Monday, December 31, 2012

She loves me, yeah, yeah, yeah

After ringing in a snowy new year I'll have new reviews 'n stuff for tomorrow. But for now I just thought I'd share this pic with you and wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Back When Bad Guys Made the Best Good Guys

Sadly Leverage is over, but thanks to Parker (Beth Riesgraf) we have this slideshow from the show's first season to remember a happier time when thieves, masterminds, grifters, hackers, and hitters reminded us that sometimes bad guys do make the best good guys.

Friday, December 28, 2012

From A to Z – The Top Ten Movies of 2012

2012 turned out to be a pretty darn good year at the movies. There were two films which I gave perfect scores to this year, one of which the majority of the country won't be seeing until early next year. I'm breaking my own rule of including it on the list, but we'll get to that in a moment. Between these two films, which naturally open and close the list (as it's presented alphabetically), are eight other films rounding out the class of 2012.

Cutting down my list to ten means I need to speak for a moment on films that barely missed the cut. John Carter was the year's most under-appreciated film, The Cabin in the Woods turned the horror genre on its ear, Ang Lee delivered an amazing journey with Life of Pi, Wreck-It Ralph was this year's best animated feature, Safety Not Guaranteed was a terrific little sci-fi flick almost no one saw, and Moonrise Kingdom was director Wes Anderson's best film since The Royal Tenenbaums.

Enough with what didn't make the list, let's get down to discussing what did:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

FF #2

I was surprised how much I liked the first issue of this new Marvel NOW! version of the FF. The follow-up may not be as strong, but fans should still enjoy themselves in a comic that despite Mike Allred only doing the art is feeling more and more like a Madman comic.

After being disappointed when the Fantastic Four don't return after four minutes, their replacements get to work getting things back to normal at the Baxter Building. This includes Ant-Man explaining to the children why the Daily Bugle refereed to him as a convict, She-Hulk lecturing the children on the finer points of the law, and one member of the team quitting.

When the comic stays with the character dynamics inside the Baxter Building things continue to run smoothly. However, writer Matt Fraction's choice of villain, in a humdrum homage to the original Fantastic Four #1, doesn't work nearly as well. For fans.

[Marvel, $2.99]

Young Justice #23

The current storyline continues as Superman, Superboy, Captain Atom, Captain Marvel, and Wonder Woman fight off Braniac's crystallized minion in space the various Young Justice teams try break through the impenetrable field surrounding Metropolis and discover more information about the spaceship floating above the city.

Although the comic is fun, it does feel far too much like treading water and needlessly stretching out the arc as none of the major stories are moved that far forward. However, we do get an appearance by the Young Justice version of Deashot in the flashback to five years ago (that is still be awkwardly continued along with the current storyline). Although he isn't quite wearing his classic costume, the villain certainly looks better than his New 52 makeover.

There's enough here for fans, including appearances by several members of the team, but it's certainly not a must-read and could probably be skipped without missing a beat of the overall arc. For fans.

[DC, $2.99]

Thursday with Kaley

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Leverage - The Long Good-bye Job

In the series finale Nate (Timothy Hutton) is approached by his son's former physician who needs his help to save another patient in danger of dying of the same condition of that killed Nate's son. To retrieve the drug the company refuses to release means breaking into a facility with government level security given the building also houses a federal law enforcement Intenet hub server housing backup files for the FBI, CIA, DEA, and Interpol.

Masks #2

With New York City now a police state controlled by corrupt new government of gangsters known as the Justice Party, The ShadowThe Green Hornet and Kato, and The Spider find themselves overwhelmed by the enhanced technology the criminals have gotten their hands on to keep control of their city.

Issue #2 also introduces the Green Lama and Black Bat who begin to fight back against the oppressive new government as well. The story of the young artist on the wrong side of the government's new oppressive regime continues as well foreshadowing, I'm guessing, the eventual birth of a new Zorro.

I thought the first comic worked in trying to throw all these characters together in an unusual situation that required them to work together. Masks #2 isn't quite as good, forced to rely more on fleshing out a story than just introducing the concept. There's far more talking about doing something than actual action, and some "necessary" awkward introductions among the heroes take up way too many panels. Hit-and-Miss.

[Dynamite Entertainment, $3.99]

Doctor Who - The Snowmen

Alone since the loss of Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill), The Doctor's (Matt Smith) travels have led him to 1892 England into semi-retirement... at least until he meets an unusual young barmaid/governess named Clara Oswin Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman) and a miser (Richard E. Grant) mysteriously tied to killer snowmen which feed on the thoughts and fears of human beings.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas with Keira

Tarantino Unchained

With Inglourious Basterds writer/director Quentin Tarantino strode a fine line between between drama and revenge fantasy in his depiction of a select group of Jewish soldiers taking on the Nazis during WWII.

With his latest, Tarantino returns to the well of his revenge fantasy, the theme he's been stuck on for nearly an entire decade (since 2003's Kill Bill Vol. 1), to push the envelope even farther with a blaxploitation western that leaves good taste in the dust. If there's ever a film that so thoroughly argues for a director to be shackled to studio pressure it's the inarguable trainwreck that is Django Unchained.

Jamie Foxx stars as Django, a slave freed by a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) in need of his help to hunt down and kill the Speck brothers (James RemarJames Russo). After Django shows promise, Shultz (Waltz) agrees to train the newly freed slave in the art of bounty hunting and help retrieve Django's wife (Kerry Washington) from a ruthless plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Les Misérables

As someone who has never read Victor Hugo's novel nor seen the musical adaptation on stage I was hardly going in to Les Misérables completely blind, but I was certainly coming from a different perspective from that of people who know either version of the source material by heart.

Clocking in with a running time of more than two-and-a-half hours, Les Misérables refuses to skimp in big set pieces (such as the opening sequence set in the Bagne of Toulon), large themes (faith, freedom, liberty, and morality), or filling out its roster with several big name stars.

Director Tom Hooper's (The King's Speech) adaptation casts Hugh Jackman in the role of Jean Valjean, a French peasant who (as the play opens) is released from Toulon after serving 19 years of hard labor for stealing a loaf of bread to feed starving relatives and Russell Crowe as the intractable Inspector Javert who relentless tracks the man for years after Valjean breaks his parole.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Scarlet-Spider #12.1

I put Marvel's .1 issues in the same unnecessary column as DC's Zero issues and foil comic covers. Marvel has no problem releasing multiple comics for a paticular title during the same month (hell, it's become common practice for Marvel NOW!) and slapping a .1 on the cover (which originally meant a reintroduction to the character) doesn't really mean the same thing anymore because of the sheer number of these the House of Ideas has pushed out.

That said, Scarlet Spider #12.1 is an interesting read. I'd call it a one-shot, featuring Houston's hero taking on white slavery, but the fact is the comic lays the groundwork for huge changes for our killer turned hero (which, when you think about it, is kind of a dick move for a .1 issue to do).

While tracking a killer whose mark reminds Kaine of his past, the Scarlet Spider takes on the gangs of Houston and The Hand who have shown up to make their presence known in the port city. And, if that news isn't bad enough for our hero, the Kingpin appears to have major plans for Houston as well. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $2.99]

Fables #124

Had I paid a little more attention odds are I wouldn't have picked up this latest issue of Fables. Instead of a one-shot or the start of a new arc, the issue is wholly devoted to the final three chapters of the back-up story "A Revolution of Oz" (which has been running for the past several months) and the further adventures of Bufkin and Lily Martagon. That's not to say what writer Bill Willingham delivers here is bad, it's just the fact that I haven't been reading the back-up story and felt a little lost for the first few pages.

That said, the further adventures of Bufkin and Lily, even if it seems to be all 80's style montage, is actually quite a bit of fun delivering a love story, fights for freedom, a mad scientist, weird transformations, and the peaceful end to an adventurous life.

Odds are those who have been keeping up with the backup story and know these characters far better than I are going to get more out of this issue than I did, but even for someone jumping in blind there's still plenty here that's worth a look.

[Vertigo, $2.99]


By outward appearances Robert Miller (Richard Gere) has it all. The hedge fund manager has a thriving family business, a loving wife (Susan Sarandon), and devoted children (Brit Marling, Austin Lysy). And one moment on a deserted street will threaten to take it all away.

While getting out of town for some alone time with his mistress (Laetitia Casta), Miller loses control and crashes her car. Although he walks away with minor scrapes and bruises, his mistress isn't so lucky. While trying to navigate the complicated sale of his company to an elusive businessman (Graydon Carter) and hide using his company's money for personal use from both his family and the IRS, Miller cannot afford the scrutiny an accident like this would bring.

Fleeing the scene with the help of the son (Nate Parker) of a longtime employee, Miller tries to keep one step ahead of an investigation led by a cop with a hard-on to take him down (Tim Roth), and make sure the sale goes through.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow #20

Target: Snake Eyes comes to and end as Snake Eyes and Helix's recuperation comes to a screeching halt when Storm Shadow shows up to destroy an entire aircraft carrier just to get his hands on his traitorous sword brother whose recent actions have gutted the once proud Arashikage Clan.

There's a little too much of everyone else here including Scarlett and a whole host of various other JOEs as the comic is at its best when it stays with the fight we've been waiting to see ever since the crossover began: Snake Eyes vs. Storm Shadow. The fight itself is good, I just wish the rest of the story didn't keep encroaching on it.

The fallout leaves the JOEs minus one aircraft carrier and another apparent "death" for our title character. It also, in an interesting choice by writer Chuck Dixon, gives Storm Shadow the smallest semblance of victory. With the crossover now finished and Snake Eyes once again missing in action, it will be interesting to see what new direction the comic takes next month as it appears the comic will continue to give both characters title credit. Worth a look.

[IDW, $3.99]

Burn Notice - You Can Run (Part 2)

The second half of the show's Sixth Season finale opens with Sam (Bruce Campbell) finally out of the woods, but hardly fit for travel. The team is finally back together and safe in the house of yet another person who doesn't want them there, but not for long. Unable to catch Michael and his team, Agent Riley (Sonja Sohn) makes a deal with the drug cartel Michael went after earlier this year in a job for the CIA. With no options left now that the CIA agent on their trail is providing CIA intel to a cartel to hunt down and kill his entire team, and his mother (Sharon Gless), Michael decides to stop running and take the fight to Riley's door.

Burn Notice - You Can Run (Part 1)

The first-half of Burn Notice's Sixth Season finale begins with Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) sneaking away from the group for a secret meeting with his old friend Jason Bly (Alex Carter) who offers the spy a deal to get Agent Riley (Sonja Sohn) off his back and keep his friends out of jail by turning himself in as a CSS witness. After Fi (Gabrielle Anwar) convinces Michael to forget about Bly's offer the team goes forward with their plans to flee the country as workers on a cargo ship, but things go south when their contact (Brett Rice) sells them out to Riley getting Sam (Bruce Campbell) shot and Jesse (Coby Bell) captured by the CIA.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Red Hood and the Outlaws #15

Despite the fact that we're in the third month of Death of the Family this is the first (and likely only) time the Bat-book crossover truly makes its presence felt in Red Hood and the Outlaws. The issue isn't great, but compared to most of the subpar storyline so far about the Face-Off Joker hitting the Bat-Family where they live, it's not too bad (and far better than last month's wasted appearance by Superman).

After the Joker gives Isabel an overdose of heroin the Red Hood sets out for payback only to be drugged and beaten again by the man who killed him years ago. Despite the comic staying with Joker teasing knowledge about the Bat-Family and his hand in crafting Jason Todd's destiny there are a couple of good moments here including an appearance by Harvey Bullock (who thankfully hasn't been given a New 52 revamp) and some nice back and forth with Starfire and Arsenal.

The comic finally gives us a confrontation between the Joker and the Red Hood. Even if it's not as good as I hoped, at least the crossover feels legitimately underway. For fans.

[DC, 2.99]

Daredevil #21

Daredevil's fight with the Coyote concludes as our hero is able to get enough information to prove the innocence of Foggy's client and make it out of his lair alive. Although he doesn't find out who hired the super-villain to create havoc with his life, Matt Murdock gets enough to confront his former partner and hash things out once and for all.

Although I liked the idea of the Coyote, I'm glad to see this increasingly creepy storyline put to rest. I'm also happy to see Matt finally get the opportunity to tell an ashamed Foggy off. It looks like although the city of New York is willing to discount Foggy and Kristen McDuffie's (pretty damn baseless) concerns, McDuffie isn't quite so willing to let the matter rest. Sadly for our hero, she has called in help to deal with Daredevil.

I like the idea of Spider-Man guest-starring in the next issue, but with what writer Dan Slott is doing with the character I'm pretty sure it's going to be far less enjoyable than the Spidey & Black Cat crossover from earlier this year. For fans.

[Marvel, $2.99]


Seth MacFarlane's Ted is an interesting idea that runs out of steam well before the final credits start to roll. Mark Wahlberg stars as manchild John Bennett. As a lonely child John wished his teddy bear would come to life and be his best friend. After his wish was granted and the notoriety and celebrity of a talking child's toy has worn down Mark continues to live with Ted (MacFarlane) almost 30 years later, much to the displeasure of John's current girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis).

For all the uniqueness of crafting a story centered around a walking, talking teddy bear, Ted is fairly pedestrian in what the script sets out to do. Ted is nothing more than the average bad influence the girlfriend wants to get her boyfriend away from to start a legitimate life together. The story doesn't quite work because John is wholly responsible for Ted's existence, something Kunis' character should, but never quite does, understand.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Soldier #13

It takes the combined efforts of Daredevil, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Wolverine to take down down the Winter Soldier who has been brainwashed by the Soviet sleep agent Novokov to kill Daredevil.

If you didn't know writer Ed Brubaker's near insane love for the character of the Winter Soldier you'll certainly get the message loud and clear here as the combined efforts of three pretty damn formidable Avengers (and Hawkeye) struggle to prevent the brainwashed Bucky from carrying out his mission.

The fight has its moments, and it's certainly well told, but by the end of the issue we're right back to where we were an issue-and-a-half ago with no movement on the search for the brainwashed Black Widow or the ultimate goal of Novokov. Even if Brubaker seems to be milking a story that doesn't make any sense with what's going on with the rest of the Marvel Universe (as Black Widow isn't reprogrammed in The Avengers or other titles in which she's also appearing), it's still worth a look.

[Marvel, $2.99]

Jack Reacher

I prefer my Tom Cruise action films a little crazy and more than slightly ridiculous. (Hell, I even kinda like Knight and Day.) Jack Reacher delivers on both counts. Based on the character created by Lee Child, Cruise stars as former Military Police officer turned professional nomad who shows up in Pittsburgh when a former Army sniper (Joseph Sikora) is accused of killing five people.

As Reacher tells the man's attorney (Rosamund Pike), he doesn't show up to save Barr (Sikora) but to bury him. With Barr in a coma after a prison beat down, the only way Reacher can get the proof he needs to make sure Barr gets the needle is to agree to work with his lawyer. However, the more Reacher digs into the case the more, to his increasing frustration, it appears Barr was framed for the crime. Reacher also discovers the killings weren't as random as everyone believes.

This is 40

The latest from Judd Apatow is a very personal tale, and thinly-veiled comedic look at the writer/director's own life (which casts his real-life family and is shot in their home). The film returns Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann (Apatow's real-life wife) in this sort of, but not really, sequel to Knocked Up. Set in between the weeks where both intrinsically selfish characters turn 40 years-old, the humor of This is 40 often rings true but doesn't necessarily always produce big laughs.

Much like Apatow's last film, Funny People, This is 40 meanders its way through its more than two-hour running time (nearly always a bad sign for a comedy) by exploring the everyday lives of its characters with, at times, the barest structure of a plot.

What Apatow does deliver is a frank (and at times amusing) slice of life snapshot, with moments of hilarity, between a couple both going through their own mid-life crises while dealing with the demands of their children (Iris ApatowMaude Apatow) and parents (Albert BrooksJohn Lithgow).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Leverage - The Toy Job

In this year's holiday-themed episode the Leverage team set out to prevent a greedy former arms dealer (Gregg Henry) turned dirty CEO of a global toy conglomerate from releasing a dangerous toy he knows to be potentially harmful to children just in time for the Christmas rush. The initial plan of sending in Parker (Beth Riesgraf) to steal the safety report written by their client (Rodney Hicks), which would prove the toy's dangers to youngsters and get it pulled from toy store shelves, comes up empty when they discover the CEO has already bought himself an alternative safety approval after doctoring the toy's data.

Atomic Robo: The Flying She-Devils of the Pacific #5

Although the final issue of Atomic Robo: The Flying She-Devils of the Pacific is certainly packed with action, it's not quite the level of insane fun that I was hoping for in the mini-series' sendoff.

Most of the comic deals with the final battle between the She-Devils and Chokaiten, the secret organization created by the brightest scientist and military minds of Japan who have set their sites on attacking the United States with Earthquake Bombs.

Most of the action is pretty straightforward, but the comic's best moments come in the battle's aftermath when Atomic Robo looks to see what his involvement with the women has cost the She-Devils (and his own company). We also get a sweet epilogue set years into the future as the granddaughter of one of the She-Devils discovers her Gramms has lived a far more exciting life than she ever dreamed. It's this final scene that really ties a nice bow on the entire series and sends it off in style. Worth a look.

[Red 5, $3.50]

Glamourous short-haired Anne Hathaway is far from Misérable

In the January 2013 issue of Glamour actress Anne Hathaway shows off her sporty new hairdo (courtesy of her role in Les Misérables) and talks with the magazine about her recent marriage, her upcoming projects, her honeymoon, taking on the role as the face of One Billion Rising (the global movement to end violence against women), her love of dance and fashion, swearing off shopping until the end of the year, her critics, and how different she might act if she didn't know people were always watching. You can find the pics from her cover photoshoot inside.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hawaii Five-0 - Kahu

An attempt by a not so bright thief to carjack McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) and Catherine (Michelle Borth) leads the head of Five-0 to a case involving a young vandal named Ethan (Tristan Lake Leabu) so desperate for the police to help his father (Andrew Elvis Miller), who has gone missing on Christmas Eve, that the young man threw a rock through the front window of police headquarters.

Batman and Robin #15

I cannot express how ready I am for Death of the Family to be over. Seriously, I'm done. The Joker's reintroduction to the New 52 has been a gritty, dirty, and awful B-movie horror flick version of Batman I never wanted to see. The latest issue of Batman and Robin features a Death of the Family tie-in as Damian is captured by the Joker.

In much the same tone as nearly every other issue of this crossover, we're given a bleak story of a captured Damian matching wits with the face-removing Joker who gets to know the newest Robin far better. The comic ends with a reveal that I'm guessing will be explained in one of the other comics (as it certainly isn't here) before returning to the story next month.

I like Damian, and I certainly like how he stands up for himself against the psychopath, but there's nothing of note, and certain nothing enjoyable delivered here that makes this one worth picking up. Sadly, this seems to be an all to familiar trend with the Bat-books recently. Pass.

[DC, $2.99]

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine #16

After Jane Espenson's two-part story Season Nine returns its focus to Buffy Summers taking on Zompires on the streets of San Fransicso, although it looks like the character of Billy will be sticking around for the foreseeable future and may have a larger role this season than I'd like.

Even with the addition of Billy, and the continued absence of Willow, things get back to normal as our slayer gets her love interest for the season, finds out some zompires are more powerful than others, and gets a surprise when a Whedon favorite makes her first appearance in Season Nine.

Honestly, the Billy storyline curtailed my interest in the season by quite a bit. However, flipping through the comic and seeing the introduction of (the still magically-imbued) Illyria into the new arc was enough for me to pick this one up and stick around to see where things go from here. Worth a look.

[Dark Horse, $2.99]

Monday, December 17, 2012

Elementary - Leviathan

Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) is hired by the president (Reg Rogers) of a security company renown worldwide as the "world's foremost maker of bank vaults" to discover how the company's unbreakable safe was breached leading the the theft of $40 million in diamonds. Despite his initial assessment of needing only an hour to come up with the answer, the case proves to be far trickier than he originally believed. Maybe he should have stayed in bed with those twins (both played by Tonya Glanz) after all.

Scarlet Spider #12

With the events of Minimum Carnage finally done (and best forgotten) Kaine returns to Houston with plans to throw in the towel, stop playing hero, and leave the city for good. His quick getaway is halted by a drunken slumber (which may or may not have been brought on by the telepathic abilities of Aracely) and his hotel being robbed by a gang of machine gun wielding Santas.

I'm glad to see the comic deal with the events of the (again, best forgotten) crossover and move on quickly with Kaine getting some good advice from one of his new friends and then throwing on his costume to kick some serious Santa Claus ass. It's also nice to see the comic give us a single one-off story rather that jumping directly into a new multi-issue arc.

The comic continues to tease the abilities of Aracely, play on the guilt of our main character, and provide plenty of opportunities to prove to everyone (including himself) that he is indeed a hero. (And the cover's pretty cool, too.) Merry Christmas. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $2.99]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #17

As Splinter tries to bring his refocus his family after their recent loses, the latest issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brings in our first extended look at Dimension X and the Neutrinos who General Krang is out to destroy.

As you'd expect with any story that features the Neutrinos and Dimension X, this one gets a little weird. For our heroes in half-shell the craziness begins when April reaches out to a fellow Stockton employee who is actually a fugitive Neutrino android in hiding from Krang and his forces. When other Neutrinos show up to take Professor Honeycutt home the Turtles step in to stop what they see as an attack on April and her co-worker.

Although the version of the Neutrinos we see her are far more comfortable with violence than the original characters created for the cartoon, the comic does a good job at dealing with the fallout of the previous issue while spending the proper amount of time introducing the group, without giving too much away too soon, and staring a new arc featuring the Turtles traveling to Dimension X. Worth a look.

[IDW, $3.99]

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Scandal - Blown Away

As Olivia (Kerry Washington) continues work at the White House now that Vice President Sally Langston (Kate Burton) has assumed the duties of the President following the assassination attempt on Fitz (Tony Goldwyn), Olivia Pope & Associates are approached by Huck (Guillermo Díaz) who has been framed for the crime. The former government assassin was lured to the hotel room where a remote controlled sniper rifle was used to try and kill the President of the United States and is now in possession of the murder weapon.

Batman #15

In the only comic that has really been focused on the Death of the Family crossover, writer Scott Snyder gives us an awkward standoff between Batman and the Joker and an even more unnecessary rehashing of events with the entire Bat-Family over whether or not the Joker knows who they all really are and why Batman would keep that from them.

The comic picks up from the end of the last issue with Batman trapped by the Joker who keeps flirting with the Dark Knight about knowing all the Bat-Family's identities without ever proving it. Batman's escape includes the Dark Knight Detective removing his gloves (off-panel, and for no logical reason shown or discussed in the comic) which allows the Joker to dose Batman with Joker toxin and make his escape.

The New 52 version of the Bat-Universe, in nearly every way from Harley Quinn's makeover to the gritty feel of every story, has screamed Arkham Asylum ripoff. I guess it's fitting then that this is exactly where Snyder was headed all along. The Joker in recent months has taken over the asylum and has been preparing it for a very special party.

Burn Notice - Odd Man Out

Despite her initial reluctance Maddie (Sharon Gless) joins Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) and the group on the run. Sam (Bruce Campbell) and Jesse (Coby Bell) run into a snag while trying to procure the passport chips from a smuggler associate (Kevin McNally) of Schmidt (Patton Oswalt) who has started taking over Schmidt's business and plans to hunt down his former competitor and kill him.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hayden Panettiere, a Bikini, and a Really Bad Joke

Actress Hayden Panettiere took a little time off from filming new episodes of Nashville to show off her new bikini in the January 2013 issue of Esquire Magazine. The actress also shares a pretty bad joke in the magazine's ongoing Funny* Joke(s) from a Beautiful Woman series. You can find the video for the joke, along the pics from the photoshoot, inside.

Person of Interest - Shadow Box

Special Agent Donnelly (Brennan Brown) returns to recruit Carter (Taraji P. Henson) to help hunt down Reese (Jim Caviezel) who the FBI believes, along with Snow (Michael Kelly), is working for a private Chinese military outfit. Meanwhile, Reese has his hands full when The Machine delivers the number of a missing young woman (Jessica Collins) involved in a pair of robberies with a former Marine (Brian J. Smith).

G.I. JOE #20

Betrayal is the name of the game as the events of "Target: Snake Eyes" begin to wind down and Scarlett and the JOEs head deep into the Cambodian jungles to jump into the battle between the Arashikage Clan and the Coil. By the end of the issue both forces will be bloodied with severe loses on both sides, just as Snake Eyes planned.

Snake Eyes makes it into the temple just in time to save Helix and escape in one piece, despite having issues to settle with both Storm Shadow and Tomo who shows up to kill the JOE for the Soft Master who has been whispering sweet lies into the young man's ears. Although Tomo doesn't get the vengeance he sought against the JOE, he does find some retribution in blinding the Soft Master for playing him for a fool.

With his forces depleted, but still better off than the Coil (who lost nearly 2,000 men in their attempt to destroy the Arashikage), Storm Shadow allows his sword brother to leave. Matters are far from settled between them as "Target: Snakes" concludes with a throwdown between the two in the next issue of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. Worth a look.

[IDW, $3.99]

Glee, Actually

Christmas comes to McKinley High, and New York City, as the current and former members of the New Directions continue to sing and celebrate the holiday by putting aside their individual issues and the uncertainty of the club following their loss at Sectionals. The episode gives us five different Christmas tales before ending the show with a final group performance of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by all the members of Glee Club.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Big Bang Theory - The Santa Simulation

As Christmas grows near Leonard (Johnny Galecki) plans a X-Mas-themed Dungeons & Dragons night for Sheldon (Jim Parsons), Howard (Simon Helberg), and Stuart (Kevin Sussman), which includes Sheldon singing all five verses of "Good King Wenceslas" and the quest party playing "Jingle Bells" on hand bells. Meanwhile, the girls plan their own night out as Penny (Kaley Cuoco), Amy (Mayim Bialik) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) attempt to find Raj (Kunal Nayyar) a woman.

Fairest #10

Three issues into "The Hidden Kingdom," after Rapunzel has been temporarily abandoned by Joel in Japan after fleeing from her former lover Tomoko (by way of orgasm), the storyline finally fills in the back story explaining Rapunzel's distrust of men (and mother figures), her pregnancy, and the loss of her infant twin daughters whom she has search for over the centuries.

The latest issue, the end of which marks the halfway point of this arc and delivers our first look at Rapunzel's "children," includes a pretty cool giant cat (of the Cheshire variety), a long train ride, assassins, Bigby Wolf, quite a bit of back story for our hairy heroine, and Rapunzel facing her revenge.

Although the cliffhanger works pretty well, the story behind it isn't as clear as I'd like (especially for an issue that finally spends time to explain the past and motives of our main character). However, once again Fairest delivers one of the best comics of the month. I wouldn't expect anything less. If you aren't reading this comic you are missing out on one of the few bright spots in comics this year. Worth a look.

[Vertigo, $2.99]

The Hobbit: An Expected, and Familiar, Journey

After several delays, including the director and the Tolkien estate both separately suing New Line Cinema and a brief flirtation with Guillermo del Toro taking over the project, Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth for J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Roughly one-third of the 300-page children's fantasy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey feels far too familiar, somewhat less magical, and far more expected, than the title would indicate.

Our story, oddly, begins on the same day as The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring with Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) beginning to chronicle his adventures for his nephew Frodo (Elijah Wood), while waiting for Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to arrive to celebrate the Hobbit's 111th birthday. After this somewhat awkward (not to mention completely unnecessary) sequence, our story finally beings in earnest as the younger Bilbo (Martin Freeman) meets Gandalf the Grey and thirteen dwarves for an impromptu dinner which will forever change his life.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Arrow - Year's End

Before breaking for a Winter hiatus Arrow delivers its first Christmas episode when Oliver (Stephen Amell) decides to throw a big party after learning Moira (Susanna Thompson) and Thea (Willa Holland) stopped celebrating the holiday when he and his father went missing five years ago. Meanwhile Green Arrow has his hands full with a copycat archer who has begun killing off members of the list. Despite realizing the recent murders aren't the work of Green Arrow, Detective Lance (Paul Blackthorne) is ordered by his superior (Brian Markinson) to hide the fact that there is a second archer on the loose.

The Lone Ranger #11

After spending several issues exploring Tonto's past before he met the Masked Man, The Lone Ranger #11 returns to the "present" to focus on the Lone Ranger's struggle to get his wounded friend the medical attention he so desperately needs.

The warriors of the Ute tribe would prefer to kill the Ranger, and the elders seem perfectly willing to turn him away, but the Masked Man argues persuasively for the life of his friend. However, to save Tonto he'll have to work with the braves to save the Ute medicine woman from local Mormons. What should be a relatively simple mission is complicated by the braves' double-cross and a second twist involving the identity of the doctor the Ranger doesn't see coming.

I was hoping the flashbacks would take us up to the first meeting of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, but with only one issue left in the arc we may not get to see writer Ande Parks' take on the famous scene following the death of all but one Ranger at the hands of Butch Cavendish. For fans.

[Dynamite Entertainment, $3.99]

Bane Outtakes

Auralnauts offer us this humorous collection of Bane Outtakes from The Dark Knight Rises.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Leverage - The Corkscrew Job

After a woman's father drops dead working at a local winery, the Leverage crew attempts to discover the secret behind a series of worker deaths the winery wants covered up and con a corrupt winery owner (Hart Bochner) out of his prized possession - a priceless bottle of wine once owned by Thomas Jefferson. While Eliot (Christian Kane) learns what he can working in the fields, Parker (Beth Riesgraf) goes undercover as an intern, Hardison (Aldis Hodge) goes in as a vintner, and Sophie (Gina Bellman) becomes the owner's newest prized salesperson who works her magic to get the man to begin to doubt his own collection.

Worlds' Finest #7

The children of Batman team-up to take on a werewolf. Seriously, what's not to like? The Huntress, Damian, and Power Girl team-up set out to discover who (other than Helena) has been siphoning off huge amounts of cash from Wayne Enterprises.

As Power Girl heads to the Congo, where she runs into child soldiers armed with Apokolips weaponry, Damian and the Huntress come to an understanding while fighting off a pack of wolves, the bitter cold, and a werewolf while teaming up to do their own investigating.

When the comic introduced Damian last month I wondered if the plan was to allow Helena to step into the big sister role a character like Damian sorely needs (which was filled by Stephanie Brown before the New 52 reboot). I really enjoyed the two together, including Damian's promise to keep her secret - even from Batman. I hope we get to see more of the pairing in the future. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

The Avengers - Earth's Mightiest Heroes #9

Although I've grown disinterested in Marvel's Avengers titles as of late, with the fallout of AvX and the newly relaunched title by writer Jonathan Hickman (neither of which I enjoyed), I have been a fan of Marvel's animated The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes cartoon and the cover of this issue promised the kind of Avengers story I was interested in reading. I wasn't disappointed.

The first story involves Thor and Ms. Marvel (wearing her classic costume) taking on a long-dormant Skrull killing machine who attacks the pair when it recognizes Ms. Marvel's powers come from Kree origins. The one-upsmanship between the mighty Thor and the mighty Ms. Marvel is a lot of fun.

The back-up story involves the Black Widow and the Wasp sneaking into Doctor Doom's laboratory to rescue a pair of scientists whose work Doom is corrupting to turn into a biological weapon. Complete with insane escape, quarreling scientists, and Doombots, it proves to be just as much fun. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $2.99]

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hawaii Five-0 - Huaka’i Kula

Danny (Scott Caan) and McGarrett's (Alex O'Loughlin) camping trip with Grace's (Teilor Grubbs) troop of Aloha Girls takes a dangerous turn when an armed man (Tom Arnold) stumbles upon the group and takes McGarrett and one of the girls (Emily Alyn Lind) hostage. After relieving the troop of their cellphones, and shooting Danny in front of his daughter, the man takes McGarrett and young Lucy further into the jungle.

Iron Man #3

Iron Man continues to protect Maya Hansen's legacy by hunting down stolen black market versions of Extremis. His latest trip takes him to Columbia where he tries out his spiffy new Lightbender Stealth Armor. Not expecting much resistance, the lower-powered armor will allow Stark to sneak in and out of a Columbian drug lord's compound.

Things don't go quite according to plan when he discovers the drug dealer has hired the Living Laser, Firebrand, and Vibro to protect himself from Iron Man. Even with the limitations of his stealth armor, Iron Man dispatches the C-List villains with relative ease before turning his attention on the drug dealer and discovering what his plans for Extremis are.

I like the new new stealth armor (even if it makes Stark look like a huge fan of Tron: Legacy). The twist involving the health of the dealer's young daughter is interesting, but it does end the comic on a rather flat note. For fans.

[Marvel, $3.99]

The Lone Ranger trailer

We now have our first full-length trailer for director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer's The Lone Ranger starring Johnny Depp stars as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the The Lone Ranger. Helena Bonham Carter, Barry Pepper, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, and James Badge Dale also star. The Lone Ranger rides into theaters everywhere on July 3rd.

The Mentalist - Panama Red

The murder of a botanist working at a local pot farm leads the CBI to talk with the victim's former college advisor (Susan Gibney), boss (Troy Ruptash), and co-worker (Paul David Story) in the course of the investigation the CBI discovers the man's night job at a tobacco company where he was working secretly to grow a mass-producible strain of marijuana that could potentially be worth billions.