Battle of the Atom Chapter 2 – All-New X-Men #16 Review

5 Sep
All-New Future X-Men

All-New Future X-Men

All-New X-Men #16 wastes little time getting straight into the main conflict of this event. The future X-Men team confront the present and past teams informing them of an oncoming series of disastrous events caused by the original X-Men lingering about too long. Nothing specific is mentioned but there are definite hints at more going on than meets the eye.

Wolverine takes control of the proceedings by quite literally sniffing out this strange new team. Among them are an “old-as-dirt” Beast, a now hooded but maskless Deadpool, former Runaway Molly Hayes. Both Icemen are utterly mortified to see the Hulk like ‘Ice Thing’ staring them in the face.

Sniffing out the competition

Sniffing out the competition

There are plenty of emotions flying around this issue including a very touching moment between Logan and an older Kitty Pryde. This may just be the future Shadowcat showing her happiness at seeing an old friend but combined with a seemingly joking Deadpools comment  and the fact that the Wolverine has recently lost his healing ability, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was some early seeding by Bendis at a possible death for everyone’s favourite canuck.

Discussing the other two team members from the future would be heading into spoiler territory but needless to say they will play an important part as the crossover continues. One of those mysterious figures deeply unsettles young Jean Grey causing her to flee with Cyclops due to her deep distrust of them. It seems a little odd she wouldn’t voice these concerns when she has been so vocal about what she has or hasn’t overhead from others minds in the past.

Despite only having two pages in this chapter, all new mutant Christopher Muse’s conversation with his new mentor Cyclops is very poignant.

“You X-Men are so used to the space and time and life and death craziness in your lives that you don’t even notice how crazy it is anymore.”

With Jean Grey and Cyclops on the run to parts unknown the past, present and future X-Men will be looking for them before they cause irreparable damage to the timeline, but will Cyclops find them first? And if so, which side of the line will he stand when the battle commences?

Score: 9.0 / 10

Battle of the Atom Checklist Chapter 2

Battle of the Atom Chapter 1 – X-Men: Battle of the Atom #1 Review

5 Sep
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Let the battle begin!

Children of the Atom past, present & future collide in this opening chapter of this years X-Men crossover. Celebrating 50 years of all things mutant Battle of the Atom brings together a whole heap of fan favourites, some in several iterations.  Although no much actual battling takes place between the X-gene heroes in this issue, there is plenty of action here to dig into.

Kitty Pryde’s original X-Men and Cyclops’ revolutionary Uncanny X-Men clash attempting to recruit newly powered mutant Animax. Undeterred by tensions between them, the two groups are forced to put any animosity aside to battle an old enemy in the form a squadron of sentinels. There is some nice character work with the all new X-Men in particular Christopher Muse, a new student at Cyclops’ school with healing abilities.

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After a close shave for two mutants, the current Jean Grey School X-Men decide to immediately send their young visitors back from whence they came. The X-Universe has always been a complicated one, with several dystopian alternative dimensions and futures popping up left right and centre. So when a future team of X-Men appear before the young ones can be sent back you know that trouble is afoot.

Bendis has a fantastic grip on each character and manages to give everyone panel time despite the large cast. Looking forward into All-New X-Men #16 I’m eager to see why exactly these future X-men have broken the recently implemented no time travel rule, especially as one of they heavily responsible for being thoroughly irresponsible with the space-time continuum.

Score: 8.5 / 10

Battle of the Atom Checklist Chapter 1

Hail to the King – Avenged Sevenfold Album Review

4 Sep
Make way for the Kings

Make way for the Kings

Hail to the King is a statement. A war cry to not only their peers but the entire music industry. Taking the number one spots on the album charts in on both sides of the atlantic shows that this is a band not to be reckoned with. Steadily building a loyal fan base over a decade and a half of blood sweat and tears has paid off in the form of a place amongst the upper echelon of modern rock bands.

Songs such as ‘Shepherd of Fire’ & ‘This Means War’ share obvious comparisons to Metallica whilst more classic rock tunes like ‘Doing Time’ seem ripped straight from the hands of Slash and pal Myles Kennedy. Despite this the band’s sound is never once lost, incorporating the best aspects of their idols music into the evolution of their own sound.

While many may not find this their personal favourite there can be no denying Hail to the King has accomplished what it set out to achieve. Already known for their theatricality both sonically and with a stunning stage show, Avenged Sevenfold have solidified their status as a stadium rock band following their contemporaries Alter Bridge, Bullet for my Valentine & even pop rockers Paramore into arenas. For better or worse, this seems to be a new milestone or trophy for rock bands, a goal which Hail to the King delivers firmly into the California rockers well deserving hands.

With the untimely death of drummer Jimmy ‘The Rev Sullivan still fresh in the hearts and minds of both fans and band me

mbers, it is fantastic to see the band carve a new sound for themselves without the sizeable influence of their former bandmate. Many aspects of the band unfortunately passed with him but with death there comes new life and new ideas. It is also an interesting look at what we could expect from a future Slipknot album. With one of their core songwriters suffering a similar fate at around the same time, this album gives hope for not only a successful next album for the metal giants but a possible evolution of sound and style similar to this.

Fans of the band will undoubtedly be picking this one up if not already, but with a renewed direction, Hail to the King is certainly something that could appeal to any fan of hard rock.

 

 

Wonder Woman Vol. 1 Review

4 Sep
Blood

Blood

Action. Drama. Mythology. Metal. Blood. Brian Azzarello brings all these together to create a stellar debut into DC’s New 52 for the worlds favourite super heroine Wonder Woman.

Vivid from the off, this new version of the Warrior Princess is action packed. Azzarello and Chiang paint a weighty and often horrifying vision of combat in a world used as a playset, caught between warring gods. Diana is confident and steadfast in her actions, whether slicing through enemies or reassuring her allies that they are safe in her presence. No matter the obstacle, from the mighty Lord Poseidon to her misguided Amazon sisters the Princess of Themyscira has a tactic and a weapon for any and every attack.

One such weapon is her brain. Here is a hero who would much rather think her way out of a confrontation despite being able to completely annihilate anything in sight. That great mind is put to use often in this first adventure, contending with her devious half-sister and almighty uncles. These new additions to the family are re-imagined versions of the gods of Olympus, some taking forms you may be familiar with whilst others surprise even Diana. The mythology of the old used in a new world is one of the books strongest assets and I loved being pulled into a drama I knew little about yet somehow is instantly recognisable.

But the thing which sold me on the title and the character, someone I have never really taken an interest in before now, is her humanity. Coming from one world, with heritage from another she leaves both for ours . She feels at home with us and as the only human character of the book points out she is sharing with us (sometimes very sharing, up close and personal in a mosh pit). A Princess who could rule the land of man without breaking a sweat chooses instead to integrate into our society. Superman and Batman may fight for us, but Wonder Woman fights with us.

The most important theme which binds this tale together is blood. Rejecting one family and being shunned by the other Diana creates her own kin and fights tooth and nail to protect them. Azzarello and Chiang have done an incredible job in restoring the first lady of DC to her rightful place at the top of the mountain. This character is not amazing because she’s a woman, she’s amazing because of her character.

Hawkguy – Earth’s Mightiest Dude

9 Mar

Screenshot_2013-03-09-20-07-41-1Okay, this looks bad. Really bad. Copying the start of Hawkeye for my intro. Cheap. I really should be original. Screw it.

I’m not going to mess around. Hawkeye is amazing. If you’re a fan of comic books, if you read comic books, if you know anything at all about comic books then Hawkeye is for you.

Before I begin lets just get one thing straight. I am a comic noob. There I said it. It has been almost a year since I started reading comics regularly. In that time I have read almost 80 unique titles. Based on my bank statements I have spent exactly…far too much on comics in such a short span of time. However I don’t claim to be an expert, I’ve mainly read mainstream Marvel and select Image gems. So my thoughts on this are from the point of view of a casual fan wading in up to his neck in the bizarre but hugely gratifying world of comics.

Written by Matt Fraction and stunningly brought to life by David Aja, Hawkeye is the story of one of the Avengers most loyal and longest serving super heroes. Hawkeye, the guy, is special in many respects. He stands up to Captain America when others tend just to follow. He has more charm than James Bond despite being a quite a jerk and still ends up with more than his fair share of the Marvel ladies. Perhaps most importantly he doesn’t actually have any super powers.

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And that why this series works. Unlike most of his cohorts, Clint Barton is just a dude. He’s neither a billionaire like Tony Stark, a King like T’Challa nor is he a demi god like Thor. Clint lives in the real world and when he’s not saving it he is just getting by like everyone else.

In Hawkeye, Clint deals with everyday issues such as untangling audio cables or helping a dog to the vets after a car accident. Of course he has his villains, and occasionally the odd cameo from a friendly face, but for the most part he is helping out his neighbours or organizing his trick arrows.

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The other major factor to the series is the Student/Master Father/Daughter element in the form of Kate Bishop. Kate, also dubbed Hawkeye by none other than…Hawkeye, plays the straight face to Barton’s clown-like antics. She is endearing and the perfect balance. She helps him in more ways than he likes to admit and he truly loves her for it, perhaps because he sees so much of himself in her.

With the release of the highly successful Avengers Assemble (Or simply The Avengers as it’s know everywhere else) Hawkeye has become a household name and Marvel would have been brain dead not to have capitalized on that in some fashion. With casual fans dipping their toes into comics Hawkeye is a great platform from which to dive right in.

I’ve not, at least knowingly, read any of Fraction’s other works, but I really enjoyed the story he has to tell in each issue and more importantly the dialogue and character interaction. There are some moments which are filled with explosions and gunfire and huge action sequences, but all you care about is what Clint is saying to Kate. Comic books, like any form of storytelling, is about the characters. You can have the most epic backdrop but unless you care about the people on the page, until they feel real its just really great art.

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Which is a huge understatement. David Aja’s artwork is, at least to me anyways, breathtaking. I recognise that art is a very subjective thing, but I am in love. Aja doesn’t choke the panel with texture, yet somehow still managed to get an insane level of detail.

Much love also has to be given to one very special pooch. Pizza Dog, Hawkeye’s new sidekick, is getting his own issue. Yes, an entire issue from the perspective of the dog. And I guarantee it will out do a fair deal of other releases that day, both financially and critically.

Clint Barton may be a mighty Avenger but on his days off he is also a mighty guy.

For A Pessimist I’m Pretty Optimistic

4 Mar

Argo was the  Academy’s best picture. Django Unchained was the cool best picture. Lincoln was the Oscar bait’s best picture. Silver Linings Playbook was the feel good picture. And for me its the film I most wanted to see after seeing snippets of it from throughout the award season.

Bradley Cooper’s Pat Solitano Jr. is fresh out of a mental health facility after losing it walking in on his wife with another man. Whilst inside he discovers he was an undiagnosed bipolar, explaining but not forgiving many actions from his past. Pat Jr. simply cannot come to terms with the fact that his wife has a restraining order on him (rightly so as Pat beat the living snot out of the guy she had an affair with) and so delusionally sets out to win her back by proving he has his disorder in check. Which obviously, he does not.

THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Pat Sr. played wonderfully by Robert De Niro and mother Jacki Weaver struggle physically and emotionally to calm and control Pat Jr. who is on the verge of being sent back to the mental health facility. De Niro shines not because of his usual strength and presence but showing so much love whilst still being totally helpless to aid his son. The most touching moments of the film come from the interaction of  Pat Jr. & Sr.

This film is labelled as a “Dramedy” which implies some kind of Adam Sandler type shtick with brief moments of real emotion. The opposite here is true, with the relationships between the characters being paramount and any funny business coming more from the awkwardness of the situation. There is no mistaking this film can be emotional. It deals not only with a man suffering from a disorder but his friends and family who somehow must protect Pat from himself and the rest of the world.

Their job is made infinitely more difficult when a  friends sister in law Tiffany, played to perfection by Jennifer Lawrence throws spanners in the works. Pat cannot get his head around her yet is drawn to her for her connection to his wife. Believing he can gain favour with Tiffany who in turn would pass a message to his wife, the two start a tumultuous relationship.

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It is clear why Jennifer Lawrence won the Oscar for Best Actress. She is foul mouthed, opinionated and has literally no bullshit filter, something Pat identifies with. This is not a love story so much as two people trying to patch themselves up by gravitating towards a kindred broken soul.

The crux of the movie isn’t a budding romance but instead exploring how we all have problems. Some like Pat Jr. are silent and live under the surface until one day it is triggered and propels us over the edge. Others such Pat Sr. and his OCD and superstitions are obvious and visible but both just as debilitating. Tiffany is grieving the death of her husband and acting out in inappropriate ways, her brother in law Ronnie is basically whipped by his over bearing control freak wife Julia Stiles and even Chris Tucker’s Danny, a fellow patient of Pat’s who is endlessly escaping via legal loopholes like a stray cat returning to lighten to mood just when its needed.

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As someone who suffers from similar inflictions this movie was a joy. It was awkward in places, cripplingly sad in others but by the end there was a big cheshire smile on my face. If you’re feeling down, this film is your silver lining.

Video

Guide to Superhero Comics: Part 2: Avengers Books, Iron Man, Thor & More

4 Mar

Check out the latest video from ComicBookGirl19 on her YouTube channel of the same name.

This episode CBG19 discusses the Avengers line of comic books, whats been before and whats to come. If you’re looking for a jumping on point after loving the Avengers movie, take a gander at this one!

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