Saturday, March 31, 2012

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Five Number Seven DC New 52

DC Comics took a huge gamble when it decided to relaunch all of its titles beginning again at number one. Over the past few years DC Comics has ingeniously and methodically been preparing for its relaunch. With the introduction of the mini-series Flash Point, the DC Universe was changed, albeit slightly, but enough to reinvigorate the DC Universe.

Characters retained much of their original traits for the older reader (such as myself) and updated changes to the characters and titles are enough to draw in new readers. New DC comic book readers were not forced to try to catch up on over 70 years of twisting and turning continuity. Instead they could start each title with afresh and anew.

It’s been over six months since DC’s revamping of its titles and as expected a few have fallen by the way side. However most have remained strong in sales and under DC’s new publishing plan when a title does get cancelled another is in the wings to replace it.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading most of the New 52 titles. I have my favorites of course such as the Batman and the supernatural titles.

This past week I picked up five new number seven titles. They include Superman, Flash, Justice League Dark, Aquaman and Batman The Dark Knight. All are excellent reads and offer divergent storylines.

Superman is pitted against a new non-humanoid threat- a creature that is neither living or dead, mechanical or biological and yet is almost an equal to Superman in strength and speed. In the story Superman meets for the first time the real brain behind the creature: Helspont and he proves to be a real threat to Superman. The artistic team of Dan Jergens and Keith Giffin start things off with a bang and what looks to be a strong storyline.

The Flash faces off against Captain Cold and soon discovers that looks can be deceiving and that depending on one’s point of view even a hero can be considered a bad guy.

Justice League Dark faces off against vampires in a crossover with DC’s I, Vampire title. John Constantine is not a happy camper.

Geoff Jones and Ivan Reiss continue to impress readers with their take on Aquaman. Black Manta returns and he begins to kill off members of Aquaman’s old team; The Others. Who are The Others? That’s what Mera wants to know and readers will soon find out in future issues.

Batman once again faces off against Bane and with a little help from Poison Ivy and the Flash puts a little bite into Bane’s venom.

All of the titles are fun reads and draw readers in with thrilling stories and promises of even more excitement in issues to follow.

Mini Cooper S Countryman All4

“I shall call it, Mini Cooper.” Hasegawa Hobby Kits has recreated in 1:24 Scale one of my all-time favorite automobiles: the Mini Cooper or specifically the CD-21 Mini Cooper S Countryman All 4. That’s a big name for a small car but it fits.

Although small is size the Mini Cooper is big on performance, luxury and bells and whistles. Painted in white/silver with black trim, roof, wheel wells, grill and mirrors, the Mini Cooper S model is a pint-sized BMW that is the successor to the Mini-Wagon Clubman.

Equipped with five door (including a hatchback) the four-wheel drive, 1.6 liter engine marvel of engineering offers plenty of room, luxury interior design, plenty of horsepower for comfortable high-speed travel and lots of extras for customizing such as roof rails, wheels, door mirrors and interior accessories.

The Hasegawa model is made for the veteran modeler. Painting, gluing and decal application are required, but the enclosed instructions make assembly and detailing easy. Seven part trees, a decal sheet and chassis are included along with the instructions. Flashing and trim work is at a minimum and customized paint instructions allow modelers to customize their model as do extra accessories.

The model comes packaged in a medium size box with a full-color photo of a Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 on its cover and on three sides. A full history of the vehicle is included on the instructions.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wallace & Gromit’s World Of Invention

One of my all-time favorite animated series is Wallace & Gromit. A Claymation, stop-action animated series, the subjects of the animated antics is the bumbling inventor Wallace and his every faithful and ingenious dog-Gromit.

Their misadventures rank high as some of the most inventive and hilarious antics ever created for animation. I have all their adventure on DVD-including their movie-and they seem to get funnier every time I watch them. They are brilliant in their execution and it astonishes me at how Aardman animators can pull off some the things they do considering that it is all done in frame-by-frame, stop action animation.

Wallace & Gromit are back as the hosts of a new six episodes series that explores the wild and wacky world of inventions from around the world. Wallace manages to showcase some of his own inventions-with sometimes disastrous results, and Gromit is always there to clean up Wallace’s messes and set things right.

What makes this series so enjoyable is not only the humor but viewers actually learn some fascinating facts and witness some of most amazing inventions imaginable.

Lionsgate has teamed with Aardman to present Wallace & Gromit’s new foray and it’s a hoot!

Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous

Although I am not an avid reader of the X-Men comics I do have my favorite periods from the X-Men history that I enjoy. They consist of two things: favorite creative team and storyline. John Byrne’s run on the title is my favorite, Jim Lee’s tenure is a close second, Frank Quitely’s run is a winner and artist John Cassaday’s and writer John Whedon’s run also ranks high on my list.

Shout! Factory’s Marvel Knight’s animated adaptation of Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous is lifted directly out of the series. Using John Cassaday’s art as a base, the creative minds of Shout! And Marvel Knights have cleverly animated the art using the latest in computer technology. Coupled with visual effects, sound effects and an impressive assemble of voice talent the series of stories are brought to life.

Colossus has returned and along with him a mysterious new foe who seems to know the X-Men’s every weakness also appears. How do you fight a foe that can anticipate and counter your every move and seems to know what you are going to do before you do it?

Dangerous leaves plenty of ‘room’ for ‘danger’ as the X-Men face off against the most unexpected nemesis of all and it’s all Professor X’s fault. Intermingled in the story is the tragic tale of a suicidal ex-mutant, public panic at the news of the mutant gene, the return of a longtime foe in a decidedly bigger form, a confrontation with the Ord and the ultimate sacrifice by a longtime X-Men member. Don’t miss it!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dark Side, Sexiest And Baddest

There are some things in life that we all consider non-threatening.  Bunnies, puppies, baby food,pillows, etc. are hardly things associated with death, disease and disaster-or so we thought.

The Dark Side Of Apple Pie, Baby Food, & Bunnies exposes seemingly harmless objects and activities for the true monsters of mayhem and destruction they are.

Written and compiled by Ken Lytle and Katie Corcoran Lytle, MA and published by F+W Media, Inc., the book is an expose of all things soft and cuddly and 'innocent.'

Here's just a few examples of everyday and purportedly innocent objects and activities that have hidden dangers. Did you know that because gummies stick to your teeth they aggravate dental decay? Golf courses are dangerous because of all the pesticides and fertilizers used.  Lap safety belts can actually injure your spine.

So the next time you scarf down that donut, pet a bunny rabbit or feed your kid some baby food-beware!

Comics Buyer's Guide presents two books that spotlight two comic book favorites: sexy women and tough guys.

100 Sexiest Women In Comics! explores those lovely ladies of four color female fantasies.  Pages are filled with full-color drawings and paintings of some of the sexiest women to ever grace the pages of comic books.  Some are good, some are bad, but all of them are drop-dead gorgeous.  Eat your hearts out comic book nerds!

Who wouldn't want to have adamantium claws, possess super strength, kick some bad guy behind or let their inner super villain run amok!?

100 Baddest Motherf*#!ers In Comics! looks over past decades and picks out the baddest of the bad tough guys such as Luke Cage, Wolverine, Galactus, Deadpool and more.  Got an attitiude?  Maybe you qualify for the list.  To quote a certain Canadian superhero with claws, "I'm the best at what I do and what I do isn't nice!"

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fangoria #312, April

Beware the Cabin In The Woods, Fangoria's Postal Zone gets readers' feedback, Monster Invasion includes Tom Holland's Twisted Tales, Save The Evans City Chapel!, The Profane Exhibit, Ollie Mongo and The Moth Diaries and be sure to check your Chopping List for the latest DVDs and Blu-Rays.

Mr. Winner takes a Wild Ride, The Queen in Wrath Of The Titans has her own type of wrath, Intruders come from Generations Of Fear, Juan Of The Dead brings a little Spanish taste to horror, it's time to Face up for time for TV FX, Dream of Monsters in Gothic and Detention never was this bad!

Don't become A Slave To Blood, never wake up The Sleeper and meet the Legendary Women Of Hollyweird.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Zombie Parents

Egotistical, irritating, irrational, self-centered, irresponsible, procrastinating, rash, cynical, rude, exhausting, exhilarating, bombastic, confusing, lackadaisical, gluttonous, emotional -- those are just of few of the words I believe were created solely to describe teenagers.

If you are, or have been, the parent of a teenager(s) then you know exactly what I'm talking about  How can cute, adorable, loving children transform into creatures that can eat twice their weigh in food, hibernate instead of sleep, never plan or prepare for anything and know just the right things to say or do to drive their parents (and any other adult) right up the wall?

Zombie Parents And Other Hopes For a More Perfect World: The 15th Zits Sketchbook from Andrews McMeel Publishing tries to explain what teenagers are all about and it does a pretty good job of it.

Jeremy Duncan is a free-spirited 15 year old that drives his poor parent bonkers.  From his "I am the center of the universe' attitude to his talent for getting in trouble, Jeremy is the quintessential modern teenager.

Adept at anything electronic or involving social networking, Jeremy and his friends confuse and confound their parents and teachers and concoct some of the most outrageous schemes imaginable while their adults sit back, look confused and are totally clueless.

From equating his parents to zombies to daring to enter his landfill room to continually being at odds with his parents Jeremy puts the 'zap!' in Zits.

Previews, April

Lots of cool items are coming out in April’s Diamond Previews Catalog. Here are just a few suggested items.

Comic books include Extermination, The Massive, Before Watchmen Series, Star Wars: Knight Errand, American Vampire: Lord Of Nightmares, Mars Attacks, Planetoid, Spider-Men, KISS, Creator Owned Heroes, Strawberry Shortcake Volume 2, Pantha, Prophecy, Bad Medicine, Idolized, Hope, Juliet and Tank Girl.

Magazines and books to read are Flesk Prime, The Amazing Spider-Man Kit, Doctor Who: Shada The Lost, G-Fan, Superman: The High-Flying History Of America’s Most Enduring Hero and The Art Of Brave.

Trading cards are A Game Of Thrones Season One, Marvel Beginnings II, Mars Attacks Heritage and Wacky Packages 9.

Play around with these toys: Universal Monsters, Mars Attacks, TMNT, The Walking Dead, G.I. Joe Retaliation, Dexter, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Disney YDF, Batman: Arkham and Godzilla.

Game on with Magic, Pathfinder, DC HeroClix, Marvel HeroClix and Descent.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

CollectA Dinosaurs

The company CollectA’s theme\slogan is appropriately entitled ‘A natural world in miniature.’

Recently I had the opportunity to examine four dinosaur figures produced by CollectA. 2012 is the sixth year CollectA has produced such figures and I have to admit I am impressed.

Sculpting is first-rate with attention especially given to the texture of each dinosaur’s skin or hide and head sculpts capture the ferocity of the predators and the docile nature of the herbivores. Body proportions are solid, the figures stand easily on their own and paint application and detailing is spot on.

Figure molds are clean with no flashing or seam lines and one-to-one scaling keeps the figures proportional to one another.

The four figures I’ve chosen to review come from CollectA’s Prehistoric Life Collection. These figures are scaled small enough to fit into one hand. Larger scaled figures are also available as are boxed sets, Fossil Replicas, Fauna and other Prehistoric Life.

The figures consist of a Velocirapor with its jaws opened and claws extended-It’s a nasty looking little critter! I especially like the look o its face and the attention given to its teeth, eyes, hide wrinkles and the emphasis given to its characteristic claws.

The Stegosaurus look ponderous as it stands with it four massive legs solidly positioned under it. Beautiful tan and brown ridge plates run the length of its body and it complacent, almost sleepy looking, expression belies the fact that it is a formidable foe with its four spike tail used as a swinging weapon.

The Brachiosaurus Baby is a cuddly, cute, several ton bundle of joy with its stubby tail, chunky legs and long neck. Its pose suggests it is not very old and is just getting used to its mobility.

The Cryolophosaurus is easily the most colorful of the selection. Its large head is crowned by a red bone crest while its heavy jaws have overlapping teeth and its black intelligent eyes almost appear real. Its body is a light gray in color with wisps of dark brown accenting its more predominant muscles and joints and its huge rear feet dwarf its small front feet and legs. It has a long serpentine tail it uses for balance and defense.

Overall CollectA’s dinosaur collection captures the look and feel of the thunder lizards now long extinct. Flipping through CollectA’s 2012 catalog shows that the company has a huge selection of figures to choose from including all types of animals- some mythological. Check them out.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Revell/Monogram 2 Race Cars, 2 Cars, 1 Van, 3 Planes And 1 Jet

Summer is fast approaching and what better way to spend your Summer than kicking back, hanging out, eating, drinking and making models? OK, maybe that last part is stretching it a bit but ya gotta admit taking the time and effort to put together a model is extremely satisfying.
No matter your level of model making expertise Revell/Monogram has the model just for you.  To prove my point Revell/Monogram just released nine new models that are sure to satisfy any model maker's taste in models.

For the automobile fanatic comes five new models: four at 1:24 Scale, one at 1:25 Scale, three Skill Level 2, one Level 1 and one Level 3.  How can you loose!?

All feature precise sculpting of parts to scale, easy-to-follow instructions, paint and decal application guides (if needed) and require very little prep work such as flashing cleanup.
Revell's Snap-Tite series, Skill Level 1 features a fire red Enzo Ferrari with just over 45 parts.  Although made for the novice or young modeler, the car is still packed with details including chrome wheels, rubber like tires, full interior and exterior detailing, pre-painted parts, snap together assembly and best of all-no cleanup.  

The Level 2 Performance Audi R8 Spyder is a compact convertible made for two with its custom black seats and interior, teardrop shape, wheel-hugging chassis, chrome wheels, grill and trim and engine situated in the rear.  The rear engine compartment opens and the lush interior of this baby blue metallic roadster surprises drivers with its 195 mph speed capabilities.

Motor Sports' Steve Kinser Bass Pro Shops Sprint Car is so powerful and so fast that it requires twin oversize airfoils just to keep it on the ground.  All engine and with very little chassis this bright orange Sprint Car features oversize rear tires roll bars, a removable chassis revealing the massive engine and even a driver.  Check out the chrome job on its custom engine-sweet!

Equally impressive is the Tony Nancy 22 JR Roadster/Dragster 2 Car kit combo.  Another Skill Level 2 model, this combo gives modelers more muscle for their money.  

Customize it to be a square back, bright orange Roadster with mid-mounted chrome trim engine with oversize exhaust, small front wire wheels, oversize rear wheels and driver cockpit snuggled in its box body.

Or...trim things down a bit with a silver streamline body, same wheel configuration but with a full-chromed engine. Whatever way you choose to build it the 22 JR is twice the fun.

For the slightly more subdued driver comes the '77 Chevy Van from Revell's TRUCKS series.  With its all-white body, wave side decals and enclosed rear compartment this two-door, chrome trim, wheel and bumper and grill workhorse makes for the perfect hauling machine.
It's all business with its heavy frame, utilitarian interior, large cargo space and twin rear doors, the Chevy Van puts the buzz in business.

The second world war was responsible for a huge leap in aeronautics.  Desperation and determination make a great pair of motivators and whether the airplanes were Allied or Axis there can be no doubt tremendous strides were made in the manufacture of aircraft.

The U.S. Navy's F6F-5 Hellcat proved to be one of the most deadly and efficient fighter planes ever created.  The primary carrier based aircraft during the war , the Hellcat easily outpaced the Japanese Zero in every area.  

The sleek single engine, single pilot blue aircraft was small but carried impressive weaponry including wing-mounted machine guns, rockets and bombs.  The aircraft can be configured and decaled and painted in two configurations and comes with a pilot and ground crewman.  Display the aircraft as if in flight or with landing gear down and pilot ladder in place.

The B-24J Liberator was a massive Allied bomber with twin bomb bay doors, four engines, top and front swivel turrets and a full fuselage of bombs.

The model features full interior details such as working bomb bay doors and bombs and full ground crew with tractor.  Complete instructions guide model builders through assembly, decal and paint application for this Skill Level 2 monster of an aircraft scaled at 1:48 from Monogram.
Just check out the cockpit details with full instrumentation, complete gunner bubbles, incredible wing and body details with each panel visible right down to the rivets.  The working landing gear makes this a fine table model but the aircraft can also be shown as if aloft with landing gear hidden and bomb bay doors closed.

Faster than most fighters the Nazi Heinkel He III P mid-size bomber was the German workhorse during bombing raids.  Small, fast and capable of impressive bomb loads despite its size, the Heinkel was a twin engine terror of the skies.

A top mounted gunner kept fighters at bay as the segmented front windows gave the pilots almost a 360 degree view of their aerial environment.  The aircraft is decked out with three MG 15 machine guns, twin bomb bay doors, bomb racks with bombs and working landing gear. Instructions for painting and decaling the bomber in three different configurations help when assembling this Skill Level 3 aircraft model that is not for the timid.

Full interior details include a cockpit, gunner stations, bomb compartment and weaponry controls.  Exterior details are just as impressive on this special Pro-Modeler aircraft.
Another Snap-Tite aircraft model is the Revell YF-22 Raptor at 1:72 Scale. 

The Advance Tactical Fighter features sweptback integrated rear and front wings, twin tail wings, a single pilot cockpit, streamline fuselage with slit air intakes and with its stealth design the fighter becomes almost invisible during flight.  A stand comes with the model and with its stick-on decals, pre-painted parts and 'no glue required' assembly lets kids can get in on the aviation fun.

Friday, March 9, 2012

World Of Politics

It’s time for the sports world to go political. Upper Deck’s World Of Sports Trading Cards hit the political trail as it introduces the Presidential candidates for 2012 with Sarah Palin thrown in for good measure.

The subset of Trading Cards can be found in Upper Deck’s World Of Sports Trading Card series as randomly inserted Cards. The insert ratio should fall in at about 1:40.

Look for all the Republican candidates, along with Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. Full color portraits show each candidate at their best and candid shots of them at events can also be found that are much rarer.

Short bios of each candidate (in the race or dropped out) can be found on the back of their respective Trading Cards.

Everyone knows that winning at politics is like a card game. In Upper Deck’s World Of Politics, politicians ARE the cards.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Turok, Dagar And Brothers

The comic book industry has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Comic books are bought almost exclusively in comic book specialty shops and the bulk of comic book sales are dominated by the ‘big two’ – Marvel and DC. To be sure other comic book companies exist and are successful-such as Dark Horse, IDW and Image, but ask the average man on the street about comic books and the answer will most likely involve the ‘big two.’

That was not always the case. During the Golden and Silver Ages literally dozens of comic book companies existed and the shelves were filled with titles. One of those publishers: Gold Key, published the most diverse selection of comic books of any publisher. Westerns, science fiction, horror, TV and movie tie-ins, funny animals-nothing was out of bounds with Gold Key.

Unfortunately Gold Key is no longer around but thanks to Dark Horse Books much of Gold Key’s library of titles are being reprinted in handsome hardbound collections dubbed the Dark Horse Archives. The series of books have become a big hit with collectors-especially those who remember when the comic books were originally published-such as myself.

Gold Key artists and writers tended to tell stories that were paced much like novels. Action and adventure were present but they were not served up in twisted and contorted fashion with over exaggerated foreshortening and populated by figures with little or no body fat.

Gold Key artists tended to illustrate people more realistically and while some of the storylines took place in strange lands or far away planets-most were grounded in reality. In other words, people looked like people, locations made senss and aliens and monsters looked as if they could be real.

Dark Horse Books has just released a trio of hardbound collections from its Archives. Turok, Dagar and The Brothers Of The Spear.

This is the 9th Volume in the Turok: Son Of Stone collection and features the incredible art by the legendary Alberto Giolitti. With the advent of Alberto’s art on the book, Turok took on a more dynamic flavor. Turok and his young companion Andar encountered aliens, dinosaurs, cavemen along with all sorts of strange and bizarre life-forms as they make their way through a lost land in a desperate attempt to return home.

Alberto’s art provided a sense of urgency and danger throughout the series. Turok and his young companion Andar were made to look like the Indian warriors they were. While not superheroes, the duo did possess impressive hunting and tracking skills along with cautionary senses honed by years of living with their tribe in the wild. These were real Indians placed in an unreal setting.

Creatures, settings and situations made sense and Turok writers perfected the stranger-in-a-strange land storyline.

One of the most unusual series to arrive at Gold Key involved a blond hair barbarian by the name of Dagar. Released about the same time that Marvel Comics published Conan, Dagar offered a different kind of sword and sorcery hero- one who was upon a specific quest.

Dagar started out as a single story in a comic book anthology title. Writer Donald F. Glut saw potential in the character and after a series of short tales where Dagar was known by several other names, Gold Key decided to give the barbarian his own title aptly called: Dagar The Invincible.

Jesse Santos provided the art and the series ran several years before it was cancelled. What makes Dagar so interesting were the stories which consisted of tales that involved mystery and intrigue as much as they did swordplay, exotic locations and beautiful women. Volume 1 compiles the first nine issues of the series faithfully reproduced as they originally appeared.

Another unusual Gold Key series was Brothers Of the Spear. A Silver Age series, the Brothers Of The Spear centered around two brothers: one the son (Natongo) of a Zulu chief and his adopted white brother Dan-El. Both earn the title of subchieftain and their story begins when they are given a map by their father showing the way to Dan-El’s lost people and a golden key to a fabulous treasure left to him by his biological father.

Here the story gets interesting as the two brothers bond together to brave a shipwreck, savages, warfare and a diabolical despot who has usurped Dan-El’s throne as king of his people. It’s adventure as seen through the eyes of two young men who care deeply for each other.

Published during the time when there was heightened racial tension in the United States, Brothers Of The Spear was a quiet statement about racial equality and family-despite the color of one’s skin.

All three of the new Dark Horse Book Archive series make fine additions to anyone’s collection who is serious about comic books and appreciates the history of the medium.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Draw #22

As much as I enjoy reading and collecting comic books I love looking at original comic book art more. It fascinates me (and I’m a little jealous of) how comic book artists are able to turn out 20+ pages of art (or more) each month and keep them fresh, visually exciting and so well done.

As important as a penciller’s work is, if their work is not delineated by a good inker much of the detail and the intent of the work can be lost.

In this issue of Draw! from TwoMorrows Publishing, readers get to see pencils from some of the top talent in the industry (such as Neal Adams and Jim Lee) and the incredible ink work of Scott Williams for both.

A Scott Williams’ Batman graces the cover and inside Scott shows off his considerable talent with inking examples from the X-Men, the Punisher, Batman and a score of other stellar work. Other works includes inks over David Finch’s and John Romita Jr’s pencils.

It’s a real kick to see how Scott is able to take a penciller’s work and improve it without detracting from it. That’s the sign of a true professional.

Mike Manley demonstrates how he is able to take a sketch and slowly transform it into a full-color painting by using models, sets and various transfer techniques.

Frank Miller is interviewed about his long career of both writing and drawing comic books accompanied by drawings from his various series such as Daredevil, Batman and Sin City-among others.

The Crusty Critic reviews inking and various inks, Bob McLeod offers a Rough Critic of an upcoming artist’s work and be sure to check out what magazines have been recently (and will be) released by TwoMorrows Publishing.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Three Musketeers

Forget everything you’ve ever read or seen about the Three Musketeers. Summit Entertainment’s newest adaptation of the classic story turns everything on its ear while still offering the meat of the classic tale.

Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan are without a doubt the most skillful swordsmen and warriors in Frances and Europe. But little prepares them for the incredible for the most dangerous and spectacular adventure of their lives.

To save King and country The Musketeers battle unbelievable evil, encounter devices of diabolical cunning and ingenuity and ultimately face Leonardo DiVinci’s doomsday device. It’s high flying adventure filled with incredible visual effects (both digital and physical) and some of the most incredible swordplay ever seen on film.

The 3D Blu-ray/Blu-ray and DVD will all be released March 13th. Look for commentaries, deleted scenes, featurettes, interviews, and much more. “All for one and one for all!”