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4LN Advanced Comic Review – Bloodshot Reborn #14 (New Arc)

Series: BLOODSHOT REBORN
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Mico Suayan
Publisher: Valiant Comics

Summary from Valiant Entertainment:

ALL-NEW ARC! ALL-NEW JUMPING-ON POINT! Welcome to “BLOODSHOT ISLAND”!

Stranded on a mysterious desert island, Bloodshot is running for his life! But as he tries to make sense of his surroundings, he’s quickly discovering that this is no ordinary tropical getaway… Surrounded by decommissioned relics of the same bloodstained project that created him – World War II Bloodshot, Cold War Bloodshot, Vietnam Bloodshot, and other antiquated experiments – Bloodshot is about to find out where Project Rising Spirit sends it old soldiers to die. Can this seasoned band of killers trust each other long enough to survive the threats that lie in the jungle around them…and unlock the secret at the heart of the island’s existence before they’re each permanently retired? And who or what is the sinister force called DEATHMATE that now hunts them at every turn?

This summer, superstar creators Jeff Lemire (Extraordinary X-Men) and Mico Suayan (BLOODSHOT REBORN) send Bloodshot screaming into his most action-packed adventure yet as “BLOODSHOT ISLAND” ups the ante for the Valiant Universe’s most formidable soldier!

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This book has been on almost every Valiant fan’s radar since they announced it a while back.  They teased us with images of more Bloodshots (one looking like a mix between Bloodshot and Robert Downey Jr.’s character in Tropic Thunder) which was like throwing chum in the water for fans.  Needless to say there was a lot of hype leading up to this book.  For many people, that much hype can lead to unrealistic expectations and ultimately being let down by the very thing that you loved most….  Was that too much?  Anyway, worry not Jeff Lemire and Co. will not let you down.  This book is phenomenal.  What follows is a spoiler-free look at BLOODSHOT REBORN #14 “BLOODSHOT ISLAND.”

As you might have guess by the description above, this plot is reminiscent of The Most Dangerous Game… except exponentially more dangerous because there is a mysterious new character that shares a name with a particularly infamous crossover event from the 90’s, and she’s powerful enough to hunt multiple Bloodshots.

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Yes, as shown in the previews, BLOODSHOT ISLAND is full of multiple Bloodshots that hail from multiple periods of conflict (Vietnam, Gulf War, etc), and they have their own canine side-kick appropriately named Bloodhound (before reading this issue, I was hoping that was the name of the dog… that or Bloodspot).  And yes, it is as awesome as it sounds.

Jeff Lemire is setting up a plot that is brilliant as it is terrifying.  This particular issue plays out like a science-fiction, horror film, with a some mind-blowing action sequences beautifully illustrated by the talented Mico Suayan.  His art is insanely good.  Every panel is packed with detail, and all of the character designs are perfect.  I was kind of worried because on the cover, the villain has ENORMOUS hands.  Luckily within these pages, her design is great, and seeing her in action is awe inspiring.  Mico also treates us to a two page splash where we get our first look at the Squad and it is is mesmerizing!

I was fortunate enough to read this book early, but I still can’t wait for Wednesday so I can see how it looks on the actual page.  For new readers, this is a good jumping, but be warned – Valiant is addicting.  BLOODSHOT REBORN #14 is a mind-bending 5 out of 5, and needs to be in your hands this Wednesday.

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4LN Comic Review – Star Wars: The Force Awakens Adaptation #1 (of 5)

Series: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Adaptation
Writer: Chuck Wendig
Artist: Luke Ross
Colors: Frank Martin
Publisher: Marvel

Summary from Comixology:

It’s true—all of it! The biggest movie of the year jumps from the big screen to the comic book page! It’s been three decades since the Rebel Alliance destroyed the Death Star and toppled the Galactic Empire…but now, on the remote planet of Jakku…there is a stirring in the Force. A young scavenger named Rey…a deserting stormtrooper named Finn…an ace pilot name Poe…and a dark apprentice named Kylo Ren…Their lives are about to collide as the awakening begins.

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When I was a kid, my dad took me to a comic book shop in Nashville.  It was an awesome store on Broadway that was full of old comics, records, collectibles, and all sorts of riff-raff.  While I was digging through the long boxes (not really sure what I was doing), I happened upon a random copy of Marvel’s official comic adaptation of “Return of the Jedi.”  I was so excited that I had bought a piece of the story with my own allowance.  Come to think of it, that might have been my first comic book purchase.  This was in my formative fanboy years of my love for Star Wars, and I read through that part of the story multiple times, just reliving the movie (which I could’ve easily just watched on VHS).

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Personally, that is one thing that drew me to this book.  It was like reliving that moment when I was eight digging through boxes, but I also enjoy what this book is.  It allows the reader to view one of their favorite stories in a different medium.  It lets you linger on an image, flip back and forth, and just absorb more than you would simply watching the film with a group of friends.  Trust me, people get really annoyed when you skip back a few scenes to catch a piece of dialogue again.  I did the same thing with the book adaptation.  You just catch different things viewing a story from a different perspective.

All of that baggage aside, this book is solid in its own right.  It’s written by Chuck Wendig, who previously penned Star Wars: Aftermath – a novel that was a part of the “Journey to The Force Awakens.”  I wasn’t a huge fan of his brusque style in Aftermath.  Don’t get me wrong, his writing is great, as was the story, it just wasn’t my particular taste.  That being said, his ability to give a lot of information if very few words works out well in this book.

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Since this is an adaptation it is basically the key moments of The Force Awakens, with minimal introductions by the writer.  His main job is making sure the lines from the movie make a good transition from screen to panel, and it matches up perfectly.  This particular issue starts with Poe on Jakku kneeling before Kylo Ren, and ends right before the heroes jump in the Millennium Falcon to escape the planet.

One thing that really stood out to me was Frank Martin’s color art.  They are just so vibrant and really pop off the page.  Luke Ross’ characters match their onscreen counterparts.  It did seem that sometimes the artist paid more attention to the details in the environment and vehicles than he did the characters faces, which leads to some of the panels having simplistic caricatures, but overall he is spot on.  Another thing I noticed is that Hux is depicted as a little more manly than Mr. Weasley portrays him, not that it matters either way, he just has a more intimidating presence under the hand of Luke Ross than in the film.  Oh, and can we just talk about how awesome Esad Ribic’s cover is?  Sweet Maker, that thing is pretty.

Like I said earlier, this book will appeal to fans of the film, Star Wars in general, and comic lovers.  It is always fun to see something in a different art form, and this book didn’t feel like a cheap adaptation for a quick buck.  They took their time, really found the meat of the story, and adapted it to a new medium.  I give this book 4 and a half severed limbs out of 5.  Make sure you head down to your shop and grab yours today!

 

Music Pairing: The Force Awakens Official Soundtrack

Or at least the first part of it.

4LN Comic Review – Poe Dameron #1

Series: Poe Dameron
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Phil Noto
Publisher: Marvel

Official Summary: AN ALL-NEW ONGOING SERIES SPINNING OUT OF STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS! Poe Dameron, former Republic flyer turned Resistance fighter, is the best pilot in the galaxy. Hand-picked for the resistance by General Leia Organa to lead a squadron on a top secret and vital mission…Poe sets off investigating sites of historical importance to the Force. Revealing backstory leading directly into the holidays’ greatest adventure, follow Poe and his X-Wing squadron on covert missions against the First Order.

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When I heard that Poe Dameron was getting his own book, I was somewhat excited – he is a great character, after all – but when I found out Charles Soule (LANDO) and Phil Noto (CHEWBACCA) were combining forces, that’s when I got REALLY excited and knew I had to have it.

Poe is one of the many great things to come out of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Oscar Isaac’s charismatic performance as the cocky Resistance pilot makes the character pop off the screen.  Now, with POE DAMERON #1, we get to see the events that lead to his meeting with Lor San Tekka at the beginning of the film, and boy are they crazy.

All of Isaac’s charm and charisma is on full display in this issue, which finds Poe running into all sorts of problems trying to locate old Lor.  The more I read Soule’s work the more I realize he is the Swiss Army Knife of the comic industry.  He is great at making his characters true to form.  His work on the LANDO miniseries made it seem like Billy Dee Williams had become trapped in a two-dimensional time-warp and was stuck in a five issue miniseries.  Well, that may be a *little* much…  Look, what I am trying to say is, Soule captures a character’s tone perfectly, and POE DAMERON #1 is no different.

The art of this book is easily comparable to the superb writing. The almighty Phil Noto knocks it out of the proverbial park, as is his custom.  As I mentioned, Noto previously worked on the fantastic CHEWBACCA mini-series, and his work on POE DAMERON is equally impressive.  He obviously has a handle on the Star Wars universe – his artwork is beautiful, and he is able to capture Leia’s somber sarcasm and Dameron’s mischievous smile perfectly.

Overall, POE DAMERON #1 was a fantastic first issue.  I was kind of nervous about another ongoing Star Wars title (not because they aren’t good, but because I am running out of room in my comics budget), but Poe and his Black Squadron are definitely joining my pull list.

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4LN Comic Review: Obi-Wan & Anakin #1

Series: Obi-Wan & Anakin
Written by: Charles Soule
Art by: Marco Checchetto
Publisher: Marvel

Summary from Comixology: “Before their military heroism in the Clone Wars, before their tragic battle on Mustafar, and many decades before their final confrontation on the Death Star…they were Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and his Padawan learner, Anakin Skywalker. It’s been a few years since Obi-Wan pledged to train the young “chosen one,” but even as they have grown closer through training, it has been a difficult road. Now, called to a remote planet for assistance, Master and Padawan may be pushed to the breaking point. Writer Charles Soule (Lando, She-Hulk, Daredevil) and artist Marco Checchetto (Star Wars: Shattered Empire, Avengers World, Punisher) bring us a tale of the Jedi at the height of their power.”

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The first thing I thought when I heard that another Star Wars title was going to be rolling off the presses at the start of the year was, “Marvel will not be content until they suck all the money out of my bank account like a Mynock on power cables,” and the second thought was, “Oooooh, Charles Soule and Obi-Wan Kenobi with the artist from Shattered Empire? I’m game.”  Some people might look over this book since it takes place during the dreaded prequel era, but if there’s one thing the prequels got right, it’s Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Another reason for Star Wars fans to be excited for this book is that every single Star Wars book Marvel has put out so far has been fantastic.

Obi-Wan & Anakin takes place in the time period before Attack of the Clones, and finds the pair investigating a mysterious distress call from a supposedly dead planet.  Anakin is struggling with finding his place within the Jedi Order, especially after a particular incident where his emotions got the best of him.  We also find a Kenobi that seems to be doubting the Senate’s jurisdiction over the Jedi.

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When I first read the book I was… I don’t know, maybe a little let down even though I enjoyed it?  Don’t get me wrong, Charles Soule is a writer that nails the tone of pretty much everything he writes, and Obi-Wan & Anakin is no different.  Checchetto’s art is also relatively strong too – some of the panels were a little disproportionate, like a lightsaber hilt would appear way too small, or a robe way too big.  I will say that Checchetto also provided some incredible panels throughout the issue as well.  I think the problem I ran into originally was that all of the other #1’s Marvel has put out have been spectacularly good while Obi-Wan & Anakin is just “really good.”  After I read it through another time before this review that I felt a lot more satisfied with this book.  There was some nuance in the story that I missed the first go around, and it sets up what looks to be a very exciting story.

"Anakin, take your tiny lightsaber from my enormous hand."

“Anakin, take your tiny lightsaber from my enormous hand.”

While there were a few very minor issues, at least for me, Obi-Wan & Anakin was a very strong debut issue that continues Marvel’s streak of strong Star Wars titles.  I love the concept.  There is a ton of story potential between  Episode I and II for both Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi.  I am thoroughly excited to see where Soule takes this series, and I highly recommend it to any Star Wars fans whether you are a fan of the prequels or not.

 

 

 

 

4LN Saturday Morning Review: Star Wars #13

Series: Star Wars
Written by: Jason Aaron
Art by: Mike Deodato Jr.
Publisher: Marvel

Summary for Comixology: “Bringing together the smash-hit Star Wars and Darth Vader series! Leia comes face to face with true evil!”

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Warning: If you haven’t been keeping up with the Vader Down crossover event then this review will contain some spoilers – not for this issue, but for those that came before it.

We have seen some pretty awesome things thus far in the first two issues of the Vader Down crossover event.  In the early issues, Darth Vader decimated an entire squadron of X-Wings, destroyed Y-Wings with nothing but the Force and a few boulders, and uttered some of the most epic lines Star Wars has seen.  The last issue, Darth Vader 13, ended with a Wampa-sized cliffhanger as 000, the murderous Threepio doppelganger, and his equally-as-murderous astromech counterpart, attempt to capture Luke Skywalker.  Meanwhile, Vader is laying waste to scores of Rebel troopers, but Leia is on her way with reinforcements, leaving Han to rescue Skywalker alone.

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Obviously, there is a lot happening in this event right now.  One thing I love about Aaron and Gillen is that they are great writers who can take a story that has the chance to become muddied by all of the things unfolding and orchestrate it in such a way to make it not only understandable, but enjoyable.  When Aphra and her psychopathic droids are trying to capture Luke I was on the edge of my seat, and the last page of this issue, which features Vader, is a real jaw-dropper.  We also finally  get to see something that I know I have been waiting to see since Star Wars: A New Hope and it is glorious, but I don’t want to spoil it for you so I can’t talk about it.

Aaron is just a great writer.  His is able to capture the tone of the Star Wars saga and make it feel true to form, and that’s saying something.  There are a lot of Expanded Universe (also known as the literature-formerly-known-as-canon-sort-of) that just feel off – like they are trying to cram as many references in as they can – and it doesn’t make for good reading.  Aaron, on the other hand, does a great job of matching the characters to their dialogue (Han talks like Han, Luke talks like Luke etc), but he goes beyond that and adds depth to the characters and pays homage to the films without getting campy about it.  For instance, there’s this great running joke that centers on 000 disguised as Threepio that made me laugh several times throughout the book.

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The artist, Mike Deodato Jr., is equally brilliant.  The facial expressions he is able to create, especially with Han, are spot on, and his art is terrific.  I never would’ve thought a protocol droid could be frightening, but there are some silhouettes of 000 with red, glowing eyes that are intimidating… which I guess makes sense, since he is fond of wanton murder.

So where does that leave us? How about halfway through a 6 issue leviathan of a series.  I am not generally a big fan of crossover events.  Vader Down makes it a little easier because I was already getting Star Wars and Darth Vader, so the only extra book I had to purchase was Vader Down #1, which kicked off the series.  It’s also a little different because it doesn’t feel like it isn’t needed.  Some events just feel so unnecessary, but Vader Down adds some really interesting narrative to the ever-growing canon.  Plus it shows that Vader is a force to be reckoned with, even when stranded all alone on a desolate planet surrounded  by nothing by Rebel soldiers, which is worth the price of admission all by itself.  Oh, and R2-D2’s evil twin looks like this:

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Music Pairing-

I double-dog dare you.

4LN Book Review: Armada, by Ernest Cline

Ever since I read the last page of Ernest Cline’s debut novel Ready Player One, I couldn’t wait to read whatever he wrote next.  Ready Player One, which has already begun being adapted for film directed by none other than Steven Spielberg, is best described by fellow science-fiction writer John Sclazi who said that it was a “nerdgasm… imagine Dungeons & Dragons and an ’80’s arcade made hot, sweet love, and their child was raised in Azeroth.”  That might not give you an actual description of the book, but it sure does sum up how I feel about it.  When Cline’s second novel, Armada, was announced I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

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Ernest Cline with his Delorean nicknamed “Ecto-88”

Summary from Ernest Cline’s website:

It’s just another day of high school for Zack Lightman. He’s daydreaming through another boring math class, with just one more month to go until graduation and freedom—if he can make it that long without getting suspended again.

Then he glances out his classroom window and spots the flying saucer.

At first, Zack thinks he’s going crazy.

A minute later, he’s sure of it. Because the UFO he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.  

But what Zack’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

Yet even as he and his new comrades scramble to prepare for the alien onslaught, Zack can’t help thinking of all the science-fiction books, TV shows, and movies he grew up reading and watching, and wonder: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little too… familiar? 

Armada 
is at once a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien-invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with author Ernest Cline’s trademark pop-culture savvy.

Armada is a love letter to everything nerdy about the ’80’s.  Cline’s love of the geekdom of this period is evident and infectious.  While reading this book I felt compelled to watch The Last Starfighter, Conan the Barbarian, and the original Star Wars.  I also listened to a few of the tracks from the amazing “Raid the Arcade” mixtape (songs include “Danger Zone,” “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” and “Black Betty” just to name a few) frequently referenced by Zack Lightman, the story’s protagonist.  The good news is this movie is also already in the process of being adapted for film by Universal so there is a good chance we will get the ’80’s equivalent of the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack.

Cline’s writing style is fantastic.  The story is told through sarcastic first-person with the book’s protagonist, 18 year old super-nerd Zack Lightman, as the narrator.  It’s easy to read, and the story itself is just fascinating.  Certain elements remind me of a mixture of Ender’s Game (one of my favorite books of all time) and The Last Starfighter, with a dash of The Truman Show and 2001: a Space Odyssey towards the end.  The nerd pop culture references hit early and often. In fact, I am glad I finally watched The Last Starfighter before reading this book because it helped me to pick up a few more of the references scattered throughout the novel.

The story is made all the better by having a really strong cast of characters.  Zack Lightman is a hilarious narrator, and his struggle to connect with his father who died when he was a barely a toddler adds some gravitas to the character.  Zack and his best friends Cruz and Diehl are your typical nerds/geeks who spend their free time arguing about fictional universes and playing video games.  Cruz and Diehl spend the opening pages arguing about the efficacy of Mjolnir and Sting (Bilbo’s Elven blade, not the bassist/singer).  The rest of the supporting characters are fun and distinct as well.

George R. R. Martin trying to convince Ernest Cline to kill off every main character

George R. R. Martin trying to convince Ernest Cline to kill off every main character

Cline does a good job interspersing some unexpected twists and some surprisingly deep/gut-wrenching plot lines into this lighthearted, nerderific story.  It definitely added some weight to the already terrific plot.  I was also surprised by just how intense and descriptive the battle scenes were. Every single battle, whether it was land based or a ship to ship dogfight, was an epic, fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat action sequence that will translate beautifully to the big screen.  Finally, while some of the plot lines were purposefully predictable, I was really surprised by the twist at the end (as well as the twist near the middle of the book).  Cline throws in some sharp turns into this story that really made my jaw drop.  A lot of times I am slightly disappointed by the way a book ends, this is not one of those books.  The ending fits perfectly with the theme and reference material.

All in all, I could not recommend this book enough.  If you are even slightly nostalgic about old video games, ’80’s music, or sci-fi/fantasy films then there are enough satisfying references to make it absolutely worth the cover price.  Cline’s writing is easy to read, packed full of loving nostalgia, and just so much fun.  The characters, setting, and plot are all top notch and you can tell that this book is borne out of a strong love for everything nerdy.

Armada is out now – head down to your local bookstore to enlist in the Earth Defense Alliance today!

Marvel Collector Corps: Is It Worth It?

Every time I turn on the computer lately I see another advertisement for the latest and greatest subscription box.  Over the last few weeks I have seen everything from gourmet chocolate boxes to tactical/survival gear, but no box has intrigued me more than the recently announced Marvel Collector Corps.  When I first heard about it back in February, I decided to check out the first box to see if it was worth the price of admission, which is roughly $32 after shipping and handling.  Lo and behold, on April 25 I was graced with this beautiful package sitting on my front porch:

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Before we get into the exclusive items contained in the box, let’s see what Marvel Collector Corps has to say about who they are:

Marvel Collector Corps is a subscription box service designed by Marvel and Funko.  Created for the Marvel Collector, each box delivers 100% exclusive premium collectibles, apparel, and accessories direct from the Marvel Universe to your doorstep.  Each box is built around a major Marvel event.  Marvel Collector Corps celebrates the dedicated Marvel fan and intends to create a new Marvel Collector elite!

Unlike LootCrate (which we previously reviewed), this box comes once every other month, which makes it a little easier to stomach the $32 coming out of my bank account. As you can see in the photo above, this particular box focuses on the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, while the next one will center on the release of Ant-Man.

Below you will find a picture of each item exactly how they arrived, along with estimated pricing for each piece.  Please note: all of these items are exclusives so exact pricing is tough to come by.

Collector Corps Pin

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When you first crack open the box you are greeted by Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, in this nifty little collector pin and the villainous patch below.  The only place you can find this particular pin is either in Collector Corps box OR by searching Ebay by the people who immediately sell the innards of subscription boxes.

Similar pins range anywhere between $1.75 and $5.97, so I will split the difference and say this is probably worth around $3.25.

Collector Corps Patch

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The other item sitting on the top of everything else was this nifty Collector Corps embroidered patch.  Like everything else in this box it was a little difficult to find an exact price on this guy.  According to Amazon a majority of these patches range anywhere from $4.50 to $7.99.  Since this patch is on the nicer side I would guess its worth at around $6.99.

Funko Pop! Hulkbuster

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This. Thing. Is. Huge.  The kid in me wants to rip open the box and play with it while the Lord Business side of me wants to cherish it, but keep it sealed so it retains it’s value… not sure which side I will end up on as of this writing.

Most Funkos are around 3 3/4 inches tall, but not the Hulkbuster.  This thing is 6 inches tall, and it’s a real 6 inches, not whatever Subway is pushing these days (they could very well be 6″ please don’t sue, Subway).

Price wise, these are currently going for over $40 on ebay right now, so there’s that.

Funko Dorbz

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This little Ultron is pretty neat and will eventually make its way to my nerd-shrine at work.  I am not sure if everyone gets Ultron or if it’s a random figure in each box, but I saw them at Target yesterday for $5.99.

Guardians Team-Up Avengers Variant

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Like the Guardians and want to see them team up with the Avengers? Well good news, this is your chance (sort of).  If you have been following the Marvel Comic Universe you know that the guy we know as Thor no longer wields Mjolnir, and a lady who has yet to be named at the time of this writing is the new Thor.  Also Falcon is Captain America, and Iron Man is a jerk, which I know is par for the course… MORE of a jerk.  That being said here is a variant cover for the Guardians/Avengers Team Up comic.

The pricing of this variant issue seems to be hovering right around cover price at this time so $3.99.

Avengers T-Shirt (1 of 4)

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This is by far my favorite item included in the box.  It has a great design and feels tremendous.  I made sure to wear it when I went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron. Overall there are four separate styles for this shirt.  Personally, I was pretty excited that I got Cap on mine. Other shirt styles have Iron Man, Hulk, or Thor on them.

Conservatively, these seem to be going for about $15.99 on ebay right now, which is about what you’d pay for a shirt like this in most stores.

 

So is being a member of the Collector Corps worth it?  If you total up everything this box came with using pricing from comparable items OR by seeing what these items are currently going for on the market you end up right over $70.  If you remember I paid just over $30 after tax, so it is definitely worth it financially speaking. Outside of that the items are all pretty neat.  The Hulkbuster and t-shirt alone are worth the price of the box.  That being said, they did kind of tip their hand too early.  Next time it would be nice to have them not show a majority of the merch that you’re paying for before you buy.  That works at Wal-Mart, but that’s not why most people buy subscription boxes.  Not knowing is a most of the fun.

Final thought: if you are a big Marvel fan and like the whole subscription box concept then this is the box for you.

 

Disney Inifinity: Is It Worth It?

Disney excels at making money, and Disney Infinity proves it.  If you are unfamiliar with the toy your kid is probably begging you for, let me get you two acquainted.  Disney Infinity is a 2-player, multi-platform videogame that involves the purchase of multiple peripherals to get more characters, levels, bonuses etc.  The game is centered around the portal, which is used to place both the game world and the playable characters (in the form of figurines).  This means that in order to play as more characters you need to shell out more cash to purchase more figurines, and to play more game worlds you have to purchase those too.

That’s a lot of stuff to buy… is it worth it?

First off, my kids are too young to play it, and lack the vocal faculty to beg for it.  My wife, on the other hand, wanted it for her birthday, and who am I to argue with a wife who wants videogames for her birthday?

No one, that’s who.

So on her birthday we went to Sam’s Club and purchased the Disney Infinity 2.0 Starter Pack.  The starter pack includes a copy of the game (make sure to get the one that corresponds with your particular system), the Avengers world, and three figurines – Thor, Iron Man, and Black Widow.  We got our for around $55, which really isn’t that bad for what you get.

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Where you start to find an enormous leak in your bank account is the inevitable desire for more and more characters and worlds.  We got lucky with the starter pack because my favorite Marvel character is Thor and Paige’s (at least in the LEGO games) is Iron Man, so we started with the characters we already wanted.  That being said, the next day we bought the Guardians of the Galaxy combo pack that comes with Star-Lord, Gamorra and the GotG world, and was another $35.  Then a couple of days later we bought Hulk because Charlie, our 2 year old LOVES Hulk (and to smash things).  Each of these characters run between $10-14 and are pretty hard to find used.  We were fortunate enough to have a friend give us Captain America, but we still bought Rocket Raccoon.  There is also a Spider-Man world and set of characters, but neither of us really care for Spider-Man or the characters playable in that world so there’s some saved cash there… Being the completionists that we are, we still have to get Hawkeye, Groot and Drax so that’s another $30-45 right there.

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Yes, let the money flow through you.

What I’m trying to say is that our sons are going to have a whole lot of Disney Infinity to play with because their parents got a little carried away and had a little disposable income at the time.

So yes, it definitely costs more than the average videogame when you factor in all of the peripherals that aren’t necessarily required, but will be bought anyway.  The upside is, the game is a lot of fun and the figurines make a perfect addition to a nerd-shelf, which is something I recommend all homes have.  The game itself is basically an open world “sandbox” style game that has a simple RPG style system used to level up your characters.  The more you play as a particular character, the more powers they can unlock.  We have had a lot of fun flying around New York, trying to put an end to Loki’s nefarious schemes and keeping Ronan the Accuser away from Knowhere, and the replay value is off the charts.  The Avengers storyline is relatively short, but the missions are entertaining (who doesn’t love smiting Frost Giants with Mjolnir, am I right?), and the characters maintain their level when you start a new game, so you can continue playing through the story to level up the characters completely.

Final Say

If you and your kids love the Marvel universe, this is definitely one of the best games available.  The missions are engaging, but short enough that they don’t start feeling like a chore (a common problem with the LEGO games), the gameplay is relatively straightforward, and the storyline is fun.  Ultimately, I think this game is worth it, but I would definitely pick and choose which properties you think you and yours would like the most, at least at first.  For us it was the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, for you it might be Spider-Man.  Either way the game is entertaining for both kids and adults, and is definitely one of the best games out there as far as Marvel is concerned.  It’s worth it.

Saturday Morning Review: The Punisher #2

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Book: The Punisher #2

Writer: Nathan Edmondson
Artist: Mitch Gerads
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

I want to start off by saying how much I have enjoyed these Punisher issues, and I’m not a major fan of the Punisher, but so far this story has really started to change my opinion on Frank Castle. I will say, Mitch Gerads art is really something special here. I like how it’s somehow both gritty and clean. There is something very interesting about this style. It’s almost perfect for Frank, he’s a gritty killer that you should really fear; but, he’s clean about what he does and that’s something to make him all the more terrifying.

Now, this is going to sound a little funny, but my absolute favorite part of this issue was the fact that Frank was wearing a Hawkeye shirt. It just made me chuckle each time I saw him in Clint’s logo, or could it be Kate’s since she’s been in the LA region lately?

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I really love the Hawkeye shirt, I don’t know why but I think it’s a great touch.

Anyway, lets get back to the issue, I’m going to start with the good for this issue. The story was solid and I was a real big fan of the dialogue between the characters. I like the feel of Frank and Officer Stone (Sammy) just shooting the s—t in the morning before Frank gets to work on one side of the law, and before Officer Stone has to interact with a “vigilante.” Frank also “adopts” a coyote and that goes as good as you think it would… He ends up asking a friend to watch after it and once again the dialogue that follows is a little light-hearted.

Unfortunately, there were a few things in the issue I didn’t enjoy. I felt like at times it felt rushed and the continuity didn’t really make much sense. It was a little scattered throughout time of day, And It was constantly jumping all over Los Angeles. I think my biggest problem with this issue was the motorcycle wreck. There is a pretty serious wreck and Frank suffers no physical harm, we see him slam his head into the pavement and then get right back up, he wasn’t wearing a helmet, so I find it a little unlikely that he would just get right up and continue doing his thing.

Over all this comic is a must read for any fan of violent comics, and let me tell you, the twist at the end of this issue, when we finally see what the weapon Frank has been trying to find is, well, it’s a twist that is well worth the $3.99 sticker price. I pick up my books on Fridays, and this was still on the shelves, so, if you haven’t picked it up yet, I say head out and grab this one.

My final grade for this issue is 3 out of 4. It was a solid read and something that kept me entertained and wanting more. You wont be disappointed with this issue. It’s tons of bad ass action!

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The gritty yet clean art style of Mitch Gerads.

Comicat Review

 

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(Todays nerdy guest is one of our friends Patrick Delaney)

Let me start off by stating that I do not condone the illegal downloading and/or sharing of comic books or graphic novels. The comic industry is still a struggling business and it’s creators, writers, artists, letterers, inkers (tracers), and local shop owners need and deserve your business. If you appreciate the art someone is putting out do the right thing and drop some coin.

That being said, before I lived in a town with a reliable place to purchase my books I may have dabbled in the .cbr world of scanned comics. I have since tried my best to purchase all of which I’ve obtained either physically or digitally. But every now and then I will want to read an old favorite and might not want to sift through my 20+ long boxes or carry around a heavy omnibus. This means trying to find a new comic reader o that I may enjoy this literary gem in a means that won’t crash or distort the art and letters every time I try to zoom in on a single panel.

After trying a ton of free comic readers on the Android market I decided to cough up the $2.99 and give Comicat a try.

Taken from the Comicat page :

ComiCat is a fast and slick comic reader and catalog manager. You can manage and read your comic collection right on your Android. You have lots of options to make the most of your reading experience. Native code base written and optimized for android devices. Extremely fast and stable with no battery drain. With Facebook integration, you can let friends know what you’re reading and how you like it. ComiCat comes with lifelong free updates that bring in new exciting features and usability enhancements.

– Support for all popular comic formats like CBZ, CBR, CB7, CBT etc.
– Feature rich yet easy to use.
– Auto scanning of your device to build your catalog in seconds. – Multiple catalog views, sorting options and search for easy access to your comics.
– Virtual bookshelf look with multiple themes.
– Password protection.
– Reading list management.
– Performance and experience tweaking options.
– Fast viewing of comics through efficient caching.
– Multiple view modes, pinch to zoom and orientation options.
– Right to left and left to right reading order for Manga fans.
– Gestures for page turn, fast forward, fast reverse and almost all navigation needs.
– Auto split two page scans and auto crop margin.
– Bookmarks, auto remember reading location and comic reading status indicators.
– Single button sync of your comics from your Dropbox account.
– Parental control with password protected hidden folders.
– Image enhancer that auto adjusts brightness, contrast and saturation of comic pages. Works great on old comic scans, removes paleness and makes them more vibrant.
– Efficient caching for best performance without going out of memory.
– Works well with Jellybean’s multi user changes.

For now Comicat is only available on the Android market. I have read that there might be a version moving to iOS, but no dates have been given. Comicat is killer app you should toss on to your phone and tablet.

Check it out here:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=meanlabs.comicat&hl=en&referrer=utm_source%3Dgoogle%26utm_medium%3Dorganic%26utm_term%3Dcomicat