer should kill himself (I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone), that’s not what this post is about; this post is about pointing out videogame journalist Marcus Beer’s constant aggressive and thuggish nature, his complete lack of professionalism, and his lack of empathy towards others. We don’t need people like Marcus Beer in the gaming industry, and perhaps one day when he finally mellows and grows up, he’ll realise this too.

The Wolverine – Review

Hugh Jackman’s back for the 6th time(!) to play Marvel’s most most popular X-Man, and this time it’s a standalone venture to Japan away from the main ensemble of the X-Men. But is Japan a culture shock for Logan? Or does the city of Tokyo welcome The Wolverine with open arms? Well yes, and no.

For folks not in the know, since 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, we’ve had two prequel X-Men films since then (X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men: First Class), but The Wolverine is the first that takes place sometime after the events of X3. A film that takes place after the events of a movie that released seven years ago may seem like an extremely long time, but the good news here is that The Wolverine is, essentially, a standalone film, that even newcomers to the series should be able to jump right into and enjoy. The only real tie back to previous films is – spoiler – the reoccurrence of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) through dream sequences.

Loosely based on the 1982 limited series comic book ‘Wolverine’ by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, The Wolverine sees Logan visit an old acquaintance, Yashida, in Japan – whom he’d once saved from a near-death experience during a war some years prior – to grant him a dying wish. Without going into too much spoiler-ish detail, Logan finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and finds himself target enemy no. 1 before he can even get his get claws out.

Wolverine #4

The Wolverine may not be the biggest budget X-Men movie to date, but it is the most visually impressive. Partly to do with the visceral beauty and culture of Japan, and fully to do with director James Mangold’s brilliantly captured action sequences. From James Bond to the Bourne trilogy, we’ve all seen high-octane rooftop chase scenes and larger than life action set-pieces, but the action in Wolverine manages to be both fast and frantic, but yet also manages to feel so grounded and not out of the realm of danger or possibility. A heart-racing train scene is the most memorable of sequences, and is as every bit of fun as it is exhilarating.

Hugh Jackman is psychically ripped – even more so than before – this time around as Wolverine, though it’s not only his hulking structure and physique that stands out on screen, it’s a memorable performance due to the different side we see of Wolverine. He’s at his most vulnerable; his healing powers and immortality have been taken away from him, and it’s the first time in Logan’s life that he is is reduced to a man; a vulnerable man with a target on his back. And there’s a Viper ready to strike.

The Wolverine #3

Svetlana Khodchenkova plays new mutant and main adversary Viper, and is every bit as sexy and seductive as she is cruel and deadly in the role. We don’t get a whole lot of screen time with her in the two hours running time, especially if you want to compare her to, say, a DC movie villain like Bane or Zod, which may disappoint fans of the baddies out there. However, her motives are made clear and her characteristic traits are fleshed out well enough. Although Viper doesn’t get her hands dirty until the end, it’s her ninjas and expert archer, Harada, who do most of the fighting throughout and take part in the aforementioned great action scenes.

 

Luckily for Logan, he’s not alone, though, as newfound friend and love interest Yukiko (Rila Fukushima) and Mariko (Tao Okamoto) – the granddaughter’s of Yashida – are on-hand to help. Both ladies are great in their respective roles and we get enough downtime with them both to get to know them, but they’re tied to one unfortunate problem I found with the film: the slightly convoluted family tree of Yashida’s family. Male figures – father, fiancée, ex-lover – pop in and out of the movie with a grudge held against Yukiko and Mariko, though in the end it becomes a B-storyline and makes it hard to remember who’s who exactly with the main thread of the story taking place at the same time.

The Wolverine #2

Unfortunately The Wolverine’s biggest disappoint is its very final act, which plays out like a bad videogame boss battle would. Yes, for whatever reason a huge steel machine is pitted against Wolverine to conclude, to as expected results. The generic battle is a real shame, too, as it’s the only real major slip-up to an otherwise anything but generic X-Men movie. A great ensemble of women, fresh new foes and, once again, a great outing from Hugh Jackman make The Wolverine a must-see movie and the surprise comic book movie hit of the summer.

Score: 8.7/10