Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bechtloff Movie Night: Superhero Movie (2008)

I really liked the first two Scary Movies when they came out. But once the Wayan brothers left it went down hill fast. And then came spin offs like Date Movie and they were all just terrible. So I ignored Superhero Movie for a while thinking it was just more in a line of shitty cash ins that failed to understand the difference between a joke and a reference. Surprisingly though, this was a pretty solid parody movie.

Now before I get into this I should mention I watched the extended unrated cut, so that's what I'm reviewing here. Most of this movie is a direct parody of 2002's Spider-man movie. Nickelodeon alumni Drake Bell plays a nerdy Peter Parker like student who is bitten by a genetically altered dragonfly and takes on the super hero identity of the Dragonfly. Kevin Hart plays Drake's best friend, the late great Leslie Nielsen plays the Uncle Ben like figure, and Christopher McDonald plays the Norman Osborn like super villain, The Hourglass, who can drain the life force out of people. You may know McDonald as the villain from damn near every R rated comedy you've ever seen, and it's a role he nails every time without fail.

This movie was extremely funny, and thankfully reminded me more of The Naked Gun, Airplane, and Scary Movie 1 and 2, rather than shit like Date Movie. There was a scene where Drake's character and Leslie Nielsen are arguing. Drake gives him the old "You're not my father" line which Nielsen replies with "I love you like your father did, I believe in you like your father did, I had sex with your mother, just like your father did." The way Leslie Nielsen could deliver lines like that in a total deadpan way, with the utmost of sincerity, truly the world certainly got a lot less awesome when he passed on.

Some of this movie did fall flat with me. There is a scene where Drake Bell's character meets Professor X, played by Tracey Morgan, for advise on what to do with his powers. This is where the movie falls into the trap of failing to know a joke from a reference, it's basically just "Hey remember the X-men movies?". The only real 'joke' in it is Regina Hall, AKA the annoying black girl in all the Scary Movies, playing Professor X's angry wife confronting him about cheating on her with Invisible Woman, played by that washed up hobag Pam Anderson. It's not funny and it's basically just a waste of time.

Any comic book fan, and especially any Spider-man fan, should definitely check out this movie. Some of it fell flat, but a lot of it worked really well. And it certainly stands head and shoulders above most of the other parody movies to come out in the last decade.

The tomb is empty.

Happy Easter to all! People sometimes ask me why I'm a Christian. When a man walks out of the grave, it's time to pay him some attention. The events of Easter are some of the most verifiable in all of antiquity. Most all of the skeptics explanations for it are borderline if not outright absurd. It was a hoax, Jesus didn't die he just fainted, Jesus was an alien.
Yeah I've actually heard that last one on more than one occasion. Anything but he was who he said he was. Because after all, if he was then you are accountable to him. But if he was just a conman, a myth, or Lord Xenu, then he can be ignored. I for one believe he was who he said he was. And so I give thanks on this Easter because he paid a debt he did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay. So happy Easter to all.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bechtloff Movie Night:G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)

Let's flashback for a moment. Back to 2009. There I sat in the theater with my friends desperately hoping that G.I.Joe: Rise of Cobra wouldn't suck. That hope was dashed. No, dashed isn't the right word, it's more like that hope was brutally beaten to death and then the corpse of that hope was sodomized by Marlon Wayans.

So now that we, amazingly enough, got a sequel/soft reboot to that 2009 coat hanger abortion, do we now have a decent and proper G.I. Joe movie? Well yes. Not a perfect one, not even a great one, but a pretty damn good one. More than good enough to wash the taste of Rise of Cobra out of your mouth that's for sure.

I don't want to spoil too much plot, but basically Zartan the master of disguise, has replaced the president. He frames the Joes for war crimes and kills all but four of them. And from there we get a pretty classic G.I.Joe story, complete with a bad ass looking Cobra Commander, a system of Cobra satellites capable of raining down some serious fucking death (one of which wipes London off the fucking map. I mean g-o-n-e gone.) and of course gratuitous ninja sub plots in the shape of Storm Shadow and Snake Eye's never ending pissing contest.

Woe, however, to anyone who went to see this thinking it was a Channing Tatum movie. He is killed, along with several other Joes, very early in this movie. I could practically feel the disappointment in the air coming from some of the ladies in the audience who went to see this largely for him. This is very much the Rock's movie. But I think that's great, we really haven't gotten enough good action movies and far too much dog crap like Tooth Fairy from him. Also, because the Joes numbers are whittled down so far, there's a good chance your favorite Joe (except Snake Eyes) isn't in this. I for one was none too happy with the lack of Scarlet, but then I've always been partial to redheads.

This movie certainly had it's flaws, chief among them for me being, and I can't emphasize this enough, a complete lack of Scarlet. But it's pretty damn good and certainly worth checking out. I saw it in 3D, and while there were a few scenes that made very good use of it, I wouldn't blame you if you just went 2D on this. Either way if you're a G.I.Joe fan you should check out this movie. And did I mention no Marlon Wayans?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review of the Week: Superior Spider-man #6AU

If you haven't already, check out my reviews for issues one, two, three, four, five, and six.

I'm really not enjoying Age of Ultron so far. It's a confusing mess and given that half the world is already dead at the start of it, it's pretty clear much of it will be reversed in some sort of time/reality altering ending. Also, apparently a crappy Image character will be there for what I'm thinking will be no good reason.

So I didn't expect much going into the Superior Spider-man AU tie in, but I was pleasantly surprised. The story is that Ultron has pretty much taken everything over and Ock-Spidey meets up with Tony Stark and the surviving heroes to deal with things. Tony tells Ock-Spidey he needs him to get into the ruins of Horizon Labs to get a special MacGuffin Tony thinks can destroy Ultron. With Quicksilver's help Ock-Spidey gets there, but rather than get the device Tony wanted Ock-Spidey puts his own plan in motion trying to mentally take control of Ultron. This of course fails and Ultron's drones attack, destroying the device Tony needed. Ock-Spidey concludes he should have gone with Stark's plan.

This was a rather interesting issue that taught Ock-Spidey a bit of a lesson in humility. Too bad it took the end of the world to teach it too him. At the beginning of the issue he thinks Peter's association with the Avengers had made him weak and dependant, but by the end he sees the value of trusting people, of treating them as equals and allies rather than pawns and lackeys. Kind of a shame given the nature of this story there's a good chance any character development we get here will get reversed and forgotten. But who knows, maybe not.

Either way this was a solid tie in issue of a great series, even if I'm not all that found of the event it's tying into.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Oh sure, when Ben Bernanke does it it's fine, but...

Right here in my back yard (more or less) an Elizabethtown man was arrested for trying to pass off counterfeit money. Larry R. Dalessandri had what police describe as a "semi elaborate system" for printing the money. He ought to tell the judge he was just engaging in a little quantitative easing. After all if the Federal Reserve flooding our economy with billions of dollars they pulled out of their ass over the last few years is a good thing, then a few hundred extra from Mr. Dalessandri shouldn't be a problem. So I say free Larry Dalessandri. Or better yet, how about we arrest Ben Bernanke for counterfeiting instead?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Retro Review: Tomb Raider #1

With the new game out, I've been thinking about Tomb Raider a lot lately. In my last Retro Review, I took a loot at the first Tomb Raider comic book, the Tomb Raider/Witchblade crossover. This would lead into her getting an ongoing series in 1999.

Like I said in the last review, I was a huge fan of Tomb Raider and I was so amped when this came out. I know I said before on here that I generally dislike variant covers, but I'm a little embarrassed to admit I got tons of alternate covers for this. I got alternate covers for issues 1, 2, 4, 5, and 9. And needless to say I sent in for the Wizard 1/2 issue.

Our issue starts with Lara fighting a bunch of Iranians who are upset over a priceless necklace she has stolen. She was hired by the Israeli Embassy to get it since they felt it belonged to them. She is saved by her trusty butler Compton. She is then hired by a rich dirtbag named Paris D'Arseine to find the Medusa Mask. Supposedly it's last known location was on a ship in the 1500's that sank and was never found, but someone found the ship and got the Mask. So Lara heads to the location of the wreck to search for clues. When diving she is attacked by some unknown divers who cut off her air supply and detonate an underwater bomb to destroy the remains of the wreck. Our issue ends with this cliffhanger.
This was a good start to a good series. Writer Dan Jurgens does a great job of capturing the adventure and fun of Tomb Raider, with shades of both Indiana Jones and James Bond in the mix. The artwork of Andy Park is amazing as well, he does a great job of the action sequences and makes Lara sexy and beautiful without necessarily slutting her up. I would say this is definitely worth checking out.

Also, Dark Horse is going to be putting out a new Tomb Raider comic based on the new game. While I will probably check it out, and when the price comes down I will check out the new game, I'm a little hesitant about them. I know the game has gotten a lot of praise, but from what I've seen of it, it seems like it might be a littler too grim and gritty for my taste. I loved Tomb Raider so much because it was fun, escapist fantasy. It was Indiana Jones, but with boobs and a sexy British accent. Now shes 'relatable' and it's all grim and gritty and dark and it just sounds like a lot less fun. But again, a lot of people are raving about it so maybe I'm wrong. Once I get the game I'll have a full review up on here either way.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hero Spotlight: Storm.

Ororo Munroe is a mutant with the ability to mentally control the weather. She has been a long time member of the X-men, a temporary replacement member of the Fantastic Four, briefly an Avenger, and was married to the long time Avenger and king of the African nation of Wakanda, the Black Panther. But this isn't about giving a bio on Storm, because honestly I doubt you're reading this blog, let alone this post, if you don't know who Storm is. This post is about me asking a simple question, why the hell do people like Storm?

I mean, I assume she's popular, she's all over the place and has been for decades. Most comic fans would be hard pressed to imagine the X-men without her. But why? She is one of the most boring characters I've ever seen. Nothing about her personality makes any impression. Hell, I'm hard pressed to really even give you personality traits.

Is it her look? Does she have a memorable character design? Lots of characters make an impression for no better reason than that, take the Female Symbiote/Scream for example. But what even is her classic design? Is it the black costume shown above, or her white costume?
Because like most 90's kids, when I think of Storm that's what comes to mind because of the 90's X-men toon. But she didn't have that costume for all that long and had one variation or another of her black costume for most of her existence.

So if you love Storm, I invite you to please explain it to me, because I really am not seeing it.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Age of Ultron plus Angela. I've got a bad feeling about this.

For those of you who don't know that's Angela. This is a character that Neil Gaiman co-created with Todd McFarlane. Recently Gaiman won a lawsuit giving him full ownership of this character. And now it seems this character is going to find her way into the Marvel Universe via the current Age of Ultron event.

Hmmmm, we have a reality altering event with at least one shitty early 90's Image character jammed into it. Last time I saw that the aftermath was the New 52. Marvel, I know you've done some dumb, indefensible shit before, like One More Day for instance, but please don't go and follow DC's lead on this.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Review(s) of the Week: Superior Spider-man #6 and Sonic Universe #50

If you haven't already check out my reviews for issues one, two, three, four, and five. In this issue Mayor J. Jonah Jameson is holding a press conference when he's attacked by Jester and Screwball. Our two mischievous villains make fools of Jonah's security then hit Jonah in the face with a pie which they capture on video and upload onto the internet. Their plan is to get tons of hits and links to their vids online and use built in viruses to get peoples credit card numbers and what not. Meanwhile the Avengers gather to discuss Spidey's odd new behavior. Many of them comment on how brutal Spidey has gotten, even taking a life last issue but Wolverine points out that they all have blood on their hands and should give Spidey the benefit of the doubt. When Ock-Spidey finally confronts Jester and Screwball they initially make a full of him, live on the internet no less, but Ock loses his cool and beats Jester to within an inch of his life, if not full on killing him. And our issue ends with teaser of the Avengers confronting Spider-man next issue.

This continues to be the best Spider-man easily since OMD. Marvel had been teasing Spidey getting fired from the Avengers nearly since Superior started. It would have been rather hypocritical for the Avengers to react so harshly to Spidey's killing of Massacre, but this clearly goes over the line. It looks like Ock-Spidey's 'superior' run might be unraveling pretty soon.
In an earlier post I talked about how Sonic the Hedgehog will reach an impressive 250 issues this year. Well, almost as impressive the 2nd monthly Sonic comic book being published right now has reached 50.

This issue dealt with the rivalry between the robotic Metal Sonic and Shard, the first Metal Sonic who defied his programing and turned good. It was a fun little action packed issue and touched on some of the themes many good stories about artificial intelligence touches on, what does it mean to have free will, to be alive, to have a soul? This is an all ages book and it obviously didn't get to deep into that, but it scratched the surface enough so that the smart kids start thinking, and isn't that what truly good sci-fi does?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Power Girl and Ms. Marvel Amalgam.

I talked about Amalgam comics on here in several posts, doing reviews for books like Spider-boy, Super Soldier, and Amazon among others. Well, while surfing around DeviantArt, I found this little gem, a fan made Amalgam of Power Girl and Ms. Marvel, both favorites of mine, called Miss Power. I thought it was cool enough to share here. Kinda makes me want to read a Miss Power one shot. The artist is StarDragon77 if you want to check out their page.

The Spider-Exiles

I was a huge fan of Exiles back when it was going on. If you don't know the basic premise of Exiles was a group of characters, all originally X-men related, were pulled from various alternate realities. At the behest of unknown cosmic forces they were sent into various realities to set some sort of event in motion thus fixing that reality. If they didn't do that several realities were in danger of collapsing, including their home realities. It was, according to the original writer, like X-men meets Quantum Leap, meets Sliders. It started out a little too X-men heavy for my taste but both the membership and story lines would grow to be a little more than just X-stuff. This was one of the best books Marvel published over the last two decades and if you haven't read it I would definitely check it out. Until Chris Claremont came along and ran it into the dirt it was amazing.

Well a few years ago I was goofing around, writing a little fan fiction and decided to come up with my own team of Exiles, only (almost) all Spider-man related characters. And then a good friend of mine Red Savage AKA Chace Chavez drew them up for me. By the way check out his blog Let Us Quest and his DeviantArt page. The membership and origins of this group goes as follows:

Black Goblin(upper left corner): Norman Osborn the 3rd decided to take up his grandfather's mantle as the Green Goblin waging a war on an aging but still active Spider-man and his son Ben AKA the Scarlet Spider. Along the way Normie managed to steal the Venom symbiote from a SHIELD lab.

Spyder(upper middle): In this universe Spider-man joined the Avengers very early in his career, being recruited at the same time as Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, and Quicksilver. In this timeline, rather than creating the Vision and basing it on Wonder Man's brain patterns, Ultron created Spyder and based it off of Spider-man's powers and abilities. Like the Vision, Spyder betrayed Ultron and became a member of the team. Spider-man would eventually leave the team, as both of them seemed redundant and Spyder had nowhere else to go. Spyder's personality is a lot like Peter's, although a little more cold and logical, and he had a variety of 'trick' webbing formulas, such as webbing that is very corrosive, webbing that freezes things like liquid nitrogen, and webbing that burns things like a napalm. I was really fond of the design on Spyder from Chace, especially the eyes.

Sandman (upper right): In this reality Sandman reformed just like in the regular Marvel Universe, however in this world Sandman became not just a reserve Avenger but a regular one and a core member over time.

Goblin Queen(lower right): Mary Jane Osborn. In this reality Mary Jane ended up marrying Harry Osborn instead of Peter and Peter married Black Cat. Harry suffered a meltdown at one point and injected the goblin formula into MJ. This drove her more than a little crazy and she wages war on Spider-man and Harry, both of whom she blames for her fate. Chace gave her rocket boots rather than a glider, I never told him to do that but it was a nice touch.

Spider-man (lower middle): This is just Peter Parker from the Spider-man Loves Mary Jane universe. I wanted a young Spidey and that series was a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. Only established character I used.

Blink (lower left): Can't have an Exiles team without Blink right? This Blink doesn't come from a crap hole Age of Apocalypse world but rather a world more like the regular universe. Blink is an X-man and in this world a much more typical teenage girl fitting a sort of Shadowcat role in her world's X-men.

So there it is, a Spider-man themed Exiles team. Hope you got a kick out of it.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Retro Review: Tomb Raider/Witchblade

In a previous post I mentioned how I when I was a adolescent/teenager my dad generally refused to buy video games for me. So I never got an Nintendo 64 or a Playstation like a lot of my peers. My dad was a little anti-video game and had just decided it was a waste of time and something I should be outgrowing. Oddly enough he was always supportive of my rather all consuming comic book habit. I guess he just figured better for me to be reading than pushing buttons. But, while he wouldn't shell out for a new system, he would occasionally get me games for the PC. One of those games was Tomb Raider, a game high on my Christmas list for that year and one that I was instantly hooked on the moment I started playing it. I simply adored both the game and the character. A hot female version of Indiana Jones with a sexy British accent, what's not to love?

So one day I was reading a Witchblade comic, one of the few non Marvel or DC books I even sorta followed at the time and I saw this advertised, with a form to mail in and get it. And when I saw I could get a Tomb Raider comic book, the song Suddenly by Billy Ocean began playing in my head. Truly, you wake up and suddenly you're in love.

Our story starts with an old lady calling 911 to report that there's some sort of domestic disturbance next door. Next thing you know a big demon monster holding the body of some guy comes bursting through the wall. And who's chasing after it? None other than Lara Croft.
After a firefight the winged demon monster gets away. We then cut to Lara being interviewed on the scene by the police and specifically Detective Sara Pezzini the current bearer of the Witchblade. Lara tells Sara her story that she was paid by a 90 year old former mob boss named Lucas Moralito who was seeking a magic MacGuffin amulet that will give him immortality and stuff. When she gets it for him he reveals that he wanted it so he could get revenge on the children and grandchildren of his enemies. She tries to take the amulet and it breaks releasing a big dragon demon monster.
It's been going around carrying out Moralito's plan and Lara has been trying to stop it. Sara tells he she's free to go if she can go with her to help her stop it. So we have a nice little Lara Croft/Witchblade team up as they sneak into Moralito's compound, find out he is indeed the dragon/demon thingie, and get the jewel off his chest taking away his power. Lara is about to put a bullet in the old bastards head when Sara stops him, saying he should face the law. Of course there is no way any of this can be proven in court so he doesn't even get charged. Honestly, Sara came off as kind of a dumbass here.

So that was Tomb Raider/Witchblade. Was it as good as I remember? No, not really. It's really not the best intro to Lara, it doesn't do all that much to get Tomb Raider fans into Witchblade, it just really felt like just another issue of Witchblade that happened to have Lara Croft in it. Odd since Tomb Raider got top billing. Really it just felt like a cash in. Also it seemed odd that Lara was completely unaware of what the Witchblade was. It seems like an ancient weapon shrouded in legend is exactly the kind of thing she should know a ton about. This would eventually lead to a Tomb Raider ongoing book that took place in the Top Cow universe of Witchblade, Magdalen, and Darkness, and it was a pretty decent series, but this could have been a much better introduction to Lara Croft then it was. All that being said it's not a bad issue at all. In fact if you're a Tomb Raider fan I would say give it a read. It can be a little pricey, but there's a reprint called Tomb Raider/Witchblade Revisited that is usually pretty cheap.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

"You can enjoy this non-ironically." 20 years of Sonic comics

This year the Sonic the Hedgehog comics turn 20 years old. That is a damn impressive run for an all ages comic book based on a video game character. Sonic the Hedgehog will see it's 250th issue this July, right in the thick of it's crossover with Archie's other video game comic Mega Man. And that's not even counting the issues 0-3 of the mini series that preceded the ongoing series. At the risk of showing my age I actually remember getting issue 0 of the mini when it was brand new. I liked the games but really fell in love with the expanded world of Mobius found in the comics and with characters like Princess Sally and Snively. I actually feel like the story to the comics world is far far better than anything the games have ever given us. Archie has done far more with the little Blue Blur than Sega probably ever will. I truly feel like this may be the best all ages book in comics of the past 30 years.

CBR did an interview with Sonic writer Ian Flynn and Editor Paul Kaminski the other day. My favorite line is when Ian said "You can enjoy this book non-ironically". So congrats to the Sonic team on their unlikely but well deserved success.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Retro Review: X-men Vol 2 #53

I talked about Onslaught recently, so I thought I would take a look at some choice issues from the Onslaught saga starting with this one. This was actually the first X-men comic I ever bought. I was pretty familiar with the X-men, since I watched the cartoon religiously, but I was still relatively new to comics. This was a pretty damn good X-men book to start with though.

Our story starts with Jean Grey out shopping in Salem Center New York. As we go about her day we see the flashes of peoples thoughts she can't help but hear and it's not pretty. Some women jealous of her appearance, some judging her for being a mutant, and one gentleman who wishes she would walk up and down his naked chest in stiletto heels. Come to think of it, I wouldn't mind her doing that either. When trying on a dress she is suddenly pulled into the Astral Plane by Onslaught. Onslaught tells here they have much to talk about.
Gotta hand it to artist Andy Kubert, that's a pretty imposing looking mother fucker right there. It's not everyone who can rock that much purple in a threatening way. Hats off to you Onslaught. 

Anyways Onslaught gives Jean the usually mutant villain spiel "Humans are all assholes. Wouldn't it be sweet if we killed them all?" He also tries to show her what a hypocrite Professor X is. She scoffs at this saying he was like a father to her and with the two of them being telepaths they have no secrets. Onslaught responds to this by showing her a memory of Professor X that reveals he used to be in love with her. The two of them continue to have a back and forth until he returns her to where he found her with his name stamped on her forehead.
 This was a pretty damn good issue. It was a great character study for both Professor X and Jean Grey. Also keeping with the frequent X-men theme of powers being a blessing and a curse it showed the inherent down side to Jean's powers. And of course it reveals Onslaught and he rolls out onto the scene like a straight up boss. My biggest problem is Onslaught pulled Jean into the Astral Plane physically which you're not supposed to be able to do. It didn't add anything to the story and it was very inconsistent with how the Astral Plane is suppose to work. That aside this was a pretty damn good issue and a great start to the Onslaught saga.

On Bible studies and hating the gays.

I mentioned before that I attend a Bible Study every other Monday called small group. I didn't attend last Monday as I was getting over a rather nasty cold but I thought I might share a story from one I attended last summer. Last time I referred to the group's teacher/leader as John, that's not his real name but let's stick with that. Anyways John and his wife had just gotten back from a vacation at some sort of beach area, I forget where exactly. As he was rambling on about his vacation he started to talk about the large gay community that seemed to be in that area. He seemed to be getting a little pissy the more he talked about it, so in an attempt to lighten the mood I shared this little observation.

"You know, where ever there is a lot of gays, it seems like the restaurants there are always fantastic."

I went on to explain that this is something I long ago noticed in my travels. I don't know why exactly. It could be the simple fact that gays generally don't have kids and therefor in their adulthood tend to have more disposable income. It could be that gays tend to be more artistic on average, including the culinary arts. I don't know why exactly but it is something I have observed.

I noticed as I was sharing, what I at least thought was an interesting tidbit, that John was now getting pissed at me. Apparently this compliment of homosexual culture, barely a compliment really, more of an observation, was so offensive to John I might as well have been dragging my nuts across his face. In John's mind I was apparently siding with the enemy.

I've never understood this level of animosity towards homosexuals from my fellow Christians. As a Christian I believe homosexuality to be wrong. Not merely different, wrong. But I don't think they're monsters. They are just sinful human beings. We're all sinful human beings. That's the whole reason Christ got his ass nailed to a tree.

It's not merely homosexuality, but really all manner of sexuality that catches the ire of my fellow believers. Christian media personality James Dobson actually states pornography to be far more addictive than any drug and one exposure to pornography will addict you. Not might, will. That's obviously absurd. This has always struck me as odd. Gossip has probably poisoned just as many, if not more relationships than any sort of sexual sin, and yet I don't know of any Christian groups that protest TMZ like they do porn. I don't even think the over emphasis on sexual sin is even Biblical. In the Gospels, there is one time Jesus is angered to the point of becoming violent. It's not in a whorehouse, it's not in an Apollo temple (a homosexual cult at the time) but rather it's at the corrupt money changers in the temple. So perhaps if Christ was physically walking the Earth today he would be far more upset with the hucksters on the religious channel scamming donations out of people than the dirty movies on Pay Per View.

But maybe that's just me.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Review(s) of the Week: Avenging Spider-man #18, Uncanny X-men Vol3 #3, and Mega Man #23

The part of this new Superior Spider-man stuff that I've enjoyed the most is watching him interact with other heroes in books like Daredevil and here in Avenging. A while back Electro, while in his pure electricity form was cast off into deep space by Thor. In this issue he has returned. Ock-Spidey has detected his energy signature and tries to warn Thor that Electro will want revenge. Thor laughs this off telling him that Electro is no threat to him. Well it turns out he is because Electro has paid some AIM scientists to transform his energy form into one of protons rather than electrons so Thor would have no power over him. Ock-Spidey catches wind of this and again tries to warn Thor right as Anti-Electro shows up. He proceeds to slap Thor around a little bit and Ock Spidey warns Thor not to hit him with electricity as the protons hitting the electrons might go boom in a big ass way. Thor holds off Anti-Electro while Ock-Spidey comes up with a McGuffin device to reverse the process, all the while Ock-Spidey comments on how impressed with Thor's bravery and overall character he is. He uses his McGuffin and Electro is seemingly destroyed. Thor and Ock-Spidey part ways, Thor obviously uneasy with the changes he senses in Spidey. Then we find out Electro is actually in a containment unit next to one housing Sandman in a secret lab of Ock-Spidey. It seems Otto is putting the band back together, but for what purpose.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, this Superior Spider-man stuff is the best Spidey I've read in years. It's the first time since OMD I've actually cared about Spider-man and really want to see where things are going. If you're not reading this book and Superior, you should be.

If you haven't already, check out my reviews of issues one and two. Last two issues, while Scott and his renegade X-men gather up new wayward mutants to train, Magneto seemingly sold them out behind their backs, including giving away their position to SHIELD and the Avengers, who at the end of last issue have showed up to arrest Scott. This issue the Avengers and Scott's X-men, well they mostly talk, until one of the mutant kids uses her powers to temporarily freeze the Avengers in time so they can get away. When they get back it's obvious to them Magneto sold them out but he tell them, rather convincingly, that he did it to gain the trust of SHIELD and the U.S. government. Magik doesn't buy it, Emma does, and Scott's not sure.

This issue didn't have the big fight last issue seemed to promise, but given how sloppy Chris Bachalo's art work is I'm kinda glad. Plus Bendis really delivers some great character moments out of the back and forth between the two teams. And I'm really intrigued by what Magneto is up to. Is he really playing the government for fools? Did he just say that for the benefit of his fellow X-men? Or is he possibly playing both sides against each other for his own ends? Time will tell.

Despite Chris Bachalo's artwork being absolute garbage this is a damn good book and if you're not reading it, you're missing out.

I'm telling you, this is the best all ages book on the shelves right now. Back in issue 17 we learned the origin of Proto Man and saw him join forces with Dr. Wily. This issue he attacks Mega Man out of jealousy as the city is throwing him a big birthday parade in honor of all he's done for them. The fight between Mega Man and Proto Man, now calling himself Break Man was pretty interesting and full of lots of action and solid character moments. At one point Rush is critically damaged and Mega Man tries to repair him. Proto Man keeps attacking and Mega Man tells him "If it's a fight you want, I'll fight you, just let me take care of my dog" to which Proto Man actually gives pause and let's him do just that. It's clear that Proto Man is a man, or rather robot of honor despite having fallen in with the wrong crowd. He has Mega Man dead to rights but can't go through with finishing off his brother and starts to walk away. It's at that moment that the world starts to go white.

Coming up next, World's Collide, and as I've said over and over and over again, I can't wait.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Bechtloff's Book of Genesis: Pac Man 2.

I have stared into the the abyss, into the face of pure unadulterated evil, and it is Pac Man 2: The New Adventures.

Part of me really wants to end the review right there with that one sentence. But I suppose you might want me to explain it. Well, remember when I called Sonic Spinball "butt fuckingly frustrating"? Well, I think I owe the makers of Sonic Spinball an apology, because this 16 bit coat hanger abortion is the epitome of frustration.

In this game you don't play as Pac Man, so much as you and him annoy the piss out of each other. You are some sort of interactive narrator, like God if all he ever did was shoot things at people with a slingshot. You try desperately to get Pac Man to not walk face first into any and every danger along his path, almost always in vain. 

Who in the hell thought this was a good idea? "Hey I got an idea for a game, what if instead of playing as a character, you had to beg, bribe and threaten a character to get him to do what you want, and most of the time he would just do what ever the fuck he wanted, which would usually be getting himself killed." Apparently Namco was so impressed with the idea they decided to stick their flagship character in it.

This is seriously the kinda game where I hope somebody got fired. I mean fucking shitcanned. I hope the guy in charge of this project got called into Mr. Namco's office where he was screamed at for 10 minutes before being told to clean out his desk.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Superman vs Thor, you mad bro?

It really amazes me sometimes which posts get the biggest responses. My little Superman vs Thor post got a ton of hits and some rather heated responses. Cameron from the Null Zone pounced on it in the comments thread and I posted a link to it on comicboards which also got a rather negative response. While I think Thor could indeed beat Superman there are obviously a lot more factors than Mjolnir, but I still say that's the deciding factor. I thought it was kinda obvious that it was done with a little bit of tongue in cheek, what with the fact that I simulated that fight with Lego men, but apparently JLA/Avengers fights are no laughing matter on the web. I guess it's a good thing I didn't dive into the murky waters of a Batman/Captain America fight.
Batman totally wins though.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Villain Spotlight: The Brood.

I've always been a huge fan of the Aliens franchise. I loved the first two movies, kinda liked the 3rd, and even thought the first Aliens vs Predators movie wasn't that bad. Despite the numerous amount of comic crossovers Aliens and Predators have had they never had a crossover with Marvel. Personally, like I said on here before, I'd love it if they did. In the mean time Marvel has the next best thing, the Brood.

The Brood are clearly meant as analogues for the Xenomorphs from the Aliens movies. The have a similar look and even breed in a similar way. When the Brood implant an egg in a host organism, it hatches and actually transforms the host into a Brood. The newly transformed Brood has Brood knowledge passed down through a hive mind as well as the knowledge and memories of it's host. Also when a super powered being is transformed the new Brood possesses it's super powers. The most odd example of this was when Ghost Rider was transformed into a Brood.
He got better thanks to a combination of his supernatural abilities and some telepathic assistance from the X-men Psylocke. Most Brood, while somewhat intelligent are incredibly violent and beholden to the good of their hive. One Brood however was born different. He was called Broo and was a peaceful, highly intelligent vegetarian and was attending the Jean Grey School for Gifted Youngsters. Unfortunately he recently suffered brain damage and his more beastly and violent now. Hopefully he recovers because I always thought he was an interesting character. I wish we would see more of the Brood they're a pretty cool threat and outside of the X-books are extremely underused.

Superman vs Thor.

Superman is vulnerable to magic. Thor has a big magic hammer. End of discussion.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

TV Review: Cupid (1998)

This was probably one of the best shows you never watched. In this show Jeremy Piven plays a guy who believes he is Cupid, cast down to Earth from Mt Olympus, stripped of his godly powers, and forced to set up 100 couple in true love before he can return as punishment for being an arrogant douchebag.

These claims naturally result in him ending up in a nuthouse. He gets released when he pretends to be cured of his delusion, claiming he remembers his name is Trevor, so long as he remains under the treatment of his shrink Claire Allen, played by Paula Marshall, otherwise known as that chick you've seen in a million things but don't remember where exactly. It's weird, Marshall has spent the last two decades almost having a career. She has done guest shots and small recurring roles on tons of TV shows, she even had a movie role in Hellraiser III, but just never managed to get any steady work or real recognition. She's not bad, I don't know why she can't do better for herself.

"Trevor" manages to get work as a bartender and becomes the roommate of the bar's bouncer. Then "Trevor" sets about his mission of hooking up 100 couples, attending Dr. Allen's singles group to help while Dr Allen sets about attempting to figure out who "Trevor" truly is.

Probably the single best part about this show was it's ambiguity regarding Trevor AKA Cupid. It is never definitively said one way or the other whether he is delusional or truly what he claims to be. He is highly intelligent, charming, and as we see when he plays darts, has an uncanny aim. You could easily watch this show and take the perspective that he is indeed Cupid. But nothing he does isn't also explainable by him simply being a mentally disturbed man, albeit a very talented and charming one. Jeremy Piven is at his most Jeremy Piven-y, playing a lovable smart ass of a character here flawlessly.

Also, you can tell as early as the pilot that Trevor and Dr. Allen share a chemistry, and indeed, according to Wikipedia, show creator Rob Thomas said he intended for the last episode to be Trevor and Dr. Allen hooking up as Cupid's 100th couple.

I used to watch this back when it was originally on. Sadly though it only lasted a season. Part of the blame for this I think was ABC giving it the terrible time slot of 10PM Saturday nights. Still, this was one of the best shows you never saw, it was funny, it was touching, and it was Jeremy Piven at his best. Most of the episodes can easily be found on Youtube and I would say you should give this forgotten gem a look.

Review of the Week: Superior Spider-man #5

If you haven't already check out my reviews of issues one, two, three, and four. Last issue the murderous villain known as Massacre had escaped from Ravenkroft and killed 27 people in a Burger Town restaurant. Massacre has brain damage with prevents him from feeling many emotions, chief among them empathy and mercy. This resulted in Ock-Spidey vowing to rectify Peter's 'mistake' of not killing Massacre. In this issue we see the C.E.O. of Phizzy Cola, which owns Burger Town, reacting the to negative publicity. Suddenly she's confronted with Massacre who has snuck into her apartment. He talks to her about the negative publicity that he has caused her and offers to commit his next mass murder wearing a t-shirt of their competitor Mocha Cola for $12million. She agrees and that's what he does.

When Ock-Spidey confronts Massacre during this mass shooting it ultimately ends up with Ock-Spidey pointing a gun directly at his head wondering out loud if he should let him live. People in the crowd tell him to kill him, and suddenly Massacre finds himself genuinely afraid for the first time since his accident. Ock-Spidey proclaims this to be irrelevant and kills him anyways. Also Ock-Spidey confronts the C.E.O. of Phizzy Cola, telling him his watchful Spidey bots caught the whole deal and if she doesn't turn herself in she will have to deal with him.

Slott does a great job of examining the question of whether Ock-Spidey is going too far. By having Massacre show signs of still having shreds of humanity he doesn't make it as black and white as if he were completely irredeemable. Also Slott is handling nicely the idea that Ock-Spidey may be too efficient a crime fighter, slipping into the realm of a big brother. This series has been great since the start. I've said if before and I'll say it again, this is the best Spidey stuff since that One More Day abortion crapped on the franchise and it's the first time since then I've been excited to be a Spidey fan. If you're not reading this you should be. Simple as that.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Ermahgerd! Merga Mahn!

So, with my birthday coming up I decided to splurge on the the Bandai Tamashii Nation Mega Man toy. It wasn't cheap at around $40 but it's still pretty undeniably cool. Hell, even the box was gorgeous.
 He comes with his robot dog Rush and a little Met robot. What's more he comes with several different interchangeable hands and faces and some energy blasts that can attach to his mega blaster arm.
I haven't actually figured out how to swap out his faces, I just got him in the mail this afternoon so I haven't had much time to play with it, and it doesn't help that the instructions are in Japanese.
This thing is amazingly well articulated, it looks bad ass and comes with a ton of stuff. The price is really steep, but if you're a fan of the Blue Bomber I would say it's worth the price. There's a Bass toy coming out soon too. Now if I only they'd make a Proto Man and of course my personal favorite, Wood Man.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sonic/Mega Man crossover part 7 revealed.

I recently posted the solicits for parts five and six of the Sonic/Mega Man crossover and I found part seven online while surfing today.

(W) Ian Flynn (A) Tracy Yardley & Various (CA) Patrick Spaz Spaziante

‘When Worlds Collide,’ Part 7 of 12. The historic Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man crossover event rolls on! The hunt for the Roboticized Masters continues as Sonic and Mega Man face down Shadow Man and – Shadow Man? Meanwhile, Drs. Eggman and Wily gloat over the captive Dr. Light. But what is the brilliant, bearded scientist preparing to do? Featuring stunning new cover art from Patrick ‘SPAZ’ Spaziante, and a special throwback variant cover you just can’t miss!
Shadow Man and Shadow Man. I'm guessing that's obviously the Mega Man villain Shadow Man, seen there on the cover, with what is probably Shadow the Hedgehog as one of the "Roboticized Masters". In fact I think we see him on the cover of Sonic Universe #52.

Also I found a site that is keeping track of news on Sonic/Mega Man and posting all the solicits as they come. Click here to check it out.

Bechtloff's Book of Genesis: Ecco the Dolphin

One of the odder games on the Genesis was Ecco the Dolphin. In this game you play the titular dolphin who must rescue his pod who has been abducted by aliens.
 You fight your way through various underwater environments including the frozen arctic and the sunken city of Atlantis until finally getting on board the alien ship, which is also conveniently full of water to battle the xenomorph looking aliens and rescue your family.

This game was absolutely beautiful. The environments were all impressive, the graphics really pushed the limits of the 16 bits. You use your sonar as well as sudden bursts of speed to hit things with your nose to kill enemies. A lot of enemies you're simply better off avoiding than confronting.

In some ways you could dismiss this as yet another sidescroller, but the underwater environments give things a different feel, allowing you to move freely up and down as well as left and right. The controls are at times a little clunky, this could have benefited from an analogue controller rather than the directional pad the Sega controllers had. This game is kinda a ball buster at times, but there is something about the feel and the look of it that keeps you engaged, even when it gets hard as hell.

Other than the Sonic games, this is to me the number one game I think of when I think of the Genesis. If you've never played this game you should definitely give it a shot.

Bechtloff Movie Night: Escape from Hell (2000)

After checking out crap like Fireproof, Courageous, and Flywheel, I've sorta been on a mini mission to find a non sucky Christian movie. When I heard about Escape from Hell I figured it was worth a look. Escape from Hell is a Christian movie about a Doctor investigating near death experiences. He conducts an experiment in which he gives himself a lethal drug cocktail with the intent of having his colleagues revive him so he can experience a near death experience first hand. He ends up going to Hell and when he's revived a demon has followed him back and is chasing him. He runs off, stealing an ambulance and seeks shelter in a nearby church. The janitor in the church tries to throw him out so the Doctor tells his story, including days worth of back story and irrelevant details. When the demon shows up (sorta) the janitor prays it away and then tells the Doctor that the only way he can be safe from it permanently is to put his faith in Jesus.

The premise of this movie sounded interesting, so I was curious to see how they would inevitably cock it up. I think the biggest problem with this is, for a movie designed to scare people into faith in Jesus, it sure isn't even remotely scary. When the demon shows up it looks like a cross between the Venom Symbiote and the shadow demons from the movie Ghost.
I get that they were working with a limited effects budget, and didn't want to gore things up, but you don't need to do that to be scary. For a movie about Hell this didn't have even one bit of creepy or disturbing imagery. Compare that to say, Exorcism of Emily Rose, one of the few PG-13 horror movies that got a rise out of me. That movie was full of really creepy things. Frankly the makers of this movie could have benefited from watching just about any exorcism movie of the last couple of decades

Also, despite a measly 78 minute run time, this movie manages to waste an exorbitant amount of time on inconsequential bullshit. The movie starts with our Doctor waking up from him near death experience, heading to the Church, and then telling the janitor what lead him to this point in flashback. And it just drags on so much. Also, even putting aside how bad the CGI was (I know this no doubt had a limited budget, so that's understandable) the designs for both Heaven and especially Hell were incredibly unimaginative. When the Doctor has his near death experience he first ends up in Heaven before he is cast down to Hell. Heaven looked like a damn Lisa Frank painting.
And Hell was practically cartoonish it was so predictable. I mean, again I get the effect budget was low, but that's no excuse for a complete lack of creativity. Still, to be fair, it didn't look any worse than the Hell scenes in Spawn.
So what we had here was a concept that certainly had potential, but it suffers from poor pacing, unimaginative designs, and above all failing to do the thing it was designed to do, scare the Hell outta people.