Tuesday, August 31, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Star Wars: Blood Ties #1 (Review)

Written by Tom Taylor
Art by Chris Scalf
Cover by Chris Scalf

Publisher: Dark Horse
Price: $3.50

This week there were several highly anticipated big name comic books released but it was a mini-series from Dark Horse under the Star Wars brand that rose to the top of the stack. Star Wars: Blood Ties #1 is a mini-series centered around everyone's favorite father/son bounty hunter duo of Jango Fett and Boba Fett. Tom Taylor is the writer of this series as well as another Star Wars title for Dark Horse, Star Wars: Invasion.

This issue starts the tale in the time of the Clone Wars with Jango Fett and his son/young clone, Boba, in tow. We are treated to a dangerous training lesson that Jango teaches Boba before Jango is sent on a mission by Count Dooku that leads to a last page reveal that leaves the reader with questions that seem obvious in hindsight but were never brought up before this issue.

The art and cover is by Chris Scalf, who does a great job of modeling the characters of Jango and Boba after their movie counterparts. I am sure this probably is due to Lucas obtaining likeness rights, but one of the best things about Star Wars is the recognition of its characters from different mediums. I could take a panel with Jango or Boba and easily imagine it coming from the Clone Wars cartoon series.

I normally don't seek out 'villain' focused books but with it being Star Wars and the Fetts more of hitmen than outright villains this was a book I was interested in reading and I am glad I did so. For being ancillary characters in the movies, the Fetts stir a great interest from fans and it is nice to see them getting their own time in the spotlight. This book should do them justice.

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

Thursday, August 26, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Darkwing Duck #3 (Review)

Written by Ian Brill
Art by James Silvani
Cover by Giorgio Cavazzano & Joe Macasocol Jr.

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Price: $3.99

The world of licensed properties is one full of hit and misses as companies try to capitalize on the popularity of a brand and turn it into a multimedia franchise. When it comes to comics made for licensed properties the likelihood of the new stories reaching a similar quality as the original product is higher than other forms of media. BOOM! Studios is one comic publishing company that has its own line of licensed books and has done a great job of keeping the spirit of the licenses in the books.

In a week where readers said goodbye to Star Wars Legacy with its final issue and several Avengers books came out - seems like every week these days - it was a book created around the early nineties Disney cartoon, Darkwing Duck, that captured my imagination.

In this third issue our hero Drake Mallard has returned to his old Darkwing costume and is reunited with his sidekick pilot Launchpad McQuack. They cross paths with the remaining villains of the Fearsome Five: Bushroot, Megavolt, Quackerjack and the Liquidator but another classic Darkwing villain returns as the mastermind behind Quackwerks is revealed.

The story stays true to the spirit of the show and the art of the book keeps to the style of the characters and is a true representation of the tv show in comic book form. The artist, James Silvani has a knack for making the book feel and look like the classic show we all remember.

Fans of the show are still out there and that became clearly visible when BOOM! announced that this series which was originally planned to be a four issue mini was being turned into an ongoing due to the demand. That is exciting news for readers because Darkwing Duck is another successful example of a classic show finding new life in a new media of comic books. Keep reading, you won't be disappointed and let's get dangerous!

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

Saturday, August 21, 2010

TV: Wishlist for Smallville S10 (Commentary)

Smallville's 10th and final season premieres next month on the CW. Before that happens this Smallville fan would like to present a 10 wish countdown to what would make season 10 a memorable one and create a fitting end to the decade-long series.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

CON: Celebration V Highlights (News)

Last weekend down in Orlando, Florida sci-fi geeks from around the world came together at the Orange County Convention Center to enjoy the Star Wars mania at Celebration V.

Here is some of the interesting news events to come out of CV:

--On Thursday, there was the 'Thirty Years Later: A Conversation with the Masters' panel starring George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Lawrence Kasdan, and John Williams as they looked back at the making of Empire Strikes Back.
--The first look of the Droid 2 R2-D2 edition was released just in time for Celebration V.
--Del Rey had a teaser cover on the exhibit floor for the next Fate of the Jedi book, Ascension. And at their panel Del Rey talked about the future of Star Wars books.
--Merchandise for female geeks was well represented at Celebration V with the Her Universe booth.
--During the Main Event with George Lucas, it was announced that the Star Wars series would be coming to Blu-ray in 2011.
--With Knights of the Republic and Legacy coming to an end, Dark Horse held a panel foretelling the future of Star Wars comics.
--For the continuity geeks out there, 'The Dark Side Clouds Everything' Panel talked about The Clone Wars and the continuity around it and how it relates to the existing continuity.
--At CV Hallmark continued its strong support of the Star Wars brand.
--TheForce.net covered the packed Clone Wars Season 3 panel (with video clips).

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

Sunday, August 15, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Zatanna #4 (Review)

Written by Paul Dini
Art by Chad Hardin & Wayne Faucher
Cover by Stephane Roux

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

Despite the numerous amount of comic books that come out every week, the number of books that focus on a female lead character are very few. To have a successful title starring a heroine is a tough climb with many obstacles like figuring out the target audience for the book and if that audience exists to support it. DC has made a consistent effort to push female led books and right now might by the golden era for such content with titles like Birds of Prey, Power Girl, Supergirl, Batgirl, and now Zatanna available in comic shops every month.

In a week that saw two particular comic books rise to the top of the stack, I thought Zatanna #4 deserved recognition for the sheer quality that has consistently been a part of the book since it's debut. Writer Paul Dini is no stranger to DC and has written some great stories in Detective Comics in years past and currently is the scribe to Batman: Streets of Gotham and two ancillary Batbooks: Gotham City Sirens and Zatanna. His affinity for Zatanna shows in the issues as he creates a world of characters around her that bring credibility to the character as a hero and a magician.

The issues so far have been about establishing exactly who and what Zatanna battles against and why they would be targeting her - because of who she is and what she can do. A theme that has been common in other issues she has been in prior to the start of this series is the connection to her father and how that brings a mess of trouble her way more often than not. This issue we get a reminder of the bigger DCU she is in as she takes on the Royal Flush Gang while she is in Vegas.

The fantastic cover is drawn by series artist Stephane Roux who has done a magnificent job on the title with his style that looks beautiful but also flows so well in action moments. This issue was not drawn by him however, and it was not until I was looking at the credits for this review that I noticed it. That was how good of a job Hardin and Faucher did of following Roux's style to keep the look of the book consistent.

The knock on Dini at times has been that he spreads himself too thin to support the books he writes as we have seen with fill-in issues in both Streets of Gotham and Gotham City Sirens. But this Zatanna book has been a long time coming and seems to have his full focus as each issue has been captivating and entertaining. If it stays his focus this could become a must read title for everyone looking for a female centered series - a trend DC is developing in droves with their female-led books.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's picspam starring Zatanna.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

COMIC: Remembering Mike Wieringo (Commentary)

Three years ago today the world lost a talented soul in artist Mike Wieringo. He is probably best known for his work on DC Comics' The Flash and Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four books. He also drew on such books as DC's Robin, Adventures of Superman and for Marvel Wieringo was on several Spider-Man titles over the years.

There was also a creator-owned book, a fantasy series named Tellos that he started with Todd Dezago that was published by Image Comics. His style was so gorgeous to look at that he became one of my favorite artists and I once wanted to emulate his unique style when trying to become better at drawing.

His art had a sense of fun and energy to it that made it simply amazing when he got to draw Spider-Man, the Flash, or the Fantastic Four. It's hard to find but Marvel donated the script and seven pages of completed art Mike had finished before his death of a What if? story that was finished by many of his artist friends into: What If This Was the Fantastic Four: A Tribute to Mike Wieringo.

Mike Wieringo (1963-2007)

In honor of Mike Wieringo, check out GeekPlate's tumblr for today's picspam dedicated to his art.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Brightest Day #7 (Review)

Written by Geoff Johns & Peter Tomasi
Art by Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Ardian Syaf, Scott Clark & Joe Prado
Cover by David Finch

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

In recent years DC has revitalized the market of weekly published comics. It started with 52, continued with Countdown and Trinity before they took a breather and did a shorter weekly run with Wednesday Comics. Now, after the last event, Blackest Night, DC has started a bi-weekly run with the title spinning out of that event - Brightest Day. Behind the minds of Green Lantern and Blackest Night - Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi - Brightest Day focuses on the characters that were brought back to life and weaves a story among them that now nearly four months in is starting to come to fruition.

The first several issues were about the characters reacting to being back around and trying to get back to the lives they were living back before their deaths. All that time there was Boston Brand aka Deadman being pulled all across the Earth and galaxy by the power of the white ring that had appeared on his finger. In this issue, the power behind the white ring revealed itself and the reasons behind why it chose the characters it did were shown to readers and the characters themselves. And what seems to be in the future for this book looks to be life defining moments for these characters that will really show them how to live.

With a book that comes out more than once a month, the art chores have to be shared and DC split the work by each character's story so there are several artists every issue. And I have to say that the artwork on this book is superb, there is not a page that looks rushed at all, and the best thing is that the different looks and styles flow so well together that it is difficult to find any jarring pauses in the shifts between artists that sometimes plagues books. The cover by David Finch is just amazing and he has been a great addition to the DC titles. Fans of his will enjoy hearing that his own work will be gracing interiors soon in a new Batman book coming out this fall.

The future seems bright for this title, no pun intended but with Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi as the creative force running it I do not foresee a drop in quality during this title's run. Geoff has literally turned everything he has touched recently into gold and Tomasi wrote a great Nightwing run a few years ago and now is flourishing on the Green Lantern Corps book alongside Geoff's main Green Lantern title. This is a title readers should definitely check out especially now that the plot has certainly thickened.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr today for a picspam starring DC's Brightest Day characters.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

FILM: To Infinity and Beyond with Toy Story 3 (Review)

Toy lovers and Disney fans have reason to gather and celebrate one last time as the toys we grew up with give us an opportunity to say goodbye in "Toy Story 3."

Fifteen years after the original pioneered full length CG animated films, and eleven years after the sequel reminded us how much we loved these characters from Disney Pixar comes the final part of this unexpected trilogy with viewers returning to the lives of these toys right when Andy is getting ready to go to college and there are less toys around than there once was. The systemic formula plot of the franchise leads the toys away from Andy's house and the decisions and trip to get back there is the adventure of the film.

Majority of the recognizable cast of the film return for the third installment and there are some additions to it like Ken (Michael Keaton) introduced with his fabulous dreamhouse, the opposite to Barbie that was just made for her, and assistant to Lotso (Ned Beatty), the strawberry scented formerly huggable bear that had taken over Sunnyside Daycare and turned it into a prison for toys that he rules over.

The most glaring missing character would be Bo Peep, the nursery toy that was Woody's companion. Unfortunately what she was made it impossible for her to go traveling with the other toys in "Toy Story 2" (which was why she was only in the beginning and end of that movie) and made it impractical for her to be part of the toys that Andy passes on to Bonnie at the end of this movie. It is sad to think that her and Woody are separated forever but I like to think that they meet again in the future.

Advancement in technology over the span of the three films is in full glorious display in "Toy Story 3" especially with the scene where the toys are in danger at the trash dump and the thousands of pieces of debris that fill up the screen surrounding the toys. They've come a long way from the simple CG sets they made for the original film to gigantic worlds for the characters to explore onscreen.

With a runtime just over 100 minutes the film is perfectly balanced with fun, adventure, mystery, thrills and emotions to give viewers a well rounded movie-going experience. Fans of the franchise, animation, toys, childhood and just plain fun will enjoy the movie and like me be filled with happy tears as the credits roll.

Saying goodbye is one of the hardest things a person can do in their life and with "Toy Story 3" viewers are presented with the perfect timing to say goodbye to characters we have grown to love along with Andy while they say goodbye to him. The toys are safe with a new owner that will play with them and they will definitely have further adventures but for us it's the end of the ride.

We will just have to imagine it with our minds. To infinity and beyond.

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

Monday, August 2, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Thor: the Mighty Avenger #2 (Review)

Written by Roger Langridge
Art by Chris Samnee
Cover by Chris Samnee

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $2.99

Sometimes the downside to having published comics on a character for decades is that a history develops that can bog down said character and make it daunting for a new reader to jump on and try reading a book starring the character. Not to mention that most books that are part of a line get intermixed with other comics in that universe and it can just plain be confusing at times why a character is somewhere or doing something. That is why in a week where issues of Action Comics, Detective Comics, Fantastic Four, Wonder Woman and even Thor were released with an issue number of at least 500 deep, it was the perfect time for a book like Thor: The Mighty Avenger, that is disconnected from the current Marvel Universe and starring a legendary character in Thor with none of the continuity that is around his long-running comic to shine.

To my knowledge this is my first taste experiencing writer Roger Langridge's work, and through two issues he has produced a wide range of situations for Thor to be in without making it complicated to follow and more importantly the reader gets to know the basics about Thor, that he is a good guy trying to do the right thing in a world that is not his. Artist Chris Samnee's look for the book adds to the open, simple feel the story has without the heavy, over complication continuity can add to a title. His skill really shines when illustrating the magnificent moment of Thor reuniting with his hammer, to then later go to a sweet moment of Jane kissing Thor on the cheek while he is encumbered with a load of food he is about to eat and still have the same elegance to the art.

This second issue continues the story of Thor invading Jane Foster's life and defending her against the attention of a 'Mister Hyde' all the while trying to find out why he was in this world and how he can get back home to Asgard. It's clear that a connection is developing between Jane and Thor after he defended her virtue and with no home to go to I look for that bond to grow.

There is something about having such a small cast that really endears Thor and Jane to the reader and I am eager to see the further adventures (or misadventures) that come up now that Thor is around. Anyone looking for a superhero book should give Thor: The Mighty Avenger a chance because it's clear this is the start of something really great.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

FILM: 2010 SDCC News Highlights

Welcome to the last post detailing the events of last week where several industries traveled down to San Diego for a series of panels and interviews for fans that unveiled plans for the following year. Here's some of the interesting FILM news to come out of SDCC 2010:

--In conjunction with their panel at SDCC, Universal Pictures released the first official image of Cowboys & Aliens.
--At the Marvel Movie Panel, they assembled the Avengers, unveiled a teaser trailer for Captain America: The First Avenger, footage from Thor and discussions with all of the actors involved.
--Marvel opened the doors behind Odin's throne on the con floor to unveil the classic thor villain, the Destroyer.
--At the Tron: Legacy panel, an eight minute preview of the film was shown involving Sam's introduction to the Tron world and it was revealed that the film was shot in real 3D.
--There was a Green Lantern panel, where the cast talked in detail about next year's upcoming film.
--The trailer for the movie Red debuted, starring Bruce Willis, Karl Urban and Helen Mirren.