Friday, July 30, 2010

Kudos to Dark Horse!

Dark Horse Comics

Recently, I purchased the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed trade from my local Borders. When I got home and went to open it, the cover separated from the spine of the book. This has happened to me once before when I bought one of the Star Wars: Infinities trades, also published by Dark Horse.

As before, I jumped onto their website and sent an email regarding the binding problem and offered to send pictures as proof. I didn't hear anything for several days, so I simply assumed that my email was either lost or discarded.

Just as I was about to lose hope, I received an email from Melissa Richardson, Publicity Coordinator for Dark Horse Comics. She writes, in part "I am so sorry about the faulty binding and would be happy to replace it for you." Melissa asked for my shipping address and asked if there were any other problems that she could take care of. This email from Melissa was received on Thursday, July 29, 2010. I responded with my information as soon as I could. It is now Friday, June 30, 2010 and I have a new copy of the trade!

I would like to commend Dark Horse and specifically Melissa for handling this issue. I would hope that Dark Horse's binding practices are reviewed so that something like this doesn't happen again. I tried to glue the cover back to the spine, but the glue would just not take. I know that there are special book glues that I could try, but with a speedy recovery from the publisher, I don't have to take that route.

Thank you Dark Horse and Melissa Richardson. You have kept another customer in me.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Angel: After the Fall Volume 4

Title: Angel: After the Fall Volume 4

ISBN: 9781600104619
Price: $24.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2009
Artist: Stephen Mooney, Franco Urru
Writer: Joss Whedon, Brian Lynch
Collects: Angel: After the Fall #13-17

Rating: 3.5/5
It took my quite a while to get back to reading the Angel series, as I was distracted by so many other colorful trades. I have committed myself to reading the rest of this series before I pick-up anything new to read. I'm in the middle of volume 5 right now, and volume 6 is waiting in the wings. I hope to have this series completed within the next week or two, with reviews of each to follow accordingly.

Now... down to business.

When we left our intrepid heroes, they were still in Hell and it was finally revealed that Angel wasn't a vampire any longer. This trade picks up where volume 3 left off; Angel is mortally wounded and facing imminent death. To top it all off, he’s seeing Cordellia and she’s trying to help him through the process. Since this series has 2 more volumes that come after this trade (at the time of this writing), you can safely assume that Angel returns and does not die… yet.

The rest of this trade revolves around Gunn’s plan to save the world by using Illyria to timeslip back before Los Angeles went to Hell. A good plan, in theory, but anyone who either reads mystery or is a fan of this series knows it won’t work as planned. And because of this, Wolfram & Hart get more directly involved.

Since Gunn’s plan doesn’t work out as well as he would have hoped, Angel has to come in to save the day as any good martyr would. With his sacrifice… after some subtle hints from Wolfram & Hart and some help from Wesley… Angel saves the world again. Or so it would seem.

The end of this trade revolves around the Aftermath (the name of the next volume in the series) of Angel’s sacrifice and the repercussions of sending LA to Hell. Well worth the read.

Fables: The Great Fables Crossover

Title: Fables: The Great Fables Crossover

ISBN: 9781401225728
Price: $17.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2010
Artist: Mark Buckingham, Andrew Pepoy, Tony Akins, Russ Braun, José Marzán Jr., Dan Green
Writer: Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges
Collects: Fables #83-85, Jack of Fables #33-35, The Literals #1-3

Rating: 3.5/5

The last time we saw Jack in the Fables was in Fables: Sons of the Empire when he was trying to steal from Santa Claus. Now, he's back and he has a following. If I were to have read the Jack of Fables series, I think I would have been able to get into his part of this trade a little better. It all came together in the end and continued the legacy of fine trades in this series. It pains me that I have to wait so long to read the next volume.

Jack has a large following consisting of individuals known as Literals. You would have to read the Jack of Fables series to understand exactly what a Literal was, as they do not provide a clear definition in this trade. Everyone is working to stop one specific Literal who seems to have his sights set on rewriting/resetting the world. Kevin Thorne is his name, and he's very unhappy with how the Fables have changed their lives. The only reason it seems to take him so long is because he doesn't recognize that his twin brother, Writer's Block.

The Literals at Thorne's side are incarnations of their various genre's: Sci-Fi, Mystery, Comedy, Fantasy, Literature, Horror, Western, Blockbuster, Romance and Noir. To try to illustrate, imagine a stereotypical character from each of these genre's, and there you have the Literal for it. Interesting concept, but I do wish I didn't have to have read the Jack series to get a better understanding of them.

As Snow White and Bigby make their way to stop Thorne, Bigby goes through several changes thanks to the aforementioned Literal. From monkey to donkey to elephant to cartoon circus elephant to the final incarnation of a little girl. The best scene in this entire trade is when Bigby sneak's behind enemy lines before they get to Thorne and takes out the entire opposing Literal force. Go Team Bigby!

Meanwhile... back at the Farm... trouble is brewing as Jack Horner arrives to reclaim his old girlfriend, Rose Red. She's still in a funk over losing Boy Blue and what she told her before he died. In her depression, she thinks that Jack is actually Blue and through this, the animal Fables who believe that Boy Blue will return and be their savior believe that Jack is actually the reincarnated Blue in disguise. Needless to say, wherever Jack goes, trouble follows close behind. Did I happen to mention that Jack's son comes looking for him? You'll actually have to read this trade to figure that one out.

No more Fables trades until December. I can't wait. This has been one of the best series I have ever read in my life.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Blackest Night

Title: Blackest Night

ISBN: 9781401226930
Price: $29.99
Publisher/Year: DC, 2010
Artist: Ivan Reis
Writer: Geoff Johns
Collects: Blackest Night #0-8, Blackest Night Director's Cut #1

Rating: 4/5

I have never been a huge fan of any of the DC titles, but I do occasionally pick up something that interests me or one of the various epic crossover storylines; such as Blackest Night, Identity Crisis, Final Crisis, etc. Thus far, my findings with DC trades have been hit-and-miss over the years. There have been some that you can't just pick-up and read without having a firm grip on the back-story, while others run the gamut between good and pathetic. I'm happy to say that Blackest Night has renewed my interest in the DC Universe... for the time being. So far I have only read this single trade, but I have added the companion Blackest Night trades to my Amazon wish list for future purchase potential.

As much as my interest with DC was hit-and-miss, I never really read much Green Lantern material. I understand the concept, and it's good. I think it's a little too complicated for me to get into at this late point in the game. If Geoff Johns was the writer for a rebooted series (such as what Marvel did with the "Ultimate" line), I would seriously consider adding it to my current subscription pulls for my collection.

Johns never lost a beat in his writing. I was able to keep track of the story throughout the entire trade, unlike my experience reading Final Crisis. Maybe if I re-read Final Crisis, I may have a better time with it. Perhaps I'll give it a shot once I've exhausted my collection of other books to read. Johns kept me interested and focused. I think that the only times I put this book down were between chapters.

Ivan Reis did a great job with the pencils in this trade as well. The characters really came alive for me, and I was never confused about what exactly was going on in the panel or page. There have been times in other DC trades where the art has been so disconnected that I'm not sure where the progression is. Thank you so much for the great work you've done on this to both Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis.

Consider this DC's response to all of Marvel's Zombie trades... but not so campy or silly, and instead of an infection, there's actually a villain behind the actions that rock the DC Universe. Bravo! It's not every day that I will commend DC over Marvel... not that I'm biased, just that Marvel has always had more of my interest than DC has. Perhaps that is beginning to shift.

Get this trade... Read it at least once... Keep it in your collection. You will not be let down by this trade, and I am looking forward to giving the companion trades a thorough reading.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fables: The Dark Ages

Title: Fables: The Dark Ages

ISBN: 9781401223168
Price: $17.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2009
Artist: Mark Buckingham, Andrew Pepoy, Peter Gross, Michael Allred, David Hahn
Writer: Bill Willingham
Collects: Fables #76-82

Rating: 4/5

The aftermath of the war is upon the Fables now, and they have to learn to live with the many consequences. There are new residents in the neighborhood, and not everyone is happy about that. This is only the first section of this trade, It goes downhill from that point.

After a day of sightseeing for the newest citizen, the tales turn towards Boy Blue and his struggle with is war wound and a new unknown entity who refers to himself as "Mr. Dark". Boy Blue's injury doesn't seem to be getting better, and you can probably figure out what happens to him by the cover of this trade. Before his struggle comes to an end, the entire cast of Fables in the real world pay homage to their fallen Prince Charming. Because of the revelations from Fables: The Good Prince, it was agreed that nobody will ever be sent down the Witching Well ever again.

"Mr. Dark" was released from a locked box back in the Homelands by a couple of treasure hunters. We later find out that this locked box was one of several around the various lands that helped to power the empire's magic users, much like the box that Geppetto kept the Blue Fairy in. There are several other ill omens that visit our fair Fables, such as the Witching Cloak deteriorating into scraps and an earthquake in New York. To top it all off, after Prince Charming's funeral, various enchantments begin to disappear; the business office and Bluebeard's old apartment are among the more notable enchantments. What happens next changes the face of Fabletown forever.

The Fables are forced to run to the Farm to take up refuge from "Mr. Dark", who has come to Fabletown to reclaim his power; namely the Witching Cloak. Once he arrives at the unpopulated Fabletown, "Mr. Dark" starts to make himself at home. He enlists the help of the dead to begin construction of his new castle. It looks as though he is expecting to stay for the long term.

Boy Blue's final days are filled with final visits from many of the Fables, the last of which happens to be Rose Red. In her visit, Red comes clean about her true feelings for Blue. After a very stirring speech, Blue informs her that he deserves better than her because she jumps from "hero" to "hero" at the drop of a hat. This new revelation sends Rose Red into a deep depression, which extends into the next volume; Fables: The Great Fables Crossover.

At the end of this trade, we have a story featuring Mowgli who is sent back to his Homeland to get a feel for what's going on there after the fall of the Empire. Bagheera and Bigby's 6 brothers go with Mowgli to check on things. In the end, the brothers confuse the remaining goblins and begin to reclaim the land. Good story.

Another addition to the collection. Buy it. Read it. Keep it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Fables: War and Pieces

Title: Fables: War and Pieces

ISBN: 9781401219130
Price: $17.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2008
Artist: Mark Buckingham, Steve Leiloha, Niko Henrichon, Andrew Pepoy
Writer: Bill Willingham
Collects: Fables #70-75

Rating: 4/5

The war in the Homelands continues in this trade. The ending may surprise you after reading the previous 10 volumes, but this one (just like the rest of the series) does not disappoint. This trade is by no means the end of the series, so continue to enjoy.

We begin this trade centering around Boy Blue. He has become an incredibly integral part in the war machine. His story begins with Blue finally deciding to tell Rose Red how he feels about her. This revelation would have been better revealed a few years prior, as it has now lost its meaning and full potential effect. Instead of getting a "Dear John" letter while he was in the thick of war, Blue gets it before leaving. Kind of a suck way to start your new military commission. Boy Blue's part in this war is to transport to-and-from various stations within the Homelands as well as the real world with the assistance of the Witching Cloak.

Prior to the actual start of the war, we have an interlude with Cinderella... the Fable spy with a license to kill. She is tasked to find an return a "special package" from Tierra Del Fuego. Here she is abducted by Hansel after we find that the "package" is actually the wayward Pinocchio. He has returned to not only help the Fables win the war, but he also has a special condition for his assistance. This is one of the surprises that pepper this trade.

You can probably guess how this volume ends, but it's the "how" that keeps you reading from this trade and into the next. The war ends and there are several changes that have been made. The consequences of war are numerous, and will have an effect in the next volume; Fables: The Dark Ages.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Movie)

Title: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Release date: 30 June 2010 (USA)
Director: David Slade
Writers: Melissa Rosenberg (screenplay). Stephenie Meyer (novel)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 124 min
Production Company: Summit Entertainment
Primary cast:

• Kristen Stewart ... Bella Swan
• Robert Pattinson ... Edward Cullen
• Taylor Lautner ... Jacob Black

Rating: 2.5/5

As I have written before in my review of Twilight: The Graphic Novel Volume 1, I was not a fan or the first Twilight movie, but I did enjoy New Moon. The previews for Eclipse got me very hopeful that the story would tear away from the angsty teen romance to the vampire versus werewolf. I’m a sucker for some good CGI, and there was some good graphic in this movie.

While I was still not a big fan of the entire storyline, this movie had several action sequences that kept me interested. The fact that when vampires hit other vampires they would break like a statue, that was cool to watch. Seeing half of someone’s face get knocked off and not a drop of blood was spilt, very interesting. Vampires attacking and being attacked by huge F’ing wolves… that was what helped to make the movie fun for me.

There were some good one-liners throughout Eclipse as well, such as Edward asking Bella of the approaching Jacob… “Doesn’t he own a shirt?” I‘m sure that every single person in the theatre I was in laughed at this one. And the barbs that Jacob and Edward traded in the tent scene where Jacob was laying next to the sleeping Bella to keep her warm, this scene worked well and kept me laughing.

While I am not entirely invested in these movies, nor do I have strong feelings for the characters, I found myself cringing at the end when Jacob was on the receiving end of a bear hug from a vampire. I could almost feel the pain that the character must have gone through, as I heard bones cracking.

The main things that keep me coming to these movies are thus:

• I’m a sucker for good CGI, and the huge F’ing wolves are fantastic.
• I like vampire and werewolf stories.
• I understand that in the last book, Bella dies. After all the angst she has put me through in these movies, I deserve to watch her die. :)

This is not a standalone movie, so if you go to see it, you’d better have watched both Twilight and New Moon prior. If you don’t and try to see this movie out of sequence, it would be like watching Return of the Jedi before watching (at least) The Empire Strikes Back.

Friday, July 2, 2010

New template & news

I was having some serious issues with the last template, so I made a bit of a change to lighten it up and make it a little easier to read. Let me know what you think.

I've been tracking how many visits I've received here since May 23rd, and I like what I am seeing. I have noticed that there have been over 200 visits over the past month and days. Thank you to everyone who has come here to read my reviews.

I'm moving this 4th of July weekend, and will therefore be disconnected for a time. I have a self install kit for my new internet access, so I'm hoping that I'll be back online by Saturday evening. I hope to post a new review once I am back online. Stay tuned.

One other bit of news to share... As the plans sit right now, I'll be watching "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" on Monday. I didn't like the original "Twilight" movies, but I loved "The Twilight Saga: New Moon". The only book in the series (kind of) was the graphic novel. I'm debating about posting a one-off review of Eclipse. What do you think?

I hope to hear from you and to post a new review this weekend. Thank you again for all your support. A wise man once said... "You keep reading them, I'll keep writing them." -Stan Lee, "Mallrats"