Wednesday, December 29, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Tiny Titans/Little Archie #3 (Review)

Written by Art Baltazar & Franco Aureliani
Pencils by Art Baltazar
Cover by Art Baltazar

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

During the second week of December, the all-ages titles came to battle for Top of the Stack. The consistently solid, and previous Top of the Stack winner, Thor: The Mighty Avenger had another great issue, BOOM! Studios brought another big time competitor with an issue of Uncle Scrooge but in the end, it was the most adorable and smartly designed all-ages book that came away as the week's Top of the Stack - Tiny Titans/Little Archie #3.

The regular creative team of Tiny Titans, Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani, are behind this mini-series where the characters of Tiny Titans interact with the Archie Universe. In this issue, readers are presented with the usual Tiny Titans humor with the aid from the Archie bunch. Sabrina the Witch meets Raven, Archie gets transported to the Batcave and gets mistaken as the Joker's kid, Jughead and Cyborg have a burger eating contest and Robin gets brought home to meet dad by Veronica. And that is just the beginning.

Baltazar's Tiny Titans style continues in this mini-series and the characters of the Archie universe benefit from the translation, looking just as adorable as the Tiny Titans while keeping their recognizable traits they are known for. And in the spirit of Tiny Titans, in one panel Baltazar draws the entire cast of characters in Joker makeup and cat suits.

This was the last issue of the three part mini-series that fans of all-ages books should definitely read. It is more proof of how brilliant Baltazar's art is along with Franco's writing make them a fantastic creative team. I would not mind reading a Little Archie book or a return for these characters in the Tiny Titans world. Maybe a yearly mini-series would be nice. Either way, the more Tiny Titans content that exists the better.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Tiny Titans themed picspam.

Friday, December 24, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Chip n' Dale Rescue Rangers #1 (Review)

Written by Ian Brill
Pencils by Leonel Castellani
Cover by Leonel Castellani

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Price: $3.99

The first week of December turned out to be a light week for releases that made it into my stack, making it the perfect opportunity for an underrated book or new book to stand out among the rest. Add that to my excitement of reading the first issue of BOOM! Studios reintroduction to the world of Disney animated franchise, Chip N' Dale Rescue Rangers, and it was easy to see how the premiere issue made it to the top of the stack.

BOOM! put writer Ian Brill on the series, who is already delivering a stellar run on another BOOM! relaunch of a Disney animated series with Darkwing Duck. Like Darkwing Duck, Chip N' Dale Rescue Rangers came from Disney's animated television golden era of the late eighties and early nineties and has a fan base waiting to reconnect with those great characters and eager to introduce those worlds to a new generation that missed out.

Right from the start it was noticeable that Brill had captured the spirit of the characters while leaving hints that the characters weren't quite the same since fans last saw them and that the team has some rough spots that need smoothing over. The story brings readers right into the action, as the Rescue Rangers are in the middle of a pursuit of a super-key that is vital to solving the crisis of animals around the world acting out and being dangerous to the public.

Leonel Castellani brings the art to the book and his cover feels like it came right out of the animated series, a perfect eye catcher to those familiar to the series and newcomers alike. Inside, the characters are wonderfully transitioned to the comic pages with Castellani's skill making it possible for them to display a wide range of emotions in a single panel.

Brill brings these long thought dead Disney franchises back to life with such truth and honesty for the characters that as long as he is on this title I trust it to be one of the best stories every month out of BOOM! Studios. Castellani follows his lead with the art and together they seem to be a solid team to launch the series into existence. A definite must read for Disney, animated, and especially Chip N' Dale fans.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Chip N' Dale Rescue Rangers themed picspam.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Detective Comics #871 (Review)

Written by Scott Snyder
Pencils by Jock
Cover by Jock

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99

The week of Thanksgiving may have been one of the best weeks for comic books in recent memory that I can remember. The zero issue to the new ongoing Batwoman series, the series finale of Madame Xanadu, an issue of Thor: The Mighty Avenger, and the last issue of the Star Wars: Blood Ties mini-series were just some of the fantastic books to come out during the week but the debut issue of writer Scott Snyder, and artist Jock on Detective Comics blew me away with the quality in its pages and made it an easy pick for the top of the stack.

Snyder comes from the popular Vertigo comic series he created, American Vampire, and steps up to the plate as the main writer of Detective Comics after initially agreeing to be the scribe of the second feature - a story focused on Commissioner Gordon - that is at the back of the issue after the main story written by Snyder.

There are murders happening in Gotham using material that was once the Gotham PD evidence, including connections to Killer Croc, Mad Hatter and possibly Poison Ivy, all orchestrated by the "Dealer". Dick Grayson is on the case and readers are presented with his inner dialogue throughout the issue, something that hasn't truly been explored so far during his time as Batman and Snyder portrays Dick and Commissioner Gordon - the other main character in the story - perfectly. And then in the second feature Snyder creates a story in a completely different tone, a sense of suspense is built in only a short amount of pages making the Commissioner Gordon backup story something worth looking forward to just as much as the main Detective Comics story.

Jock's art is a perfect match for the tone of the story, creating a serious atmosphere with touches of darkness without plunging the book in the grim style that once plagued the Bat books. The cover is a stellar example of Jock's masterful strokes between simplicity and design, creating a stark contrast between Batman, the bats and the rest of the cover. And there is also consideration given to the prior art style on the book, making the transition to a new art team much smoother than expected.

The future is bright for Detective Comics. Despite the new territory the Bat books are exploring, DC has found the perfect team to continue the great quality expected from one of its longest running titles. As a Dick Grayson fan I will be the first to admit that it is hard to find writers that write him well, but Snyder seems to have found Dick's voice in his first try and I look forward to reading a book that was not on my radar anymore.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Detective Comics themed picspam.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

FILM: The Beginning of the End - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (Review)

Nine years ago the first movie adaptation of the highly popular Harry Potter book series was released to the masses and now four directors and seven films later fans worldwide find themselves facing the end of a decade-long phenomenon with the debut of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1". To maintain a sense of familiarity with the films, Warner Bros. kept on David Yates ("Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix/Half-Blood Prince"), now the longest-running director of the franchise and that is with Part 2 still looming in 2011. But would one half of a story make for a good film?

As the first Potter film to be focused away from the comforts of Hogwarts, the story revolves around the trio of Harry, Hermione and Ron like never before. Adapted from the first half of the Deathly Hallows book when Harry, Ron and Hermione are forced to scatter away from the safety of the Order of the Phoenix and aimlessly stumble their way across the lands in search of Voldemort's Horcruxes and discover the existence of another set of items - the Hallows - that may be just as important to find.

Their journey takes them from the Burrow back to 12 Grimmauld Place, camping in the wilderness, along with a visit to the Ministry of Magic, the Lovegoods' home and Malfoy Manor. As a result, this film was clearly the darkest of the series yet, but this was also the most I have ever laughed during a Harry Potter movie. It's an interesting combination for the film to be able to produce varying reactions from the audience, be it fear, tears or laughs.

The performance of the cast was taken to another level for the second consecutive film, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint return as the protagonists of the series and continue to shine in their roles as Harry, Hermione and Ron. Each had special moments in the film, Dan during the seven Potters scene where he had to play different characters pretending to be Harry, Rupert when Ron slowly loses focus on the Horcrux goal and starts to grow discontent with Harry and to an extent Hermione, and Emma as Hermione struggles to keep everything together when things look bleak.

Several new characters made their debut in the film: Rufus Scrimgeour (Bill Nighy) as the new Minister of Magic, Bill Weasley (Domhnall Gleeson) the oldest Weasley child, Mundungus Fletcher (Andy Linden) a less than respectable member of the Order of the Phoenix, Xenophilius Lovegood (Rhys Ifans) Luna's father and publisher of the Quibbler, and Albert Runcorn (David O'Hara) a Ministry official that unknowingly becomes part of Harry, Hermione and Ron's Ministry infiltration plans.

Others made their return to the series after being away for a few films: Ollivander (John Hurt) the wand maker, Fleur Delacour (Clémence Poésy), Dobby (Toby Jones) the house-elf, Kreacher (Simon McBurney), Madame Maxime (Frances de la Tour), Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) and the Dursleys (Richard Griffiths, Harry Melling & Fiona Shaw).

Being someone that favors bright, vibrant colors, I have always had an issue with the filters used on Potter films since Prisoner of Azkaban to make the colors muted and give the world a much darker look. This trend continues in this film, but what does change is the scenery for the characters as Hogwarts does not play a part. Instead we see numerous examples of European wilderness during camping scenes, various suburban environments when Hermione leaves her home and when the trio escape from the Weasley Wedding.

The interiors of two family homes, Malfoy and Lovegood, are shown in the film for the first time and accurately represent their respective tenants. The Malfoy home appears grandiose and gives off a dark mood with the current situation of Death Eaters visiting, the Lovegood home is colorful and unique but the underlying vibe of isolation and loneliness is reflected as well.

I was worried that the film would feel stretched as a result of being only half of a story but it did not at all. In fact, the film seemed like a really fast watch, and the chosen cliffhanger point was a great decision that leaves viewers wanting more. The brilliant choices and execution of Part 1 has me very excited for Part 2 next summer. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" gets an A grade and i think it is safe to say that this movie will probably become my favorite of the series within a few more viewings. Go see it now even if you never were a Potter fan, this one in particular seems like a movie that should attract general viewers besides devotees.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows themed picspam.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Batman Incorporated #1 (Review)

Written by Grant Morrison
Pencils by Yanick Paquette
Cover by J.H. Williams III

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99

A little late but I could not go without mentioning what comic made it to the Top of the Stack for the week of November 17th. The week was heavily dominated by Batman related books so the pick might have seemed inevitable but surprisingly it was a fill-in issue of Zatanna written by Adam Beechen and the final issue of the opening arc of Geoff Johns' Flash that brought the competition. In the end however, the premiere issue of Grant Morrison's Batman Incorporated was too good to be denied.

Morrison's several year run leading the direction of the Batman books is still going strong and after the grim RIP storyline and its gritty aftermath, the new lead Batman book is entering a bold new era for Batman that seems to be bringing back the fun action missing from Bruce Wayne stories of this generation.

This first issue is very much a starter of a much bigger story, but the seemingly more permanent team-up between Bruce and Selina Kyle was what made this issue so much fun. The instant chemistry that snaps back into place like Bruce wasn't gone and Selina didn't have that mess during One Year Later was magical and brought about many of the good feelings I experienced when reading the Batman/Catwoman: Follow the Money one-shot a few weeks ago. I dare not hope that Catwoman will be a permanent fixture in this book to tangle with Batman, but I do hope she is around for a lot of it.

The cover by J.H. Williams III is amazing, and reminiscent of the fantastic style he became well known for during his Batwoman issues of Detective Comics. The interiors were drawn by Yanick Paquette, who has worked before with Grant Morrison on an issue of the recent The Return of Bruce Wayne mini-series and the Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer mini-series from a few years back. The beautifully clean style reminds me of a blend between Cliff Chiang and Mike Norton and is perfect for the tone of this series.

Grant Morrison seems to be moving away from the grim and gritty (if you ignore what happens to Mr. Unknown), and Paquette's art is definitely topnotch. Turning Bruce into a globetrotting adventurer in his own solo title much like he is seen in group books is the perfect way to reestablish his presence without seeming to step on the new era of Batman and Robin in Gotham. And I am always a fan of superhero relationships, so if issues with Bruce and Selina are going to become more common, I am all for this new direction from Morrison to continue on end.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Batman with a dash of Catwoman themed picspam.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

FILMonBLU-RAY: How to Train Your Dragon (Review)

How to Train Your Dragon
2010 - Dreamworks
Released on Blu-Ray & DVD on October 15, 2010

# of Discs: 2 (Blu-Ray, DVD)
Runtime: 98 minutes

Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) has struggled to live up to his calling as a Viking. He is skinny, inquisitive and inventive, everything a Viking is not. His father is chief of the village, Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler), and has pretty much given up on his teenage son and apprenticed him to the village blacksmith Gobber (Craig Ferguson). Worse, Hiccup knows the village loser has not a chance of impressing Astrid (America Ferrera), the girl of his dreams and a formidable dragon fighter in her own right.

When one of Hiccup's inventions actually works, he hasn't the heart to kill the young dragon he brought down. He names it Toothless and befriends it, although he has been taught to fear and loathe dragons and discovers that everything Vikings know about dragons is wrong.

The majority of the film takes place in three locations: Hiccup's Viking tribe's Village, the cove area where Toothless and Hiccup meet and the island where the Dragons roost. The Vikings' home is located on the island of Berk and is beautifully captured in the animation. Their village is beset by dragons and some of the best visuals come from the opening dragon attack and later when the Vikings set sail for the dragon home.

Most of the bonding between the film's main two characters comes in the cove that Toothless is unable to escape from alone thanks to being injured by Hiccup's wild shot to the sky. But the most terrifying location is by far the nest of the Dragons where the gigantic Red Death lives and is waited on by the other smaller Dragons.

Extras on the disc include an all-new adventure featuring the characters of the film. In "Legend of the BoneKnapper Dragon", Hiccup and his friends join Gobber in his search for a mysterious dragon that he claims to having crossed paths with several times during his lifetime. The short consists of several different styles of animation to tell the story but that does not affect the story and help supports the idea that this Dragon world can support multiple stories beyond the feature film.

There is also an instructional video on how to draw Toothless, deleted scenes and a series of fun shorts starring the characters in the Viking Winter Games.

How to Train Your Dragon is a fantastic surprise of a quality story combined with endearing characters that made it easily one of the best films of 2010. Everyone should see this movie and I am excited with the news that the film's success will be leading to sequels and a TV series. I might even check out the book the movie was inspired from.

Look to buy the How to Train Your Dragon Blu-Ray over at Amazon for only $17.99.
Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's How to Train Your Dragon themed picspam.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Red Robin #17 (Review)

Written by Fabian Nicieza
Pencils by Marcus To
Cover by Marcus To & Ray McCarthy

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

The week had releases from several books that always contend for the top of the stack (Avengers: Children's Crusade, Batgirl) but they were no match this time around for Red Robin #17. Writer Fabian Nicieza continues to thrive playing in the Bat universe sandbox and I have taken notice making this issue his third Bat book to be Top of the Stack in the last three months. The transition from Christopher Yost's start on the book to Nicieza's run has been so smooth that I might say the book has never been better.

This issue's story wraps up the arc of Red Robin's hit list and his search for Bruce Wayne. Lynx is broken free from GCPD detainment by Red Robin, and the best thing is the mystery of the character and Tim's uncertainty to her loyalties is a wonderful aspect of Tim who is always so sure of things and he is not with her.

And the other parts of the issue can not be ignored as that was where the Bat Family reunions took place. One of my DC peeves is how Cassandra Cain dropped off the face of the DCU once RIP started so it was a welcome sight to get that surprise cameo and of course, Bruce and Tim together again. It is always fun when they are written well because their relationship feels like the second chance Bruce gets to do things the right way that he did not do with the first Robin, Dick Grayson.

The art team of Marcus To and Ray McCarthy have now been on the book for a year and just like the overall book, the art is better than ever. The cover with Lynx touching Red Robin was a perfect mirror of the events on the inside, I can almost see the two as a mirror image of a pose Batman and Catwoman have been put in before I am sure.

While other characters have had their ups and downs, for the most part Tim Drake/Wayne has been one that most writers just seem to get and keep his tales at a consistent level of quality. Outside of a few odd choices surrounding Tim's relationship with Stephanie and Chuck Dixon's brief return/immediate departure, the last few years have been a great step in bringing Tim out of the shadows of being a sidekick and into the light as a true hero to depend on and that makes this book a must read for any comic book fan.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Red Robin themed picspam.

Monday, November 8, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Batman/Catwoman: Follow the Money #1 (Review)

Written by Howard Chaykin
Pencils by Howard Chaykin
Cover by Howard Chaykin

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99

There was one book that stood out amongst the others this week and it happened to be the extra-sized, slightly pricier, Batman/Catwoman: Follow the Money one-shot written and drawn by longtime creative maestro Howard Chaykin. With the ever changing world of creative teams, sometimes it is nice to find a title that the creative duties are handled mainly by one person and see the results of having art interpreted perfectly with the story.

I would have welcomed the book to be split into a three issue mini-series because of the consistent pace to the story that kept it a thoroughly entertaining read would most likely translate well over several issues but the all-in-one packaging definitely made the book stand out even more for all the right reasons.

What kind of story could carry fifty-six pages of content? How about a story featuring the Cavalier as the villain? His characterization as a villain is the first proof that this tale is outside of DC's continuity where Cavalier aka Mortimer Drake is acting as a bodyguard for Dr. Leslie Thompkins.

Here, Mortimer Drake is the mastermind of a business theft scheme involving Bruce Wayne's money and left clues that would put the blame on Catwoman. And that's where the book really took off as it was a story of Bruce and Selina coming together to stop the Cavalier, clear Catwoman's name and save Bruce's money. Rarely these days do writers bring Bruce and Selina together in a story and it was a very welcome turn of events that kept a smile on my face while I read the pages.

Chaykin's art on the cover really set the fun tone of the book right from the start and the interiors followed suit in really displaying the colorful adventure to the reader. He drew a strong Bruce/Batman, a stylish stunning Selina/Catwoman and even made sure to include a tidying-up Alfred amongst the adventure.

There are several things I am hopeful for after reading this book. First off that more of these fun, free of the current state of the DCU, expanded stories can be written not only for Batman but other DC characters. With the reemergence of the Elseworlds brand I expect the quantity of stories outside of current continuity to grow and optimistically the quality will be as good as this issue.

Secondly, Howard Chaykin should not become a stranger to these characters or these type of stories. Too many times writers forget about the opposite sex dynamic when it comes to superheroes but the chemistry between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle was jumping off the page and it was a sight for sore eyes. It is one of the reasons why I have been looking forward to Bruce Wayne's return to the current DCU because the Bat/Cat dynamic is legendary.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Batman & Catwoman themed picspam.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

COMIC: Batmania (Commentary)

One of my favorite comic book characters of all time is DC Comics' Batman. The legacy of Batman has grown over the decades, going through multiple iterations, looks and relaunches through several media but for this article I am focusing on the original comic book aspect of the character and what I like and do not like about the current status of the Batman world.

Over time the aspect of Batman having a family has developed and grown to include several Robins - five so far - and Batgirls - four. With the amount of characters in the immediate universe having grown so much, sometimes a character or two will fall through the cracks if they do not have a title they regularly appear in.

This happens to be the case with the previous current Batgirl, Cassandra Cain. Since Batman RIP and the storyline of Bruce Wayne's death, the character stopped being a regular presence and only returned briefly in the first issue of the Batgirl series relaunch to pass the mantle to Stephanie Brown.

The irony in Cassandra's descent into anonymity is that the character had just been rescued from the horrid development she had gone through since Infinite Crisis four years ago. She had just been re-accepted into the family by Bruce, who had gone ahead and adopted her, declaring that while he was around she would always have a family but that ended up being a horrible tease because the Batman RIP storyline was next.

Now she has been seemingly forgotten - like always - by the creators on the Bat books but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel because during this current return of Bruce Wayne story that is happening, Bruce offhandedly mentioned that Cassandra was off doing what he told her to do if anything should happen to me. This could just be a throwaway comment to appease the fans and quickly explain why she has not been around but with the upcoming Batman, Inc. franchising, I think it would be fantastic if Cassandra has been globetrotting around the world scouting potential candidates and had already started the process of implementing Batman's presence on a global basis.

My dream would be for Cassandra to get a featured book but with Stephanie Brown finally getting some deserved spotlight as Batgirl, it would have to be something like a second batgirl book somewhat in the style of how there is a Batman book and a Batman and Robin book. So I would like to see maybe a Batgirls title that has Cassandra and Stephanie working together because their duo rivaled that of the typical Batman and Robin or Robin and Batgirl.

As a result I think it would be best for Cassandra to be a second Batgirl. With how the Bat characters seem to grow into another's costume when that character moves on to something else, I have seen some great fan drawings of Cassandra taking on the Nightwing costume which would be fine for me as well as long as Dick stayed as Batman.

Now that this seems to be the way things are going at least for the next few years while Grant Morrison is in charge of the Batman creative direction, fans will finally be getting the result I was hoping would come from this entire Batman RIP storyline in that both Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne will be Batman. Outside of a few writers who handle Dick poorly in order to make Bruce seem invincible and on a level too high for Dick to ever reach, Dick has been written fantastically as Batman.

I've been wanting to see the direction of multiple Batmen ever since Dick took over the mantle and thrived with it and knowing that Bruce Wayne would be returning especially with a character like Green Lantern who originally only had one Lantern from a given section now having four Lanterns from Earth alone at the same time, I always wondered why other characters had not been expanded that way. I think Wonder Woman with Donna Troy somewhat languishing in this awkward not Wonder Girl not Wonder Woman phase would be an excellent second Wonder Woman.

The great thing about bringing about multiple Batmen is that the yellow background behind the Bat symbol is coming back as part of Bruce's new costume to help tell apart the characters. I've been thinking for years now that I missed the yellow, even going so far as to wishing they had brought Bruce back in the classic blue and yellow costume that was prevalent in the 1980s or bringing the Michael Keaton-era Batman movie costume to the comic books and giving that to Bruce to where, classic solid black with the yellow background bat emblem.

The only part of the Bat universe - outside the lack of Cass - that really has my ire is the overwhelming push to make Batman Beyond a part of the main canon. Now, the animated show was a fun experience, but I was only able to enjoy it by placing it in its own little world as an alternate universe and there is one of the 52 worlds that is for Batman Beyond.

Except now the mini-series comic book has turned into an ongoing and I've stayed away because for some reason DC has refused to put the Elseworlds label on it despite having brought back that label this year with the Superman: Last Family of Krypton mini and I can not see any reason why any Batman fan would be happy with this being the future for the characters.

Going just off the animated series since I haven't read the new book, Bruce ends up old and alone, Barbara is old, alone and police commissioner (and because of the animated verse she and Bruce have something between them), there is no sign of Dick Grayson at all, and Tim is horribly treated in the Return of Joker film.

Batman Beyond is a fun alternate future tale and I want to keep it that way. And that is what this Bat fan has to say on the topic. Same Bat time, same Bat channel!

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Batman themed picspam.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

FILMonBLU-RAY: Iron Man 2 (Review)

Iron Man 2
2010 - Paramount
Released on Blu-Ray & DVD on September 28, 2010

# of Discs: 3 (Blu-Ray x 2, DVD w/ Digital Copy)
Runtime: 124 minutes

Billionaire Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) finds himself with the hangover of a lifetime. He ha a toxic, potentially deadly condition resulting from the elements used to power the battery in his chest. That's not the only threat on his plate as his super-hero side faces off with Russian engineer Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) as the dangerous Whiplash and on his business side Stark with rival Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell). Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) and newcomer Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) are along for the action-packed ride.

The big set piece of the film is the Stark Expo spectacle that Tony Stark brings back from his dad's vision to the modern world. Reminiscent of the real World Expo's of past, the design becomes this beautiful vision only capable on film and the perfect location to open the movie and be the last place at the end of the movie. There is also a visit to Monaco for the first confrontation between Stark and Vanko that destroys a few race cars and unveils the suitcase armor of Iron Man.

Less flashy moments but equally spectacular in delivery would have to be first the recordings of Howard Stark and the legacy he left behind for Tony. The clear Walt Disney feel was a perfect direction to take with the character, immediately endearing him to audiences in a way only Disney was. Also Black Widow's big action piece set which literally was her going down a hallway destroying the guards that came in her way was visually stunning in its choreography and execution.

Iron Man 2 also delivered on the special features front. Aside from the usual commentary track, deleted scenes and information files on the characters that all movies should include in their movies, Iron Man 2 had a 4-part "Making of" documentary covering the entire production of the movie that shows off the friendly, fun atmosphere between the cast and director Jon Favreau ("Iron Man").

This movie was a non-stop roller coaster ride that had me on the edge of my seat throughout. Despite not having a real decisive, climactic final battle with Vanko going down quickly and having just previously turning on Hammer it was hard not to like this sequel more than the original. The only negatives I can really give the film are just preferences: Samuel Jackson looking old, Don Cheadle replacing Terrence Howard and Thor's hammer at the end of the film looking less than impressive. Superhero fans and action movie aficionados should definitely look at buying this movie.

Look to buy the Iron Man 2 Blu-Ray over at Amazon for only $26.99.
Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Iron Man themed picspam.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Secret Avengers #6 (Review)

Written by Ed Brubaker
Pencils by Mike Deodato
Cover by Marko Djurdjevic

Publisher: Marvel
Price: $3.99

It was the ever reliable Secret Avengers book written by Ed Brubaker that stood out in a week where it seemed like every other title came up short in one way or another. The one Avengers book that gets pushed aside - undeservedly - by the more well known Avengers books (Avengers, New Avengers) but is by far my favorite incarnation of Avengers and as a result is the only one I am still reading.

There is something about Brubaker's Steve Rogers that shows off the best he has to offer as a leader, fighter and someone to care about. While Brubaker's Captain America struggles to get free from the past it can not let go, here in Secret Avengers the characters are free from such burdens.

One of the best things I have enjoyed about reading Brubaker's Steve Rogers is how important he has made Sharon Carter and their relationship together to the ongoing story. Too many times, especially lately, the fact that the heroes have another part to their personality besides crime-fighting and numerous characters from the big two comic studios do not seem to have relationships anymore or even be seen thinking of the opposite sex. Normally I would say the writers were staying true to their target audience of young boys, but then the rest of the content in these books seem written for adults instead but that one angle of storytelling is woefully underused.

I will admit to being a little confused to some of the characters in this issue; was not familiar with Shang-Chi, his father or the Prince of Orphans. I loved the casual intimacy between Steve and Sharon, her massaging him while they talk about their day and what is going on with their mission.

Mike Deodato's art fits perfectly for the mood of this book, and while his barechested Steve Rogers might be a tad too buff, his version of Beast is great and Sharon Carter and Black Widow look fantastic. And if that was not enough, the cover by Marko Djurdvejic kicked up the art quality another notch. I am glad Black Widow is a part of this team, and dating Bucky because Brubaker writing Natasha seems like a more appropriate version than the one in her current solo title.

As the only Avengers book that has my interest I hope that the title and Brubaker's presence writing it will be around for a long while. There is also the fact that this group has several characters that I am a fan of but aren't big enough to support their own series like Valkyrie, Beast, War Machine, Sharon Carter. It is fantastic to get Beast away from the Mutant terror/discriminating stories that plague X-books and be a science man. Now if only Brubaker could sneak Agent Brand into this book.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Secret Avengers themed picspam.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

SPORTS: NBA 2010-2011 Predictions (Commentary)

The start of the NBA season is upon us, signaling time for Geek Plate to return to a sports entry for another set of predictions on the upcoming 2010-2011 NBA season. First, team projections:

Western Conference:
1) LA Lakers - 60-22
2) Dallas Mavericks - 58-24
3) Oklahoma City Thunder - 57-25
4) Phoenix Suns 55-27
5) San Antonio Spurs 53-29
6) Utah Jazz 51-31
7) Denver Nuggets 50-32
8) Memphis Grizzlies 50-32

WC First Round: Lakers over Grizzlies 4-1, Mavs over Nuggets 4-2, Jazz over Thunder 4-3, Spurs over Suns 4-2
WC Semi-Finals: Lakers over Spurs 4-0, Mavs over Jazz 4-3
WC Finals: Lakers over Mavs 4-2

Eastern Conference:
1) Miami Heat 63-19
2) Orlando Magic 61-21
3) Boston Celtics 58-24
4) Chicago Bulls 51-31
5) Atlanta Hawks 56-26
6) Milwaukee Bucks 50-32
7) Charlotte Bobcats 48-34
8) New York Knicks 44-38

EC First Round: Heat over Knicks 4-0, Magic over Bobcats 4-2, Celtics over Bucks 4-1, Bulls over Hawks 4-3
EC Semi-Finals: Heat over Bulls 4-3, Celtics over Magic 4-3
EC Finals: Celtics over Heat 4-3

NBA Finals: Lakers over Celtics 4-2

And some individual award projections:

MVP: Dwight Howard (Magic)
Scoring Title: Amare Stoudemire (Knicks)
Defensive Player of the Year: Ron Artest (Lakers)
Rookie of the Year: John Wall (Wizards)
Coach of the Year: Lionel Hollins (Grizzlies)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Darkwing Duck #5 (Review)

Written by Ian Brill
Pencils by James Silvani
Cover by James Silvani

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Price: $3.99

There were some outstanding issues to come out this week including Tiny Titans #33, Justice League of America #50 and Bruce Wayne - The Road Home - Catwoman #1 but there was no denying the greatness that is Darkwing Duck #5 from returning to the top of the stack after two months away. Writer Ian Brill continues to deliver the spirit of the TV show to the comic pages while bringing in other characters from sister shows like Magica De Spell from DuckTales.

As advertised this issue wrapped up the first arc and dealt with the aftermath of St. Canard in the wake of Quackwerks Corporation being now in the hands of Scrooge McDuck and newly appointed CEO Launchpad McQuack. Last issue's last page reveal of Negaduck and Magica De Spell working together is further explored and their plan for St. Canard and Darkwing Duck is put into action. With Launchpad busy and Gosalyn in school, the 'B story' deals with Darkwing being reunited with his on-again, off-again girlfriend Morgana McCawber and his attempts to cure her from the listless state she was put in by the brainwashing from Taurus Bulba and Quackwerks.

The issue I read had the B cover which was drawn by the book's regular interior artist, James Silvana and features Negaduck. One thing I was excited to see was the variety of animal-like characters that were always common in the Scrooge McDuck universe that Darkwing Duck is a part of. And the caveman Darkwing stayed true to the style of the universe and reminded me of the cave ducks like Bubba.

It's hard to imagine this series not staying a consistent contender for best book of the week every time it is released with the great writing and perfect art to match. The only minor problem I have with the series is the fact that the Gizmoduck suit is now in the possession of Gosalyn and I'd much rather have Fenton Crackshell and Gizmoduck around than have the armor as something for Gosalyn to do. The rivalry between Darkwing and Gizmoduck was one of the best things about the show and I'd hate for that to be nonexistent in the comic.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Darkwing Duck themed picspam.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

COMICandTV: Waiting for Wonder Woman Day (Commentary)

With this Sunday, October 24th, being the fifth annual Wonder Woman Day, what better time to put a spotlight on DC's top heroine character and breakdown the recent headlines concerning the Amazon Princess.

First, what is Wonder Woman Day you ask? Well, it is a celebration of one of comics' most recognizable heroines to benefit women affected by domestic violence. Organized by the Wonder Woman Museum website, the free event has grown into bi-coastal festivities that include signings and original art auctions. Anyone that cannot make it to Excalibur Comics in Portland, Oregon or Comic Fusion in Flemington, New Jersey can still participate by bidding on pieces available on eBay.

Recently Wonder Woman has been in the news for several different reasons, both good, bad and even controversial for a character that has been around since December 1941 when she debuted in All Star Comics #8. The biggest waves were made this past June when DC Comics revealed that their classic heroine was getting a costume makeover when issue 600 of her title launched a new storyline and direction for Wonder Woman.

Designed by famed artist and current DC Comics co-publisher, Jim Lee, gone are Diana's star-spangled trunks, red and white striped boots, silver bracelets and golden eagle covered red brassiere replaced instead by dark, tight pants, a modified red top with gold accents around the top and bottom, a choker, a thinner circlet, golden bracelets and a blue jacket with a smattering of stars printed on the shoulders.

Wonder Woman is not a stranger to wardrobe changes, having gone through several over the decades and it is more likely that this outfit will only be a temporary change that lasts until the end of this current storyline. And while it makes sense for a character - specifically a woman since females tend to be more fashionable than men, especially in entertainment - to have multiple versions of an outfit and we have already seen this being done by Wonder Girl Cassie Sandsmark who uses both a long-sleeved sweater and a tank top as parts of her outfit, I cannot help but think this is a step in trying to make Wonder Woman more accessible to markets outside the USA.

There can be no denying that Diana's classic outfit has specific American themes in it, with the red, white and blue along with the stars (her trunks) and stripes (her boots). This new outfit tones down those details and while she may resemble a biker chick now more than an amazon warrior there is a clear toning down of the more objectionable elements of her uniform that were at times sexualized. Now her appearance may seem edgier but in actuality covers more skin and makes Wonder Woman an easier figure to push as a figure for all ages.

While the changes are most likely temporary, hopefully for Wonder Woman it gives her character a push among the mainstream because otherwise she has the danger of falling from her spot as one of DC Comics' main characters. In recent years it has become obvious that her position with Batman and Superman was more in name than in actual power given the numerous Batman and Superman projects that have been developed in other media besides comic books while Wonder Woman only has the 1970's TV show starring Lynda Carter to her credit.

New attempts to get a Wonder Woman movie have been made especially with the new iterations of Superman and Batman films but it never came to pass with script after script getting optioned but never put into production. It has gotten to the point where plans for a Wonder Woman movie have been shelved while other characters get their time on the silver screen: a Green Lantern movie will be released next summer and a Flash movie is on the road to production, not to mention a new Batman and Superman film set to be made in the next few years.

She has had moments of success in the vast DC Animated Universe, starring in several series, straight-to-DVD films and even had her very own origin film in 2009. But that does not seem enough to stave off the inevitable. DC recently released the image of their 75th anniversary logo and much to the dismay of Wonder Woman fans everywhere she was nowhere to be found. It was a big surprise given that DC has promoted their trinity of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman for decades as their main characters but now the proof of Wonder Woman's decline and the rise of stature of The Flash and Green Lantern - thanks to Geoff Johns - came with their inclusion on the logo and her exclusion.

While I am sure their inclusion was probably aided by the fact that each has upcoming movies and Wonder Woman doesn't, it is a blow for a legendary character that has been in the pages of comic books for nearly 70 years. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel that is bringing some hope for fans of DC's Amazon Princess.

News broke earlier this month that a Wonder Woman TV show may be in the works for the near future. David E. Kelley ("Ally McBeal", "The Practice") is close to signing a deal to write and produce a new series starring Wonder Woman for Warner Bros. television. With Smallville coming to an end next spring, there will be a void needed to be filled for a DC property on TV and this might be the role Wonder Woman needs to be rejuvenated for a mass audience.

There is that nagging problem that many things could go wrong with such a show, especially if it is made into a show on the CW network. I would hate to see the character reduced to just another female lead in a CW drama. Of course, the CW's roots in the WB did create the phenomenon that was Buffy, so there is a chance of success if done right. One thing for sure is it will be a high risk, high reward opportunity but for Wonder Woman fans it might be just the chance they have been waiting for.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Wonder Woman themed picspam.

Monday, October 18, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Bruce Wayne - The Road Home: Batman and Robin #1 (Review)

Written by Fabian Nicieza
Pencils by Cliff Richards
Cover by Shane Davis & Barbara Ciado

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

Five weeks ago, when Batman #703 made it to the top of the stack, I thought it was an excellent start to the "Bruce Wayne - The Road Home" Batman event and now that the first set of books involved with the event came out this week it quickly became clear that the quality of the event would overcome the slowness of the yet to end The Return of Bruce Wayne mini-series and in particular, this issue which happens to have the same creative team that I liked so much from Batman #703. Fabian Nicieza handles the writing duties of Red Robin but again shows that he can write Dick Grayson as Batman very well.

The background story for the event can only be partially filled by reading the issues. With The Return of Bruce Wayne mini-series having yet to end, readers are still clueless to the circumstances around Bruce's reintroduction to the DC Universe and Gotham but clearly not everyone knows he is back and this event is about him investigating first hand how those around him got on without him around and whether there was still a place for him among them and if he was needed.

What made this issue stick out to me from the other Road Home event books that were also spectacular with Stephanie standing up to Bruce in the Batgirl issue and the synchronicity of Tim and Bruce fighting crime despite all that time apart was the observation that Dick and Damian as Batman and Robin exceeded Bruce's expectations of him and the continued pushing of Vicki Vale as a thorn in the side of the Bat Family, determined to uncover the truth. I am hoping that this is DC's way of bringing back Vicki Vale to a prominent role in the Bat Universe to a comparable level of Lois in the Superman Universe.

Shane Davis drew the cover and the interiors were handled by Cliff Richards. Both have styles that are not usually typical for Batman books that tend to be dark and grim but they brought an energy that I think represents the direction DC should head toward a brighter, more adventurous universe.

So far the Road Home event is 4 for 4 with the issues I've read, but with the next few issues dealing with more supporting than main Bats like Commissioner Gordon and Catwoman and the end of the Return of Bruce Wayne mini-series still yet to arrive there are still more questions than answers in the city of Gotham.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Batman themed picspam.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

FILM: Marvel Movie Surge (Commentary)

On July 14, 2000, when the first X-Men movie was released into theaters there was no expectation for the comic book movie market that had been dormant outside of a handful of Batman movies over the previous ten plus years to explode. Yet we sit here ten years later finding multiple comic book releases flooding into cineplexes with Marvel out in front leading the charge.

While DC and Warner Bros are only just starting to rev up their movie adaptations of DC stories (Green Lantern, Superman 6 and Batman 3 on the way), Marvel has three comic book films coming in the summer of 2011: Thor in May, X-Men: First Class in June, and Captain America: The First Avenger in July.

All three are from Marvel's big name franchises, the first movie for both Thor and Captain America (not counting the 1990 direct-to-video Captain America movie that I have enjoyed in the past) and the fifth movie under the X-Men banner. These are safe bets to garner a mainstream audience and with the rising ticket prices all should easily cross $200 million domestically in the U.S.

But for every The Dark Knight, there is also a Jonah Hex, where a smaller and even more niche comic book franchise gets greenlit into a film and the quality of the product begins to wane in an attempt to change the material enough to get a mainstream audience to even look at the film.

Marvel has had their own misfires (Elektra, Punisher: War Zone) and with a solid decade of having produced a steady stream of Marvel films, including three Spider-Man movies (a fourth is on the way), two Fantastic Four movies (a third/reboot movie is being talked about) and the previously mentioned four X-men films (with fifth out in 2011), Marvel has widened their adapting gaze at their entire comic book library and as a result I fear audiences are in store for some films from smaller books that won't have the built-in brand name audience to support their creation.

Instead because of the interconnected universe that is created with comic book companies like Marvel, it would be a better idea to introduce the movie adaptations of these smaller characters by making them a part of a much bigger film. Marvel did this smartly already with the Fantastic Four sequel, where instead of giving Silver Surfer his own film that would probably not do well as the character has not been able to even support his own solo title with this generation, they took the character and his story and made it the defining tale to be told in the Fantastic Four film, surrounding the newcomer with characters the public already knew and loved.

Marvel President Kevin Feige has talked about possible movies with Iron Fist, the Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy, all titles not starring top tier characters of the Marvel universe and I have to think that it would be best for some of these characters to be introduced in other Marvel films (like Black Widow was in Iron Man 2) and even then the subsequent films should be created as films solely on their own merit and the inclusion of the superhero should be secondary with absolutely no need to focus exclusively on the character's origin unless its ancillary.

I know that the Avengers movie has been cast and moving towards production but with this being a Marvel movie-centric commentary I wanted to mention my idea for dealing with the problems Marvel had with Edward Norton. Now Marvel merely recast the role for the Avengers movie but with my love for continuity between films and the fact that they had already recast the character once in the last five years I would have liked for them to have gone in a different direction.

That direction being exchanging the Hulk's spot in the Avengers with his just as gamma-radiated cousin, She-Hulk. Bringing in Jennifer Walters would give movie audiences a different perspective to the powers and prison of the Hulk, and it would help balance out the male to female character ration that is awfully lopsided for the Avengers film. In the way that James Cameron and Avatar made giant blue women attractive, Marvel could have used similar technology to bring everyone's favorite green gal to the screen and be visually appealing at the same time.

Unfortunately that is a path that was not chosen and with how much trouble Marvel has had with the Hulk franchise, I can't see another Hulk film in the foreseeable future let alone a chance to introduce She-Hulk, unless they decide to go that route in following Avengers or S.H.I.E.L.D. films. Either way, next summer will be a good measuring tape for Marvel's movies and whether there can be such a thing as overexposure in the movie industry.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Marvel themed picspam.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Toy Story #7 (Review)

Written by Jake Black
Pencils by Diego Jourdan
Cover by Diego Jourdan

Publisher: BOOM Kids! (BOOM! Studios)
Price: $2.99

All ages books have always had a place in my reading lists and the amount of titles that fit that criteria has grown in recent years. With a week of comic books that seemed to lack headlining titles due to last month having five weeks in it, it was the perfect opportunity for an all ages book to jump into the spotlight and Toy Story #7 from the BOOM Kids! line of BOOM! Studios did just that.

Delays have put this book under the radar, but with the Toy Story 3 movie still fresh in my mind I have kept an eye out for the title and with this issue I am glad I did. Issue seven was written by Jake Black, who like the book is under the radar despite having written issues for a number of comic book titles ("Tales of the TMNT", "Spongebob Squarepants") over the last half of the decade.

In this issue Andy's toys decide to stage their own campfire campout while Andy is off at a sleepover. Woody does his best to recreate what he remembers from the time Andy took him along to Cowboy Camp and that means campfire songs and scary stories. Each toy gets a turn to tell their version of a scary story but it is an unlikely toy that gives the other toys a fright.

As entertaining and true to the characters the story was, it was the wonderful art that put the comic at the top of the stack. The interiors and cover were drawn by Diego Jourdan, a veteran of drawing licensed characters including the Finding Nemo book that is also a part of the BOOM Kids! line of BOOM! Studios. His simple, cartoon style works well with an animated property book giving the title a cute, friendly look that is visually appealing upon sight.

While this is the first time Toy Story has made it to the top of the stack that has more to do with the release schedule than the quality of the series. That is why I am fine with the possibility of this just being a fill-in issue because Jesse Blaze Snider's stories have been just as fun. BOOM! has done a bang-up job with their licensed properties and I recommend picking up any of these titles to read because they are all gems worth the look.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Toy Story themed picspam.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

FILM: Rebooting Spider-Man (Commentary)

This December filming starts on the next film of the Spider-Man franchise. Gone is Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and the Sam Raimi-inspired emo-dancing. Coming in is Marc Webb ("500 Days of Summer") to direct and a new cast of actors to play the characters of a Spider-Man universe that is being rebooted back to high school.

When it comes to playing a role in a franchise that is looking to make three to four films in the span of a decade, it takes casting a youthful actor that will stay at a believable age during the run of movies. That became a noticeable problem in Spider-Man 3 where Tobey Maguire was 32 at its release and it showed, making the idea of Peter Parker being just out of college harder to pull off.

That was why I was surprised when of all the young teen and early twenty-something actors that were rumored to be cast as Spider-Man that actor Andrew Garfield ("The Social Network") was chosen for the role. He has the boyish good looks to pull off a late teen version of Peter Parker right now, but at the age of twenty-seven he is already two years older than Tobey Maguire was in the first Spider-Man and production has not even started on the new movie yet. I fear that it will be inevitable that Garfield will start to look older than the part calls for as the eventual sequels come to be.

While I might be worried about that casting decision, news on another role being filled broke in the last week with Emma Stone ("Easy A") being cast as Peter Parker's high school sweetheart, Gwen Stacy and I could not be more thrilled with the decision. She will be just twenty-two once filming starts and has a smile that can light up the room. Webb has even said Emma is a natural blonde which should help quell some of the questions the public had since many thought she would be perfect for the role of Mary Jane Watson, a character that is rumored to also be in the new reboot.

If MJ is in the first movie - she definitely will be in sequels I am sure - then the casting of that role should be one of the next news stories to come out of the films, along with the casting of Peter Parker's best friend, Harry Osborn. Some might question the rushing of another set of Spider-Man films so close to the last three and while some of the reasoning might have to do with Sony wanting to keep the movie rights away from the now up and running Marvel film studio that didn't exist when the first Spider-Man trilogy was started but in the end the success of this reboot will come down to the quality of the story and the ability of the cast and director to sell it to an audience.

And sometimes just a brand - like Marvel or Spider-Man - will bring people in. Spider-Man 3 was not the most critically acclaimed movie but it still made a successful box office take in its run. We will just have to wait and see.

The new Spider-Man movie swings into theaters on July 3, 2012.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Spider-Man themed picspam.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

FILMonBLU-RAY: Prince of Persia - The Sands of Time (Review)

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
2010 - Disney
Released on Blu-Ray & DVD on September 14, 2010

# of Discs: 3 (Blu-Ray, DVD + Digital Copy)
Runtime: 116 minutes

Dastan is an adopted prince of the Persian empire but must flee into the desert after being accused of murdering his father, the king. However, he is not alone and is accompanied by the beautiful priestess Tamina, who after having her city invaded is focused on delivering a glass-handled dagger to safety. That dagger happens to be in Dastan's possession and holds powerful time-manipulating magic. Danger and deceit lie ahead for the unexpected duo, as they try to make right what has gone terribly wrong.

Dastan and Tamina's adventure for the truth leads them to some exciting moments and equally interesting characters. The city of Alamut that Tamina presides over is beautifully designed and the scale of it is jaw-dropping when shown on the screen. Their journey leads them to the Valley of Slaves where they meet the unique Sheik Amar and his knife-throwing accomplice, Seso. There Tamina gets to experience being a waitress and they witness Ostrich races. But perhaps the most majestic scene is the path Dastan and Tamina take to Sandglass caves, the destruction of the underground tunnel and Dastan's escape from danger brings comparisons to Aladdin and the Cave of Wonders.

The era of poorly designed extras in DVDs is apparently not over and has leaked over into Blu-Ray with this release. There is a disturbing lack of accessibility to the special features from the menu system. The only way to get to the extras on the disc is to rewatch the entire film but from a special selection in the menu where the extras pop up throughout the film an become watchable at that time. Normally I do not mind having the option of viewing the movie with the extras but when it is the only way to see the extras it rubs me the wrong way.

My viewing experience was plagued with the problems of having a bad disc that froze, jumped back and had the video/audio unsync. Exchanging the disc and updating my blu-ray player's firmware did help the problem and make the second viewing a much more pleasant experience. That said, it is a fun, adventure film with enough action and mystery throughout the story to keep viewers enthralled and has a stellar cast: Jake Gyllenhaal ("Brokeback Mountain"), Gemma Arterton ("Quantum of Solace"), Ben Kingsley ("Shutter Island") and Alfred Molina ("The Sorcerer's Apprentice"); All together they are worth watching in their own right. Even with the viewing troubles I had with the first disc I had purchased I could not help but enjoy the quality of the movie, easily worth a rental at the very least.

Look to buy the Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Blu-Ray/DVD Combo over at Amazon for only $18.99.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Gotham City Sirens #16 (Review)

Written by Peter Calloway
Pencils by Andres Guinaldo
Cover by Guillem March

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

Gotham City Sirens has been a title I have tried to make into a guilty pleasure but my lack of satisfaction with the stories have kept it from attaining my status. That said, I have continued to check out the series every few issues or so hoping that I would get a story that excelled with the Sirens characters.

So it was a pleasant surprise when in a week with solid issues of Star Wars: Blood Ties and Justice Society of America, Gotham City Sirens stepped up to the plate and hit a home run with it's newest issue making it easy to select it as the comic at the top of the stack.

Writer Peter Calloway has written for a few TV series - including an episode for the new CW Hellcats series - as well as some comic books, including Joker's Asylum II: The Riddler #1 which he was previously teamed up with Andres Guinaldo, the artist on this issue of Sirens.

In this issue readers are treated to a hazy reunion between Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne and it takes the length of the issue to understand the context behind the meeting. Once again, Selina's knowledge of Bruce's identity as Batman is the crux of the story and it's up to the other Sirens to save her from whoever is after that secret. What made the story so appealing to me is that Calloway made use of the book's place in the DC Universe and brought in other females from the Bat Family, like Zatanna and Talia al Ghul.

The original series artist Guillem March drew the cover and while I was not a fan of his interiors I think covers are the perfect place for his style. The interiors were done by Andres Guinaldo who has been on the book for several issues now but is only now beginning to express the art of the book in his own style and it is a change for the better.

With Dini off the book, and Calloway starting off his run on Sirens with a pretty solid first effort, I am looking forward to seeing this book gain some stability and start a streak of solid stories readers will enjoy seeing these characters in. Let us hope that Calloway gets a chance to move this book in the right direction and that readers will be willing to give Gotham City Sirens a second glance with this creative team behind it now.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Sirens themed picspam.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

FILM: Star Wars 3D (News)

The Official Star Wars website posted today on Lucasfilm Ltd.'s announcement that the live-action Star Wars film saga will be converted into 3D.

Like the re-release that happened in the late nineties with the original trilogy due to the theater experience having changed, now with the emergence of 3D movies and over a decade after the start of the prequel trilogy it has come time for a new generation of fans (those currently enjoying the Clone Wars animated series on Cartoon Network) to experience the phenomenon that is Star Wars in theaters and for everyone the new experience of 3D visualization. The process will start with Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace scheduled to be released theatrically sometime in 2012.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Star Wars themed picspam.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Supergirl #56 (Review)

Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Jamal Igle & Jon Sibal
Cover by Amy Reeder & Richard Friend

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

This was one of those rare weeks where several titles stood out and wowed me when I read them, making it hard to choose one over them all. So it was even a surprise to me when I decided that Supergirl #56 was my favorite issue this week, considering how uneven I have felt about the title and all of the Superman Family books these days.

The creative team of writer Sterling Gates and artist Jamal Igle have been on the title for nearly two years now and are just starting to give the book an identity now that the Superman events are over. Gates is a relatively new writer on the comic book scene and I worried that some of my dissatisfaction with the title was due to the writer and not just the New Krypton events but this story arc is starting to soothe my fears about Gates' shaping of Supergirl.

I will be honest when I heard that Bizarro Supergirl was making her debut I was preparing for another story consisting of Supergirl's reputation getting dragged through the mud with the help of Cat Grant's biased reporting and Supergirl making mistakes and being 'sorry' about what she has done. Thankfully after the story zigged that way it then zagged away with this issue. Seeing Kara's concern for Bizarro Supergirl and wanting to do the right thing and return her to Bizarro World to make up for her mistakes during New Krypton and the familial bonding she sees between the Bizarros and the parallel she makes to herself and Superman was wonderful to read.

I have been critical of Jamal Igle's art on Supergirl in the past but that was before I had the chance to see his art elsewhere. It was then that I realized that it was not his pencils that I did not like but a combination of the inking and coloring of the Supergirl book. This issue did not have any of the problems I usually have with the art and instead it contributed to the fun feel of the story, something I hope continues in the title.

And of course I could not forget to mention the lovely cover by Amy Reeder. I have been a fan of her art since I first saw it in the pages of Madame Xanadu and with that title coming to an end I am happy to see her get work within the main DC Universe books. Her style is perfect for Supergirl and I know she will be doing work on the upcoming Batwoman series but I also hope she gets a chance to fill-in for Igle every now and then on the interiors of Supergirl.

Hopefully this issue is an example of things to come with Supergirl now that the World of Krypton mess that had plagued the Superman books for the last two years is firmly in the rear view mirror. The humor and fun in this issue reminded me slightly of reading the Powergirl book during Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray's run.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Supergirl themed picspam.

Friday, September 24, 2010

FILM: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Trailer Breakdown (Commentary)

This past Wednesday, the newest trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 was released and I thought I would go ahead and try to point out some of what the trailer shows and what part of the story it is from. Spoilers ahead. Enjoy!

0:11 - Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour talking to the press. Has to be early in the film. Given that the last film opened up at the Ministry, I would not be opposed for this to be one of the opening scenes.

0:15 - The White Tomb. One of many things ignored in the adaptation of the book it was introduced that will be presented in these final two films.

0:24 - Shell Cottage. The way that shot of Ron is, I can imagine this being part of the end montage of Part 1, where perhaps the situation everyone is represented with this ending shot and presumably Hermione and Harry are just off picture about to be seen.

0:28 - Godric's Hollow Cemetery. Harry and Hermione by the Potter's headstone, they will have seen the Peverell stone either before or after and I really hope that the film includes the statue of the Potters with baby!Harry.

0:35 - Mirror shard. Like the White Tomb, will be introduced in this film instead. I expect them to skip the whole Sirius plotline of it and instead will be something found at Grimmauld Place and perhaps Harry breaks it in frustation that Dumbledore's dead then sees a flash of something.

0:45 - The approach to Malfoy Manor, probably the start of the film much like the start of the book. Followed by the meeting with Voldemort. I imagine that the hanging Muggle Studies teacher will not make it into the film.

0:48 - The Ministry with Scrimgeour's replacement (and Voldemort puppet) Pius Thicknesse laying down the new ways of Wizard life.

0:54 - Nagini. With an actual actress cast for Bathilda Bagshot, I wonder how that scene will go down in Godric's Hollow. That bite at the screen, would make a perfect way to go from the opening scene of the film to the title screen.

1:00 - Harry, Ron and Hermione Apparating into the city after the Weasley wedding is attacked.

1:05 - The Seven Potters scene. Looks like it's going to be hilarious.

1:08 -
The wedding at the Burrow. Nice to see that the fiery explosions from the Half-Blood Prince movie didn't take long for the Weasleys to recover from. Love the layout of the property that can be seen clearly, even the pond.

1:11 - Shacklebolt's Patronus. I don't know how i feel about it, I wish the animal was more distinct than what appears to be a glowing ball.

1:16 - Looks like Harry is going after Ginny before Remus stops him and reminds him that HE is the one the Death Eaters are after so he must go now.

1:19 - Harry and Hagrid on the motorbike just after the seven potters scene.

1:21 - Harry, Hermione and Ron being chased in the forest. This is one moment that I've had a hard time placing, I am guessing that those are the snatchers chasing them.

1:25 - Harry, Hermione and Ron at Grimmauld Place. I assume the whirling smoke is becoming the protection Dumbledore left there.

1:27 - Ginny and Harry either at the Burrow, Tonks home or Shell Cottage. I imagine that they will be adding her character to certain moments to give her more screen time.

1:28 - Thestrals being chased by Voldemort. From the Seven Potters scene.

1:37 - Dobby. Most likely the Malfoy Manor scene.

1:43 - Bill and Fleur on a thestral.

1:45 - Harry, Hermione and Ron escaping from the Ministry. From when they polyjuice in to get Slytherin's locket which Umbridge has.

1:49 - Death Eaters converge on the Lovegood home. When Luna's dad sells out the trio to try to save his daughter.

1:53 - "Help me." The trio has just arrived at Shell Cottage after being saved from Malfoy Manor and Dobby is dying.

1:57 - Ron swinging the Sword of Gryffindor down on the apparition that emerged from the Horcrux.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Harry Potter themed picspam.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

COMIC: Introducing Chloe Sullivan (Commentary)

Comic book reading Smallville fans have been clamoring for years for DC Comics to find a way for the TV series' beloved original character, Chloe Sullivan, to become immortalized in the pages of the Superman comics the show was based off of. This year that wish will finally come true as Chloe makes her DC Universe comic debut in Action Comics #893 out next week on September 29th. TV Guide has a first look.

Chloe will be part of the Jimmy Olsen-centric back-up feature in Action Comics issues written by Nick Spencer and drawn by R.B. Silva. To fit her into a universe she was never a part of before Smallville created her ten years ago, her character's continuity has been tweaked from the show's universe and readers can only assume we will be given clarity to the extent of the changes in the issues over time.

I, for one have been supportive of the idea of bringing Chloe Sullivan to the DCU proper but I would have been just as acceptable of her staying only on the Smallville show because her friendship and support of Clark has been a big part of what the show is about. To bring her into the DCU as the exact same character and with the history of Smallville would be nearly impossible because in the decades of Superman comics continuity, that role of Clark's best friend and supporter during his formative years in issues of Superboy was filled by Pete Ross and Lana Lang.

Retcons or Retroactive continuity, are prevalent in the world of comic books and could be done in this case but the Superman mythos is so old and well known that there is a careful balance that needs to be used when the story needs to be tweaked to fit the new circumstances around the character. This was done partially in the recent Superman: Secret Origin six issue mini-series by Geoff Johns where in one of the early issues when the story was still in Clark's boyhood days of Smallville, Pete Ross had a cast on his arm and there was a partially hidden signature of "Chloe S". It wasn't blatant but fans of Chloe and Smallville would recognize what it was, a nod to the character.

The problem with introducing Chloe Sullivan, a character vital to Clark's maturity from teen hero to adult savior, into the Superman universe is that in the comics Clark has been beyond his Smallville days for decades. Most writers find it difficult to write Superman, and outside of the recent development of the last few years his supporting cast gets little to no focus in the stories. To now add a character that was a close friend to Clark would make no sense given that Jimmy Olsen has had the 'Superman's Best Friend' role since forever ago and Lois Lane, who is Superman's wife, barely gets any panel pages of her own.

So I can understand the need to tweak Chloe to have her character make sense in the modern DCU. But there is importance to stay true to her character and it looks like writer Nick Spencer is attempting to do just that, saying in the TV Guide interview that "[Chloe] is a very successful and dedicated reporter and a major player in Metropolis." It's great to see that DC agrees with my thinking that the Daily Planet has room for more than one Lane/Sullivan reporter at the same time, I only wish Smallville had felt the same way.

My only problem with the Chloe integration is that the feeling I get is that she will be much closer to Jimmy Olsen than Clark Kent. The latter would probably be high reaching and impossible to make sense but if done well would still be satisfactory to everyone. I'm hoping at the very least Chloe will eventually get integrated with the rest of the Daily Planet staff and will have cameos/scenes where she interacts with Clark, Lois, Ron, Cat, Jimmy and Perry at the Planet.

Now that Chloe in the comics is shortly about to become reality, my idea of introducing her will never come to be but I thought I would share it here anyway. My idea had Chloe still living in Smallville, much like Pete Ross currently is, and that perhaps some accident had happened during Clark's Superboy years to Chloe that kept her from continuing on with her Daily Planet dreams and Clark felt guilty about it and avoided her thinking she blamed him. Lois and her keep in touch, and Chloe ended up as a Smallville High counselor and advisor for the Torch.

Then with the upcoming Superboy title I would have her be a main part of the supporting cast as Conner's mentor/confidant as he has his adventures in Smallville and she with mutual experience with Clark and Lex would be another perspective on Conner's struggles with his roots. And she would be a nice visitor/friendly face for Martha Kent now that Jonathan is gone ... again.

Either way, I look forward to Chloe's Action Comics debut and I hope her character is treated with the respect she deserves so that fans of Smallville and Chloe will check it out and not be disappointed.

NOTE: For those of you that are not on Android for your mobile consumption, I hear that DC Comics' Comixology iPhone/iPad app is currently offering the first ten page Jimmy Olsen backup story (with Chloe's debut) for free in their store.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Titans themed picspam.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Tiny Titans #32 (Review)

Written by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani
Art by Art Baltazar
Cover by Art Baltazar

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

Tiny Titans is a consistent favorite read of mine every month and in a week with no clear runaway comic it felt like the perfect time for the series to get its time in the spotlight. Co-writer Art Baltazar is probably best known before Tiny Titans for his creater-owned comics like Patrick the Wolf Boy and besides Tiny Titans is also co-writing another of DC's kid friendly titles, Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! with his Tiny Titans co-writer Franco Aureliani.

Every issue is a collection of short stories that can either be connected under a central theme of the issue or stand on their own. At times the stories will introduce classic DC characters to the Tiny Titans universe or have some fun calamity happen to the already gigantic cast of the comic. In this issue, Kalibak makes his introduction into the series as the kid of Lunch Lady Darkseid.

The art of Tiny Titans and the cover are all done by the skillful Art Baltazar. His style is so visually appealing and a perfect compliment to the friendly fun of Tiny Titans. Every character and animal in the book are transformed into near cartoon like appearances that help immerse the reader more into the world of Tiny Titans. The Titans go to Sidekick City Elementary School where Slade (Deathstroke) is the Principal, and Darkseid is the lunch lady.

I do not think there is any stopping the wonderful momentum this series has and I look forward to many more issues to read. If you have not read Tiny Titans before, I suggest giving it a shot because you will immediately fall in love with its fun spirit. I can not wait to see what DC storyline will be next to be interpreted into the style of Tiny Titans.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Titans themed picspam.

Friday, September 17, 2010

FILM: Voice Cast of All Star Superman (News)

THR's Heat Vision blog announced the cast of actors lending their voice to the next animated film by Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Home Video emanating from the story lines in DC Comics pages.

In All Star Superman, the Man of Steel will be played by James Denton ("Desperate Housewives"), Christina Hendricks ("Mad Men") is Lois Lane, and Anthony LaPaglia ("Without a Trace") is Superman's nemesis, Lex Luthor.

DC Entertainment continues its trend of casting new voices to play their signature characters like Superman that tend to be featured in multiple films. Adapted from the twelve issue mini-series written by Grant Morrison ("Batman and Robin") and drawn by Frank Quitely ("Batman and Robin") it will be interesting to see what the film keeps from the comic book which basically tells the 'final adventure' of Superman when he finds out that he is dying.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Superman themed picspam.