Friday, July 29, 2011

Re-Reading the Age of Apocalypse: Legion Quest

While reading the latest Uncanny X-Force, the 2nd part in the 'Dark Angel Saga', I found myself confused about some of the characters still alive in this future version of the Age of Apocalypse version. As far as I can recall, the very poignant finale to that entire event saw Jean Grey killed from behind by the vindictive Alex Summers. Yet there she is, talking and telekinesis-ing and jumping Wolvie's bones. Wikipedia tells me it has something to do with Mr. Sinister, or possibly the Phoenix force, but it's unclear and I certainly don't remember when any extra issues came out.

So I decided to go to the source. After all there's a lot of reason for research these days. As already mentioned, we have X-Force travelling back to that world, seeking a cure for Warren's current transformation into Apocalypse himself. Nate Grey, X-Man, just joined the New Mutants team this week, his huge power downgraded after some copious amounts of torture at the hands of the always-disgusting, super evil Sugar Man (yet another Age of Apocalypse refugee.) Hell, alternate universes are all the rage yet again, with Age of X wrapping up recently, and Flashpoint changing absolutely everything in the DC universe as we speak.

I've only just begun my steady walk through the complete epic of Age of Apocalypse, but it's a rather fun time to revisit. Feel free to join me.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Schism #2 Review, Or, How Kitty Pryde Bitch-Slapped Ahmadinejad

A recap and review of Schism #2, in which several completely incredible things happen, which would appeal to fanboys and distinguished newsreaders alike, including but not limiting to the event hinted at my this blogpost title.

You're gonna want to hit that jump.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lunch Break Comics

Wednesday lunch breaks are often the best, picking up my new comics, grabbing some grub, and securing the best bench in Trinity Church. I must make reference to my local comic store of choice, Chameleon Comics on Maiden Lane, where the employees are kind and have good memories, the clientele are professionals who make me feel very young, and members get a not insignificant discount on all purchases. Thank you, Gentlemen.

My comic list is after the jump.

New Trailers for Ringer, Doctor Who, and the Avengers

Just a brief post showing some of the things that make me squeal like a pig being taken to...a really exciting, not-painful slaughterhouse.

Sarah Michelle Gellar's new Ringer promo is fresh out of San Diego Comic Con, as is the Doctor Who one. Reading the reports on their respective panels at SDCC I am filled with the exact same impression I always get from comic cons; nothing pertinent was revealed, but trust us, it was fun to hang out with these guys in person.

The Avengers trailer is from the end of Captain America. It won't last long online, so if you're some kind of evil, heartless, Satan-spawn, and thus have no intention of seeing Captain America in theatres...or if you have a severe anxiety disorder and suffer from agoraphobia...just click on the jump.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

All Things Cap: History, Reading List, and a Review of Brubaker's Winter Soldier

In honor of the fantastic movie that I just can't get out of my head, I thought I'd begin an exploration into the character's past, because while I love the movie, and have long been a fan of Captain America, I am primarily acquainted with him via the Avengers, and rarely if ever via his own solo titles and personal history.

The first thing I picked up and read was part of Brubaker's recent tenure on the character, starting with his pre-Civil War resurrection of Bucky Barnes in the now-famous Winter Soldier storyline. The friendship between Bucky and Steve was very well done in the movie, and Bucky's final scene was heart-wrenching. And familiar as I was with Bucky's recent adventures as the new Captain America, and his participation in the New Avengers, I still hadn't read the actual story of his return.

Much more after the jump (including a nice little history.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger Review

This weekend saw the premiere of Marvel's latest big-budget superhero movie, Captain America, starring Chris Evans as the titular, iconic hero. So far it's grossed about 65.8 million dollars, possibly exceeding Thor's opening weekend, and knocking the final Harry Potter film out of the top spot.

And I'm here to tell you that any and all success for this movie is entirely deserved. It was wonderful. From Evans and his supporting cast, to the actual story, the direction, the effects, the ending and the overall tone, everything was pitch perfect. Marvel really knows what it's doing these days, and the excitement level for The Avengers is really cranking up.

For a more detailed review, including Spoilers, take a Cap-style super soldier jump...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Comic Con News: Avengers Academy

Marvel's "Next Big Thing" Panel happened yesterday, and to be honest, reading the news this morning, there wasn't much to grab my attention. However, the most interesting piece of news related to the future of Avengers Academy, which is a lovely, solid, surprisingly powerful and poignant book.

For more info on the news, the Academy, and some Avengers history, hit the jumper.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sarah Michelle Gellar (& Anna Torv and some other chicks) Talk Sci/Fi and Comic Con

In what is clearly the greatest article idea ever touched upon by a journalist, assembled Sarah Michelle Gellar, Anna Torv, and a bunch of other actresses with television roles that can be described as science fiction and/or fantasy, to discuss the genres as well as this weekends international comic con.

The best part of the article (and bear in mind I haven't seen the video clips yet, still waiting for my fixed computer to arrive) is the prominence with which Sarah is featured. (Not only for Buffy but for her impending return to TV with Ringer.) Obviously that's what I'd expect, considering her monumental influence on culture, her consistence and longevity in such an enormous role, and her specific connection to this not-so-small world of genre television that can no longer really be described as "cult" or "niche."

But I can't tell you how it pleases me that other people see her in the same light. For some brief excerpts and more pics, hit the jump. Or, obviously, click the link and go read it for yourself.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lunch Break Comics

Here's what I'll be buying at my friendly, neighborhood comic shop during my lunch break today.

Art for Art's Sake

Just a brief post to share my recent google image search with you fine folks. While reading Chapterhouse: Dune, and in fact the previous installment of the Dune series as well, I was surprised to find the Vincent Van Gogh painting Cottages at Cordeville come up in the story a few times. Especially considering the story takes place many thousands of years in the future, and five thousand years after the first book.

It also begs the question why Van Gogh is so attractive to science fiction writers, considering the wonderful Doctor Who episode from last year. Is it the pure imagination? The different way of seeing reality? Or, as is the case with the Dune character who loves him, that he reminds of where we came from, and what a human being is capable of? You tell me. Or don't. Either way it's art.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Logic Boards & Catherine Tate

My lovely, 2-month-old Macbook has been taken from me, and sent off to "The Compound" (a mysterious research and repair facility where they promise to fix its' Logic Board and teach it how to once again live in the real world...or is it?) and thus I am sent back into the 1990s where I must live for days on end without a personal computer.

It's a good thing I still have a HD flatscreen with cable DVR. And a cell phone (it's not smart, but I blame its mother.) Also there's that computer at work I use for 8 straight hours of the day. In fact, I'm using that now, but the boss is lingering so I'm afraid I have to make this short and sweet.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Marvel to Announce New Defenders Team at Comic Con

Now I understand why Marvel released that Kurt Busiek Defenders story this week. They're getting the Defenders back together.

All those recent word-based ads Marvel's been posting, starting with the lovely Iron Fist? This is what they were teasing. Some poor, helpful comic folk on the internet took the burden of decoding said teasers to display some catchphrases/mission statements and confirm Marvel's plans.

The Defenders will be a foursome once more, half-founder and half-newbie. Here's the roster:

Dr. Strange, Silver Surfer, Iron Fist and Red She-Hulk (aka Betty Ross.)

And the taglines:


(Thanks to Bleeding Cool for the graphics and codebreaking.)

For more info, the full teasers, and a (albeit limited) look back at Defenders history, hit the jump.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Schismatic: The X-Men's Newest Event Begins

Despite the large amount of marketing, exclusive preview pages, numerous interviews and webcomic anticipatory parodies, somehow this still snuck up on me. It's probably my inability to believe we're already deep into July that led to my surprise when I saw this on the shelf.

Regardless, the next big X-event has begun. It's only five issues, which is nice and contained for an X-event, and from what I can tell there aren't specific tie-ins with Schism banners on their covers and all corresponding hullabaloo. Still, doubtless the other X books will feel the impact of Schism events, whether simultaneously or after the fact.

Let's take a look at the premiere issue of what promises to be an exciting chapter in the tumultuous lives of the Uncanny X-Men.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Alphas Review, Or, How SyFy Ripped Off the X-Men

From my remarkable powers of deduction, as well as the frankly impressive ability to endure the extra-long premiere (I mean, c'mon SyFy, haven't you ever heard of "Leave 'em wanting more"?) I can tell you with some confidence that the new original series Alphas is merely the latest in a long line of SyFy knock-offs (see: Battle of Los Angeles, The Mighty Thor, etc.) And the newest subject of SyFy's sincerest form of flattery?

The X-Men. Yeah, you totally want to click the jump.

Warehouse 13 Premiere Review

SyFy channel is not known for the quality of its original programming (Sharktopus anyone?) which, believe it or not, has carved them out a nice little niche. Their movies, residing firmly in the B category, are instantly recognizable. Even ones with a cool premise, such as getting Felicia Day to be a werewolf hunter, come off as shoddy, rushed, and written by high school freshman. Still, it seems that there's an unabashed market for cheesefests like Dinoshark, and SyFy has created a winning formula by sticking to the bottom half of the old double feature.
Their original TV shows, however, are rather better. That is to say, not completely comparable to prime time fare or bigger cable network procedurals, but definitely better. Today I take a look at the premieres of my personal favorite, Warehouse 13, and later, the brand new show Alphas. Welcome to SyFy day! Let's get started.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fear Itself Teasers

This epic, world-changing event is not my favorite. So far it is remarkably slow, steeped in an uninteresting mythology, full of villains neither exciting nor scary, and slightly insulting to Americans and 'ordinary' human nature in general.

Still, this is what's dominating the Marvel Universe all summer. Check out some previews and teasers after the jump.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Review: Torchwood Miracle Day Premiere

As at least a handful of people know, the fairly popular Doctor Who spinoff, Torchwood, has returned for a fourth season. After 2009's five-part miniseries, Children of Earth, which saw the destruction of yet more Torchwood team members, and Torchwood itself, the new season, titled Miracle Day, will last for ten episodes and take place mainly in the United States.

For some background on the show and a review of Miracle Day's first episode, hit the jump.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Spotlight on an Indie Comic: Egg Story by J. Marc Schmidt

This morning I explore a lovely, unique, lesser-known graphic novel(la) called Egg Story by J. Marc Schmidt, after tediously explaining how it came into my life.

There's drama, death, abduction, analysis, ninjas, and a few pictures, all after the jump.

Friday, July 8, 2011

San Diego Comic Con Is Gay (& Other Randomness)

Greetings, weary Internet traveler. Today I give you several items that were of interest to me, though none of them inspired me to write a full post. Thus, it should fit perfectly with the average 'net surfer's attention span. So take a moment to quench your pop/culture thirst and enjoy my not-hard work of reporting other people's medium-hard work of reporting other people's hard work.

(One day I may even get paid for this. God bless America.)

Let's get into it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Big C Review

The Big C premiered on Showtime last year, telling the story of a Minneapolis mother, wife, and high school teacher Cathy Jamison who gets diagnosed (off screen and before we meet her) with stage IV melanoma, and thus decides to lead her life as fully as possible in the time she has left.

Believe it or not it's a comedy, or at least a drama that makes you laugh and studiously avoids any crushing sentimentality. Even if it were purely a vehicle for Laura Linney I would have watched it in a heartbeat, but as it turns out, it's a well-written show with a lot of heart.

The second season began a couple weeks ago, and by all accounts they're maintaining their high level of quality. More after the jump. (I'm doing Jumps now!)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

This Week's Comics

Captain Elias' Pull List


Batman and Robin #25: This title hasn't been my favorite since Morrison left (yes, I admitted it) especially when Tomasi did that weird Uma-Una-Oprah storyline, but I also have to admit I have a soft spot for Winnick. Especially when he's writing Jason Todd. And Jason ribbing Damian? Pretty good stuff. Not looking forward to losing the Dick/Damian dynamic either.

Flashpoint #3: This has been surprisingly enjoyable for me. The lovely Kubert art helps, but still, I didn't expect the story to be..well, at all interesting. Now I've grown warmer towards it, and even bought one of the side-stories (the Wonder Woman one since it was written by DnA.) And I'm thinking of expanding my Flashpoint universe view, maybe trying out the Batman miniseries.

Gotham Central Vol. 2 TPB: It seems weird that this is just coming out now in paperback, but regardless, if you haven't read this, heard of this, seen it, or own it, fix that. It's fantastic. Everything you love in a cop show, plus the occasional Batman cameo, and a lot of psychos. Infinitely better than Powers.

Superboy #9: Sticking with this because I started it and it will be ending soon, but man, what a disappointment. Everyone talked up this Lemire guy, but he made a not-terrific character, Connor Kent, who had been rather fun when Geoff Johns had him solo in Adventure Comics, into a boring, weak, flying piece of cardboard with a completely uninteresting mystery unfolding around him. Also he comes off rather dumb. It's a shame. And looking at Liefield's future ratty-shirt wearing tatted Superboy, I can't say the future is much brighter.

Titans Annual ?: I probably won't buy this, but it's on the list because I'm a sucker for things like: "It had to happen...The JLA Vs. (insert team here) "  There's the Roy/Dick drama, and then also seeing Donna Troy alive, that's nice. Bastards.

Irredeemable #27: Always good. Always worth it. Congrats Mr. Waid on the Harvey nom. (And congrats to The Gutters too! They got several.)


Fear Itself #4: So Bucky is either dead or in a coma or something. Naturally, this issue will explore Steve Rogers' grief while he puts on his old costume and goes out to kick ass. Except I have a feeling its the heroes who will continue to get their asses kicked. I mean, there's at least 3 more months of this story, so Fraction can heap on a whole lot more misery and shame and failure.

Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force #1: I'm not getting tie-ins to Fear Itself, but I like this X-Force team, and while Simone Bianchi's art makes me nauseous, X-Force is going up against the Purifiers. I'm still pissed at them for blowing up the X-Men school bus and killing all those kids, so I'm up for some vengeance.

Heroes for Hire #9:  Elektra and...some other street level types hit the streets of Manhattan to keep the peace amidst all the frenzy. This has unfortunately become the weakest DnA title I've ever read (perhaps they're stretched too thin, between Marvel and DC) but it's still better than most comics out there. Plus I like Misty, and there's always a chance beautiful blond Danny Rand will show up.

Uncanny X-Men #540: I'm pretty sure this came out last week, but I'm not complaining. I'm not buying tie-ins to Fear Itself, but it seems I can't escape it. Juggernaut gets a crazy magic hammer and makes for San Fran. Solicits have spoiled the next development, showing Colossus putting on Juggy's helmet and ostensibly gaining the power of the Cytorrak in addition to his considerable might. Whatever, Gillen's tenure has been great so far, so I'm on board.

Vengeance #1 of 6: Remember when they teased this many months ago? And then never spoke about it again? I smell "stinker". BUT, I also heard Stacy X is in it. And the idea of depowered mutants getting angry and even appeals to me. I'll do a flip-through in-store and make a decision then.

X-Men #14: The weird Evolutionary story stumbles on. We get another retcon of Emma Frost's past, this time when she's in a psych hospital. Unoriginal and potentially crappy, I still can't help being interested by seeing more of Emma's formative years and undocumented past. Maybe I should skip this and just go write some fanfic.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Covert Affairs Just Gets Better and Better

First of all, my deepest apologies for a fortnight of not-posting. I have no desire to make excuses, but for the sake of information the blog was overshadowed by family, sickness, and Wimbledon (Congratulations Mr. Novak Djokovic on a spectacular tournament!) Needless to say, I am back now and I hope you all had a lovely July 4th weekend.

Naturally upon returning to my humble Brooklyn apartment after two weeks of absence, my DVR was nearly panting with exhaustion from the (over)load it was carrying. The only thing I had watched since early June was Wimbledon, which, if you're not familiar, is the most magical time of the year and I have become quite adept at finding a way to view nearly every match, be it at home, bars, or surreptitiously on the work computer. Therefore, coming home after a hectic sabbatical and depositing my rotundity squarely on the couch, my completely-worth-it flatscreen had much to share with me. But where would I start? The finale of Game of Thrones? The so-bad-its-well-still-really-just-bad-but-kinda-shiny True Blood? The return of the tight, well-written, well acted Big C? A guilty pleasure like Rookie Blue or first attempt at Falling Skies?

No, none of those. In truth, when it was all in front of me on a list, it wasn't even a question. The two missed episodes of Covert Affairs joyfully called out to me.

I loved this show immediately when it premiered last summer, but it just keeps getting better. It's the kind of show you would love to write for, unless you would screw things up because it seems as if the writers have hit their stride and know exactly what to do with their show.

So what's improved? For one, the action. The action scenes in the show have always been consistently grounded. That is, they're believable. They don't show skinny Piper Perabo using magic kung-fu to incapacitate three 6'5 Russian thugs, they show her struggling to hold her own for a couple minutes before backup can come and shoot the guy in the chest before he chokes her to death. That's commendable but it did mean that in the first season, the adrenalin levels were a bit low, and the climax to each episode had a tendency to be rather short and slightly boring.

That is the case no longer. Still holding true to the belief that Annie Walker's (Piper Perabo's) greatest weapon is her mind, they merely are placing her in increasingly precipitous situations where she must think fast and act faster. To be clear the missions she gets sent on are entirely believable, another strength of the show. Instead of putting her on a Russian sub, wearing a red wig and trying to get the codes of a nuke before it destroys New York City, Annie Walker gets a routine spy-prisoner exchange that goes disastrously wrong. Seeing her on the run in Argentina is entirely plausible, giving us a creative fight scene while handcuffed to her prisoner as well as a perfect avenue to explore her ingenuity and skill with languages.

The other mission/episode that aired during my hiatus perfectly illustrates both the increase in action quality and the focus on Annie's personal abilities and growing confidence. She gets sent back to the Farm, where CIA trainees are...well, trained, to get evidence that a possibly-traitorous teacher is responsible for exposing the identities of several secret operatives to the public. We get to see Annie back in a training situation where she excels, a novelty we only got a taste of in the pilot, as well as attempting to ferret out the truth among tense, emotional, intelligent people all in a state of extreme competition.

The reveal of the true bad guy, whose identity was not a big surprise, was nonetheless done brilliantly. Annie connected the final dot just before skydiving with the enemy and confronted him. Cue fight scene. He comes at her with a knife, which she evades only to get her chute slashed. When both of them tumble out into the open air, the setting equalizes them, and Annie grapples until she can use a stiff-arm strike to the head to knock him out, and sail his chute down to land. With a perfectly timed commercial break, the scene was bracing, clever and TV gold.

While Covert Affairs still keeps its main focus on Annie Walker, the subplots involving her coworkers are increasingly interesting. The tension of Joan and Arthur's marriage in the wake of massive threats to Arthur's authority, as well as the simmering unease of Jai Wilcox provide a fraught working environment full of potential drama. Most promising, however, is Auggie's promotion, and what it means to the wonderfully close relationship between him and Annie.

The writers of Covert Affairs know what works for them and they stick to it, and while they may avoid large risks and massive cast shake-ups, they are skillfully developing story arcs and exploring the depths of their rich characters. I honestly believe it to be the best show on television this summer, and I heartily encourage you to find and enjoy it.