Tag Archive: catwoman


It’s extremely difficult to appease Batman fans, and I’m admitting right from the get go that I count myself amongst the most hardcore of them. It’s almost tradition now for every new version of The Dark Knight to suffer some backlash—especially from those of us who are as obsessed with Batman as he is with fighting crime. Fans of Bill Finger and Bob Kane’s original gun-wielding, rooftop leaping lunatic from the late ‘30s and early ‘40s hated Adam West’s camp-filled romps in the ‘60s. Those fans in turn disliked when the comics crafted a noir vibe and turned back towards some of Finger/Kane’s roots in the ‘70s with Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ take on the character. Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, and Tim Burton’s film version of the Caped Crusader in the 80s all had their haters, too. So, when it finally came time for me to play Batman: The Telltale Series, I was both excited and worried about what the latest take on Batman might bring to us, knowing it would be extremely difficult for me—even though I’d like to think of myself as a more open-minded fan—to come away satisfied.

Batman: The Telltale Series is best described as a transitional adventure between “Year One” and “Year Two”. What this equates to in Batman’s history for those unfamiliar with comic book parlance is that he’s taken his lumps in that first year of crime fighting, and just now is starting to come into his own as “The Batman.” It’s also when the supervillains start to show up; classic foes like Catwoman, Penguin, Two-Face, and the Joker all make their presences felt by the end of the game, along with the traditional mobsters that Batman had to deal with in his early days. The bulk of the game’s narrative, however, centers on Bruce Wayne needing to clear his family name after a new bad guy reveals that Thomas Wayne (Bruce’s father) wasn’t the philanthropist that Gotham necessarily saw him as.

Being a Telltale game, the narrative does a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of one’s enjoyment of the product—or lack thereof. And right from the start, this was a decision that started to turn my opinion sour. With writers running out of ideas now that Batman is wrapping up his eighth decade of print, the idea of questioning his origins and casting doubt on the sanctity of his purpose has been done countless times in recent years of the comics. The easiest way to do this is to attack Bruce’s parents, and I have always taken issue with this.

One of Batman’s greatest appeals is his mission; his obsession is one that we as fans mirror back onto him. He makes a vow on his parents’ graves to wage an unending war on all criminals as a child, and the fact he follows through on it and lets it dictate his life is twisted and unhealthy, but in an odd way also very pure. It’s a child lashing out against a cruel and unjust world for the love and security that was ripped away from him in a random act of violence. When you remove this, you simply have a maniac in a mask. Yes, that’s what Batman really is at his core, but you greatly lessen his appeal when you strip away one of his founding dimensions, and undo a lot of the great work that those came before had laid out. Simply put, if something isn’t broke, stop trying to fix it.

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And I understand the appeal of wanting to do it. Attacking Bruce’s family also attacks his money source—Batman’s true greatest superpower. His inherited wealth has always been Bruce’s deus ex machina, allowing him to get out of more situations than I could count no matter the era. It’s like putting Superman under a red sun; it’s a classic comic book gimmick to take our hero out of his comfort zone. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. But when your powers are so closely tied to your origin like Batman’s are, it’s more apt to blow up in your face.

One thing Telltale did do a fantastic job of, though, was trying to pay homage to a lot of great Batman media over the years. The font in the title graphic evokes memories of Batman: The Animated Series, and the superb voice acting from this cast is on par with the legendary voices from that groundbreaking series. Although still well within the parameters of Telltale’s signature cel-shaded art-style, Two-Face’s design is largely based on that seen in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, and Penguin’s feels more akin to what we’ve been given on FOX’s Gotham. And, several gameplay elements like Detective Mode—more on that in a bit—borrow from Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham games. One other element that Telltale touched on from the Batman: Arkham series is taking a previously-established comic book canon character and trying to pass them off as a new villain. The worst of it, though, is this character was never a Batman villain to begin with.

This leads us to the main villain of the story, a new character dubbed Lady Arkham, which I will try to refer to as vaguely as possible to avoid giving away her true identity. Even with my distaste for the Thomas Wayne bashing, the first two episodes of Batman: The Telltale Series were actually quite compelling. When Lady Arkham reveals her true self in episode three, the series takes a marked turn for the worse. I don’t know if it comes from Batman’s license holders at Warner Brothers, or if there’s just a general fear of introducing new villains into the Batman universe outside of the comics, but the disappointment at the revelation of Lady Arkham was even worse than when we all realized within the first 15-minutes of playing Arkham Knight that our foe was Jason Todd. At least, at that point, he was a villain in the comics.

Lady Arkham’s true identity was always a close ally of Batman/Bruce Wayne, and twisting her like this felt like it was just cheap shock value for us hardcore fans who never suspected her because of our familiarity with the character. If Telltale had created an entirely new character with Lady Arkham, keeping her network seemingly as powerful as Batman’s and as long-standing as Bruce Wayne’s—but minus the preconceived notions from her true identity’s long history in Bat-media—I think she and her Children of Arkham could’ve been a welcome addition to the Rogues Gallery (in the same way Talon and the Court of Owls was a few years ago, and Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins was in the ‘70s). As is, she feels like a throwaway character used simply to establish Telltale’s new universe while not wasting any of the classic villains, thus weakening the entire story arc as a whole.

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The series also takes a turn for the worse on the technical side of things starting around her reveal. Telltale’s game engine continues to show its age, and does so markedly as this series progresses. The first couple of episodes are mostly glitch-free, but by the time we reach episode five, the choppy cutscenes, dropped audio lines, and general lag after decisions are made make finishing the game almost a chore. I understand that Telltale prides itself on its products coming out on every playable device imaginable. At some point, however, the studio needs to take some of this licensing money and invest back into tech that is optimized for modern consoles, and stop giving us this lowest common denominator garbage.

From a gameplay perspective, the bulk of the game remains around Telltale’s iconic choose-your-own-adventure multiple-choice scenes that change character interactions and dialogue depending on the decisions you make. Some additions we haven’t seen before in a Telltale game, and some that are even exclusive to Batman: The Telltale Series, were included here, though.

Detective mode, the special lenses that paint the world in a blue hue and allows Batman to recreate crime scenes, makes an appearance here. Similar to the Batman: Arkham games, examining clues will help Batman figure out what exactly happened in and around a crime scene, and piecing things together properly will help him decide what to do next on a case. Telltale also smartly allows you to link clues together this way to make it feel more like you’re actually solving the puzzle yourself. You also use Detective mode before certain ambushes, allowing Batman to plan out how he wants to clear a room before starting the quicktime button-mashing fest that helps him to defeat thugs unscathed. It’s just different enough from the Arkham games, but it still feels very much like you’re Batman while using it, and was a pleasant surprise.

Unlike a lot of other Batman projects, this game also does a great job of balancing life as Bruce Wayne and Batman. Whereas the Bruce Wayne parts of most movies, TV shows, and even comics can lean towards the mundane, the sequences here were just as intense and action packed as those where you’re dressed as Batman. Sometimes, they were even more difficult, since you don’t want to give away your secret identity. I loved the idea of there being branching paths, and you can even choose to confront certain individuals as either Batman or Bruce Wayne, which results in the dialogue obviously changing drastically. I only wish there were more of these choices as well as more Detective mode sequences, with it feeling like there was only maybe one per episode of either of them.

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Batman: The Telltale Series had a lot of potential. There were some clever ideas, and some nice tribute Easter eggs to Bat-media of the past. Unfortunately, they aren’t enough to overcome aging, glitch-ridden technology and some weak narrative decisions in a narrative-centric experience. Therefore, it’s now time for me to try to find some Bat-Telltale repellant and see if I can’t get this game off of my bat-addled brain.

Publisher: Telltale Games • Developer: Telltale Games • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 12.13.16
6.0
The bigger a Batman fan you are, the less you’re likely to enjoy Telltale’s take on The Dark Knight. Combined with the obvious age Telltale’s engine is showing, this simply isn’t their best effort.
The Good Weaves elements from so many different Batman iterations over the years into one cohesive product.
The Bad Cheap plotline twists will leave some fans unhappy. Telltale’s engine is really starting to show its age.
The Ugly Selina Kyle’s apartment. I can’t stand a messy woman.
Batman: The Telltale Series is available on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac OS, iOS, Android, Xbox 360, and PS3. Primary version reviewed was for PS4. Review code was provided by Telltale Games for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.
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Here is the best cosplay I saw at New York ComicCon 2015 and in only 90 seconds!

A load of Killer Croc

Batman’s seen so many great representations in different mediums over the past couple of decades, whether it’s animation, movies, or videogames—so it absolutely boggles my mind when someone utterly fails to capture the essence of the Dark Knight. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is such an awful depiction of the Caped Crusader, however, that I had to wonder whether Armature had even heard of Batman before being tasked with making this game.

Set several months after the events of the console Arkham Origins, Blackgate sees Batman infiltrating Blackgate Prison—again—in order to quell a riot. Three of Batman’s most notorious foes are at the head of all the chaos, and they’ve divided the prison up into sections that their respective gangs control. Batman must defeat them all if he hopes to save the hostages kept in the prison’s Arkham wing.

Aiding Batman is Catwoman, whom he apprehended a couple of weeks prior to the riot. In exchange for her assistance, Batman will put in a good word for her to be moved to more “accommodating” quarters, since supposedly a fragile thief like her could be torn apart in a place like Blackgate. Batman must unlock new abilities and gadgets to help him traverse the different security systems and hazards of the now-dilapidated prison, often backtracking frequently to do so.

And sure—this sounds like the makings of a decent Batman game. The prologue level that revolves around catching Catwoman at an abandoned construction site gave me high hopes that this would be the Batman game we never knew we wanted on handhelds. But as soon as you set foot on the prison grounds, the game takes a serious nosedive. When I sat down to write this review, two words kept coming into my mind to best describe Blackgate: broken and boring.

The first major flaw? Armature tried to develop the game as a Metroidvania within the confines of the story. As we all know, Batman is never without his gadgets and his utility belt, and he goes to Blackgate of his own volition after being called by Commissioner Gordon. Yet, right from the get-go, all he has are Batarangs. No rhyme or reason—just to stay within the parameters of what defines Metroidvanias as a genre.

Someone who actually knows the character would’ve set up the story so to have Batman kidnapped and dragged to Blackgate against his will. Since we’re talking about a young Batman here, he wouldn’t have all the safeguards in his utility belt to prevent it from being forcibly removed. Batman shouldn’t randomly find a Batclaw in a container—like he does in Blackgate—just because he forgot his other one at home. Breaking the character’s basic traits to fit the genre you want your game to be is not forgivable.

Speaking of breaking character, Catwoman’s always played both sides of the fence in Batman lore, but she fills the role of Oracle/Alfred in this game—again, for no apparent reason. Catwoman doesn’t need Batman to break her out of prison, and she doesn’t really need to help Batman. After what happened in Origins, Batman should know Blackgate like the back of his hand. If he does need help, though, did Batman give Alfred the night off? Were his shows on again? Yes, I could definitely imagine Alfred curling up with a cup of Earl Grey and catching up on Downton Abbey instead of manning the Batcomputer!

The story isn’t the only element that’s broken, though. The game itself, from a technical standpoint, is as glitchy as it gets: items flickering in and out of existence, Batman getting caught on invisible walls, or falling through the floor to oblivion (or a checkpoint reload). At one point, I actually glitched through a wall and into a hidden compartment that had an armor upgrade I shouldn’t have been able to get to at that point. I was lucky I could backtrack with the gadgets I had—otherwise, I might’ve had to start over completely.

And if I had to start over, I might’ve just chalked this game up as a lost cause (more so than I already do). If I had to stare at another gray, bland, repeated prison wall, I’d have broken my Vita. The only good-looking aspect of the game is the comic-style cutscenes.

You can forgive the look of a game to an extent if it’s at least fun to play. But with Blackgate, the combat system that has made the Arkham games great is almost completely nonexistent. You can’t quickfire any gadgets, and you don’t even need to counter most of the time, since you’ll rarely encounter more than three of four guys in a room at once. Sometimes—almost like an early-’90s side-scrolling arcade game—a couple more will crawl out of the background when the first group’s been dispatched, but never will there be more than a few fightable enemies onscreen at any given moment.

Detective mode was also a pain in my cowl. I don’t mind having to tap the touchscreen to turn it on—it actually helped deter me from wanting to stay in Detective mode and served as a unique fix to a persistent problem with the series. But I did mind having to keep my finger on the screen to actually scan or look for things because it prevented me from freely interacting with the environment while I was in the mode. I had to move, enter Detective mode, scan, find I was out of range, turn the mode off, move to a better position, re-scan, turn the mode off, then interact. Just let me scan things automatically—no one wants their thumbs off the sticks for that long!

At least the boss fights provide much-needed variety. New characters to the Arkhamverse like Bronze Tiger actually make you work for your wins, since they’re more or less the only time you need to utilize multiple gadgets or techniques. And even though we’ve seen most of Batman’s gadgets before, the one new addition—an explosive-gel launcher—was something I’d like to see on consoles at some point. It reminded me a lot of a grenade launcher, and it could be used in a lot of ingenious ways in both combat and puzzle-solving.

Some decent boss fights aren’t enough to save this game, though. Never before have I been so disappointed in a Batman-inspired property. Plus, this is also one of the worst examples I’ve ever seen of a Metroidvania, since the backtracking and gadget-finding is kept to a bare minimum. Broken, boring, and just plain bad, everyone should steer clear of this as though you had chiroptophobia (fear of bats).

Developer: Armature Studio • Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 10.25.13
3.0
A waste of potential, Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is a broken, boring game and a stain on the Metroidvania genre. Its positives are few and far between, buried under a mountain of glitches, tedious gameplay, and poor level design.
The Good Comic-style cutscenes look great.
The Bad One of the worst Metroidvanias you’ll ever play.
The Ugly All of Blackgate Prison—and its single shade of gray.
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is available on Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita. Primary version reviewed was for PS Vita.

Holy rusted armor, Batman!

For me, Batman: Arkham City was one of the crowning achievements of this console generation—never mind just 2011. So, when I heard it was being ported to the Wii U for the system’s launch (13 months after its initial release, mind you), I certainly understood why. But when I went hands-on with the new Armored Edition at this year’s E3, I was disappointed with the Wii U “innovations”—it seemed Nintendo loyalists wouldn’t get nearly the same smooth experience I had when I first played the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. I understood that a 15-minute demo wouldn’t be nearly enough time to pass final judgment on this one, though—especially as it was my first experience with the Wii U, period.

Flash-forward five months later, and I’ve been playing the Wii U incessantly along with my fellow EGM cohorts. And though some of my fears have been assuaged—and some of the new features have even impressed me—several new problems that have arisen that make Batman: Arkham City—Armored Edition the clearly inferior version of this phenomenal game.

The first flaw that you’ll notice rather quickly is glitches that were never present before—audio suddenly cutting in and out and weird shadows in cutscenes that make many characters look unnatural. In fact, the very look of the game as a whole has almost a waxy quality to it now, where you wonder if it actually takes full advantage of the Wii U’s HD. Maybe some of this odd look is just Batman’s new cheap suit of armor, which leads us to another major problem in all the gimmicks that have been tacked on in order to try to sell this version of the game: the B.A.T. system.

With the B.A.T. system, Batman can absorb the kinetic energy thrown around in battle and then channel it into enhanced strength. The problem is that this redesign makes the game far too easy. Fights where you had to strategize who you’d take out first—as thugs came at you with knives, shields, stun batons, and all other manner of weaponry—are now nullified, as the B.A.T. system makes it so that every enemy can now be taken down in only a couple of hits.

The next problem comes via the Wii U’s GamePad controller and the touchscreen features that have been added. The hopes were that by adding your inventory screen and minimap to the controller, it would create a more fluid experience. Instead, it does the exact opposite. The controller’s minimap is less detailed and harder to read than if you were pausing the game and looking at it on a normal-sized TV screen. It also fails to streamline the experience in any way, as you’re still interrupting the game to look down at the screen and set waypoints, level Batman up, or change gadgets—and now you’re doing it with Batman in the open, vulnerable to the dangers of the living, breathing environment of Arkham City. This again deters the strategy offered in the original version.

One way to escape this problem is by playing the entire game on the Wii U GamePad tablet, should you wish to use your TV for something else. I do applaud the fact that there’s no lag or choppiness, but playing the game on the controller’s tiny screen—which is of a worse quality than what you’d get with an iPad, iPhone, or even the PS Vita—only makes the visuals look even more muddy and unappealing.

The final shortcoming with Armored Edition also involves the Wii U controller. Having to hold it up and move it around to scan areas in Detective mode or to pilot my remote-controlled Batarang had me grinding my teeth at times while also grinding the poorly placed controller joysticks. Also, the cheesy effect of having Alfred talk through the controller became tiresome quickly, as the audio quality is so poor on the small speakers. It all felt like unnecessary proof-of-concept mechanics that again were much smoother and simpler on other systems.

Now, I’ve really honed in on the negative aspects I found with this port, but this isn’t to say the game is broken and completely unplayable. Gamers who don’t have the muscle memory of playing the game on Xbox 360 or PS3 will likely more readily adapt to the controller, and the core elements that made Batman: Arkham City so great are still present. The enthralling story, the classic DC characters, and even all the DLC is bundled onto the disc so that once you beat the main story, you can go back and play Harley Quinn’s Revenge or use Nightwing, Robin, or Catwoman on their challenge maps. The combat system that allowed Batman to showcase his bevy of martial-arts maneuvers is also still available, should you choose to ignore the B.A.T. feature.

But, like many of the ports that are coming to the Wii U long after their initial release, there’s really no positive reason for you to look into this port if you’ve played it before on other consoles; this is simply a dumbed-down version for the Nintendo hardcore. I legitimately feel bad that they get this bastardized version of Batman: Arkham City—they’ll never know how great this game was in its perfectly polished original form.

SUMMARY: Although the core of Batman: Arkham City remains intact, new glitches and tacked-on gimmicks take away from the overall experience enough to make this a clearly inferior version of one of the great games of this generation.

  • THE GOOD: Same great story with all DLC packs already on the disc.
  • THE BAD: New glitches and unnecessary gimmicks make this a worse version than its predecessors.
  • THE UGLY: How the game looks if you play exclusively on the Wii U controller.

SCORE: 7.0

Batman: Arkham City: Armored Edition is a Wii U-exclusive version of Batman: Arkham City. 

Originally Published: September 6, 2011, on EGMNOW.com

Same Bat-Time, Very Different Bat-Channel?

I remember the year or so leading up to the release of The Dark Knight. The cast had been revealed and immediately people, admittedly myself included, started to freak out that Heath Ledger would be the Joker (a role he’d win a posthumous Oscar for). The ‘Broke-bat Mountain’ jokes were numerous and very few of us had the faith that Christopher Nolan could catch lightning in a bottle twice as he did with Batman Begins. Then the movie was released and Ledger is now talked about in geek circles as possibly the best Joker ever (not by me, but he did do a great job). So when casting was announced for The Dark Knight Rises, people definitely raised on eyebrow, but Nolan and his crew had earned the respect of us from the previous movie to have faith in that they knew what they’re doing.

Now for the past several weeks, on an almost daily basis, a few clever people from Pittsburgh (I know how oxymoronic that sounds) have snuck in camera phones or flip cams to the set where The Dark Knight Rises is being filmed. As locked down as the set of The Dark Knight was, the set of The Dark Knight Rises seems to be as porous. We have confirmation of several tumbler Batmobiles, the Bat-Pod, a breakout from Blackgate, an invaded football stadium converted from the Steelers’ Heinz Field before the NFL pre-season began, a fight between Bane and Batman on the steps of City Hall, Catwoman riding out of City Hall on the Bat-Pod, a blooper of Anne Hathaway’s stunt double smashing an IMAX camera, a Batwing more reminiscent of a UFO, and there are still months of filming left if we are to believe the six month anticipated shooting schedule.

All this leads me to several questions. If Nolan was able to run such a tight ship with The Dark Knight, what has changed, if anything? Or is this all a ploy to throw detail hungry fanboys off the trail of the movie’s bigger picture and to help build up all the hype, much like the release of the first six minutes of the movie did at San Diego Comic Con before The Dark Knight? But even if this is some clever plot to keep us all distracted and away from whatever secrets Nolan is trying to protect, could these images actually do damage to the film instead?

Although Anne Hathaway looks phenomenal in her Catwoman outfit, there has already been fan outrage that she lacks Catwoman staples like a bullwhip and cat-ears. I’m not saying she has to be in bright purple spandex, but some small odes to the comic costumes would be a nice touch. And many are saying Bane looks absolutely abysmal, looking more like a common thug crossed with a young Hannibal Lecter than the mastermind behind the Knightfall comic book story arc of two decades ago. Could these quick to judge fan opinions from leaked footage and stills do anything to the powerhouse audiences this movie is sure to draw next July? Not likely, but if too much of the plot can be determined from this footage, you might start to see the comic community find less and less reason to go see this in theatres, or try harder to procure leaked scripts and film reels like with X-Men Origins: Wolverine a couple of years ago.

Then, of course, there is also the option that Nolan is purposely trying to bring people’s opinion of the movie down. When trying to aspire to great expectations like this movie is, it will be much harder to reach that brass ring with audiences than to surprise audiences who are expecting less. This may be part of the reason that Ledger’s Joker was so successful because many of us going in were filled with doubt about whether or not he could pull it off so that when he gave the performance he did, we immediately put his portrayal onto a previously unthinkable pedestal.

No matter what happens, I’m sure The Dark Knight Rises will draw a ton of bank, but it should be interesting to see how all this leaked footage affects people’s opinions before and after seeing the movie and whether or not it hurts or helps it in the end.

The Dark Knight Rises will hit movie theaters mid-July of 2012 and conclude Christopher Nolan’s celebrated (so far) trilogy of the Caped Crusader. What do you expect from this final movie? Are you disappointed by what members of Batman’s Rogues Gallery were featured? Should Nolan and Bale come back for a fourth? Sound off below!

Originally Published: August 9, 2011, on EGMNOW.COM

One of the most charming and long lasting impressions that you take away from Comic-Con is the pure love and devotion that people are willing to show by pouring hours on end into costumes just to go gallivanting around the Con for a few days. Some put more thought and effort in than others and some simply relish the opportunity to show off some of their finer…ummm…assets, but no matter what the reason behind it, cos-playing is one of those things that define the Con and is proof positive as to why this is the pop culture extravaganza that it is. On that note, here are some of our favorites that we saw while roaming the show floor.

1. Castle Crashers: CHARGE! When released in 2008 as part of the Xbox Summer of Arcade that year, few knew the intense following the simple side-scroller beat ‘em up Castle Crashers would encourage and these two gentlemen here are proof positive why it was a hit.

2.Catwoman: Puuurrrfect in every way, this femme fatale is a comic book staple for over 70 years now and is a favorite for female Con-goers everywhere representing the strong independent woman mindset. The authentic bullwhip also works as a deterrent for those of us who ogle too long.

3.Ghostbusters: Who ya gonna call?! Probably not these guys. It wouldn’t be a Comic-Con though without staples like Slave Leias, Stormtroopers, or a fearless foursome in brown jumpsuits. Including prop ghost traps and proton packs, these guys (and lady) are ready to believe you.

4. Black Cat: If this is what Black Cat looks like, you might have to question Peter Parker’s tastes for sticking with Mary Jane all those years when he had this waiting for him for a long while. Although rather harmless looking, this feisty feline knows where to hurt you the most.

5. Portal: Lacking in characters to cos-play as, did not act as a deterrent this year for Portal fans. This group found a way to put everyone in a costume with Chele, a pair of portals, and even a very lovely Companion Cube. They all deserve some cake for their efforts.

6. CoD Sniper: As the world rushes by him, the quiet and calm sniper stays hidden in the brush, waiting patiently for his target to finally enter his sights. Holding my breath, I quickly squeezed the trigger when this Sniper wandered into my sights due to the great effort put into his costume.

7. Waldo: Where is he? Right here. And I found his girlfriend, too. I always was very good at those books. I wonder just how much they actually blended in though once they made it through the Con doors and mingled amongst the huge crowds.

8. Army of Two: You can tell cos-players take their craft seriously when you ask them for a picture and they strike a pose relevant to the characters they are portraying. Unfortunately for them, the Call of Duty Sniper from earlier is off camera ready to take them both out.

9. Female Assassin: A huge fan favorite this year was people dressed as Assassin’s Creed characters. The fan turnout was rewarded by Ubisoft as those who dressed as AC characters and attended their Saturday panel, like our female assassin here, were promised free autographed Signature Editions of Revelations when released.

10. Princess Peach: Not the most traditional Peach, but if this is what is always awaiting Mario, no wonder why he keeps going through eight castles for her and that Bowser won’t stop kidnapping her. If your choice was this girl or weird little mushroom people, well, is it really a choice then?

11. Street Fighter: Another group shot, these folks decided to take on the guise of several protagonists from the Street Fighter series including fan favorites like Chun-Li, Ryu, and Blanka. They sure let themselves go since Super Street Fighter IV was released though, haven’t they?

Originally Published: May 25, 2011, on Comicvine.com

After a brief respite for the Judgment of Gotham crossover, Gotham City Sirens comes back with a bang as Selina struggles with loyalty issues and Harley is seen helping the Joker turn Arkham into something similar to the Arkham Asylum video game, but gets resistance from an unusual suspect in the new Black Mask, Jeremiah Arkham!

The Good

This marks the beginning of a new story arc for Gotham City Sirens and as previous issues seemed to be spiraling into a valley, this issue looks to be pulling us back towards a peak again. Tons of action and chaos as Harley and Joker survey the carnage they’ve caused around them while torturing the Arkham guards unfortunate enough to cross their path. Throw in some cameos by Clayface and Mr. Zsasz and you’ll have flashback to the Arkham Asylum video game.

The key to this issue though is conflict. Catwoman versus herself as she weighs whether or not she should help Harley out over in Arkham. Ivy versus Harley as the two friends confront each other as Ivy has had it with her love sick puppy spells she goes into when she’s near the Joker. Joker versus Jeremiah Arkham as Arkham has been slowly buying or twisting many of the prison guards to his means and the Joker’s rampage is undoing the plans he put in motion months ago. And, of course, the set up for Batman (Bruce Wayne) versus them all as he lets Catwoman know that cases involving the Joker are his personal responsibility and are not to be handled by Dick. This is a great build up for a new story arc as we’ll see the effects of the previous ones finally play out here in one of Gotham’s grandest stages.

The Bad

The only real negative that seems to come from this comic is the lack of originality. Will every major arc that guides its way through Arkham Asylum and the Joker deal with a giant breakout that causes chaos and riots in the Asylum and force Batman to come inside the haunted padded walls to quell the threat? It just sounds a bit too much like this arc is already getting ready to help build up some more hype for Arkham City along with the five-issue mini-series that is being released as well.

The Verdict

What I thought of as a lack of originality aside, this comic features a lot of action between many different characters and sets the stage for what looks to be a mighty test for both Catwoman and Batman in the future issues. If you haven’t been reading this comic, you might be a little lost since even though it’s technically a new arc, you’re really jumping into a continuation of the last one, but you should be able to catch on quickly enough to still enjoy it.

4.5/5 Stars

Red Robin #22 Review

Originally Published: April 13, 2011, on Comicvine.com

Part 2 of the Judgment on Gotham crossover arc for the Bat-Family comics. Azrael is on a supposed holy mission to judge Gotham along with his new sidekick, The Crusader, and will only spare the city if he can find one of its guardians pure of spirit. And so Tim Drake, Dick Grayson, and Selina Kyle of all people will be tested and judged with all of Gotham riding on the line. Is someone more earthly bound though pulling Azrael’s strings as Red Robin begins his challenge?

The Good

You really see how Red Robin’s mind works in this comic and are reminded of just how much tragedy he has overcome in his life, again reminding us that when his character is old enough, he would make a much better Batman because he thinks like Batman.

The gauntlet he has to run through in order to complete his challenge in order to be judged by Azrael also reaffirms his resourcefulness as he seems to always be thrown headfirst into challenges that would have been daunting even for Bruce Wayne in his heyday and insures us an action packed adventure.

The Bad

Azrael and this new Crusader just are not cutting it for me as the villains of this arc as they seem more like rejects from the video game Assassin’s Creed 1 instead of characters that belong in the DC Universe.

And that leads into the entire faith-based storyline, which also rubs me the wrong way. With all these characters have been through over the years, for some “holy” test of faith to be the Bat-Family’s next great challenge just seems like a waste of time. Then again, it is hinted at being part of a much larger scheme with the villain reveal at the end of the comic and this could save what is a very slow developing plot so far for this crossover arc.

The Verdict

This book is packed with some great action sequences as Tim overcomes the obstacles thrown in his path, but a very slow developing plot overshadows this. A villain reveal at the end of the comic gives me hope this crossover arc can kick it up a notch in future issues, but as of right now Azrael and the Crusader just are not doing it for me in terms of playing the villain role for an arc that was deemed worthy of crossing over multiple titles.

If you are a fan of the Bat-Family books and picked up Part 1 of this arc in Batman #708 then whether you usually pick up Red Robin or not, you should pick up this issue. If you aren’t into the Bat-Family, then this is not an issue to try to start trying to familiarize yourself with them.

Gotham City Sirens #21 Review

Originally Published: March 30, 2011, on Comicvine.com

Harley Quinn looks to right the wrongs committed against her by the Joker. But she’ll have to make her way past Aaron Cash and her own personal trump card to do so!

The Good

This Harley oriented story arc surprised me because it shows us a side of her we rarely see, the clinical analytical side of a once great psychiatrist. Normally we get the aloof Harley with the giant mallet, but this Hell Hath No Fury arc reminds us that she can be nearly as cunning and manipulative as the Joker.

Aside from Harley, this particular issue also explores the character of Aaron Cash some as he is the last line of defense between Harley and the Joker as he tries to maintain order as Arkham’s head of security. Harley though reveals a shocking secret about Aaron’s past that forces him to relent and let Harley pass as you actually feel your heart strings tug as you see the clear development of yet another tragic character in the Batman universe.

The Bad

Even with a tremendously well-done build up, it was all too predictable that Harley would not be able to pull the trigger when confronting “Mistah J”. Not only because I’m sure DC will never kill off the Joker, but because no matter how much he hurts her, Harley can’t help but be head over heels for the Joker and the entire arc reminds me too much of the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Harley and Ivy” where Harley teams up with Poison Ivy after being fired by the Joker.

This arc, predictable as it was, also just seemed to be a way to make the series even since Ivy already had her love-interest story when she fell in love with an alien plant-man, Catwoman had hers when she had to defend her love of Batman against Talia al’ Guhl, and now Harley has hers with the Joker. I would hate to see this series continue on this three-character merry-go-round since I thought it was more supposed to be about the dynamic between the three villainesses.

Of course, that dynamic seems to be in jeopardy altogether since Poison Ivy and Catwoman are at each others’ throats without Harley around. So we see Selina go off to explore why there is so much police activity going away from Arkham while Ivy goes off to see if the Joker has indeed dug his claws back into Harley and what carnage she is reeking at Arkham. It seemed like a blatant and sad attempt just in order to keep the two other main characters somehow involved in the past couple of issues that have been so Harley heavy.

The Verdict

This title has been teetering on the edge of my comic book pull box list for a while now, but I had hope because I enjoyed the exploration of both the main characters and some lesser known characters in the past couple of issues, including Aaron Cash this issue. There is also hope that whatever action Selina has gone off to investigate will provide a big payoff that will bring the three ladies back together.

Unfortunately, this predictable storyline and outcome left me feeling a little flat after reading it and unless it gets back to the nice and balanced three-character dynamic that it had in the beginning instead of the current rotating stories centering around each individual villainess and having the other two as side-pieces, this could be one of the last issues I pick up for this monthly. Only diehard fans of Batman’s Rogues Gallery rehashing their same gimmicks repeatedly will probably find this comic consistently enjoyable.

Originally Published: March 1, 2011, on youtube.com/RCars4885

I come to you once again with your weekly geek fix from my mother’s basement! To kick off Volume 2 this week and shake off the rust, I review Gotham City Sirens #20 from DC Comics and Bulletstorm for the Xbox 360. My hot chick pick of the week is Leeann Tweeden.