Tag Archive: captain america

Join the Merry Marvel Marching Society

When LEGO Marvel Super Heroes was first announced, some of us less-open-minded comic-book aficionados had some questions about the idea of Warner Bros. (who owns rival DC) publishing a Marvel product of any kind. Luckily, it seems that developer TT Games has just as many mighty Marvelites on their staff as they do dedicated DCers (just don’t tell the bigwigs upstairs!).

Similar to the LEGO Batman games, TT started by making a LEGO-ized version of New York City, giving fans of the comic-book giant an open world comparable to DC’s Gotham. Sure, they’ve taken some liberties—the X-Mansion’s been moved to the North End and out of Westchester County, for example—but these changes were necessary to make everything fit logically into what’s a truly massive hub made of LEGO bricks. With well over 100 heroes and villains coming together in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, however, there needs to be a universal threat that ties this hub and these heroes together.

Fortunately, Marvel has exactly that in the form of the world-consuming Galactus. And he hungers for Earth. Again. Only a select few know of his approach, though, and some of Marvel’s most nefarious nemeses like Magneto, Loki, and Dr. Doom look to turn this global threat to their advantage. Marvel’s best and brightest heroes will now try to work together to thwart the master plan of these villains, as well as turn Galactus away.

If you’ve played any of the LEGO titles before—whether they were based directly on a movie or more loosely inspired by a property like this one—then you have an idea of what to expect. For this particular game, the action’s broken into 15 levels across many familiar Marvel Universe locales. As you make progress, you unlock gold bricks for performing certain actions, such as saving Stan Lee (who always finds himself in a perilous situation!) or collecting a certain amount of studs (the LEGO version of coins). As you unlock more bricks and play more of the game, you’ll add more heroes and villains to an ever-expanding cast of characters—who can then, in turn, be used to unlock more bricks. And the cycle continues until you 100-percent the game.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes features more activities than previous entries when it comes to acquiring bricks, giving the game solid variety and replayability. Some gold bricks require puzzle-solving and swapping of powers, but the game also includes plenty of fetch quests that are rather dull and populate much of the hub world. Escorting mini-figs slowly on foot from one side of the map to the other is not my definition of fun and could grate on completionists.

Speaking of swapping powers, your mini-figures can now wield more abilities than ever before. And not just the super-strength you’d expect from characters like the Hulk or the Thing—you can fire laser blasts with Cyclops, activate Magneto’s mastery of magnetism to move all things made of metal, or use Jean Grey’s telekinesis to move just about everything else in the world around. Mind you, wielding Magneto and Jean Grey’s power classes can take some getting used to, since they’re not as accurate as, say, a blast of flame from the hands of the Human Torch.

Since many characters can flylike Thor and Iron Mangetting around the hub world has also never been easier. The game even includes vehicles (some of which even having character themes, like the Green Goblin’s helicopterthough he really doesn’t need one, since he has his glider, right?) for characters that move around mostly on foot, such as Black Widow or Hawkeye.

So, some of the gameplay has changed to go along with the new IP, but one element remains mostly the same: the writing. TT Games usually does a tremendous job of finding ways to sprinkle in humor that freshens up the experience for older players, but they also inject plenty of slapstick and childish antics to ensure appeal to younger audiences. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is no exception, and its charm should warm the hearts of even the most jaded of comic-book fans.

Unfortunately, the technical problems that have plagued the LEGO series also return here. The camera remains a problem, especially in the hub world, and it’ll often lead to some unnecessary deaths. The rotating split-screen in co-op is also a distraction and detracts from the co-op experience, since two characters can’t just run off—they need to stay close to each other at all times. In future entries, TT Games either needs to make two static, horizontal split-screens or keep me and my buddy stuck within the same window. I started getting sick from the rotating line that appears when one player decides to run north and the other south.

While on the subject of co-op, the other big problem is that we still don’t have online 4-player co-op. The game includes many instances with four heroes in a group in the story, and I had to needlessly rotate through them all to try to progress. Even at my age, I can imagine having a good time with friends or my younger cousins on the other side of the country if we could do this online. And why limit the 4-player fun to the story? The hub world is easily massive enough to fit four mini-fig heroes in it.

Besides the legacy technical shortcomings, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is immensely enjoyable. It has enough side content, including bonus missions and challenges, that should keep gamers of all ages entertained for hours. But even if you’re just in it for the story, you should walk away happy. If you love LEGO, Marvel comics, or both, this game won’t disappoint.

Developer: TT Games • Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment • ESRB: E10+ • Release Date: 10.22.2013
Some technical shortcomings aside, this is a tremendously fun experience that will appeal to LEGO and comic book fans young and old alike.
The Good Same humor and charm we’ve come to expect from all the LEGO games.
The Bad Same camera and technical glitches we’ve come to expect from all the LEGO games.
The Ugly Same wonton destruction of property we’ve come to expect from all the LEGO games.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is available on Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii U, 3DS, DS, PS Vita, and will be a launch title for PS4 and Xbox One. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.

Make Mine Marvel

I can’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t want to be a superhero. Whether it was wielding the Hulk’s impossible strength, firing lasers from my eyes like Cyclops, or cutting things to ribbons with Wolverine’s claws, superpowers have always been at the forefront of my imagination. So, I’ll admit that I relished being able to go hands-on with Gazillion Entertainment’s upcoming free-to-play MMORPG Marvel Heroes.

The story starts off with vintage Marvel bad guy Dr. Doom getting his hands on a Cosmic Cube—and the chaos he intends to bring down upon the citizenry of the world will be significant. Therefore, Marvel’s mightiest heroes from across all major lines must come together to root out Doom and his allies. Being as obsessed with comics as I am, this story may look like it’s been done before—on the surface, anyway. But the game’s writer, Brian Michael Bendis (best known for his long run on The Avengers), is clear that it’s difficult to write for a game like this.

“The challenge was to come up with a story that hits as much architecture and landscape in the Marvel Universe as possible without it feeling too much like a knee-jerk thing,” he says. “What’s interesting about the Marvel Universe is that there are just as many interesting things going on at the street level—let’s say the Daredevil level, the Spider-Man level—as there are at the cosmic level, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Silver Surfer, the Galactus level. The cool thing—and the interesting idea for us—was to actually start the story at the ground level and kind of roll like a snowball downhill. As you discover more and more about the actual story and play through the game, you get to travel up toward the cosmic level of the Marvel universe, all the while not getting newcomers lost or confused. I looked at it like this grand opportunity to create almost like a Marvel event comic unlike anything you’d actually seen in publishing. And at the same time, create like a Marvel lifestyle product, if that makes sense. Then, there are some fans who live and breathe these characters—and are going to live and breathe this game. This is going to be, if done well, the next step of the worldwide community of comic-book fans and Marvel fans and just fans of games. To create something that really lives and breathes like the Marvel Universe for them all to live in is a real treat—and a real challenge.”

If you should live and breathe these characters, as Mr. Bendis so aptly puts it, then you’ll probably be as excited as I was to see what he was talking about. I was fortunate enough to play through three of the story’s dozen chapters; in that time, I went from Mutant Town in New York City to the Kingpin’s penthouse to the Morlock sewers to the Savage Land—hopping through some of Marvel’s most iconic locations in a way that makes sense to the story. I also took on iconic baddies like Sentinels, Mutates, A.I.M., and the Purifiers, not to mention individual supervillains like Green Goblin, Tombstone, Sauron, Bullseye, and Lady Deathstrike.

But including characters that we expect to see in a game like this isn’t going to be enough—the gameplay needs to be there, too. Fortunately, Gazillion president and COO David Brevik has a bit of experience in making games like this really shine (he created Diablo I and II, if you didn’t recognize the name).

Steering away from fully customizable avatars, Marvel Heroes wants to make you feel like those great characters we all grew up loving, so you only play as established characters from the Marvel Universe. If you want to smash with the Hulk, you can do it. If Ms. Marvel is more your thing, then no one will stop you. Or maybe purple really does it for you, so Hawkeye’s your man. If they’re a hero in the Marvel Universe, you can unlock them and play with them at some point. And if you don’t like their standard look, you’ve got a bevy of alternate costumes you can unlock—like, if you’d rather your Captain America have that 1940s helmet instead of his modern mask.

And playing with these characters feels as great as you’d expect. Setting hotkeys for special powers or just left- and right-clicking makes it so you can fire a variety of beams with Cyclops or set the world on fire however you wish with the Human Torch. It couldn’t be easier to start mowing down Mole People or putting the screws to Pyro than that.

As Brevik explains, though, you can’t just go it alone if you really want to get through the story and the inevitable expansions down the road. At times, you’ll have to team up, and Gazillion’s trying some different ways to make some of those feel more spur-of-the-moment than camping out in front of a dungeon entrance looking for help.

“We had an idea about the way that we’d like to get invites going and get people together,” he says. “We have events that are more traditional encounters, making sure that there are opportunities for people to socially get together and group up. You hang out in town, and people are like, ‘I need help with the Kingpin fight!’ or ‘Oh, I’m on that, too,’ and group up and go to this thing together. That’s something we wanted from the very beginning as part of the design. Then, we have optional grouping, which is this loose grouping out in the public combat zones. Green Goblin suddenly pops up, and then everybody can get together dynamically and work together, and everybody gets rewarded. So, there isn’t an official formalization of the grouping there. There’ll be other ways to group and other ways to do things, especially in the endgame, that I think will also play right into the kind of MMO hands that people are used to.”

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the crafting system. Going to certain characters like Forge at the X-Mansion or Hank Pym at Avengers Tower will allow players the chance to upgrade their equipment or add buffs to items like Cyclops’ visor or Deadpool’s katanas. This just gives you an even deeper connection to the experience; it hearkens back to Diablo while still featuring the Marvel flair players expect.

Marvel Heroes is shaping up as one of the more special free-to-play MMO experiences. With the power of the Marvel license, writers like Brian Michael Bendis, and David Brevik’s Diablo background, every Marvelite will likely be shouting “Excelsior!” when this game’s finally open to everyone—hopefully sometime later this year.

After finally recovering from a SDCC caused coma, The Pullbox has returned! A busy week this week in terms of comics as we saw an enticing new #1, some crazy things happen in AvX, and a new entrant into our indie space. So without further ado, here is this week’s Pullbox!

DC – Batman Beyond Unlimited #6 – This collection of stories following Terry McGinnis, the Batman of the future, gives us three interesting continuations of tales started in earlier issues. First, Solomon Grundy reveals himself to Superman while Lex’s daughter’s plan comes to fruition. In another story, Batman and the rest of the future Justice League travel to Apokolips to help Orion and a blinded Darkseid fight a giant serpent. The final story follows Batman by himself and the Jokerz from all over the country continue their migration to Gotham and Batman needs to prioritize multiple attacks at once!

Honestly, I love this comic. I don’t mind paying an extra dollar each month to get several stories in an obviously extended book. I just hope that they don’t forget it’s called Batman Beyond as there is a lot of Superman love here. If they were going to do that, they should really give him his own future book as I think fans would snatch up both. Especially considering how epic the fight is between Grundy and Superman and Lex’s illegitimate daughter following in her daddy’s footsteps is priceless. The other two stories were okay in terms of writing and pacing, but the Jokerz story is starting to drag as so little happens month to month and needs a jumpstart again.

DC – Nightwing #11 – Nightwing starts to get to the bottom of this new villain named Paragon and his group called The Republic of Tomorrow. But with him fighting both the police for being framed, the banks for a loan to buy Amusement Mile, and these new bad guys, it’s going to be hard for Nightwing to come out on top!

This book did a good job of setting up the next issue where we will likely see the climax of this story arc where the villain and his connection to everyone in the past few issues will be resolved. Good action early on followed up by a lot of plot to maintain order within the story worked well for my tastes and shows why Kyle Higgins is the perfect guy to be writing Nightwing. My favorite part of the book though may have been Damian actually accidentally assisting Dick in putting the final pieces of this puzzle together and their banter back and forth.

Marvel – Captain Marvel #1 – After what happened on the Kree homeworld, Carol Danvers has donned a new costume and a new outlook on life. While helping Captain America battle The Absorbing Man though, Cap suggests that it’s time Carol changes her superhero name to something that fits her a bit more and pays respect to someone she clearly cared deeply about. This, Carol takes the mantle of the new Captain Marvel.

This was a good start to this new monthly. I’m not really sure how I feel about the new costume and haircut for Carol just yet, and the plain cover might turn some folks off, but once you crack this book open, you’ll be happy you did. The art inside is something special and its rare I’m this blown away more by the art than the writing of a book. Not to say the writing isn’t solid. Starting off with a B-level villain, but coming out of the gates with it, was a good move because Absorbing Man can be quickly dispatched and that allowed for plenty of time to develop Carol and her hesitation at taking the Captain Marvel moniker. Her banter/beating-up of Spider-Man briefly also added some necessary comedy relief to what was otherwise a very serious book. Good pacing, action, humor, and drama, all in the first issue, really shocked me and has made Captain Marvel a book I will at least be picking up a few issues of, if not making a permanent fixture in the Pullbox.

Marvel – Avengers Academy #33 – Emma Frost continues her tirade about why Juston’s Sentinel must be turned into scrap. And the entire Avengers Academy wants to fight her tooth and nail to stop that from happening. Has Emma become mad with power though or does she make a point about the Sentinel being an abomination? Either way, Juston doesn’t care and won’t stand for it!

This was an entertaining story arc from the first issue up to this conclusion. It subtly asks questions about artificial intelligence and what makes us human, while mixing it with a lot of over the top action and fighting between Emma and the Academy, even if the save at the end was a little weak. More importantly, this issue serves as a launching point for what could be the four most important issues in Avengers Academy history as things look to take a turn for the worst as this AvX event continues.

Boom Studios – Extermination #2 – Alien forces have invaded the Earth and its people have been utterly decimated. In order to survive, odd alliances have been made, most notably between a former superhero named Nox and a former supervillain named The Red Reaper. All does not seem lost though as the unlikely pair moves across the wasteland towards Nox’s secret lair for supplies, they are discovered by another band of survivors. Unfortunately, Nox and the leader of this rag tag band have a history and he’s having a tough time letting go of the past. 

The first issue was only $1 and it was an interesting concept that this Batman/Joker like team are forced to pair up in a post-apocalyptic world full of zombies and other monsters that have destroyed everything they know and love. This second issue though was well worth the normal cover price as it completely blew me away. The relationship between Nox and Red Reaper is wonderful to see develop and Nox’s loyalty to his morals is admirable to a fault. The best part of the book so far has been the interspersed flashbacks showing us their world as it once was as they make off the cuff references to things that clearly no longer exist. I can’t wait to see where this book goes from here and being only two issues in, it shouldn’t be hard to find Issue 1 and get on board immediately, which I highly recommend. 

It’s déjà vu all over again

It was one of last year’s premiere fighting games and it is a franchise that arcade fighting fans absolutely can’t get enough of. So, much in the same vein of how the Nintendo 3DS had Super Street Fighter IV at their handheld system launch, Sony wanted to make sure they had a premiere fighting game to go along with their handheld on launch day as well.

That game, of course, is Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. But with a game already heralded as a superior fighting product that gave fans everything they wanted and then some, what could they possibly do with their port to the PS Vita? Nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true, but relatively speaking Capcom did very little with this latest version of the game that makes it stand out from its console brethren.

And this can be a good thing because why mess with something if isn’t broken? The game still has stunning visuals due to Vita’s processing power and the full 48-character roster of fighters remains completely in tact. The arcade, training, mission, and versus modes all return as nothing content wise was cut to facilitate the small size of the Vita’s cartridge. The voice acting and original music is still all there, the story cut scenes done in a style similar to comic book panels, the hyper combos, Galactus as the final boss, and even personalizing your online card is still present. All of the patches and balancing tweaks that console players had to wait for are all packaged in the game and because of it you still get one of the premiere fighting experiences of 2011 available to you.

The problem is that now it is 2012. And most people who were going to buy this game already have. And the major negative of making little to no changes with the game is now evident. If the audience has already been tapped, who is going to buy the exact same game twice?

Sure, it’s portable now and you can link up with friends to get in some quick versus matches. That’s a cool feature, but again, most people won’t have need of it really if they already bought the game unless they are so hardcore that this game is the center of their entire gaming universe and must have it with them AT ALL TIMES. But for the rest of us, what might sell us on this? Will a new touch screen system make us want to pick this game up? No. Especially since the touch screen is mostly pointless as it is crucial to actually see the screen when playing a fighting game to learn hit boxes, range, patterns, and other critical elements to victory and so you can’t have your fingers constantly getting in the way of that.

And speaking of fingers, it does become a bit harder to pull off a lot of the moves you’re accustomed to with the smaller joystick and buttons of the Vita. And the one thing the Vita version of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 does lack isn’t a shortcoming with the game itself, but with the hardware as you only have two shoulder buttons to try to pull off moves that were originally mapped to four. This can lead to some unnecessary button mashing that changes the game play for the worse.

But, aside from that, if you should pick this game up again, you’ll get everything you would expect from the console version. And if you missed it the first time around on a console, then picking it up for the Vita will definitely be money well-spent. There just isn’t enough of a positive difference though between the console and Vita versions to warrant owning both in most cases.

SUMMARY: Still a stellar fighting game, but if you already have it on a console, there’s no point in picking it up again.

  • THE GOOD: Basically the same game as on consoles
  • THE BAD: Pointless touch controls, lack of shoulder buttons sacrifices move list
  • THE UGLY: Tiny buttons and joysticks make button mashing more difficult

SCORE: 8.0

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PS VITA. This review was based on the PS VITA version of the game.

Comic books fans are some of the most hardcore media consumers there are. And so when word came out that Disney and Playdom were making a “casual” Facebook game revolving around the Marvel Universe called Marvel Avengers Alliance, a collective groan could be heard coming from the comic community. But never fear fellow True Believers as it seems that our favorite heroes and villains are in good hands.

Although it may fall under the category of “casual” due to its delivery system to your computers, Marvel Avengers Alliance is shaping up to be an experience that all Marvel-ites will want to be a part of. Set up like a classic RPG, this original story (the release near the movie is a happy coincidence for the game as it has no movie tie-in) you play as your very own agent of SHIELD fresh out of boot camp and your high marks has already garnered the attention of Nick Fury. So when an intergalactic event called “The Pulse” suddenly slams the Earth, he knows just who to call to help round up the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

The threat of The Pulse is that super-villains from all over the world are searching for fragments of an element that the Pulse left behind called ISO-8 that can enhance their powers. Turn about is fair play though as later on during your super-heroing career, you’ll be able to use larger and more diverse fragments of ISO-8 yourself to round out your stable of heroes’ abilities or turn them into powerhouses in the areas they are already strongest. Hulk can truly be the strongest there is with an ISO-8 boost, or he can learn a little finesse and accuracy with his Thunder Clap if you so choose.

For every mission you go on, you’ll be able to take two heroes to go with your Agent character and be able to unlock up to 28 heroes overall including Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor, Black Cat, Spider-Man, Captain America, Hulk, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four. If your favorite character is too many levels away though from being unlocked, there will also be an in-game store where you can purchase the unlock for them as well as a bevy of items to help you on your quest. What is most interesting about all these characters though is how different some of them look. In the picture above, we see more 80s era looking Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat) and Colossus, but I also saw a more modern rendition of She-Hulk and the Ultimate Universe’s version of Nick Fury in the game.

“It’s funny what people key into, but understand that it’s all very intentional and we spoke to Marvel all along the way about what era should we go for look-wise here. I mean Iron Man has 31 different suits of armor, which should we go with in the game, and then what will we have available to the players in the future? Are we going to have all 31 Iron Man suits? Obviously not on Day 1, but the intent is to speak to all the fans and give them all those options. But, it’s interesting what different Marvel fans key into and you should know it’s all not just a happy accident. We were very specific with how all the characters would lay out with their different looks,” said Michael Rubinelli, Vice President of Studio Operations for Playdom when I brought it up.

But aside from forwarding the story and playing through like a regular RPG, with leveling up, turn-based mechanics, and buffs and de-buffs depending on equipment, what makes this appeal to the “Casual” market is the fact that you can call in your friends’ heroes for help and they will receive a reward for making their hero available to you. Mind you, if your team has Captain America and Wolverine on it, you can’t call in your buddy’s Cap or Wolvie as the story won’t support mirrors. There is also PvP match-ups (where mirrors are allowed) where you can put your best team to the test and see how they fair against friends and foes alike, helping to expand on the game experience even further and giving this just as long a life as any other “casual” game.

“You’ve got a game that basically can play out infinitely, and that we’re going to support by continuing to release new content, we’re going to continue adding new features, and there’s no level cap. This game doesn’t ever have to end and so by interacting and people continuing to invest in their characters, those characters can continue to grow indefinitely. And that’s part of the beauty of the Marvel franchise as things change and develop in the comics, we can add things to reflect that in the game as time goes on,” said Robert Reichner, COO and co-founder of Offbeat Creations, who helped work on the game.

And the best part is the investment doesn’t have to be as time-consuming as many other RPGs and MMOs out there (hence the “casual” nature) as you can take heroes you aren’t playing with and send them on missions by themselves to level them up and have them learn new moves before calling on them later (think of the Assassin Recruits in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations). Even when you leave Facebook, the character growth continues, encouraging you that just by putting a few minutes into the game each day can have profound affects on your characters later on.

All in all, Marvel Avengers Alliance looks to be a “casual” game that will finally appeal to that “hardcore” comic book fan. An original story, a deep RPG leveling up system, and all our favorite characters with hopes for more down the road, has me ready to shout Excelsior!

What do you folks think? Are you going to play this casual title? Do you think the Marvel characters will translate well to Facebook? Let us know your thoughts with comments below!

THE BUZZ: Disney, along with their social games division Playdom, have announced the plan to launch a new Marvel inspired game for Facebook in the next three months.

The game will feature many of the most popular heroes and villains from the Marvel Universe and will be titled Marvel: Avengers Alliance. In the game, you will play as a new agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. tasked with assembling the greatest team of Avengers yet to battle many of the villains from the Marvel Universe who are converging on Manhattan after a galaxy wide event known as “The Pulse”.

Aside from following this story, the game will also feature PvP battles for players to test their social standing and feature a leveling up system for each individual hero.

EGM’S TAKE: No surprise really to see Marvel and Disney trying to get a game into the social market in time for the Avengers movie release, but the game would likely appeal to fans of the comics anyway no matter when they released it.

From the screens below and the fact you can level up, the game looks to be shaping up into an old-school RPG with the enemies on the left and villains on the right.

It also looks like your character will fight alongside the heroes at the top of the screen in traditional S.H.I.E.L.D. garb. Nick Fury has also been mentioned as head of S.H.I.E.L.D. for the game so the story will likely be less tied to the comics and more to the movies. It should be interesting to see if they use the traditional comic book version of Fury or the Ultimate version portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson like in Marvel’s recent slew of movies though.

The first big question I thought of when I saw this though was when are we going to get a full blown Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 for a console?

To check out the trailer and to get the latest updates on when the game may go to open beta, you can check out the game’s Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/avengersalliance

What do you folks think? Is this going to just be propaganda for the new Avengers movie or will it be a legit foray for Marvel and Disney? What villains and heroes do you think the game should feature? Let us know what you think with comments below!

After a near two-dozen comics in my personal box last week to sort through, things were easy for me to whittle down this week as there were only a half dozen. Those are the breaks in the comic world: big weeks followed by slow weeks. These five picks though are no slouches and are more than worthy to carry the load.

1) DC – Green Lantern: New Guardians #3: Kyle Rayner has become only the second being in the known universe, along with the deceased Krona, to simultaneously wield the entire emotional spectrum at once and he is furious at the Guardians. The other ring guardians though are hot on his trail, but the big question that has been looming since this started will soon be answered: Where is Agent Orange?  

There is a lot of action in this comic and the big reveal at the end makes perfect sense. It sets up the series for some major impactful events that could start coming as soon as the next issue and really start driving where this monthly will go in the future. It also helps establish the Guardians as truly powerful beings again, as they’ve played the role of victims for a while now, where they shrug off most of what is thrown their way by Rayner. It’ll be most interesting to see how they handle the concentrated efforts of all these different spectrum lanterns though along with the power of the entire orange core coming down on them at once.

2) DC – Batman: The Dark Knight #3: Batman continues to follow the trail this new villain, the White Rabbit is laying out before him, which has him running into all the fan favorites in his rogues gallery. Batman’s desperation has him call in a little Justice League help from the Flash, but even his speed isn’t enough to catch the White Rabbit…yet.                   

It’s always interesting to see how Batman puts the pieces of a mystery together, but what’s great about this opening arc for this new monthly is that each issue has just as many questions popping up as there are answers, as in Batman, and his readers, keep falling down the rabbit hole. I still believe this has the markings of the Mad Hatter all over it, but it should be interesting to see what other twists writer David Finch has in store for us before we get to that end point or what might just change my mind. If you haven’t been reading this, it might be a hard point to jump into now, but if you’ve been reading this series, as I’ve recommended in previous weeks, then this issue is just the next leap forward in this intriguing story arc.

3) Marvel – Secret Avengers #19: Steve Rogers and his band of Secret Avengers travel to the fictional country of Symkaria in Eastern Europe to track down what they believe to be an international drug dealer, but find a more mystical and threatening substance the dealer is pushing instead.

The interesting thing about the Secret Avengers monthly is that each issue recently has been a one-shot. Usually featuring just Steve Rogers, Sharon Carter, Black Widow, and Moon Knight, this small covert ops team usually finds themselves in ever-chaning scenarios that require unusual solutions to their even more unusual problems. The question that arises from these one-shots though is if this is building up to something more and if not, how much longer can they keep this monthly interesting by only doing these one-shot stories. At the very least though, this month’s is definitely worth picking up as the team dynamic and unique adventure this group goes on is an enjoyable read from start to finish.

4) Marvel – Wolverine and the X-Men #2: As the attack on the new X-Mansion in Westchester continues from the new Hellfire Club, a series of new and old enemies emerge to test this branch off of the main X-Men and we get a cool surprise from none other than Iceman.            

The second issue of this new monthly is almost sensory overload as we get wave after wave of enemies thrown against Iceman, Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, Beast, and the rest of the new X-Men. Frankenstein monsters, lizard people, and on top of all that, one of the X-Men’s oldest enemies in Krakoa arrives on the scene to push these new X-Men to the limits. All this while a weird romance seems to be brewing between Idie, one of Hope’s former lights with the ability to project fire and ice, and Broo, the abandoned Brood youngling saved from the S.W.O.R.D. satellite in Astonishing X-Men. If you’ve been paying attention to a lot of the X-Men books in recent months, this monthly is your pay off as everything seems to be coming together in an explosive way and it only looks to amp up even more in coming months.

5) Dark Horse – Hellboy: B.P.R.D: Hell on Earth: Russia #3 (of 5): Hellboy has quit the B.P.R.D. and is missing. Liz Sherman, after incinerating half the planet in order to stop the plague like spreading of the frog people has also going into hiding. Abe Sapien is in a coma. So when zombies show up northeast of Moscow and start acting very un-zombie-like, it’s down to Johann Kraus and Kate Corrigan to investigate, but even the by-the-books Kraus has been acting strangely after all the events that have transpired recently. Can Kraus and Kate get to the bottom of this new threat without losing themselves in the process?                       

If you are a fan of Hellboy or a fan of just some gruesome looking creatures and horrors in comics, this is a mini-series you should be reading. You can jump into this issue with minimal back-story, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice. But at the very least you’d be better off than people not reading this mini-series at all. It has a classic Mignola feel to it and you can’t help but want to push forward with the series as you get engrossed in yet another new mystery of this unique universe that Hellboy has always been set in. And with many of the characters and settings always done in a series of earth tone colors, aside from the always striking reds of blood or Hellboy himself, it gives it a noir feel that you just can’t get anywhere else in comics today.

Originally Published: July 19, 2011, on EGMNOW.com

Game Name: Captain America: Super Soldier

By: Ray Carsillo

Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Next Level Games
Platforms: 3DS, DS, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360

The Good: Stellar shield mechanics makes you really feel like the Star-Spangled Avenger
The Bad: Uneven plot pacing leaves you feeling vaguely dissatisfied
The Ugly: Unnecessary acrobatic sequences too often break the flow of action

In an adventure worthy of the character’s long history, Captain America: Super Soldier takes some liberties in regards to the original comic story lines, but from the get go fans will know that Cap is in his classic element and I can’t imagine it feeling better than how this game portrays it. From working your way through WWII trenches and punching out HYDRA foot soldiers, to taking on some Arnim Zola inspired monstrosities in German warehouses, the action sequences are worthy of any comic book hero as Cap pursues his long time nemesis, the Red Skull, deep into Nazi controlled Europe.

The first thing anyone should want to try out is Cap’s iconic shield, which handles surprisingly well in both offensive and defensive situations and feels like a natural extension of Cap. Aside from deflecting punches or bullets, the shield’s offensive capabilities have it so you can get the drop on your enemies from afar or use it in its own combo as it bounces off three, four, or even five enemies at a time just like Cap does in the comics. And for more personal combat, the game takes a page out of the Batman: Arkham Asylum handbook. Cap will often find himself surrounded by various foes, but by stringing together punches, kicks, and properly using your shield to counterattack, you can pull off combos that will leave your enemies sprawled at your feet and you no worse for ware, even if it feels a bit more stiff than the inspiration from which the system seems to be taken.

Unfortunately, for as good as the fighting feels, there are also a lot of unnecessary points to the game play, specifically some acrobatic and platforming situations that seem more akin to Assassin’s Creed or Prince of Persia, but far too linear. Although meaning to show how Cap could use his superhuman abilities to get around, the sequences often came at the sacrifice of the flow of action and jarred you out of the world you found yourself in as you tried to needlessly time these forced maneuvers.

All things considered though, when you include cameos by some of Cap’s classic allies like Nick Fury, the Invaders, and Bucky Barnes while taking down iconic foes like Baron von Strucker, Madame Hydra, and the Red Skull himself in this comic worthy storyline and the positives clearly outweigh the negatives as any Cap fan will be thrilled by how well-portrayed the Star-Spangled Avenger is overall in this game.

Score: 7.5

New Avengers #12 Review

Originally Published: May 11, 2011, on Comicvine.com

Mockingbird continues to fight for her life in an operating room while a flashback of Nick Fury’s first Avengers in 1959 continues where they are in the process of hunting down the Red Skull.

The Good

The different art styles between Deodato and Chaykin really do a nice job of making a pointed difference between the two time periods this book takes place in, especially since this is the fourth issue in a row where they’ve been going back and forth with these flashbacks to Fury’s 1959 Avengers.

It was also great to see Hawkeye get mad again. When Hawkeye gets mad and he rushes headlong into a conflict, you tend to get some great action sequences and that has me looking forward to some issues down the road.

The Bad

The worst part about this issue is that we are now four issues in and we still haven’t the slightest idea what the point of these Nick Fury flashbacks are, especially since he doesn’t have anything to do right now with the current New Avengers.

On top of this, the flashbacks comprise most of the book, with only seven pages taking place in current times, two of those have Mockingbird on an emergency surgery table and Hawkeye vowing vengeance. At this point, if the Nick Fury flashbacks do not have some earth shattering reveal that saves Mockingbird when all is said and done, this could be the most drawn out waste of time way to kill a character and could be the most pointless story arc I’ve read in quite some time.

Then combine all this with the fact that we’ve seen this flashback story happen before a million times, just not with these characters. How many times has Captain America, Nick Fury, or some other patriot gone after the Red Skull for it simply to be a clone, a body double, or a robot? It’s not special now that Sabretooth has joined that crowd of not finding the real Skull.

The Verdict

I was really excited at first bouncing back and forth between flashbacks of Fury’s 1959 Avengers and the current New Avengers, especially when Mockingbird got shot. Lots of action coupled with a plot that was clearly laying the groundwork for something big for these characters. Four issues into this though and things have come to a grinding, mind-numbing halt and whatever originality we were hoping for seems to be getting thrown out the window.

At this point we’ve seen all the double crosses and triple crosses and the Red Skull Herrings and for it to drag on over four issues is becoming borderline tortuous and definitely tedious. If things don’t come to a head in the next issue with something unexpected, there is a good chance I’m kicking this from my pull box. Only pick up this issue of New Avengers if you have been reading it to this point, otherwise steer clear.

1.5/5 Stars

Originally Published: May 3, 2011, on Momsbasement.org

I come to you once again with your weekly geek fix. This week’s episode sees me announce a partnership with Momsbasement.org and review Secret Avengers #12 from Marvel Comics and Portal 2 from Valve. My hot chick pick of the week is Desiree Elyda Villalobos and this week’s theme is the end credit theme to Portal 1, Still Alive.