Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Apologies For My Absence And A Shameless Plug For My Show

Sorry I haven't posted any reviews in two weeks. Most of my spare time has been going to working promotions for the upcoming Science Fiction Double Feature: REPO! The Genetic Opera and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Visit for tickets, if you live in the Dallas area and want to check it out.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

For everyone who ever accused Red Sonja's oath of being unrealistic...

SOURCE: Kung Fu Sisters Stage Combat Tournament To Find Men To Date

Marital arts experts Xiao Lin, 22, and little sister Yin, 21, are to stage a three day fighting festival in Foushan, south east China, where only the toughest suitors stand a chance of getting through.

First contestants must show off their archery skills, then they must carry a heavy weight over sharpened bamboo spears, and finally they have to defeat one of the sisters in full contact combat.

Only then will contestants earn the right to remove the girls' masks and propose to them.

You couldn't pay me enough to walk into a fight like this. Now, find me a Russian redhead with a chainmail bikini and MAYBE I'll consider signing up for it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Darkwing Duck #1-4 - In Review

He is the terror that flaps in the night. He is the critic who mocks your webcomic. He is Darkwing Duck. And he is back!

For the uninitiated among you, let me explain: Darkwing Duck is a superhero cut from the same cloth as Batman, The Sandman and The Shadow. And he's a duck, who occupies a little-visited corner of the same universe that Scrooge McDuck and the rest of the DuckTales characters inhabit. Using a variety of gadgets, including a gas gun and a near-supernatural ability to sneak around and appear dramatically at will, Darkwing protects the city of St. Canard from a motley crew of supervillains. Among these are the electrically empowered Megavolt, the plant manipulating Doctor Bushroot, insane ex-toymaker Quackerjack and the fluid fiend known as The Liquidator.

Darkwing Duck was easily the best cartoon to emerge from The Disney Afternoon line-up in the early 1990s and one of the best cartoons I grew up watching as a kid. At the time, it was one of those rare shows that could be watched by anyone - the kids would like the slapstick and the superhero elements while their parents could enjoy the sly asides and parodies that made up most of the series' plots.

Small wonder then, that as BOOM! Studios brings this character back in comic book form, that they would elect to bring Darkwing Duck back with a parody of the most famous "superhero returning to crime-fighting story ever". Look at the above cover art and consider the title of the opening arc - The Duck Knight Returns.

Yes. It's a parody of grim-and-gritty Frank Miller's Batman run. Hidden in, of all things, a Disney Comic!

Is it just me or is that all kinds of awesome?

The story opens on a flashback of Darkwing Duck's final publicized adventure, some 18 months before the comic opens. Since then, a company called Quackwerks has moved into St. Canard, taking over most of the businesses and the police force. Order is kept by a series of robot "Arrestoids" and the various criminals - super-powered and mundane - have been given day jobs, putting their talents to work for the company.

Darkwing is working for them now too, in his secret identity of Drake Mallard. He's working a job he doesn't understand to pay for his foster daughter Gosalyn's schooling and shares a cubicle with Elmo Sputterspark (a.k.a. the super villain Megavolt). And for some reason that isn't explained at first, he had a falling out with his best-friend and sidekick, master-pilot Launchpad McQuack. Drake is, in a word, miserable.

Drake is forced out of retirement and back into action after Quackworks' new-and-improved Arrestoids prove to be a bit overzealous, breaking down walls to subdue middle-school students who illegal download music... including Goaslyn's classmate Honker. Somebody has to investigate the power behind Quackwerks. Somebody has to stand up against the machines that fight crime without any sense of scale.

Meanwhile, Elmo is abducted by his former villainous comrades in the Fearsome Five... er Four and recruited for a complicated revenge scheme against the company that is crushing their spirits and wasting their talents. Their leader in this plan is Quackerjack, who it seems has become more Joker than Toyman in the last year and a half, becoming psychotically unhinged whenever the name of Negaduck - the former leader of the Fearsome Five and Darkwing Duck's evil twin from a parallel Earth - is brought up.

I won't spoil the rest of the issues for you any further. Suffice it to say this is best book for a juvenile audience I've read in a good long while. If you're a fan of the show, you'll love the comic. If you're not, you should check it out and see what you've been missing as they do a great job of introducing the characters and the universe to those who aren't familiar with it. Despite this, there's plenty of in-jokes for those of us who are familiar with it as well as a few cameos which prove that some - if not all - of The Disney Afternoon Shows were set in the same universe. Check out the last panel of this page for another familiar face.

Yes. Apparently Launchpad sought work with The Rescue Rangers at one point. And while I've refused to spoil the details of this storyline past Issue #2, here's some motivation for all of you crossover fans to get issue #5.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Arrow #4

BAD THING: Half the issue covers the same ground as Brighest Day #9, with Ollie having to stop a confused J'onn J'onzz from destroying the Star City forest. There's nothing that happens here we don't see in the other comic.

GOOD THING: After four issues, we finally have a name for the social worker who Ollie saved in the first issue: Mary. Short for Marian? Almost certainly.

The Final Verdict: A slow issue, but the fault of that lies mostly with over half of it being devoted to a redundant recap of the mini-series this book is meant to be a part of. The original material actually moves pretty well, with the mystery of the disguised assassin on the verge of being solved and Ollie getting a good action scene fighting the so-called "Royal Guard".

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Secret Six #26

GOOD THING: You've got a great concept here, with most of our regular team of Six being sent after Bane and his new team of Six into Skartaris. There's a lot of solid character moments here where Simone refers to past continuity without getting bogged down in it. Bane's desire to be a semi-benevolent conqueror of Skartaris who will gladly protect those who swear loyalty to him fits his original characterization perfectly. I love how Deadshot is able to piece together that the new Mockingbird is Amanda Waller with hardly any clues to work with other than "I know how The Wall thinks." And I had completely forgotten that Deadshot has a very good personal reason to want to see Lady Vic dead (i.e. she threatened his daughter during the Villains United debacle)

Plus, you know, Catman wrestling dinosaur mutant thingies.

BAD THING: While I normally wouldn't begrudge Gail Simone a chance to try and make one of her original characters look more badass... I can't believe that Spy Smasher could possibly make Amanda Waller crack for a second. Even allowing that allowing American civilians to die for a political cause is one of the few lines The Wall wouldn't cross... probably... this still seems to be tearing down the wall to build up Spy Smasher.

I'm also unclear as to just how conquering Skartaris is going to help the USA with fighting an enemy who is going to try to bomb the states.

The Final Verdict: A solid read and still one of the most enjoyable books on the market.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Queen Sonja #10

GOOD THING: There's a great tragic romance at the heart of what could have been a standard sword-and-sorcery tale. More than any story in recent memory, this story explores Red Sonja as a character - not a concept but as a living, breathing woman trying to balance her own desires, her responsibilities as a leader and her sense of duty to her goddess and the conflict between each aspect of herself as well as the society she is a part of and the supernatural threat to her people.

BAD THING: The event that set up this wonderfully tragic moment still seems really forced, with Sonja's personal guard having taken The Idiot Ball, when they allow the most obviously treacherous noble since Lord Blackadder into Sonja's fiancee's quarters and believe him when he says he is NOT going to try to kill him.

The Final Verdict: A plot worthy of Shakespeare, undermined only slightly by some unbelievably idiotic behavior on the part of the supporting cast. Running neck-in-neck with Conan The Cimmerian for the honor of being the best Fantasy Comic on the shelves.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Brightest Day #11

BAD THING: More Firestorm. Yawn. Even the threat of the eminent destruction of the universe can't make me care about this storyline.

GOOD THING: Aquaman vs. Black Manta. No! Seriously.

The Final Verdict: If you told me a year ago that I'd be clamoring for the death of all things Firestorm related and demanding a Aquaman title written by Geoff Johns... well, I probably wouldn't have believed you. As it is, this book is still much less than the sum of its' parts.