So Far this Week… April 9, 2014

If you saw this week’s episode of Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., you know that s*** just got real! Tying into the fallout of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (review here), S.H.I.E.L.D. has just gotten shaken up in a big way. Even better is news that Nick Fury and Maria Hill will be showing up in the television series. #HAILHYDRA

Bit by bit, we are getting a better look at Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This week begets character posters of each turtle holding their respective weapon(s). Story be damned, this movie is going to look awesome.

This rumor is too juicy not to tell: Captain Mal/Hammer himself, Nathan Fillion, might have a cameo in the upcoming space epic, Guardians of the Galaxy.

Wreck-it-Ralph fans can anticipate a return to the arcades, as Disney is currently in development for a sequel.

Hogwarts is coming to California! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is a mini-park inside Universal Studios Florida, will be joining the California park in 2016. A round of Butterbeer for all my friends, please.

Also in theme park news, Universal Studios will be getting a Fast and the Furious attraction. This franchise will never run out of ways to make money off of itself.

Professional wrestling Hall of Fame inductee (just three days into induction) Ultimate Warrior has passed away. Check out some of his in-ring highlights if you didn’t know who he was.

Looks like they found work for an old Wookie! Peter Mayhew is set to reprise his role as Chewbacca in Star Wars: Episode VII.

The next edition of Super Smash Bros. will also come out on the 3DS and feature an online mode; it will also feature Charizard. Between this and Scribblenauts: Unmasked, we’re one nudge away from owning a Nintendo system.

DC Comics will be relaunching two of their super teams in Suicide Squad and Teen Titans this summer. I’m pretty stoked to see Deathstroke and Black Manta on a team together, and it’s great to see Raven and Beast Boy finally back on the Teen Titans squad.

I would say “SPOILER Alert,” but this news is literally all over the internet – even CNN is talking about it. The death of Archie Andrews is coming. I’m not gonna touch this one…

The legendary Roots crew, known by many as Jimmy Fallon’s band, has released a single from their upcoming album, …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, called “When the People Cheer.” The album is due out in a month, and you can find a streaming version of the single at okayplayer.com.

If you needed another reason to hate EA, the reigning worst company in America, look no further than the fact that they were sitting on a Darth Maul game, supposedly inspired by the Batman: Arkham series. Now that Disney has the rights to the franchise, that game is shelved permanently – just like 1313 before it. Seriously, f*** those guys.

On the other hand, EA’s next UFC installment will feature the Dragon, Bruce Lee, in all his glory as a playable character.

Graphic Novel Review – Captain America: Winter Soldier

Graphic Novel Review – Captain America: Winter Soldier

Collecting: Captain America (vol 5) #1-9, 11-14

Original Release Date: 2005

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Character: Captain America, Nick Fury, Bucky Barnes, Black Widow, Agent 13 and Red Skull

Writer: Ed Brubaker (The Man Who LaughsFataleVelvet)

Art: Steve Epting (CruxVelvet)

SCORECARD (each category ranked on a 10-point scale):

Storyline – 8
Art – 8
Captivity and Length – 8
Identity – 9
Use of Medium – 8
Depth – 9
Fluidity – 9
Intrigue/Originality – 8
The Little Things – 9
Overall awesomeness – 9

When the second Captain America movie (check out our review of the movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier here) came out, you didn’t think we’d let you watch the film without getting an in-depth look at the graphic novel, too. The story of the Winter Soldier is a relatively new one, coming out just under a decade ago, but it’s one of Cap’s most iconic stories. The actual Winter Soldier story arc spans issues #8-14 (minus issue #10, which is a tie-in to House of M), but there is a lot of necessary back-story in the first volume that build up the suspense to Winter Soldier. Also, while the concept of the movie is the same, the meat of the book is far different from the film, so don’t come in with any preconceptions of what will happen – just enjoy the ride!

they call him bucky

By now I’m sure you all know that Bucky, who was Cap’s kid sidekick until his apparent death (in Avengers #56, but like all Marvel characters, Bucky has been ret-2conned multiple times), is the Winter Soldier. This soldier was a tool for the Soviet Union, and was literally “put on ice” to complete special assignments. This might be old hat to us, but ten years ago, this was jaw-dropping. The shock factor of a cheerful kid sidekick becoming the deadliest weapon in the world was unprecedented. Winter Soldier does a solid job of alluding to the shock factor; there are numerous flashbacks and dead drops to buildup what is, in essence, a stand-off between Captain America and the Winter Soldier.

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Like the movie portrays, this is not the same Captain America you recognize from the war days. He is no longer a gimmick, or war propaganda; he is a super-soldier with the feeling that he is being played with. It’s a demon that Cap struggles with throughout the book, and  What makes Brubaker’s writing so great is he is fully ready to let Cap fall into one of his darkest places (not too dark, but really dark for Steve Rogers). The theory that Bucky was chosen as a symbol to inspire young men to join the war effort was just a cover-up. Bucky was actually the most ruthless weapon the Allies had; he did the gruesome deeds that Cap couldn’t. It’s a brilliant rewriting of a character to fit not just the story, but the times that the story is released in. This fact also sheds new light on just who Captain America is – not just the guy who punched Hitler in the face, but the one who sanctioned the actions that a Bucky, a child, could take in the name of freedom.

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The issues are so well-paced. We begin with what looks to be the typical villain arc when Red Skull creeps around and secures a Cosmic Cube (an item capable of turning wish into reality – similar to Loki’s scepter, hmm…  However, we’re quickly in the middle of a murder/mystery and forced to play catch-up like the dunces we are. I mean, if Nick Fury can figure out the riddle, I know I can’t. Speaking of Fury, his role in Winter Soldier is significant. While Cap is definitely the one taking the lead during the mission, none of it would have been possible without Fury’s keen eye (pun intended) and S.H.I.E.L.D. resources. That being said, Steve Rogers isn’t inept in any way; he puts the hurt on everybody in his way – often. The characteristic way the shied bounces off of and into foes very enjoyable to look at on paper.

cap fly

Ed Brubaker’s Captain America: Winter Soldier is one of the best written books about Cap out there, and it’s almost ironic that a story that deviates from what was considered canon has the most identity with Steve Rogers. The ending fell a bit flat, but we do get some closure to the arc, and the aftermath of what happens here echoes through the series for years to come. The mirror image of Captain America and the Winter Soldier also creates dialogue among fans and casual readers alike (Note: Winter Soldier mentions and includes other figures like Falcon and the Invaders. If you want to dive deeper, those are good places to start). Any comic book fan should pick this up and read it – it’s simply the American thing to do.

All media credited to Marvel Comics

Written by Sherif Elkhatib

 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Movie Review

Genre – Action, Comic Book, Superhero

Director – The Russo Brothers (You, Me and Dupree, Captain America 3)

Cast – Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan, Emily VanCamp, Robert Redford

Alluring element – Captain America kicking asses, taking names, and then kicking those asses, too

Scorecard:
Plot – 8
Acting – 9
Representation of genre/Identity – 9
Cinematography – 9
Effects/Environment – 10
Captivity – 8
Logical consistency – 7
Originality/Creativity – 9
Soundtrack/Ambiance – 8
Overall awesomeness – 9
 

“I can do everything he does… only slower” – how we feel about big shot blog sites who get their movie reviews in a week early because of special privileges

Oh Captain, my Captain! Chris Evans returns as Steve Rogers in his first solo film since Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011. He is not alone, though, as S.H.IE.L.D. director Nick Fury and mistress of espionage, Black Widow, join him in his mission to take down the Winter Soldier. There is a lot of back-story in this movie found in the comic books (Captain America: Winter Soldier review coming soon), and some of them might be considered light spoilers for casual fans of Captain America’s character, but fans who don’t know might be a little confused without those spoilers. It is never actually mentioned that Natasha Romanoff (check out our article on her here) is the Black Widow, and there are a lot of other details that sort of don’t really make sense unless you’ve seen The First AvengerAvengers or read the associate comic books. While some might consider it poor story-telling, I look at it as not getting rewarded for doing your homework. Now that Marvel has hooked in the masses, it seems to be setting a new precedent by making viewers delve deeper to understand the whole story.

Captain-America-6

From the get-go, we can see that this is not your father’s Captain America. The naive young man who stood for truth, justice and the American way has opened his eyes to how the world really works. He still holds a moral standard that makes his colleagues roll their eyes, but is definitely going to throw down in the line of duty. In the strictest sense of it, he is no longer a champion of the American government, but the spirit of America. I feel like a good majority of Avengers showed Rogers being poked fun at for not knowing the various pop culture and historical references and making fun of his theological ideals and sense of and morality. Thankfully, this has been laid to rest and Cap now has a little notepad in which he lists all the things he has to catch up on, most recently added being Marvin Gaye’s soundtrack to TroublemanNote: this list is actually different, depending on the country you see the film in. It’s a quick way to see how the character has grown, and to avoid beating a dead horse.

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What really piqued my interest was Captain America’s level of brutality. Sure, he killed a bunch of Nazis in WWII, but that was war. I expected Captain America to have the same sort of moral compass as a Spider-Man or a Batman, where every life is sacred and not even the most vile are to die. That theory’s thrown out the window here as Cap stabs, smashes and explodes his way to put the bad guys down – most notably in the first ten minutes of espionage-filled action. Have we just evolved our super-hero standards to fit the modern day, or is this a darker, jaded Captain America that we’re seeing here?

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While The First Avenger let people believe in the symbol, The Winter Soldier had more of an origin story identity than the actual origin story did. We get to see Steve Rogers become a super-soldier, take down Red Skull and find the courage to defeat an army – but Winter Soldier really embodies the hero that we associate the character Captain America as. A lot of it has to do with the acting; Chris Evans plays the perfect Captain America. Even with an all-star cast at his side, there was never a moment that it didn’t feel like it was his story. The “supporting cast” absolutely makes the movie. I haven’t seen Samuel L. Jackson this bad-ass since he was chopping off heads with a purple lightsaber. I mean, he’s no David Hasselhoff, thank God, but he’s as Nick Fury as you’re ever going to get; he’s the leading agent of a super-spy program for a reason, and Sam Jackson played it to a T. Note: Sadly, there are no exclamations of “Mother-f***er” in this film. Meanwhile, the talented ScarJo plays Black Widow extremely well. She’s sexy without being objectified – a role model for women and a poster model for men, truly the best of both worlds. However, it’s Anthony Mackie’s portrayal of Sam Wilson AKA Falcon that really stole the show. From Mackie’s acting to the way the his costume was designed, Falcon was bad-ass – and from the looks of it, this won’t be the only movie he will be in.

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What makes Winter Soldier so great is it’s reflection of current society. Much the way The Dark Knight showed us our fear of terrorism and the symbol of how that is dealt with, Captain America: The Winter Soldier showed us our addiction to using government enforcement. Ah, the plot thickens. Everything is not what it seems though, as the whole shebang has been a conspiracy, an infection that has swept the whole system. Iconic movies like V for Vendetta have portrayed similar messages, but not quite as plainly as Winter Soldier showed it, and especially not as relate-able as to U.S. drone strikes taking down its own citizens. Surprisingly to some, this isn’t the first time Steve Rogers has taken on the entire U.S. government in the name of its people, so who is really the enemy here? I’ve seen the movie and I still don’t know; these are the questions that keep a good movie in the minds of its viewers.

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So, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about Captain America, but what about the Winter Soldier? He is in half the title, after all. When the book that the film is based off of (review of that coming soon as well) was released almost a decade ago, the big reveal was that Bucky Barnes – friend and partner of Steve Rogers before his heroic and untimely death in The First Avenger – was actually the Winter Soldier, and it floored readers. Thanks to IMDb and the rest of the internet, we all knew this coming in. The reveal wasn’t quite as built-up as I would have liked, and I feel the whole portrayal of Bucky was really rushed; there was maybe 15-20 minutes devoted to him – and that is a shame because the Winter Soldier (both before and after the events of the movie) is one of the most ruthless killers in the Marvel universe. We do get some superb action sequences with Bucky and Captain America, each blow giving off waves of power, reminiscent of an epic anime fight. While on-screen, they do the Winter Soldier justice – but in the same way that Bucky was a pawn for the Russians, he is also just a pawn for the deeper storyline of the movie.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier also did not shy away from fanboy moments. The Amazing Stan Lee made his usual cameo (honestly one of his funniest), but it was another guest star that made us gush aloud in the theater. I won’t spoil it, but the Russo Brothers, who direct the movie, also are executive producers for a television show we can’t seem to get enough of – we’ll let you guess. We also get a taste of other not so super villains too, with Baltroc and Crossbones getting some screen time (they’re not in their traditional costumes, so see if you can find them). The use of the vibranium shield was spot on and a clear ode to the books; every fight sequence begins or ends with Rogers bouncing this thing off walls, even at one point destroying a S.H.I.E.L.D. fighter plane with it. Captain America was also a monster in combat. Exponentially quicker and stronger than his opponents, he put the hurt on a lot of people in spectacular fashion. Every punch, grapple and shield bash looked just as one from a super-soldier should.

To bastardize a line from The Dark KnightCaptain America: The Winter Soldier is the movie that we deserve, and the one we need. In a time where we are getting dangerously close to superhero super-saturation, it’s great to see a comic book film that favors character development over plot development. There are, of course, the explosions, fight scenes and witty one-liners that set a high standard at Marvel Studios, but what really makes Captain America: The Winter Soldier worth your money is the front-row seat to watching one of the finest characters in comic books saving the world from itself. Although the actual Winter Soldier (or Agent 13, for that matter) wasn’t in it for very long, The Winter Soldier drove home it’s sociopolitical points while still looking like one of the best comic book movies to come out.

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Other Stuff:

Easter Eggs!

An explanation of the post-credit scene.

Review of Captain America (vol 5): Winter Soldier graphic novel

All media credited to Marvel Studios

We Can Do It! Black Widow

“We Can Do It!: Women in Comics, Television and Beyond” is Hush Comics’ answer to what women in comics mean to the world and to us  Visit our page every Monday to learn about a new super lady!

*Note: Yes this article is late.  Yay for jet lag from ECCC and hey, I thought it would be cool to publish when Winter Soldier actually came out.  Oopsies.  

Who:

Natasha Romanoff AKA Black Widow

Nicknames/Aliases:

Black Widow, Natalia Romanova (ok that’s her given name for you aficionados), Czarina

Skills:

Advanced combat skills and training, acrobat, ballerina, slowed aging due to Soviet experimentation, and a great knowledge of how to use a gun.

Origin Story:

Like most Marvel heroes, Black Widow has been retconned.  Either way, her history is way sketchy.  I guess that is what happens when a girl is trained by Russia to be a spy and is genetically mutated.  Yup, so that is basically her history.  Her real name can either be Natasha Romanoff or Natalia Romanova.  This just adds to her mystery.  She was trained by Ivan Petrovich, and in her retcon, by the KGB.  She has been experimented on to make her age slower and make her more agile.  She has also had her memory altered so she doesn’t remember significant chunks of her life and is given the memory of being an esteemed ballerina.  Originally, Natasha was sent to kill Iron Man.  She wore an evening gown with a sweet cat-eye mask with a veil over her face.  She was also raven haired before she had her fiery red mane.  She met Hawkeye and convinced him to help her.  After a failed mission, she was kidnapped by the KGB and brainwashed to kill the Avengers, of which Hawkeye was a member.  Because she had fallen in love with him, she eventually found the light side and became good ole American.  She also became the 16th Avenger.  She has found herself in a romantic relationship with many Marvel characters, mainly being the main squeeze of Matt Murdock aka Daredevil, but she also has been with Iron Man, Captain America, and Bucky Barnes.  In her current issues, she is an independent spy who sometimes takes jobs with Nick Fury’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Notably, Black Widow saved Wolverine from the HYDRA and was a leader of The Champions which included Hercules and Ghost Rider.  She led them to battle with many baddies including The Stranger and The Crimson Dynamo.  Yeah, she pretty much has done everything.

Why is she important?:

Let me count the ways as to why Natasha Romanoff is important.  Ok, first, she currently is the female face of The Avengers.  I mean she is carrying the entire female population in all the current movies.  That’s a lot to handle.  And all this is just my opinion of course, but I really think she is the inspiration for two of my other favorite women: La Femme Nikita and Echo from Dollhouse.  As far as La Femme Nikita goes, she was also a Russian spy who was used as a tool for the government.  And Echo?  Well, Natasha was also brainwashed and supplied with false memories.  She was made to be super strong and acrobatic.  So were the Dolls.  Pretty cool, I think.  Not only that, but Natasha has kinda saved a lot of our favorite superheroes.  Like, their lives.  Oh, and she’s smart, witty and can kick a lot of ass.  I’d say she is really important not only for the Marvel Universe, but to women ad little girls who go to the movies and read comics.  Thank you, Miss Romanoff.

What she means to me:

Honestly, before The Avengers came out, I had limited knowledge of who Black Widow was.  But considering my celebrity doppelgänger, Scarlett Johansson, played her, I needed to find out as much as I could.   As a little girl, I used to play spy.  Didn’t every little girl?  Ok maybe about half of us.  Anyway, Black Widow is the woman I think of when I wish I had a different life, except in my head, it is a more glamourous world without all that experimentation.   Now that I know tons more about her, I think every girl should idolize her.  She is a woman who has been through hell and back, is smart as a whip and can kick some serious ass.  Yup, pretty much one tough as nails chick.  And that’s why I love her.

photos belong to Marvel

 

written by Adrian Puryear

Shut Up and Take My Money: Captain America Shield Replica

The money in our bank account is limited, so how unfair is it that there are endless gadgets, collectibles and toys out there that demand to be purchased? Let us help you sift through the crap, so you don’t can save that hard-earned cash for the things that deserve it. In other words, we give you the power to go to the counter and say, “Shut Up and Take My Money!”

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Item:

Captain America: Life-Sized Replica Shield

What it is:

I believe the name pretty much says it all, but for those with possible reading comprehension issues – it is a life-sized replica of the shield that Captain America uses in the new film. It comes in the standard color but a new color is available, as well. I would have preferred they went with something that fit with the comics a bit more like one that has the visible crack his shield got after breaking and being re-bonded together. The website states that this is constructed of fibre-reinforced polymer and metal with leather hand straps. It stands 27 inches tall and looks like it is pretty thick. Every aspiring hero or defender of justice should own one. Perhaps police can get one as standard issue?

How Much it Costs:

For $1500, this thing had better be made out of actual vibranium if they expect people to actually purchase it. That being said, I am a major Captain America fan and plan to dress up for the upcoming film. If I had an extra 1500 bucks lying around I would strongly consider purchasing something like this since all the other replicas I have seen on the market have been cheap knockoffs or kids toys with no heft. This does however appear to be expertly crafted and they have obviously spared no expense when it comes to material. I would like a little more information about this polymer but I am sure something that will be mounted on my wall or be used in the occasional dress up event should suffice from the current materials being used. Like the Nightwing Escrima Sticks this is really only for the serious collector or major fan of the Cap.

Is It Worth It?:

For $1500, this thing had better be made out of actual vibranium if they expect people to actually purchase it. That being said, I am a major Captain America fan and plan to dress up for Captain America: Winter Soldier, out this Friday (April 4th). If I had an extra 1500 bucks lying around I would strongly consider purchasing something like this since all the other replicas I have seen on the market have been cheap knockoffs or kids toys with no heft. This does, however, appear to be expertly-crafted and they have obviously spared no expense when it comes to material. I would like a little more information about this polymer but I am sure something that will be mounted on my wall or be used in the occasional dress up event should suffice from the current materials being used. Like the Nightwing Arsenal, this is really only for the serious collector or diehard Cap fan.

 

Nailed it.
Nailed it.

Bottom Line:

If you are a serious collector of high-end pieces, major fan of Captain America, or even planning to protect America from that Nazi bastard the Red Skull, then you should definitely own this. Otherwise, it’s safe to say that you can pass on this or buy a cheaper replica.

Comic Book Reviews 03-19-14

Review Scale:

The mythical A+: Classic comic book material. Belongs next to your copy of The Notebook and The Joy of Cooking.

A: Would definitely recommend to all comic book readers. Even more so to fans of the genre or characters

B: Enjoyable read. Fans of the genre or characters will especially like.

C: Non-essential read. Can be enjoyable for fans of the genre or characters, but likely for only one or two events in the books.

D: Unenjoyable book. Read at your own risk. Might find satisfaction if major flaws are overlooked.

F: Please don’t buy this book. Donate your money to a local comic book writer’s workshop instead to inspire future generations to write something better than this trash.

Pick of the Week:

Daredevil #1 – A-

Mark Waid is back! Well, he never really left… This may be a #1, but this plays out more like a Season Two than a reboot. We’re introduced to Matt Murdok all over again. He is residing in the sunny state of California after losing his legal license in New York when he revealed his secret identity to the whole wide world. The debut issue moves at breakneck speed, with great action and even better intelligent deduction. We even get to end on a crazy cliff-hanger… that won’t make sense if you haven’t read the first volume, sorry. Anyway, I’m stoked that Daredevil is in sunny Cali again! – S

Other Reviews:

Dark Horse Comics:

Terminator: Enemy of My Enemy #2 – B+

This issue came together quite nicely, as we were given a hint at what might be causing the Terminator attack – and loads of great action. I couldn’t help but feel that this would make an excellent film or animated movie. The only real complaint that I have is our resident badass Sarah Connor wannabe is throwing the Terminator around like a rag doll and I was under the impression that they weighed a ton. Not even the great Steven Seagal could handle one of these things with such elegant grace. The question of whether or not this is an alternate timeline remains to be seen but between this and the conclusion to the Terminator Salvation storyline, I have been spoiled with Terminator goodness as of late.  – R

Witcher #1 – B+

Witcher pleasantly surprised me this week.  This issue was filled with creepy and strange ghouls and monsters that gave me Goosebumps.  The real shining aspect was the nonchalant progression of the story and character interactions.  The Witcher and the Hunter have great back and forth dialogue and their backstories are just as interesting as their forward journeys.  If you like men that wield swords and fight vampires, then Witcher is the series for you! – T

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 #1 – B

A new season of everyone’s favorite, the most dangerous and of course, the prettiest vampire hunter around! Dark Horse has been pulling out the punches to give us what we all want, more seasons to Joss Whedon shows! This issue is jam-packed with action from start to finish and joins together all our favorite Buffy characters again even ones we may have thought we would never see again. Magic is back on earth and a huge Zompire population has taken up residence in Santa Rosita. The gang must join forces again even with some characters and people we may not have thought would help them. To me, this issue was quite refreshing – to see these characters again and for them to make reference to what did happen in the past two comic seasons I had missed. The artwork is spectacular and you are sure to be able to recognize characters as they mostly all look exactly like the actors who portrayed them. – J

DC/Vertigo:

Scribblenauts #3 – A

I may be biased, but Scribblenauts is the best children’s comic out right now.  Not only is it for children, but for adults.  Or perhaps for 26 year old women who have been in a long term relationship with DC.  But darn, its just so cute!  This month, Maxwell and Lily meet with the entire Justice League and recount the times they have helped out each hero in the League.  Maxwell finds himself helping the Green Lantern Corps while Lily helps Mr. Batman figure out what force has been causing all the chaos witnessed in the previous two issues.  In their hunt for the ultimate baddie, which seems to be aiming for a Scribblenauts version of Crisis on Infinite Earths.  In this issue, I found myself saying “awww” a lot and also laughing hysterically.  There was an amazing panel showing Maxwell’s obsession with Batman by having Batman listen to all the voicemails Maxwell has left for him.  Scribblenauts does a fantastic job of taking all these out-of-the-world characters and by use of two children, bringing the greatest heroes down to the level of the reader.  It’s really refreshing to take the ride with heroes to feel compassion for.  -A

Wonder Woman #29 – A-

For Glory, WAR! That is just what you’re gonna be seeing if you keep reading Wonder Woman. Zeus’ First Born is one nasty sucker, and now that he has taken over Mt. Olympus (see the fiery conclusion to Wonder Woman #28), he’s even scarier – and when the unlikeliest of saviors come to everybody’s rescue, it sets the book up for the endearing “Rocky montage” that ends in Wonder Woman finally assuming the mantle of God of War. This is one of the most badass books on the market; if you’re not reading this Brian Azzarello gem, you are missing out. – S

American Vampire: Second Cycle #1 – B+

After a hiatus from the American Vampire series, Scott Synder and Raphael Albuquerque are back at it. It’s so great to see Synder’s work truly uncensored. As amazing as Batman and Superman: Unbound are, American Vampire is his bread and butter. I’m a little lost on what’s going on, but when you have such a big train, it takes a few issues to really get the momentum going, I suppose. I’m utterly in love with the art here, as Albuquerque does a bang-up job. I’m sold on the series going forward, and I assure that with it will come more quality. – S

Batman and Aquaman #29 – B+

Now we’re getting somewhere! Since Robin died, Batman & Robin has been floating around with different partners, from Catwoman to Two-Face, and now Aquaman. The surprising thing is that this has been the most fruitful issue in almost a year. Together, Batman and Aquaman are one step closer to catching up with Ra’s Al Ghul, who is seeking revenge for the death of his daughter and grandson. He is not only the Demon’s Head, hellbent on destroying the world, but you can also add whaling to his list. There’s some really gross stuff in here that I won’t spoil, but I love that Tomasi is stepping his game up! Can’t wait for Batman and Wonder Woman next month. – S

Supergirl #29 – B

After going back and reading a few of the older issues, it seems like Kara’s transformation into a Red Lantern was all but planned from the beginning. When you think about it, she is really the perfect character to control a rage ring. Her experience here on Earth has been very different from Clark’s and she came at a very different time in her life than he did. Those feelings all coming to a head may lead to an interesting revenge plot for one of the last Kryptonians. It could also lead to crap……. So be prepared for that possibility, too. As a small side note, I really don’t like Silver Banshee at all. What the hell kind of power is being able to speak any language and why are they trying to make her something more than she was to begin with? I hope that she fades into oblivion in the next few issues as she is a terrible character, almost as bad as Arsenal. – R

Superman: Unbound #6 – B

I would think that Scott Synder and Jim Lee doing a Superman book together would sell me on the Man of Steel forever; that hasn’t quite been the case here. We’ve seen some of the most beautiful pencil-work since The New 52 Justice League (Jim Lee drew that, too, surprise!), but nothing really has drawn out the awe I expected from such a dynamic duo. Unfairly high expectations aside, I’m thoroughly entertained by this book, and get warm fuzzies every time I see Jim Lee’s Batman appear in a panel. The honeymoon is over between Superman and Wraith, and this issue turns two formidable allies into enemies. It might seem like a quick transition from the start of the issue, but bad blood has been brewing for the entire series. Aside from Lee’s handiwork, the series remains good, but never quite grasping the great it should be. – S

Harley Quinn #4 – B-

Still a little silly, but getting back on the right track for an up and coming comic book, this week’s Harley Quinn was a nice step up from last month’s issue.  Harley finds herself trying to balance her many careers like many girls who just moved to the big city, or in her case, Coney Island.  After much make-up and some hilarious banter with her, um, beaver, Harley becomes Dr. Harleen Quinzel at her new job at a nursing home.  Everyone’s favorite clown gets her heartstrings pulled by an old lady who feels abandoned be her loved ones.  Harley empathizes because of her history with Mr. J. and decides to take maters into her own hands, but the good old Harley way.  In her journey to right the family’s wrongs, she finds out that she needs to check her facts before flying off the handle.  Is this lesson learned for her?  It may be too early to tell because Harley gets a special new patient at the end.  You’ll have to pick up this issue to find out who!  Harley may not be the smartest girl in comics, and her crazy thoughts are immediately acted upon (ahem, like kidnap or murder), but she is a girl with passion, has some realm of a moral compass, and is proactive.  That is a girl I can get behind. -A

IDW Comics:

Samurai Jack #6 – B-

This issue of Samurai Jack brings back a fan favorite character, The Scotsman, but something is a bit off about him, or should I say her… In a St. Patrick’s Day themed issue, we see that the Scotsman had a curse put on him and changed him into a woman. This issue gets a B- because although it was great to see the Scotsman again – as well as Jack and her team up, the holiday aspect which will carry on into the next issue will be lost as the curse was brought on by Leprechaun’s. I am not sure how a St. Patrick’s day theme will carry on for much longer unless this was a series with multiple issues a month. This story will definitely continue as it was left on a cliffhanger where we see both the Scotsman and Jack will need to figure out a way to defeat the Leprechaun’s curse. – J

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Utrom Empire C+

The conclusion of the TMNT mini series, Utrom Empire, is packed with action and clues to what comes next for the Turtles and their sworn enemies, Shredder (Oroku Saki) and Krang. It started with the Utrominons engineering Mutant dinosaurs for their army but the entire race they created teamed up with others to take down the Utrominon’s that had enslaved and tortured them. This last issue shows the ending of the rebellion, sending Krang and what remains of his race to Earth while also showing us more of Baxter Stockman, his half robot half fly, (hinting at the mutant fly character he turns into normally) as well as Fugitoid and how he plans to take down both Krang and Baxter Stockman. The ending of the issue gives us a great idea of what is going to happen now that the turtles have left Northampton to return to New York starting a new story arc, which looks like it will be rather exciting. – J

Image Comics:

Sex Criminals #5 – C+

I don’t want to say that Sex Criminals has lost it’s appeal, but five issues in, I’m starting to waver a little bit. The outlandish hilarity of it all is still there, but the story is moving in some weird direction that almost makes it seem like it’s improv’ed. The Sex Police and Kegalface intrigue me enough to stay in it to win it, but my lust for Sex Criminals isn’t quite as strong as it was in the first issue. Curious readers shouldn’t be discouraged though, as Matt Fraction (who also writes Hawkeye) is an exceptional story-teller and has not put out an issue that I haven’t heartily laughed at the whole way through. – S

Sovereign #1 – C

To be honest, I was pretty confused about this comic. I get that this comic isn’t really a storyline or a solitary piece of work. Rather, it is a bunch of little stories separated out. Or at least that’s what I think it was. By taking little quotes and making stories out of them is a really cool concept, but I feel that the execution could have used some work. Overall, I feel that this comic is nothing to serious or attention grabbing but in a sense it can be fairly interesting.  – E

Undertow #2 – D

Remember in elementary school how every Tuesday was Taco day?  Remember how awesome and comfortable you felt strolling to the cafeteria at noon to partake in what may arguably be better than recess?  And remember how on one faithful Tuesday you arrive on the serving line only to have yesterday’s meatloaf slop onto your tray?…  Yeah, that’s pretty much Undertow.  All the potential in this series is squandered by incredibly hard to decipher art work, confusing character development, an overly complicated plot and a strong lack of direction.  It’s sad that an awesome concept is so poorly portrayed. – T

Marvel:

Ms. Marvel #2 – B

Now that we’ve gotten a taste of who Kamala Khan is, we get to explore her transformation a little further. It’s quite a drop in pace from the debut, with just a tease of her powers. There’s a clear nob to Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel, which reinforces the Girl Power approach to comics thats far too under-represented in the industry. Once again, G Willow Wilson‘s take on the American Islamic culture is spot on; I can remember having the same type of conversations with my dad, sans super-powers. This issue could be looked at as filler by some, but I think it’s necessary pacing for the long term payoff, just going by Wilson’s previous work. – S

Marvel Knights: Hulk #4 – B

I really enjoyed this issue simply for the action, and bringing out a badass in the hulk. Overall as a story it was pretty average but I did enjoy the simple entertainment value of it. For Hulk lovers like myself, you will enjoy this issue quite a bit. Seeing that this was the last issue, I don’t really feel one way or another about the series, but I am glad I read it. – E

Uncanny X-Men #19 – B

The rag-tag group of mutants that Cyclops has cultivated are forming into a real team. They’re right in the thick of things, as S.H.I.E.L.D. (or somebody who is framing them) has been trapping them in face-offs with Sentinels. The first half of the book drags along very slowly, where Maria Hill interrogates an exiled member of the group. I’m sure it would be much more entertaining on film, but this medium is just not suited for three-page long monologues. The issue does redeem itself later with new tricks by Magik. This is one of Marvel’s most under-rated books, and right now is a great jumping on point. – S

Avengers World #4 – B

This issue was a lot of fun to read. With a great combination of action, mystery, fantastic art, and story progression, I am excited to see where this series is going. I think this book is fairly creative and attention grasping when it comes to the storyline. I appreciate that even though there wasn’t a whole lot of action in terms of fight scenes and explosions, it still held my attention the whole way through. I enjoyed this read and am excited about the next issue. – E

Winter Soldier: The Bitter March #2 – B-

The Winter Soldier reboot has taken us back to the roots of a time where the Winter Soldier is just a myth. This book so far feels a lot like an older James Bond movie in both tone and pacing. The art is great and has a very retro feel; however, I would like it to be slightly crisper in future issues. The story is really just getting started but it is interesting to see that perhaps the Soviets don’t have such a tight grip on the Winter Soldier after all. Only time will tell, but so far this reboot has been pretty decent. – R

Wolverine & The X-Men #2 – B-

The Phoenix Corporation has hit the scene.  With its surprising and invocative arrival, Quentin and the other X-Men become a little restless.  My feelings are mixed as I read.  The action is great and it’s got an “epic” vibe about it.  I will warn that readers who aren’t familiar with the backstory to this series (like me) will be somewhat confused.  Still worth the read just to see Wolverine and Storm in action! – T

Dexter Down Under #2 – B-

We are still in the buildup stage of the story, but with only five issues total for this series, I am not exactly sure how things are going to proceed if they continue at this slow pace. This issue marks the first time that Dexter has voiced his intentions while being in Australia, and they don’t sound like this trip will end with someone on his table. That would make for an interesting turn of events, actually. He doesn’t actually kill anyone and helps the police legitimately capture a murderous killer. Perhaps at the end he could reflect on how he doesn’t need to kill anyone to be useful to society or that he should try to use his knowledge of the dark passenger to help his own police force more. Most likely the chick he is working with will find out and Dexter will kill whoever is responsible. Predictable of course, but people already know what Dexter is about and we still keep coming back for more. – R

All-New Invaders #3 – C+

Overall this issue wasn’t all that exciting or entertaining. Toward the end, it did get pretty interesting with some nice twists, but by that time I was semi-bored. However, due to the last few pages I did find interest in knowing what will happen in the next issue. I truly enjoy the dialog and art of this book, and I hope to see it continue on into the next part. I hope the next issue brings more excitement, but I wouldn’t say this issue was a bad read at all. – E

Seekers of the Weird #3 – C-

While the idea of Seekers of the Weird is really intriguing, the story thus far is falling flat.  If you have yet to read it or one of our previous reviews, Seekers is based off an attraction that never came to fruition at Disneyland.  Since Marvel had merged with Disney, the attraction is coming to life, but in comic book form.  Unfortunately, the attraction would have been better.  The attraction was meant to be a museum of odd items.  The story of the book is about that, too, but so far the three characters are not relatable.  The two main characters, Max and Melody, are more freaked out than proactive.  By the third issue, their characters should be developing, and their Uncle Roland shouldn’t be such an ass.  I don’t think it’s a good thing that I am more trusting of the ghosts in the museum than Uncle Roland.  The appeal of the book should be the artifacts, which would have been the point of the attraction.  However, many items have been lost in the shuffle because the book is so fast-paced it becomes confusing.  I really hope the next two issues resolve the story arc of Max and Melody’s missing parents and their Uncle reveals his true nature, or else Seekers risks losing its readers. -A

Superior Spider-Man Annual #2 – D+

I can’t wait for this series to end. Usually, an Annual issue is a good way to tell a great side-story that doesn’t have anything to do with the arc that’s currently happening – a way to reflect on the past year’s progression or springboard the next story arc. In this issue’s case, we focus on a story that was really not good enough to see the pages of the of Superior otherwise. I like Carlie and I like the Hobgoblin angle, but this could have been summarized in just a few panels. – S

 

GPA by Publisher:

DC Comics: 1 A  and 4 B’s, averaging out to a 3.20

Marvel Comics: 1 A, 7 B’s, 1 C and 1 D, averaging out to a 2.80

Independents: 4 B’s, 3 C’s and 1 D, averaging out to a 2.38

That about wraps it up for our reviews this week! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!

All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to IDW Comics, image Comics, Dark Horse, Boom! Studios, Dynamite Entertainment, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib, Evan Lowe, Adrian Puryear, Taylor Lowe, Robert Michael and Jacob Robinson

Weekend Wrap-Up…March 2, 2014

Here comes some news in a half-shell! The new TMNT movie trailer will debut in the previews for Captain America: Winter Soldier – one more reason to get geeked for Cap. The TMNT movie has been under a lot of scrutiny (the whole Michael Bay alien thing), so this will be it’s time to shine.

Cowabunga! Co-creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird are reuniting for a 30th anniversary issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This doesn’t seem to be a one-time thing, as they and the voice actors from the original TMNT cartoon will be making appearances on the Nickelodeon series.

Sarah Michelle Gellar was the top hit on Yahoo! this morning, and for good reason. After years of fan debate, Buffy herself has finally answered the age-old question: Angel or Spike?

Better Call Jesse Pinkman? Not quite, but Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul has been rumored to be making appearances on the straight-to-Netflix series, Better Call Saul, released this November.

The Pokémon series that raised a generation in the 90s is now streaming via Netflix. Now you can Catch Em All at your own pace!

Barry Allen’s Flash costume has been revealed – at least the mask has, anyway. CW has done such an extraordinary job with Arrow that a Flash series has got to be worth watching.

In preparation of the film, a mobile game based off the X-Men: Days of Future Past will be released in May. They’re really milking this story-line, but it looks to be a fun play-through.

The DC MMORPG Infinite Crisis will be getting comic book and collectible tie-ins. We’re particular fans of Pajama Party Harley – sounds festive!

Telltale’s story-driven The Walking Dead  game releases its next installment (Season Two: Episode Two) on Tuesday, March 4th. Clementine isn’t the same innocent girl she was in the First Season and we’re excited for more gory glory.

DC is prepping it’s next full-scale event – oh God, here we go again – and it’s called Futures End. Equipped with 3D holographic covers and the whole shebang, I’m skeptical of any of the “events” DC and Marvel push, but the concept of all our heroes in the futures is enticing enough to give a few of them a look.

With the release of the various X-Files Conspiracy books (Ghostbusters, Transformers, TMNT), IDW Comics is looking for collaborating on a grand scale. The Super Secret Crisis War (a bastardization of DC and Marvel events) will include a slew of Cartoon Network characters (Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack, Dexter, Ben 10 and Ed, Edd & Eddy) taking on all the villains from their respective series. We’re sold, but… where is Johnny Bravo?

The 86th Academy Awards have begun. We’ll be checking up on it in between commercials of The Walking Dead. Check out our past TWD reviews here, and see how we weighed in with our Oscar picks tomorrow.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib