Tag Archive: wolverine


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.

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A slightly less busy Pullbox this week that looked very similar to last week in terms of what we’re covering, but very different in regards to content. Without further ado, here is this week’s Pullbox!

Marvel – Uncanny X-Force #30 – Evan, a.k.a. Genesis, a.k.a. the Boy Apocalypse, is on the road trip from hell as Daken’s new iteration of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants attempts to jog his memory of what his life’s purpose is as they hope if he remembers, they’ll be at the forefront of Apocalypse’s new army. So as Shadow King plays countless games with the boy’s mind, X-Force and the rest of the X-Men are lost as to what to do to go about getting Evan back before it’s too late.

Anyone who is a fan of Apocalypse as a villain will love this issue. Not only does it show off the lengths Daken, Sabertooth, and Shadow King are willing to go to torture the boy into reminding him what he is supposed to become, but we finally start to see Evan show off some of Apocalypse’s more infamous powers, like shape-shifting, as his rage forces him to push himself to the limits as The Brotherhood breaks down everything he has ever known bit by bit. Surprisingly, much of the book revolves around Evan, which hasn’t happened since X-Force took the boy in, and the X-Men themselves only get a few panels explaining their concern about the creation of a new Brotherhood. Again, if you’re a fan of Apocalypse, pick this issue up.

Marvel – Wolverine and the X-Men #15 – Wolverine and the rest of his school prepare for what will likely be the final battle with the Phoenix and everyone on campus, from Krakoa to Toad to Iceman have different ways of getting ready for what could be (but most likely won’t) be their final battle.

Okay, we get it. I’m honestly kind of tired of the whole Avengers vs X-Men event now. It’s coming to a head and this issue just felt like a waste of ink and paper. It was interesting to see some of the asides, like Toad with Paige Guthrie, and Professor X with Quentin Quire, or even Iron Man and his little think tank having at it before Broo the Brood shows them all up, but in terms of forwarding the actual story, very little happened of note here and it makes you wonder how long Marvel will drag this out at this rate. I’m ready for it to be over already and at this rate, I’m almost rooting for the Phoenix.

DC – Batman Detective Comics Annual #1 – During the Night of the Owls debacle at Arkham Asylum, it seems that Roman Sionis, a.k.a. the original Black Mask, had escaped and hypnotized much of the staff into believing he was still in his cell. Now, Batman has to find a way to stop him before he forms a new False Face Society and begins a new reign of terror over Gotham.

This is probably my favorite Batman related comic since the New 52 launched because it feels like an old-school Batman story in terms of its pacing, the action, and the villains involved. Bringing back Roman Sionis into prominence is a good thing, even if the entire mind-control battle between him and The Mad Hatter (read the book to better understand!) came out of left field a little bit. Batman fans should definitely pick up this book, especially if they’re looking for a solid point to get back into Detective Comics incase they missed some of the Night of the Owls stuff.

DC – Green Lantern Annual #1 – The battle between Hal, Sinestro, and Black Hand finally comes to a head. Meanwhile, halfway across the universe, some of the origins of the Guardians comes to light as they free the source of power that will drive their Third Army, which we also finally see just what that Army will be!

I really don’t know what to say about this comic aside that it is a must-read if you are at all interested in the upcoming Green Lantern crossover event. 16 issues (17 if you count this prologue) across four titles will change the face of the Green Lanterns forever as it seems a being called The Original Lantern and who can effortlessly wield all spectrums of light is powering a Borg-like entity for the Guardians. The Guardians have realized the only way to ensure order in a chaotic universe is to destroy free will. Therefore, making the universe of a hive mind seems to be the way to go and although I’m not really a fan of this direction, it could provide a very interesting new threat to the DCU. The most exciting part of this book though is that in freeing The Original Lantern as their power source, the Guardians have also stirred up a long lost remnant of their race! This could possibly lead to an entirely new cast of Guardians down the line to replace these power-mad ones. Time will tell on that front though as Hal Jordan first has to worry about coming back from the dead again.

IDW – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: April O’ Neil #1 (One-Shot) – April feels tired of sitting on the sidelines and wants the turtles to know she can be an integral part of the team as well. She may not be a ninja, and she might be able to bash skulls even like Casey, but her intelligence and ability for subterfuge can be just as valued as being a human for her has its perks. Of course, after the mess she caused, it’ll be unlikely she’ll be brought back to Stockgen again.

I wasn’t going to do a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic two weeks in a row originally. But after reading this and absolutely geek-gasming at what this book laid out, I couldn’t resist. Fans of the original cartoon series and Archie series of comics will immediately pick up on a failed experiment that April lets loose during her antics in this issue, best known as Slash, the Evil Turtle. Whether or not Slash will exhibit his same low-level intelligence as his previous incarnations is yet to be seen, but his obsession with palm trees at least remains the same. And considering how much of a fan favorite rogue Slash ended up becoming (he even had his own badass action figure), it’ll be interesting to see what other mutants start popping up in the issue of TMNT in the months ahead. We also see one of the main characters of this book finally have some direct interaction with Rock Soldiers, who up until this point, had been seen only with Krang and Baxter Stockman and kept hidden from the TMNT. All in all, this book may not look like much if you just glance at the cover but old-school TMNT fans must pick this up.

Another tremendous week for comics and it seems that each one I read was better than the last in terms of established titles! There was some disappointing showings from Marvel’s newest numbers ones  though in Hawkeye and The First X-Men, and you got exactly what you’d expect from Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe. For the full breakdown though, check out the Pullbox below!

Marvel – Avengers vs X-Men Round #9 – Hope’s training is still moving far too slowly and Avengers are dropping like flies. With a little help from the rest of the X-Men who are starting to realize that the Phoenix Four are going mad with power, the remaining Avengers attempt a mad prison break to free their fallen allies and one hero prepares for the ultimate sacrifice.

Originally, I was going to do one of the other Marvel #1s in this spot so I could bash them up a bit because they were pretty bad, but between Round 8 and now Round 9 in this AvX event, I needed to mention that this is the first time in literally five years that I’ve rooted for Spider-Man in a comic book. His selflessness and wisdom beyond his years, his ability to overcome all the odds and take tragedy in stride, are traits that made Spidey one of my favorites growing up. He had lost this a few years ago and he still doesn’t have it in his own monthly, but in the various Avengers books Spidey is starting to reclaim what made him great and this book really solidified that. A great read as this event looks like its finally about to come to a head.

Marvel – The First X-Men #1 – Mutants are starting to pop up everywhere and Wolverine and Sabretooth aren’t thrilled with the idea that there are folks who are looking to bring them harm. Not really known for being heroes though, this odd couple does what they do best in busting heads in the hopes of protecting some folks who still don’t know how to protect themselves.

This book infuriated me more than any other #1 Marvel put out this week so although Hawkeye escaped my wrath, this book will not. It blatantly changes what we’ve come to know as the origin stories of Wolverine, Sabretooth, Professor X, and several others just to try to have another book with Wolverine blatantly in the spotlight since he is clearly Marvel’s powerhouse character in terms of sales right now. The dialogue between the characters is not entertaining in the least and the course of action just seems like another blatantly needless origin re-launch that does nothing but confuse people and turn off long-time comic book readers. Even with it being a number one, this book just isn’t worth it.

DC – Batman Detective Comics #12 – Batman finally unravels the mystery behind Mr. Toxic and although he may have a new villain on his hands, he know things could be much worse as Mr. Toxic is about to go atomic. And Batman needs to remedy this situation quickly as an old foe’s return looms on the horizon.

Not the best wrap up of what has mostly been a confusing storyline, it at least had a few intense action sequences and Batman’s new jetpack armor looked pretty badass. Really all this did was delay what fans have really been waiting for and that is the return of the Joker and what he plans to do in the New 52 and what made this comic was the tease of his return next month in the final few pages of the story. I for one cannot wait for next month as all this did was whet my appetite for a real Batman story already.

DC – Animal Man #12 – The epic Rotworld crossover between Animal Man and Swamp Thing starts here in this first chapter. Animal Man’s son has been tainted by the rot and is barely clinging to life and all Buddy Baker knows is that he must enter a Louisiana swamp and put an end to all this at its core. Lucky for him, Swamp Thing has the same idea after dealing with Anton Arcane for the first time since his resurrection.

I’m not a huge fan of Animal Man typically, but this first issue was really well written and made me think I might have been missing something all this time as I picked it up sporadically over its first dozen issues. Of course, it could also be the crossover with Swamp Thing, which also came out this week so make sure you got both chapters one and two of this event folks, which just happens to start in this issue. The build up for this event has been brilliant by DC and I really hope they can follow through now on this amazing foundation they’ve set up.

Image – Spawn #222 – Jim Downing, the newest Spawn on Earth has been using his powers unlike any other Spawn before him, to heal. At least in the public eye. Behind the scenes he is still a Spawn and as he struggles to piece his life together by terrifying every hood who might be connected a lab initiative called ‘The Program’ that took away Downing’s memory and might have given him some of his power, he awakens some old Spawn enemies. In this case, Tremor. But Downing unusually turned his healing powers on Tremor and seemingly cured him of the experimentation that turned him into that monster who now will help Downing track down more members of the ‘The Program’.

I walked away from Spawn for a long time due to the fact that Al Simmons lost all interest to me as a character. But curious as to how they were able to keep the book going for about 60 issues after I lost interest, this new Spawn and the fact he never died, yet has all the powers and then some of Al, has intrigued me. I’m a bit sad though that classic villain Tremor now seems to be no more, but at the very least we still have The Clown! The art is great, the story is very realistic conspiracy theory driven instead of the whole heaven vs. hell aspect that drove Al for so long, and Jim Downing’s desire to do good all the time is refreshing. If you haven’t been reading Spawn for many of the same reasons as me, you might be interested in checking it back out again as it’s definitely piqued my curiosity like it did in the old days.

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!

DC’s New 52 is really starting to stall and this week wasn’t much better. In fact, there is only one title from DC I felt was worthy to talk about and since there was a very strong Indie push this week, we’re spotlighting two Indies and one DC title. Marvel maintained the course and was solid, but not spectacular in many ways this week. So, without further ado, here is this week’s pullbox!

1) IDW – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #6: A mysterious French parkour ninja is hunted down by the Foot Clan as the Turtles continue to recon this threat. Meanwhile, Baxter Stockman begins to pull out all the stops to help Old Hob catch the Turtles and Splinter and reveals a redesigned blast from the past that should make all TMNT fans jump for joy.

A lot of pieces begin to fall into place for the future of this monthly as the Foot Clan finally reveals itself to the Turtles, Casey Jones and April O’Neil meet for the first time, and Baxter Stockman unveils a new generation of Mousers that look to no longer be the jokes they once were for the Mean, Green, Fighting Machines. If you haven’t been picking up this monthly, now is the perfect time to jump on board because business looks like it is about to pick up.  Kevin Eastman continues to remind us what made the original Turtles great with this series as it balances great humor with superb action on a consistent basis.

2) Comix Tribe – SCAM #1 (of 5): A group of conmen with some extraordinary powers are set up in what was meant to be the heist of their lives. Forced to scatter to the winds after being betrayed by one of their own, they come back together for one more gig in the hopes of sticking it to the man who stuck it to them and still get that legendary heist they were all waiting for.

This comic has everything you want from a first issue and the premise feels like Ocean’s Eleven meets the X-Men as you have a bevy of con-artists with superpowers in Las Vegas. Great art tempered with action, thrills, and a brilliant set-up makes this everything you’d want for $3.99. And amazingly enough, it all comes from one man as Joe Mulvey makes his big debut in comics with a splash. If the rest of this series is anywhere as good as this first issue, Mulvey is going to be a writer/artist to watch in the future in the comics industry for sure.

3) DC – Green Lantern: New Guardians #5: Kyle Rayner and the rest of the lantern color spectrum representatives finally begin to explore the traveling solar system that has revealed itself and are shocked at what they find. Even more surprising though is the reaction the lanterns receive and a new enemy who looks to rise up and make his presence felt by the lantern representatives.

With all the power being wielded between these new lanterns you need a threat that is worthy of them, and a hostile, traveling star system, and its crazy guardian that lives within its sun is a good way to start, so I’m all for a new villain in this case. The big question now though is what will DC actually do with him. This could be when this series really starts to ramp up its action and we finally start to get some answers, but if DC really starts to drag this out, it could get stale fast. One thing is for sure though, this issue is definitely good enough to warrant picking up this month and next month at least to see what happens.

4) Marvel – X-Men Legacy #261: An old foe returns to harass Wolverine and his new school in Westchester as it seems the school has the biggest target in the universe painted on it as they can’t go a week without being threatened with their untimely demise. After harrowing another threat though, Wolverine realizes he may have accidentally shifted that target to Cyclops and Utopia and so now the school has its first official road trip to help out their former teammates.

So as you can tell by the cover, the old foe is of course Exodus and his tremendous psychic abilities always make him an Omega level threat to whomever he should target. The unexpected humor of this issue though was a pleasant surprise as finally after talking Exodus down from his attempted mind wipe of the entire school to force them to unite with Utopia, they then have to follow Exodus as he flies off towards San Francisco to attack Cyclops and his X-Men instead. My only problem with that is that it seems to be bringing the two teams together a bit too soon after they separated so this is a tenuous situation that Marvel needs to handle properly so as not to undo everything that has been done in recent months.

5) Marvel – Astonishing X-Men #46: Cyclops takes on the mantle of leader once again as he and his multi-verse team finally learn that the Savior is his universe’s Charles Xavier. With some interesting drama between Cyclops and the multi-verse Wolverine, all out action then breaks out as they begin their attack on Savior’s tower in the hopes of escaping back to their own realities. 

The action is really the highlight of this issue as it builds to an interesting conclusion as Savior uses the services of Storm and a few other X-Men that he employs in his service to try to hold Cyclops, Wolverine, Emma Frost, Nightcrawler, and Shadowcat back to continue to power his universe’s bio-force. If you haven’t been reading this comic, now might not be the time to jump in as it’s the middle of a very deep story arc, but this continues a great run that Astonishing X-Men has been on since its inception (minus a random gap between issues about a year ago).

With the first month of DC’s universal re-launch behind us, Marvel has decided to start re-launching some more characters of their own in response. Along with Hulk coming out later this month, we see this week the conclusion of the Schism story line in the X-Men to pave way for several new X-Men monthlies featuring two different teams. So, what series are worth continuing in the DC re-launch and what can Marvel do to draw your attention away from it? And there’s a surprisingly good indie that came out this week as well that deserves you attention so without further ado, check out the Pullbox below!

1) Marvel – X-Men: Schism #5 (of 5): As a giant Sentinel came bearing down onto Utopia, Wolverine and Cyclops’ 30-year rivalry has finally come to a head with the two of them duking it out like never before. Meanwhile, while they try to work out their differences with Wolverine stabbing Cyclops several times and Cyclops blasting off Wolverine’s face, it is the young X-Men and Hope’s new recruits who come in and save the day. With a clear moral divide now present on the island, Wolverine decides to leave for good and several various members of the X-Men decide to join him. You need to see this just to see who breaks rank with Cyclops and to set up what looks to be an awesome foreseeable future for the two new X-Men teams. The best part about this mini-series is that it shows everyone how a re-launch should really take place. Marvel has been infamous in the past for screwing them up, but this coupled with the Hulk’s re-launch, both look promising depending on how they come out of the gate with their new respective series. DC has been pretty awful as well including this new universal re-launch. Some characters stayed the same while others were completely re-written or retconned and just had me scratching my head in many cases. It should be interesting to see where the X-Men go from here, but if I were you, start here and get ready for one wild ride.

2) Marvel – Deadpool #44: Moving away from the almost somber tone that the dividing of the X-Men brings, we look to the greatest comic relief character in comics, Deadpool. Still in England, Deadpool is hot on the trail of his would be psychiatrist/stalker when he goes into her apartment and finds a frozen version of…himself. Leaving it for the time being, Deadpool , having grown a small conscience and realizing that it is his fault that his shrink is about to commit murder, for once actually saves someone he dislikes. But in the end, the doc bites the big one and that frozen version of Deadpool? It looks like it’s going to be EVIL DOPPELGANGER time next issue! Yee-haw! Sorry. I, too, begin developing extra voices in my head after reading too much Deadpool. Anyway, Deadpool is always hysterical to read and sees him in the most over-the-top, off-the-wall situations in comics. With everyone else saving the world, Deadpool can barely even save himself most of the time, relying on his healing factor even more than Wolverine does, and it is always entertaining. Again, this issue wraps up a story arc and sets up the next nicely so it would be a solid point to jump in at and the laughs you’ll get from it makes this an easy choice this week.

3) Image – Last of the Greats #1: Earth is under attack and after not heeding the warnings from beings of tremendous power, they must now go to the last one and beg for his help against an invading alien force. Simple in it’s description, but so deep in its writing and art, that this is the most pleasant shock I’ve had in a while from an indie comic. I actually had a chance to speak to the author of this book, Joshua Hale Fialkov and we both agreed that the thing that should first draw people in is the cover, especially this alternate version you see to the left. Beautiful in its simplicity while harking back to a classic in the Watchmen with the smiley face with a drop of blood on it, Last of the Greats could become something that could rival Spawn for Image’s top monthly comic in my opinion because this first issue was just that damn good. It was dark in a way you rarely see in comics and in just the first issue had enough twists and turns that it made your jaw drop and that’s saying something considering these are characters we have no history with. I’m thrilled to hear this is a monthly and that the next three issues are ready for print (again via Fialkov) because I think this is going to be something really special and cannot wait to pick up issue #2.

4) DC – Swamp Thing #2: I admit that my first experiences with Swamp Thing growing up was the movies and later a short-lived cartoon. I never read the comics and so I had a very limited knowledge of the character until later in life and thought that its return at the end of the Brightest Day was one of the worst things DC had done in recent history. But maybe it is that poor rebirth penned by Geoff Johns and my cheesy childhood memories that had limited my expectations for this comic and led to my pleasant surprise that it has been pretty good. We learn more of the history of the Swamp Thing and it almost sounded a bit like the history of Spawn to be honest, but revolving around plant life. Still, Alec Holland having to face this global threat, unknown forces working against him, and the tremendous pressure for him to take back up the mantle of Swamp Thing, makes him a surprisingly deep character only two issues in to this new series. Whether you’re like me and don’t have the history with Swamp Thing or read everything Len Wein and Alan Moore wrote for the character, I think you’d be pleased with how this is going and should definitely pick this up.

5) DC – Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #1 (of 5): With Batman: Arkham City right around the corner and since The Penguin is a main villain in the game, I particularly enjoyed this comic because it gives rare insight into the character of the Penguin himself if you are unfamiliar with Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot’s rough upbringing. The ruthlessness the Penguin portrays as we see his psychological profile through the brilliant art of the book is really something Batman fans old and new will enjoy and it is nice to see this classic villain is another character mainly untouched by DC’s universal re-launch. It’s also a good comic because it is clearly a set-up for a much larger story as no Penguin story would be complete without interference from the Dark Knight. What new scheme is the Penguin working on or what is he covering up that will draw the Caped Crusader’s interest? I think this is an easy pick-up for all the Batman fans out there as true Batman fans know how underrated the Penguin can be at times as a villain and this arc looks like it might help put the Penguin back into the spotlight for a time. Proof positive to never underestimate even the runts in a litter as rotten as that of the Cobblepots.

Uncanny X-Men #537 Review

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

Kruun’s plans for revenge begin to come to light and he has made sure that most of the X-Men are powerless to stop him. Can Kitty Pryde find a way to warn the others in time or will Kruun’s suicide mission be the end of the X-Men and Utopia?

The Good

It looks like we might finally start to get some resolution to the entire Kitty Pryde intangibility issue and thank goodness because I can’t take it anymore. Along with this, Kruun’s plans are finally fully revealed to us and the action begins to amp as we being moving to a climax and resolution in this story arc that sees the Breakworlders visiting Utopia.

The Bad

I had some problems with a lot of the things that took place in the pages of this comic. The most notable had to be with Wolverine. There is a systematic telling of how Kruun planned for every mutant who could interfere with him…except he conveniently forgot about Wolverine. If there is one mutant on Utopia who you should try to plan for, I think it would be Wolverine.

Not to mention, there is this huge build-up for a fight between Kruun and Wolverine in the next issue, but honestly if that fight lasts more than two or three pages I’ll be disappointed. It’s Wolverine versus a one-armed humanoid alien that he’s already kicked the snot out of before, and that was when the alien had the home turf advantage and both his arms. This issue seemed more like an attempt at just showing how formidable Kruun still is, but in reality he shouldn’t be and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense except as page filler.

The Verdict

If you’ve been reading this Uncanny storyline, then you’re going to want to see where it ends up, but I’m tempted to tell you to pass on this comic due to blatant page filler moments and the unnecessary build up of a character that just doesn’t need all this attention. Not to mention I still can’t stand the intangible Kitty Pryde thing, even if it does look to be coming to a head soon.

Also, if you’re looking to get into Uncanny X-Men, this is definitely not the issue to do so and I would wait until this arc at least finishes up before adding this to my weekly pull box.

2.5/5 Stars

Astonishing X-Men #37 Review

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

Armor continues to mourn her personal losses while Cyclops, Wolverine, and Emma Frost look for a way to calm down Fin Fang Foom before their recent trip to Japan becomes too much more like a bad Godzilla movie.

The Good

There is a lot of action in this comic as Cyclops, Wolverine, and Emma try desperately to figure out how to take down Fin Fang Foom and figure out why exactly he is attacking Tokyo right then and there.

It was also very good to see some strong, much needed, character development for Armor, which is sprinkled in at solid moments to break up the chaos with the other X-Men. In fact, it was great to see Armor at all as I think this is a character that needs to be more heavily featured in the other X-Men monthlies.

The Bad

The worst part about this comic is trying to remember what happened in the last issue since the release of this has been so sporadic in the past two years. Never have I read a comic that needed its “Previously In” page more than this.

I also don’t like the fact that Mentallo is the bad guy here pulling off this crazy extortion plot against Roxxon. It just doesn’t seem to fit with the threats the X-Men are always facing in their other monthlies and unless he is working for someone bigger and badder behind the scenes, which would be more his M.O., it just doesn’t work for me.

The final part about this comic that irked me the wrong way was how it portrayed Wolverine. Maybe its because he’s in Japan or maybe he can relate to something being mind-controller, but normally he would not show as much concern as he did for something like Fin Fang Foom like he did once he realized someone else was pulling the strings.

The Verdict

There was some solid action going on in this issue along with some much needed character development for Armor, which I really enjoyed. I have a problem though with Mentallo getting this much attention and Wolverine acting out of character a bit.

In the end, if you weren’t picking up Astonishing X-Men before or can’t remember what happened in the last issue because of such a long delay between releases, then you are probably better for it. Unless you’re a diehard fan of this series, you can give it a pass this go around until it starts being released regularly again.

2/5 Stars

X-Men #10 Review

Originally Published: April 27, 2011, on Comicvine.com

The X-Men and Spider-Man wrap up their expedition in the sewers of New York City as they try to stop Dark Beast and his mad experiments on Dr. Curt Connors and the unsuspecting citizens of Manhattan.

The Good

Any story arc with Dark Beast in it is a win for me because he poses a threat on so many levels to the current X-Men. This is also an ideal time to have him re-emerge in the X-Men’s lives since we know he will be a major player in future X-Force issues, even though we don’t know the details on that as of yet.

The banter back and forth between Emma Frost and Spider-Man was also very well written as they are burdened with the task of rescuing the rest of the X-Men after they fall under the spell of Dark Beast’s lizard transformation device.

The Bad

This arc started off so strongly, with a brief spike at the Dark Beast reveal, but has been on a downward slide ever since with this final issue hitting rock bottom. Most of the issue is Emma and Spidey crawling through the sewers trying to regroup and escape from the barely coherent Lizard X-Men. Although the banter was entertaining, it just felt like filler before we got to what was a short and quick resolution with Emma freeing the original Lizard, Curt Connors.

Due to the cramped quarters, you also never really see Wolverine, Spidey, or anyone else with any speed or agility really ramp up and let go in the limited fight scenes. If anything, Spider-Man felt like an unnecessary addition to this entire adventure and was there simply because it is his turf and he’s had experience with the Lizard before and reminded me why I don’t particularly read most Spider-Man comics anymore.

The Verdict

Although the banter was well written, there was far too much of it and made this comic feel like it was dragging two pages in. To sort through all that filler and end on such an anti-climatic resolution on top of it just left me shaking my head.

Spider-Man was nothing but useless aside from acting as foil to Emma and this entire story arc felt like a cheap way of bringing Dark Beast into everyone’s mind before he makes his impact on the Age of Apocalypse storyline with X-Force coming in June. Even if you’ve been reading this arc, I’m tempted to tell you to steer clear and hope for better things next month.

Uncanny X-Men #535 Review

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

All seems well at the moment on Utopia until Cyclops gets a message from Abigail Brand, agent of SWORD, that a Breakworld armada flagship has appeared on the edges of the solar system. Considering their previous dealings with the people of Breakworld and that Colossus is technically their Powerlord still, she figured they would be best suited to see exactly what that ship is up to.

The Good

I could read Kieron Gillen written X-Men comics all day. The subtle humor inserted into each scene was a joy to read. Whether it was Namor and Colossus, Doctor Nemesis and Magneto, or Cyclops and Wolverine, the banter back and forth was a thing of beauty.

And since this is the first issue of a new arc, Gillen made sure to make it action heavy in the front in order to use the rest of the comic to build up the plot of why exactly there is a Breakworld ship heading for Earth. Not to mention it is nice to see the Abigail Brand and the Breakworlders come back after a decent length hiatus as this is shaping up to be a pretty interesting story centering on Colossus.

The Bad

Kitty Pryde is still intangible. We get it. Her and Colossus can’t hold each other. Fine. Either fix her already or put her back on the damn giant bullet. I’m tired of every issue of X-Men comics I read that isn’t taking place in an alternate universe having to devote 2-4 pages to “How do we fix Kitty?”

Also, I get that it is his catch phrase, but can we put a hold on the “Imperius Rex” stuff with Namor. It just comes off as cheesy for the king of the seas to have a catch phrase that doesn’t have any meaning. You want him to come off as regal and elite? Get rid of the catch phrase. The Thing and Wolverine have catch phrases. Namor doesn’t need one especially when it wastes several panels per comic usually where we get a close up of his smug face exclaiming it.

The Verdict

This is looking like the launching point for a great story arc revolving around Colossus and it is good to see the Breakworlders returning to the comics. The dialogue is very well written and helps keep the comic light and enjoyable even though here go the X-Men saving the Earth from an unimaginable threat once again.

I wish they would wrap up the entire Kitty Pryde intangibility problem though because it is just becoming redundant at this point. Aside from this, Uncanny X-Men #535 is a great read with a perfect balance of action and plot development. Add in this is the start of a new arc and it is a good time to get back into things if you’ve fallen off the X-wagon recently.