Category Archives: Comics

Out This Week

Welcome to another addition of Out This Week, the weekly feature that highlights the week’s new releases in videogames, movies, television and comics in one handy place. So read on below to see what’s out, what’s hot and what’s not.

Videogame of the week – Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (Xbox 360)

Quite simply, you will have never played a game quite like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons before. Simultaneously you take control of two brothers, using the left stick and left analog stick for the older brother, and the right trigger and right analog stick for the younger brother. The control scheme feels very alien at first, and it can become very frustrating during particular points, though look past the controls and you have a beautiful world similar to Fable with a mesmerising story to boot. You can read my full review here – https://scottbarkergaming.wordpress.com/tag/brothers-a-tale-of-two-sons/ 

Brothers a tale of two sons

Also out this week:

Tales of Xillia (PS3) – One for the JRPG fanatics out there!

Movie of the Week – Alan partridge Alpha Papa

Alan Partridge, also known as Steve Coogan and Siegeface, makes his way to the big screen for the first time in Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, which sees him and several hostages held up in a siege at a local radio station after one former radio presenter goes a bit crazy after loosing his job. And that’s the whole premise, really; though in true Partridge fashion, there are plenty of laughs along the way. The simple concept isn’t quite strong enough to warrant the 90 minute running time, and sometimes the plot stretches a bit too thin. However, if you’re looking for a laugh this weekend, then get down to the cinemas for some good old British humour!

Alan Partridge Alpha Papa

Also out this Week:

Percey Jackson: Sea of Monsters – When i first saw the trailer for this film, I actually thought it was a parody of Twilight and The Hunger Games. Turns out it isn’t, but just looks terribly bad.

Grown Ups 2 – It took an absolute beating at the American box office and from critics, and it should come to no surprise to anyone who’s seen the awful trailers.

The Lone Ranger – Johnny Depp, much like Adam Sandler, is taking a bit of a beating from film critics at the moment, after a slur of poorly received and reviewed films. Probably one best suited for the kids I would presume.

TV Show of the Week – Breaking Bad 

Well this is it, folks. Breaking Bad’s coming to an end, starting on Sunday (Monday on Netflix in the UK) with part two of season 5 with its final 8 episodes. We all know what happened in the midseason premiere, don’t we? Spoiler: Hank sort of found out that Walter is Heisenberg. This series has been dark ever since it started, and there’s been many lives lost and many drugs made, but will the man who knocks finally be brought down to his knees?

Breaking Bad season finale

Other shows on TV this week: 

Dexter – Dexter’s still plodding along in its last season, though it’s at a bit of a pitstop in its sixth episode and feels a little like we’ve seen this whole process before. Seven times before, in fact.

Ray Donavon – What I like to call the Grand Theft Auto of TV series, as it’s just as crazy, violent and fun as the popular Rockstar franchise. Like GTA? Then check this show out.

Futurama – Leela gets squidification (transforming her into a squid) in this Jack and the Beanstalk (kind of) homage episode.

Comics – Top Pick: Trillium #1

Having just recently read the whole of Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth series (yeah I know I was late to the party!), and being a regular reader of his current run on Animal Man, I’m always interested in a project Lemire’s involved in. After reading the two separate but connected stories in #1 of Trillium, It’s clear from the offset that this book has big ambitions. Much like the second most recently released Vertigo book The Wake, it poses a lot of questions and doesn’t tell too many answers. That, my friends, is called the hook — aka hooking the readers into buying the next issue to find out more!

trillium #1

Also Hot This Week in Comics 

The Bunker – A time travel series with not robots or lasers but moral conundrum and character at its heart. I’m not the biggest fan of black and white books, but The Bunker’s first issue is this good and only 69p/$1, I cannot complain!

Superior Foes of Spider-man #2 – With superior villains come superior problems, as the bad guys are bailed out in what could be the year’s sleeper hit.

Robocop Last Stand #1 – Frank Miller’s incredible screenplay has been brought to life in this hard-hitting Steven Grant (2 Guns, Punisher: Circle Of Blood) penned adaptation. It’s Robocop’s last stand, as it was always intended to be.

Burn The Orphanage: Born to Lose #1 – Street Fighter in comic book form, folks. If you’ve ever wanted to see old school fighting games have a great story, then Burn The Orphanage is definitely for you.

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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

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

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

 

Batman ’66 “Emperor Penguin Part 1” – Review

Issues 1-3 of Batman ’66 were the best digital comics I’ve ever read. Hence the word ‘digital’, as they weren’t necessarily the best comics I’ve read, (although they were freakin’ great!) but in terms of using the full potential of an Ipad and Comixology’s guided view, Batman ’66 was somewhat of a revelation on DC’s front, as it was their first real plunge into exploring the power and diversity of digital comics. So after buying #4 and expecting more of the same, suffice to say I was a little disappointed to find out it read just like a normal comic would on Comixology. No cinematic transitions, no addition of single panels and word balloons to show more direct changes and to better drive the action?

There’s no reason, as far as I’m aware of, as to why #4 hasn’t continued the trend of the first arc, or if this is how the series is going to read from now on, but I do know this: the book is still all kinds of awesome. Writer Jeff Parker introduces “the pompous prince of perilous plots” The Penguin into the fray, as he’s somehow managed to park a gigantic iceberg just off of Gotham’s shore and he’s refusing to move. As ridiculous as it may sound, It’s actually not too ridiculous in Batman ’66’s lore, where nothing seems to be off limit.

Writer Jeff Parker has expressed his fandom for the Batman ’66 TV show, and you can tell he’s really enjoying writing these fantastic scripts. New artist Ty Templeton does just as solid as a job as previous artist Jonathan Case, though as previously mentioned, it’s only a shame the digital prowess wasn’t put to full use like in the first arc. For the bargain of 69p/$1 though, this is one book you should be picking up on a weekly basis.

Score 8.3/10

TMNT #24 City Fall Part 3 – Review

Note: TMNT ships next week – 31/7 – but Comixology had it up earlier today (24/7) and has now, unfortunately, had to pull it. But luckily for me I managed to nab it as soon as it went up!

It’s almost been two years since IDW’s reboot of the beloved TMNT, so it’s fitting that part 3 of  ‘City Fall’ sets things up very nicely for the battle of New York in next month’s special edition. As well as this issue providing a great build up for #25, it did a lot more than that. It was action packed and also taught me this: (spoiler) Never trust a cat with an eye-patch. After reading Old Hob’s Villain Micro-series and getting to see his thoughts and see his sides of the story, I was feeling a little sorry for the guy and I thought this may be his chance to become a good guy. But nope, he went and set the Turtles up. To his credit, he did get them out of the sticky situation.. well, at least Slash did. (Can…Dee!).

What this issue does so well – what the series as a whole does so well, actually – is the ability to have dark story-lines like City Fall, but yet throw in humour to boot; like Slash – a giant, snapping turtle – who is treated to his first candy bar by Michelangelo (who else?) and enjoys it like a three-year-old child’s first experience with chocolate.

City Fall has been the darkest arc to date of the series, and when it’s the Turtles saying ‘now’s not the time for jokes’, then you know now’s not the time for jokes. So we got dark Leo/Foot Clan Leonardo, who now has a Wolverine-esque claw on his left hand as well as carrying a Bo staff, nun-chucks and his own signature sword — so, needless to say, a badass. But is Leo, or one of the other Turtles, going to die next month? Or will Leo come ’round and come to his senses? We’ll have to wait and find out, and I, for one, cannot wait.

Score: 8.7/10