Wednesday, March 30, 2011

TV: NBC's Wonder Woman in Action With New Look (News)

Two weeks ago the first promotional shot of the new live-action incarnation of Wonder Woman for NBC's pilot came out to a mixed reaction from fans and observers alike. Fear not doubters, because it appears that NBC took notice.

During filming in the streets of Los Angeles last night, Adrianne Palicki and her stunt double were wearing a different Wonder Woman costume from the promo image, instead the pants were a darker blue and the boots were back to the signature red with the previous heels now non-existent. Early buzz on the change towards a more classic feel for the costume have been positive.

Check out GeekPlate's Tumblr for more Wonder Woman images from Tuesday's street shoot.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

TVonDVD: Case Closed Season One (Review)

Case Closed: Season One
1996/2004 (2009) - Funimation
Released on DVD on July 14, 2009

# of Discs: 4
Runtime: 600 minutes

Solving crimes can be a dangerous and deadly occupation but no one knows the detective game better than Jimmy Kudo. With a confidence grown from having no one outsmart him, Jimmy runs head on into a situation that finds him poisoned by a dastardly duo. Instead of death however, Jimmy finds himself shrunk back to his childhood body. Using a new persona, Conan Edogawa, to hide his identity, he finds a home with his best friend, Rachel Moore and helps her father, Detective Richard Moore solve crimes all the while trying to find more about the men in black that poisoned him.

Highlights of the season include the very first episode, "The Big Shrink", where the show introduces Jimmy Kudo, his brilliant deductive mind, his relationship with Rachel and ends with the series plot twist of how he becomes Conan Edogawa. The third episode, "Beware of Idols", introduces pop idol Yoko Okino to the series as well as Conan's voice-changing bow-tie that Conan uses to emulate Richard's voice when saving crimes and in that episode uses it to call Rachel as Jimmy and calm her worries.

The first two-part story of the series comes nearly midway through the season, "The Moonlight Sonata Murder Case", that has Conan, Rachel and Richard heading to Moon Light Island thanks to a letter from a famous pianist that has been dead for twelve years. There is another excellent two-parter near the end of the season and in a nice change of pace of the usual routine there are also episodes where Conan and his Detective League friends dominate the story, like "Kidnapped: Amy" where the three boys have to race across town chasing a car to save their girl friend from what seems to be a deadly fate.

Unfortunately when most anime series are put into season sets, nearly all of the extras - both on the discs and packaged with the single volume cases - are left out of the products. That is just one of the breaks with going for the affordable price of a season set over purchasing several single volumes. Outside of trailers for other anime series Funimation offers, the only "extras" in the set are a character and gadget spotlight on Conan Edogawa and his Super Sneakers. The spotlight is a very basic text summary along with an image, not much to talk about.

Fans of animation that also have a taste for mysteries or police shows will enjoy and be used to each episode having a new case to figure out with Conan along with the occasional two-part story. There is not much about the men in black in the first season but most of the main characters of the show are introduced in this initial set of episodes and the foundation that the rest of the series builds upon (still ongoing in Japan) is created. One of my favorite anime series by far and definitely at least worth checking out.

Look to buy the Case Closed Season One DVD set over at Amazon for only $18.99.
Check out GeekPlate's Tumblr for today's Case Closed/Detective Conan themed picspam.

Friday, March 25, 2011

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Ultimate Spider-Man #155 (Review)

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Chris Samnee
Cover by Oliver Coipel, Mark Morales & Laura Martin

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

Sometimes there are those weeks where nothing stands out from the pack and it was bound to happen to my reading stack like it did in this second week of March comic book releases. It was a very heavy DC week but neither contender this week came from the main DC line. A highlight was from Vertigo - a subsidiary of DC - with the second issue of Cinderella: Fables are Forever but having missed the first issue and being way behind on Fables in general, there was a lot of the story background that had me lost. That left the door open for Marvel's best offering, Ultimate Spider-Man #155, the prologue issue of the much hyped "Death of Spider-Man" storyline.

One hundred and fifty-five issues in and Brian Michael Bendis is still going strong with his legendary run on Ultimate Spider-Man. Artists have come and go (Bagley, Immonen, LaFuente) but Bendis has been the one constant throughout this re-imagining of the Spider-Man character.

In this issue readers are presented with a very frank conversation between Peter Parker and a humbled J. Jonah Jameson who knows Peter's alter ego and only wants to help. Peter's humility and true self as an honest teenage boy really shine through during their talk. Aunt May has raised a good boy. There is also the return of Kitty Pryde to the book, a character I really enjoyed during her earlier run with these characters and I hope she is around to stay. That part where Peter is pleading with Kitty not to run away again and that they are friends, emotional impact galore.

The cover is slightly ominous in tone in comparison to the variant cover by Pichelli and is probably a better representation of the upcoming conflict in the "Death of Spider-Man" story than specifically this calm before the storm issue. One thing that is great about the cover is Spider-Man looks like his Ultimate universe self, which is always the one big tossup when it comes to artists drawing in the Ultimate universe - whether they will will draw that version or lean towards the longer known 616 version of the character. And that brings me to the interior art, which for this issue is drawn by the fabulous Chris Samnee, who GeekPlate readers might recall was the artist on the short-lived but excellent Thor: The Mighty Avenger series. For the most part of the story, Samnee captures the characters and the spirit of the book perfectly, with the only nitpick being the difference in his version of Mary Jane to her Ultimate form. I do not mind the tweaking he did, because it was almost a perfect blend of all the MJ versions but it is noticeable.

Back when Ultimatum came around and rumors of Spider-Man's demise first came around I was actually fine with the idea of Peter Parker's story being done and maybe his female clone taking the mantle and becoming the first female Spider-Man and while it might be creepy she probably could have also slipped right in and taken over his Peter-side of life too. That did not happen and it leaves me to wonder where exactly the "Death of Spider-Man" story will go. I am not a fan of dark, unhappy moments and that was why I did not read the fairly recent issues when the Chameleon went around as Peter, and I likewise am not fond of stories falling short of expectations - looking at you DC's "Death of Oracle" arc - but I am hopeful that Bendis will once again pull a miracle and keep me reading this book and its fabulous characters.

Check out GeekPlate's Tumblr for today's Ultimate Spider-Man themed picspam.

Monday, March 21, 2011

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Brightest Day #21 (Review)

Written by Geoff Johns & Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason & Joe Prado
Cover by David Finch

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

After the avalanche of Marvel books in the prior week that led to a huge stack, the first week of March arrived with only a handful of titles waiting to be read at my leisure. There were still several heavy hitters in the stack including one of the better issues of Avengers Academy and previous top of the stack winners from Boom Studios!, Chip N' Dale Rescue Rangers and Darkwing Duck also had new issues out as well. But in the end, it was the overwhelming emotional impact in Brightest Day #21 as the series enters its final few issues that made it my choice for top of the stack.

Brightest Day's writing team of Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi have been guiding the book since it spinned out of DC's Blackest Night event and as a result the individual stories have stayed consistently cohesive and even begun to weave together leading to the clear climax of the title that is on the horizon.

With the end of the series in sight, the white power that Deadman wields - or really the white power that wields Deadman - in recent issues has started to collect from the characters it brought back to life: Firestar, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Aquaman - for what it claims is the greater good. That path continues in this issue as Martian Manhunter finally accomplishes what he was brought back to do, to stop being split on what he calls home, and it brings the white power calling. However, unlike the other heroes J'onn is prepared and goes readily in hopes that it is for the best.

Many of the transformations between the martians are bizarre and creature-like but the pages that feature humanoid Martian Manhunter are just amazing to behold, especially that two-page splash when his life is returned by the white power.

I do not know if Brightest Day will lead into Flashpoint but I am sure that there will be a new story to follow at the conclusion of this series. I am not usually one for patience when it comes to long storylines but the stellar quality of Brightest Day in the last half of issues have been more than enough to make me wait to see it through. I have not been this compelled to follow a more than monthly comic book like this since the days of 52, which also happened to have been partly written by Geoff Johns. To the finish.

Check out GeekPlate's Tumblr for today's Martian themed picspam.

Friday, March 18, 2011

TV: First look at NBC's Wonder Woman (News)

Following the news in January that NBC gave the go-ahead to a Wonder Woman pilot comes today the first released image of actress Adrianne Palicki in her full Wonder Woman glory.

The pilot has been filming this week in Los Angeles and actors Cary Elwes ("The Princess Bride") and Elizabeth Hurley ("Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me") have been cast for the show. Elwes playing the CEO of Diana's company, Themyscira Industries, and Hurley as an antagonist character running a pharmaceutical company creating a drug making users stronger.

As for the costume, it is not surprising that the show chose to stay away from the classic Wonder Woman look given that her comic book counterpart is currently wearing a different uniform as well. The NBC version does have some similarities to Diana's new comic outfit with the blue pants and the blue boots keep with the single color uniformity. The image does not give any sign if a jacket is part of the ensemble but I do think it would work if included.

The Wonder Woman TV show if picked up by NBC should premiere on the network this fall.

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

Thursday, March 17, 2011

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Secret Avengers #10 (Review)

Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Mike Deodato & Will Conrad
Cover by Mike Deodato & Rain Beredo

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

The last week of February brought another huge stack of comics to read with more Marvel books than I usually find, which is always refreshing. Several previous top of the stack winners had issues come out, including Detective Comics, Fantastic Four, Secret Avengers and Star Wars: Legacy - War so it was not surprising that the latter two books were contenders to be at the top of this week's stack. And while the new issue of the Star Wars: Legacy - War mini-series was solid, in the end it was the consistent quality of my favorite current Avengers book to read that put Secret Avengers #10 over the top.

Ed Brubaker has been the writer for Secret Avengers since its inception and in that time has produced a solidly entertaining story with a well thought out team put around Steve Rogers where you see each character do their part to contribute into the overall success of the team. The mix of action, mystery, romance and humor bring a level of simple complexity to the book that I do not find in any of the other Avengers titles.

This issue was the conclusion of the story arc involving the attempted resurrection of Shang-Chi's father by the Hai-Dai and the opposition of John Steele and the wacky life model decoy of Nick Fury, Max. There were some great moments in the issue, like Moon Knight's signal to the Secret Avengers, and then how the rest of the team arrived to the temple, and as well how they dealt with the bulletproof John Steele who was too much for Steve alone.

One of the best things to come out of this series has been my increased appreciation for Mike Deodato's art. I never saw much of his work on Dark Avengers because of my distaste for villain books but I had thought the look of the book was too dark for my liking. Yet now on Secret Avengers, I think the dark style of Deodato works brilliantly with the tone of the series and having several characters with bright colors (Steve Rogers, Beast, Moon Knight) really help with the contrasts on the pages and add to some awesome panels that continually pop up in every issue.

Unfortunately Brubaker only has two more issues left on the series, and this was Deodato's last issue drawing the interiors. They made a superb creative team that left the book at a high level that will be heard for the next writer and artists to match. I hope that the relationship of Steve and Sharon Carter continues with the creative change, some of the best moments in the series have been the few panels dedicated to the couple that always work so smoothly into the story and are true to the characters bond with each other. I hope Secret Avengers continues to be my favorite Avengers book through 2011.

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

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

SPORTS: NCAA March Madness 2011 Predictions (Commentary)

It is once again March and that means it is time for college basketball to dominate the attention of sports fans and gamblers everywhere. GeekPlate continues its trend of predictions with the sixty-four team tournament bracket. This year's television coverage of the tournament is spread over four channels: CBS, TNT, Tru TV & TBS. Here are the prediction highlights:

Final Four:
East Winner - 1 Seed, Ohio St.
West Winner - 2 Seed, San Diego St.
Southwest Winner - 6 Seed, Georgetown
Southeast Winner - 1 Seed, Pittsburgh

Championship Game: Georgetown over San Diego St.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Tiny Titans #37 (Review)

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

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

The third week of comic book releases in February brought a huge stack to my attention, with over twenty titles to read but I like a challenge. Several titles caught my eye, including the next issue of Brightest Day following the previous issue's cutting finale, the first issue of Justice League of America's Eclipso storyline and of course because of my enjoyment of all-ages titles there was the premiere issue of Young Justice, the companion book for the new Cartoon Network animated series. But in the end it was Tiny Titans consistent quality that has made it a multiple time top of the stack winner, including this week with issue #37.

Tiny Titans regular creative team of Baltazar and Franco are still going strong on the title and quality in the pages exemplifies this. With stories simple enough for young kids to follow but inventive enough and full of callbacks to the DC Universe history and lore that older readers can enjoy along with them.

This issue brings Fawcett City's Shazam! (Marvel) Family into the Tiny Titans mix with Billy, Mary, Freddie, Hoppy and Tawny visiting the other characters. Superboy tries the "Captain Marvel" thing, as does Psimon who tries to find his magic word and the Super Pets catch a nap together. Another solid set of stories bringing the fun and cute to readers.

Baltazar's cover highlights the Shazam! (Marvel) Family's presence in the issue and once again another set of DC characters are wonderfully transformed into Tiny Titans versions that leave you feeling like they always belonged that way. Each panel is filled with a fun energy that perfectly paces with the words while also having a depth to the art that entices the reader to come back and read pages over and over again to notice things they might have missed in their first read-through.

I hope this series is around for a long time, as I feel it laps the rest of the competition each month when it comes to all-ages titles, and I do not seeing that fact changing anytime soon as long as the creative team of Baltazar and Franco stay on the book. It is easy to recommend Tiny Titans to any comic book reader looking for a funny, light book that will have them smiling throughout the pages.

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

Thursday, March 3, 2011

COMIC: Top of the Stack - The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold #4 (Review)

Written by Sholly Fisch
Pencils by Rick Burchett
Cover by Rick Burchett

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

The second week of February brought a lot of the heavy hitters to the shelves: Batman & Robin, Flash, Batgirl, Red Robin; and Marvel had the modern day classic Ultimate Spider-Man to offer. But I was hankering for something a little different and as previous top of the stack winners have shown my love for all-ages titles, I think it was kismet that also coming out on Wednesday February 9 was an issue of The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold comic book modeled after the animated show airing on Cartoon Network. The romance issue was perfectly timed with Valentine's Day on the horizon and it was an easy choice for the top of the stack.

Sholly Fisch is the regular series writer for The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and might be known to comic fans best for his other work with DC all-ages books including, DC Super Friends, Looney Tunes and Scooby Doo.

As I previously stated this issue dealt with romance, specifically a pairing many DC fans have 'shipped' at one time or another, between Batman and Wonder Woman. Here, the Greek gods get a little hands on with Wonder Woman, particularly Eros, who has a problem with Wonder Woman's lack of love moments compared to her battles. As a result he meddles and Batman and Wonder Woman who were in the middle of a team-up find themselves 'in love'. The rest of the issue deals with a planned wedding and a furious Talia al Ghul who wants no such event to happen. A huge heroes versus villains battle happens, sprinkled with great moments of humor that kept me smiling from page to page.

The wedding cake cover with Batman and Wonder Woman on the top really captured the fun, zaniness of the characters and the issue inside and was drawn by the interior artist Rick Burchett. As many solidly produced all-ages titles that are companions to an animated series, the drawing style mirrored the one from the cartoon, providing a seamless transition for fans of the show to have a gateway into the comic book world. I always have had a fond eye for the animated look, probably why I so often find all-ages titles done with that style so appealing.

I have been a fan of the show and the book seems to be following in terms of telling quality stories while staying true to the legacy of the characters involved in each issue. It is becoming one of the comic books I look forward to reading every month and I hope it continues being published for a long time to come.

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