Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Ten Best Movies of 2012 (So Far)

Super-heroes, aliens, character studies, parents and their children, time travel, the Scottish Highlands, young love, monsters, and the end of the world. Head over to RazorFine Review to check out my list of the ten best movies from the first-half of 2012.

Safety Not Guaranteed

Time travel stories are tricky and the number of movies that intelligently discuss the topic are outnumbered by hundreds that don't (for proof look no further than the pathetic likes of The Time Machine, Timeline, Black Knight, Freejack, and the truly awful adaptation of Ray Bradbury's A Sound of Thunder). Thankfully, director Colin Trevorrow's Safety Not Guaranteed doesn't fall into this category. Instead, it produces one of the year's most unexpected and memorable films.

Seattle Magazine reporter (Jake M. Johnson) sells his editor (Mary Lynn Rajskub) on the idea of doing a puff piece on a man  (Mark Duplass) who posted a classified ad looking for a companion for time travel. Roping in two interns (Aubrey PlazaKaran Soni) to do the actual work, Jeff heads to the coast for his real purpose of a paid vacation and reconnecting with his teenage girlfriend (Jenica Bergere), but the story the threesome uncover turns out to be far more interesting than they expected.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

There is never a doubt that Moonrise Kingdom is a Wes Anderson film. From the opening credit sequence to the final shot the writer/director's latest is filled with his voice and style. I haven't always been Anderson's biggest fan, as at times I think he sacrifices substance for style (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and to a lesser extent Rushmore), but I enjoyeed The Darjeeling Limited and appreciated The Fantastic Mr. Fox enough to include it on a list of my the Best Films of 2009.

Anderson's latest is a bit of a departure as it focuses on a pair of 12 year-old characters (rather than his usual choice of an ensemble of thoroughly damaged and eccentric adults). Sam (Jared Gilman) is an orphaned Khaki Scout marooned on a small New England island with no paved roads and a group of unfriendly companions. Suzy (Kara Hayward) is the problem child of a pair of lawyers (Frances McDormandBill Murray) more comfortable discussing legal briefs than feelings.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Futurama - Decision 3012

The latest episode of Futurama tackles politics (and time travel) in a odd mix the Birther movement against of Barack Obama's election as President and The Terminator. When Richard Nixon (Billy West) runs for re-election as President of Earth Leela (Katey Sagal) decides to help a honest Senator with good ideas win the election.

Nightwing #10

With the "Night of Owls" crossovers now official done Nightwing moves forward with a new arc as Dick Grayson makes several important decisions about his future. We also get our first look at the army of vigilantes dressed up as knights and led by another New 52 villain - Paragon.

Nightwing, at least for the forseeable future, seems to be staying in Gotham and so is the Haly's Circus as Dick comes up with a new plan to fix up Gotham's run down amusement park Amusement Mile perhaps with the help of Tony Zucco's daughter Sonia. We also finally get back to the story of Nightwing being framed for murder (remember that?).

The issue finally fills in some information about the corrupt cop Detective Nie who tried to pin a murder wrap on Batman by planting evidence looks to be the man behind Nightwing's stick showing up at a recent murder as well. This story works better for me than Paragon (although I'm betting the two are related). This was a make-or-break issue for Nightwing for me, and although it's not great there's enough here to bring me back for another month. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

Captain Atom #10

The final issue of this arc finds Captain Atom, in fact several different versions of Captain Atom from all across time and space, attempting to stop the entity known as Chromo Mata. Of course we know (from the final panel of last month's issue) that Chromo Mata is actually the futuristic near God-like version of Captain Atom.

Captain Atom backtracks the events which helped lead to the world viewing Captain Atom as a savior, in order to stop the creation of Chromo Mata before it ever begins - even if that means letting a young child (whom he originally saved) die of cancer.

The issue makes a nice conclusion to the arc as well as allow the character to embrace his humanity by creating a flesh and blood Nathaniel Adam version of himself to explore his feeling for Renita. With this storyline wrapped up, I'll be curious to see what new direction Captain Atom takes beginning next month. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Franklin and Bash - For Those About to Rock

After being held in contempt Jared (Breckin Meyer) is given 50 hours of community service, in small claims court, as a judge where he's forced to rule in favor of shutting down a legendary rock 'n roll club when the club owner (Joel David Moore) is unable to pay the rent after the unexpected disappearance of his legendary father (Peter Weller). Peter (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) convinces his friend to make right by taking the man's case, even in that means going up against Jared's father (Beau Bridges) in court.

Beauty and the BEAT!

What happens when Disney's Belle from Beauty and the Beast moves to the hood? Watch this very entertaining video from Todrick Hall to fnid out.

Snake Eyes #14

After Zartan survived the first attempt on his life, Storm Shadow sends Snake Eyes and Rika out to finish the job. That's only half of Zartan's problems, however, as his insolence has perturbed the new Cobra Commander enough to allow Savane to make a name for herself in Cobra by killing him as well.

With both the Arashikage Clan and Cobra out to kill him you wouldn't expect Zartan's life expectancy to be very long. However, for another issue the master of disguise manages to stay one step ahead of his persuers, although his getaway plane does have a bomb onboard.

We get another glimpse at Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow's lives as young pupils of Arashikage as well Snake Eyes knocking out Rika and sending a coded message to Helix about Zartan. We'll have to see how long the mute ninja can keep playing both sides before someone figures out what's really going on. Worth a look.

[IDW, $3.99]

Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness trailer

You know you've really got to make an effort to set out and make the worst Dungeons & Dragons movie yet, but Hollywood seems to have found a way. Check out the trailer for Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness (named after one of the role-playing game's many supplemental sourebooks) which stars Meagan GoodAnthony HowellEleanor GecksBeau Brasseaux, and Jack Derges. Apparently SyFy has owned the rights to the movie for some time but just can't pull the trigger to show it to audiences. Yeah, it's so bad SyFy is in no hurry to air it. Wow.

Red Tails Blu-ray review

Producer George Lucas began developing the story of the Tuskegee Airmen as a theatrical project way back in 1988. Originally developed as a trilogy, Red Tails languished in development for years as Lucas moved on to other projects (including the Star Wars prequels). As a historical drama the film is problematic, but as an action film centered around real-life African-American heroes Red Tails is not without some charm.

The story focuses on Tuskegee training program, specifically the 332d Fighter Group of young African American USAAF fighter pilots (Nate ParkerDavid OyelowoTristan WildsElijah KelleyNe-YoKevin PhillipsMarcus T. Paulk) under the command of Colonel A.J. Bullard (Terrence Howard) and Major Emanuelle Stance (Cuba Gooding Jr.) who finally get their shot at real action during WWII and prove skeptics and critics wrong with a near miraculous display of ability.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Newsroom – We Just Decided To

Starting in 1998, for the better part of a decade, writer/producer Aaron Sorkin created three primetime shows for network television. One centered around the White House produced critical and mass appeal. The other two, neither of which received the same notoriety, were about a subject dear to his heart - television. Sorkin returns with a new show, a new network, and a familiar subject matter with The Newsroom. It's not television, it's Sorkin on HBO.

Robot and Frank trailer

Set in the near future, Robot and Frank stars Frank Langella as a grumpy old man whose children (James MarsdenLiv Tyler) purchase a robot servant to look after him. However, the retired jewel thief finds another use for the robot and sets out on a new crime spree. Susan SarandonPeter Sarsgaard, and Jeremy Strong also star. The unconventional heist film from writer Christopher D. Ford and director Jake Schreier is set to open in limited release in select cities on August 24th.

Winter Soldier #7

For two months the Winter Soldier and Black Widow have tracked Leo Novokov, the third Soviet sleeper agent trained by Bucky who is loose in the world and leading the pair, and S.H.I.E.L.D. on a scavenger hunt filled with the bodies of government agents, soldiers, a doctor, a bellhop, and one of Bucky's oldest friends.

The pair get a break with Novokov kidnaps a former Soviet scientist and member of the Red Room (the experimental science and training program that produced the Black Widow). However, Volkov has one more trick as he lures Buck and Natasha into an exploding Winnebago all to separate the two and reveal his true target.

Okay, so it doesn't have gorillas with machine guns, but a motor home of death is still pretty cool, and Brubaker keeps the tension taught as Bucky does his impression of Sandra Bulluck from Speed. Another strong issue with a nice (if far too foreseeable) twist at the end. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $3.99]

The Grey

Liam Neeson stars as one of seven oil workers (Frank GrilloDallas RobertsJoe AndersonNonso AnozieBen BrayDermot Mulroney) to survive a plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness. A skilled hunter hired to keep the wolves off the workers in the fields, Ottway (Neeson) takes control of the survivors who have been marooned in the middle of the hunting grounds of a large pack of hungry, and vicious, gray wolves.

When the film sticks with the tension of the men's fight for survival it works well enough. Sadly, the plot is also filled with flashback dream sequences of Ottway's life with his wife (Anne Openshaw), Ottway and Diaz's (Grillo) cliched alpha-male dick-measuring in the wilderness, and the heavy-handed sequence involving the man bemoaning the state of his life and contemplating suicide as the film opens. Is it better than most dead of winter theatrical releases? Sure. Is it worth owning on home video. Not really.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Burn Notice - Mixed Messages

In order to earn visitation rights to see Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) in prison, Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) reaches out to his mentor (John C. McGinley) and training officer and agrees to help him bring down a the leader of a Mexican drug cartel and his psychotic security expert (Anthony Ruivivar) who attempting to establish a foothold in Miami.

Daredevil #14

Picking up from the previous issue's cliffhanger, Daredevil finds himself unfeed and sensory deprived in a Latverian prison for more than 17 hours. By the time Chancellor Exchequer Beltane shows up to pronounce sentence on him for "fiscal terrorism" the man without fear is weakened and primed to be gassed.

Daredevil escapes the castle but he learns that although the mysterious gas didn't kill him, it is playing havoc on his senses. Slowly his sense of touch, taste and smell leave him making the blind lawyer rely even heavier on his radar sense as he attempts to make it out of Latveria as quickly as possible.

The latest issue reminded me of D.O.A. with Daredevil standing in for Dennis Quaid's character (not a good thing). The purposeful further teasing of what Foggy found, and a profound decision for the character, makes me care even less about the subplot that I did when it was introduced last month. Still worth a look, but this issue feels far too much like filler.

[Marvel, $2.99]

Monsters University teaser

Disney has released the first teaser for Monsters University, the prequel to Monsters, Inc. set to hit theaters next summer which returns John Goodman and Billy Crystal as monsters-in-training James P. "Sulley" Sullivan and Mike Wazowski. Steve Buscemi, Ken Jeong, John Ratzenberger, Kelsey Grammer, Rob Riggle, Frank Oz, and Dave Foley also lend their voices to the project. Monsters University opens everywhere on June 21, 2013.

Comic Rack

It’s a new week so it must be time to talk about comics! Welcome to the RazorFine Comic Rack boys and girls. Pull up a bean bag and take a seat at feet of the master as we offer you this quick list of all kinds of comic book goodness set to hit comic shops and bookstores this week from all your favorite publishers including DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Archie, Dynamite, Image Comics, and others.

This week includes Angel & Faith, Archie, Aquaman, Fatale, FF, The Flash, Hell Yeah, Incredible Hulk, Justice League, Savage Dragon, Scarlet, Spaceman, Spider-Men, Star Trek, Superman, Supreme, Teen Titans, TMNT, Voltron, X-Men, the first issues of Before Watchmen: Nite Owl, Fatima: The Blood Spinners, Hit-Girl, The Hypernaturals, Juliet, Penguins of Madagascar, Soulfire: Hope, Strawberry Shortcake, and the final issues of Dorothy & The Wizard in Oz, Gears of War and Rocketeer Adventures.

Enjoy issue #181

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Red Hood and the Outlaws #10

Kori is approached by Orn, a former comrade, who enlists the princess' help to save her homeworld. Soon Arsenal, Red Hood, and Jason's date for the evening find themselves on Tamarian battle cruiser with Starfire preparing for war.

Although the story introduces the new arc I'll admit to being a little lost as Starfire's choice to return home (to save a people who enslaved her) doesn't really sit well with the New 52 version of the character. We get short reunions with Starfire and members of the ship's crew (with more revelations for the heroine's past to come), but "the Blight," the invading alien force, is pretty damn generic.

The issue also begins an ongoing back-up story of Essence and a man with a "Life Hammer" hunting the Untitled (who he may, or may not, once been a part of - clarity is not this issue's strong suit).

Although it has some fun moments (including Jason's date), the latest issue is by far the weakest of the series so far. Hit-and-Miss.

[DC, $2.99]

Kung Fu Panda #6 (of 6)

The final issue in the mini-series finds Po set against his most formidable foe yet - his own stomach. To help teach the Dragon Warrior discipline Shifu orders Po to fast for 24 hours. However, it appears the universe has something else in mind as his surroundings keep tempting him with food including a dumpling eating contest that a weary Po stumbles on while struggling with his fast.

Artist Christine Larsen returns to do the art for the main story. I like her art, but with these characters I want a little more cartoonish fun and a little less emphasis on the animalistic nature of each character (Tigress especially looks rather feral).

Monkey takes center stage in the issue's (mostly forgettable) back-up story as he infiltrates a band of monkey bandits in order to take them down from the inside. The series has been fun at times, even if it has dragged a bit over the final few issues. Ape Entertainment already has a sequel in the works so more Kung Fu Panda fun is on the way. For fans.

[Ape Entertainment, $3.99]

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturday with Mila

Futurama - Farewell to Arms

While searching for Fry's (Billy West) lucky, and only, pair of pants the Planet Express crew uncovers an ancient Martian calendar predicting that the world will end in 3012 (along with fires, earthquakes, and sharksplosions). A little scientific investigation by Professor Farnsworth (West) discovers the cause of the recent unstable weather patterns is the onset of a catastrophic sunspot cycle which is also responsible for the short circuiting off all electricity on Earth.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

What if Armageddon had failed? Well, if you're writer/director Lorene Scafaria the story might lead to a quirky odd couple road trip which mixes in equal measure romantic comedy and art film sensibilities. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World opens with insurance salesman Dodge (Steve Carell) and his wife Linda (Nancy Carell) in their car hearing the news that NASA's last ditch shuttle mission to deflect the asteroid hurtling to the Earth has failed.

People react differently to the news that everyone on the planet has three weeks to live. Linda immediately runs from the car never to be seen again, deciding to embrace the affair and life she's kept hidden from her husband for months. Dodge's best friends (Rob Corddry, Connie Britton) throw all caution to the wind going out with a bang that involves a non-stop party, drugs, and booze (even for their kids). Over the course of the film we'll also see rioters unable to cope with the situation and survivalists planning to start a new world following the end of this one.


It's taken Pixar nearly two decades, and a dozen films, for the animation studio to give us their first attempt at a feature film centered around a female character. Merida (Kelly Macdonald), the fiery tomboyish Scottish princess certainly fits into Disney's Princess franchise, but Pixar one-ups the house that Mickey built by giving us a story centered around a troubled, but loving, mother-daughter relationship (something Disney hasn't been able to achieve in far longer than two decades).

Although I think Brave has a little too much of an American sensibility for an old world fairy tale (another first for Pixar), the film is gorgeous to behold. The story of a young girl attempting to change her fate may not rank near the top of Pixar's best, but it's definitely worth a long look and should find quite fanbase in both young and older female viewers who have been waiting patiently for the studio to deliver a character like Merida.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Futurama - The Bots and the Bees

After an affair with the office's new Slurm-dispensing beverage machine (Wanda Sykes), with whom he has been trading barbs with for days, Bender (John Di Maggio) is shocked to learn he has fathered a son. The gang decides to take the confused robot to the Robie D. and Robbie T. Robot Center to teach him where baby robots come from by sharing with him a special PSA entitled "Robot Sex Ed. Volume One Or Pants Full of Shame." I like the second title better.

Batman and Robin #10

"War of the Robins" begins as Damian assembles all of Batman's former sidekicks together (minus, of course, a still un-rebooted Stephanie Brown) and announces his plans to defeat each of them proving himself to be the best Robin. He begins, not surprisingly with his most heated rival, Tim Drake.

The story certainly fits the character who has a need to live up to the legacy and prove himself worthy of the mantle (which, in Damian's dickish mind means showing up each of the previous Boy Wonders). I'm also glad to see, at least in one of the other Bat-titles (other than Red Hood and the Outlaws), Jason Todd is sticking around for at least an issue or two.

The comic's other storyline introduces a new villain named Terminus who prepares to kill the Batman before his own demise. Nothing special here, and Terminus is certainly overshadowed by all the Robins appearing in the same panel together for the first time in the New 52 (although we still haven't gotten Batman and Red Hood together, yet). Worth a look.

[DC, 2.99]

Now you have a spot to store your Scooby Snacks

Because everyone needs an 8in. tall ceramic Scooby-Doo Gang and Mystery Machine Cookie Jar which can be yours for the low, low price of $45.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Franklin and Bash - Jango and Rossi

While representing one of Infeld's (Malcolm McDowell) ex-wives (Cybill Shepherd), Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) meet their match when they run into a pair of brash young lawyers (Seth GreenEric Mabius) who enjoy flamboyantly bending legal procedures for their own amusement almost as much as they do.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine #10

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine #10 concludes the "Apart of Me" storyline which found Buffy's consciousness trapped in the body of a Buffybot and her body's new personality under the brainwashing of psycho slayer Simone.

Although I think the arc has provided some nice moments it ends more with a whimper than a bang. Don't get me wrong, it's certainly not a bad issue, but it's pretty much exactly what you'd expect (without a big Buffy vs. Buffy throwdown). Buffy gets reunited with herself, Simone gets away, and everything goes back to normal (or whatever Buffy's version of normal is).

The only real lasting effect of the arc is Spike, realizing there's no hope for vamp and slayer, deciding on his own to leave. Although it provides a nice moment for Spike it also removes yet another one of the comic's most entertaining characters. Next issue marks the return of Kennedy who hopefully will breathe some new life back into the Buffyverse. For fans.

[Dark Horse, $2.99]

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Although Journey 2: The Mysterious Island returns only a single character from 2008's Journey to the Center of the Earth the sequel feels very much like a retread of the same adventure. Once again we get the teenager on a quest to find a lost family member with the help of an older authority figure in the middle of a Jules Vernian landscape come to life.

In an attempt to bond with his stepson, Hank (Dwayne Johnson) agrees to take a trip to find Jules Verne's Mysterious Island after Sean (Josh Hutcherson) deciphers a code sent from his grandfather (Michael Caine) who went missing a few months ago. The pair enlist the help of a Pacific helicopter pilot (Luis Guzmán) and his daughter (Vanessa Hudgens) and soon the foursome find themselves stranded on the island no one, other than Sean, really believed existed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes launch trailer

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has released a new launch trailer for LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes which hits stores on Friday. Very cool.

White Collar - Season Three

The Third Season of White Collar finds Neal Cafferey (Matt Bomer) confronted with a choice. After the fallout from Season Two's finale, Neal and Mozzie (Willie Garson) find themselves in possession of stolen Nazi treasure with hundreds of millions of dollars. But despite his best friend's constant urges to run with the loot and start their new lives, Neal finds himself unwilling to give up his partnership with Peter (Tim DeKay) and the life he's created for himself as a consultant for the FBI.

Highlights from the season include Mozzie meeting a lady friend (Lena Headey), the return of Keller (Ross McCall), Neal going undercover at a prestigious private high school, the rocky road of Neal and Sara's (Hilarie Burton) relationship, a new thief who reminds everyone of a young Neal Cafferey, a heist at Yankee Stadium, and the season finale where Neal, Peter, and the rest of the gang testify at Neal's hearing to commute his sentence as the con man attempts to stay one step ahead of Agent Kramer's (Beau Bridges) attempts to take him down.

Captain America #13

Captain America tracks down Jack Garrett, the leak in S.H.I.E.L.D. who has been supplying HYDRA with names of criminals in witness protection, which leads him one step closer to Henry Gyrich. We also see how Gyrich is controlling the new Scourge, who no one but a still unconscious Diamondback knows is Cap's old friend D-Man.

The latest issue moves the plot forward, and sets the table, but other than a quick battle at the airport where Cap takes down Garrett (and the HYDRA agents sent to silence him before he talked), it is a little light on action.

Sharon Carter and Dum Dum Dugan set a trap that gets them Gyrich. However, Cap's already in the field after the new Scourge before Diamondback wakes up, meaning he's not aware he's hunting a friend who has been brainwashed by HYDRA.

As to the big throwdown between old friends (teased on the cover but not shown here), we'll have to wait at least another issue. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $3.99]

Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance DVD review

And I thought the first movie was dumb. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and somehow still found myself disappointed. Somehow co-directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (the brains behind the Crank films... and Jonah Hex) manage to deliver a film that's less engaging, and arguably makes less sense, than the first trainwreck.

One of the few things Ghost Rider had going for it was the look of the Rider which the sequel completely redesigns with a pitch-black skull and constantly burning and flaking clothes (that never come close to actually burning away) that's more distracting that anything else. But hey, here's a film that needs all the distractions it can get.

The Rider also appears to be mildly retarded this time around as he moves around as if he's a marionette with half of his strings cut, jerking in this direction or the next before the film is sped-up (in Crank fashion) for Ghost Rider to, most unimpressively, take vengeance on the wicked.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fairly Legal - Finale

In the show's Second Season finale Kate (Sarah Shahi) mulls over the consequences of moving in with Justin (Michael Trucco) while mediating a dispute between a lesbian couple (Lindy Booth, Rebecca Staab) whose relationship ended after they were fired by a news agency. Although the conflict appears to be settled easily Kate gets suspicious when the fact checker's notes on a big corruption story aren't returned to her, as promised as part of the settlement.

Batman #10

Um... what? Writer Scott Snyder joins Jeph Loeb (who invented Bruce Wayne's childhood friend turned super-villain) and Grant Morrison (who basically has carte blanche to do whatever the hell he wants concerning Batman and his history including turning him into 1970's Tony Stark) in writing a major departure for the character that gives Bruce Wayne... a brother?

Batman (and several more victims than initially believed) have survived the "Night of the Owls." Batman tracks the Court of Owls back to their base where he discovers they have apparently taken their own lives to escape justice.

However, Batman learns the truth as he discovers Lincoln March is alive and responsible... and claims he is Bruce Wayne's brother?? And, given the back-up story (which appears to support his claim) it might even be true. Stop the merry-go-round, I want to get off. Snyder better have one hell of a twist up his sleeve to try and salvage what, apparently, this whole arc was leading up to. Pass.

[DC, $3.99]

Pitch Perfect trailer

Adapted from the book by Mickey Rapkin (who spent a season covering competitive collegiate a cappella) Pitch Perfect looks to cash-in on the Glee phenomenon with a little of the self-referential humor found in films like Bring It On and Fired Up! The film follows an all female a capella group working their way to the championships. Anna KendrickAlexis KnappBrittany SnowElizabeth BanksRebel WilsonAnna CampSkylar AstinFreddie Stroma, and John Michael Higgins star. The film opens in theaters everywhere on October 5th.

Comic Rack

It’s a new week so it must be time to talk about comics! Welcome to the RazorFine Comic Rack boys and girls. Pull up a bean bag and take a seat at feet of the master as we offer you this quick list of all kinds of comic book goodness set to hit comic shops and bookstores this week from all your favorite publishers including DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Archie, Dynamite, Image Comics, and others.

This week includes Adventure Time, Avenging Spider-Man, Birds of Prey, Captain Atom, Daredevil, Fables, Ghostbusters, Godzilla, Hulk, New Avengers, Nightwing, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Reed Gunther, Saga, Secret Avengers, The Shadow, Supergirl, Winter Soldier, Young Justice, the first issues of Baltimore: Dr Leskovar's Remedy, Mars Attacks, and the final issue of Casanova: Avaritia, Memorial, Ragemoor, Rebel Blood, and Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi - Force Storm.

Enjoy issue #180

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Scarlet Spider #6

Along with showcasing how Houston's new hero has taken the city by storm the latest issue of Scarlet Spider puts quite a few stories in motion. We get Kaine squaring off with Ana Kravinoff, his growing frustration with Aracely's ability to know more about him than she should (and maybe even more than than he knows about himself), and a couple references to a blue hoodie and the man who used to be known as Scarlet Spider.

The story also gives us a little more information on Aracely and how she's connected to the mysterious Mexica and "The Darkness" as well as foreshadowing the return of Madame Web and Kraven the Hunter, both of whom have their sites set on the new Scarlet Spider.

Another good issue that give us a big throwdown between Kaine and Ana in a burning church as well as some humorous moments between the frustrated hero and Aracely and some contemplative moments about as Kaine gets used to his new role and place in the world. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $2.99]

The Lone Ranger #6

With Marshall Dorsey dead the Lone Ranger leaves Tonto in the care of Utopia's doctor and turns his attention on Dorsey's train robbers who are now out for blood and gold now that the threat of the man who kept them under his thumb has been taken care of by the masked man and his Indian companion.

Before the day is out the town will witness another showdown and the Lone Ranger will put to rest the town's final demons before taking off with Tonto in search of a local tribe who Tonto believes may be able to heal him.

The conclusion to "Hard Country" leaves a few questions unanswered as the Ranger wonders why an agent of the U.S. Government led them straight into a trap. Those answers, however, will have to wait as the next arc will apparently focus on Tonto and the secrets of his past. Worth a look.

[Dynamite, $3.99]

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Burn Notice - Scorched Earth

With Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) trapped, blackmailed by Anson (Jere Burns), Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) did the only thing she could to save the man she loved - turned herself in to the FBI for the crime Anson framed her for. With Fi behind bars and Anson on the run, Michael throws all caution to the wind, ignoring Sam's (Bruce Campbell) advice, to take revenge on the man who took the woman he loved before he disappears for good.

Green Lantern #10

With the Indigo Tribe released from the control of their shattered Power Battery, and with only a minimal charge left in their rings, Hal Jordan and Sinestro find themselves running for their lives from a group of the universes most deadly and dangerous killers.

"The Secret of the Indigo Tribe" concludes with the return of the status quo. Black Hand is able to escape the Tribe for an alternative as his death gives birth the New 52's first Black Lantern. Hopefully this won't mean the return of other zombie members of its Corps as we really, really don't need to relive Blackest Day in the New 52.

I'm pretty sure that Black Lanterns weren't at (or anywhere near) the top of the list of what DC's reboot was missing, but it looks like they're back. The comic does give us some more strong interplay with Sinestro and Hal as well show us how much Sinestro respects Hal's ability and bravery (regardless of what he may say to the Earthman's face). Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

Friday, June 15, 2012

Rock of Ages

Brought from Broadway to the silver screen by director Adam Shankman and screenwriters Justin TherouxChris D'Arienzo, and Allan Loeb, Rock of Ages is a celebration of classic 1980's rock that gives us the story of a small town girl (Julianne Hough) and a city boy raised in south Detroit (Diego Boneta) whose paths cross in a famous Hollywood bar on the Sunset Strip known as The Bourbon Room.

Adapted from the Broadway musical of the same name, the film makes both big and small changes in regards to both characters and music.

For two-hours the script weaves Drew (Boneta) and Sherrie (Hough), and countless supporting characters, through a story built on the back of several 80's hits from the likes of JourneyForeignerPat BenatarBon Jovi,  WhitesnakeDef Leppard, Night Ranger, Warrant, PoisonGuns N' Roses, Twisted Sister, and REO Speedwagon which the characters not only perform, but live.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fairest #4

Fairest's opening tale of Ali Baba, Briar Rose, and the Snow Queen continues with Jonah Panghammer continuing his tale of Briar Rose's birth and cluing the Snow Queen in on a couple of facts she may have overlooked.

There's an interesting moment, as the imp is regaling the Snow Queen with the tale of Ali Baba, where writer Bill Willingham suggests why Ali Baba is the world's greatest thief when he could have simply stayed a hero. Inserting an idea, like the Laws of Consensus Reality, seamlessly into the main story is what Fables is known for, as well as throwing you a curve just when you think you've got the story figured out. And we get both here.

Although we'll have to wait a month until next month's conclusion, all the groundwork has been laid, including the suggestion of with whom our hero will find true happiness. Worth a look.

[Vertigo, $2.99]

Super Dinosaur #11

As the Exile takes control of Dyna Dome, Erin finds herself at the mercy of the Dino-Men who have knocked-out Super Dinosaur and turned their attention on the young girl who hitched a ride to the action, not realizing how dangerous things would get.

To the teenager's surprise, she's rescued by her parents who are operating a spare suit of SD's armor while armoring the T-Rex with some new heavy artillery. Although the group is able to win the day, by the time they make it back to Dyna Dome they find Derek has been kidnapped by the Exile and Dr. Dynamo's successful rescue of his wife was anything but as the woman he though was Erica turns out to be a walking bomb that almost kills them all.

Another solid issue that ends with an intriguing cliffhanger, and an entire new world to explore, as Derek finds himself transported with the Exile to Inner-Earth. Worth a look.

[Image, $2.99]

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Franklin and Bash - Viper

As Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) get their first chance to defend a real-life super-hero (Sean Astin) charged with manslaughter Peter juggles his new relationship with Officer Wendy (Kat Foster) and the unexpected arrival of his mother Elaine (Jane Seymour) who needs Peter's help to sell the house he grew up in and may have to move in temporarily.

Worlds' Finest #2

I was surprised at home much I enjoyed the first issue of Worlds' Finest which reintroduced Huntress and Power Girl as heroes from Earth-2 stranded in the New 52 DC Universe.

Although the second issue isn't bad, it's certainly has to be considered a disappointment. Sure we get a few more flashbacks to the ladies early days on a new Earth (but even these are rather bland), and I certainly liked the idea of how Power Girl fuels Starr Industries (by mining rare minerals such as Dysprosium from deep in the ocean), but neither battle between the pair and the radioactive Hakkou, who destroys a large section of a Starr development site for unclear motives, is all that interesting.

Issue #2 feels a less focused than the first issue, and Hakkou is yet another throwaway New 52 villain (whose motives and ties to Apokolips are sketchy at best). Hit-and-Miss.

[DC, $2.99]

Winter Soldier #6

The Winter Soldier's investigation into the missing third Soviet sleeper agent leads the the discovery that Leo Novokov was awoken 12 years prior during an earthquake and has been loose in America ever since.

Intercut with S.H.I.E.L.D.'s investigation we get flashbacks into Leo's time spent on the streets, attempting to make sense of a world that doesn't fit his shattered memories - until he learns of the Winter Soldier and is contacted by an ex-KGB agent Boris Kolchek and starts to put the pieces together.

With the Soviet Union gone, and unwilling to work for a bitter remnant of the Cold War such as Kolchek, Novokov begins making his own plans which include drawing the Winter Soldier out of hiding after his apparent "death." In order to do so he'll destroy someone from Bucky's past.

Although this storyline doesn't appear to have Doombots or gorillas with machine guns, it's setting up to be very much an old fashioned spy thriller. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $3.99]

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fairly Legal - The Complete First Season

It's odd that Universal waited this long to release the First Season of Fairly Legal on DVD just as the Second Season is winding down. The three-disc set includes all ten episodes of the first season including an extended version of the Pilot episode.

Sarah Shahi stars as Kate Reed, a former lawyer turned mediator, who will spend the entire season in a battle of wills with her stepmother (Virginia Williams), and in a constant dance with her ex-husband (Michael Trucco), while working at her recently deceased father's law firm.

Over the course of the first season Kate will help a man (Paul Schulze) wrongly imprisoned for more than half of his life, solve disputes for a grumpy judge (Gerald McRaney), help an illegal immigrant (Christina Vidal) who served honorably in the U.S. Military stay in the country, save her friend's (Brittany Ishibashi) wedding when her father's (Clyde Kusatsu) insistence on an iron-clad prenup which threatens to ruin it, and solve a dispute between an adoptive father (Scott Holroyd) and grandmother (Kathleen Gati) involving a young girl (Olivia Steele-Falconer) after her mother's death.

Morning Glories #19

"P.E." concludes as we catch up to Hunter being chased through the woods by a knife-wielding Zoe who is out to kill him just as she has killed the young girl who fancied him moments before. Last issue gave us some insight into Zoe's motivations, and the final issue of the arc helps fill in some of Hunter's past as well.

We get flashbacks including more instances of the young man's trouble with time and the slow death of his mother in a hospital. We're also given a last second twist and the introductions of new characters who have apparently been searching for one of the Morning Glories students for quite some time.

The issue doesn't give much away, but it's certainly memorable as by the final page the first of our original six characters will meet their end. Worth a look.

[Image, $2.99]

John Carter Blu-ray review

John Carter may not have been the box office bonanza Disney was expecting, but the film (based on the stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs) was one of my favorite films of the first-half of 2012.

The film stars Taylor Kitsch as a reluctant Civil War hero turned prospector who found himself miraculously transported to Mars and caught up in a war between the martian cities of Helium and Zodanga.

Over the course of the film John Carter will be captured and made a part of the the tribe of Martian Tharks, fall in love with a Martian princess (Lynn Collins), and uncover the secret that the mysterious group known as Therns want so desperately to be kept hidden. For more on the movie check out my original review.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1 (of 6)

When DC announced its plans for Before Watchmen, a new mini-series set in the world Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created more than 25 years ago, but without their input, I was, like many, not too keen on the idea. Of all the titles suggested the only one that piqued a little interest was Minutemen.

Written and drawn by Darwyn Cooke (and that's really enough for me to give it a shot), the first issue of Before Watchmen: Minutemen is little more than a reintroduction to the characters we learned about in Watchmen. Told through the eyes Hollis Mason, the first Nite Owl, as he is putting the final touches his memoirs "Under the Hood," we meet each of the Minutemen (Sally Jupiter, Hooded Justice, Silhouette, Dollar Bill, Mothman, The Comedian) through Mason's narrated flashbacks.

Although it doesn't really give any new information about the characters the setting and characters are a perfect fit for Cooke's writing and art. Worth a look.

[DC, $3.99]

Fairly Legal - Force Majeure

Justin's (Michael Trucco) surprise gift of two tickets to a private concert of a Brazilian singer/songwriter (Josefina Scaglione) impresses Kate (Sarah Shahi) but has unintended consequences when the limo on the way to a private party afterwards with the star leads to her arrest after drugs are discovered by the police.

Avengers vs. X-Men #5

If you were wondering how Marvel Comics was going to draw out Hope Summers becoming the Phoenix over a twelve-issue maxi-series, issue #5 answers that question with an unexpected bait-and-switch.

On the moon where the Avengers and X-Men battle and the Phoenix Force arrives, Iron Man and Giant Man create an ill-explained kamikaze robot created to disperse the the Phoenix Force before it can completely merge with hope. However, their plan doesn't quite give them the expected outcome.

Although Hope Summers is denied the Phoenix Force, it instead it finds itself dispersed among five of the X-Men - Cyclops, Colossus, Magik, Emma Frost, and Namor who take Hope "home" to save here, heal her, and prepare her for what is to come.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Kung Fu Panda #4 (of 6)

After four months where the mini-series had apparently run its course, Ape Entertainment's Kung Fu Panda returns with the first of two new issues before beginning a new series Tales of the Dragon Warrior.

In the main story, "Discipline & Disorder," Tigress and Po are sent to a nearby village under attack by the warlord Mei, a fox with an army and an invisible striking attack. When the pair find themselves outsmarted and stuck together in a Chinese finger trap they have to learn to work together to survive.

In the short back-up story, "Grrls Night Out," Tigress and Viper attend the village of Lin Ju's harvest celebration only to get in a bar fight at a local tavern started by two trying to hit on them.

Although neither adventure is terrific, each is fun and has a nice moral for kids. At $4 the price will always be high for this title, but fans of the characters should enjoy this one. For fans.

[Ape Entertainment, $3.99]