Tag Archive: x-men


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
9.0
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.
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Dr. Doomed from the start

Right next to having superpowers of their own and fighting alongside their favorite characters, the next best thing for most comic-book fans would be actually assuming the role of their most beloved superheroes. Personally, I’d probably like to be one of the X-Men. Wolverine, Iceman, or Colossus, if possible—I’m not picky.

The guys and gals at Gazillion Entertainment zero in on this concept with their free-to-play PC game, Marvel Heroes. Driven by Diablo-style action-RPG mechanics, the game sees players starting off by choosing one of five heroes who most comic fans would consider B-list: Hawkeye, Storm, Scarlet Witch, Daredevil, and the Thing. By beating the game—or spending some cold, hard cash—you can unlock other heroes or purchase a variety of costumes for these characters.

Unfortunately, if you’re like me and get tempted into picking up the ’90s X-Men cartoon version of Cyclops or Wolverine after a few story chapters, you’ll soon realize that the starter characters represent core classes—and no matter what hero you choose, the powersets are basically the same, just with different animations.

Considering the differences between the heroes in the Marvel universe, this was frustrating as a fan. After all, I was willing to shell out the cash—only to find out there’s no need beyond cosmetic preferences. To add insult to injury, each purchased character starts at level 1, so if you want to immediately use them, the game recommends that you start the entire adventure over again, no matter what point you’re currently at.

A couple of saving graces here, however, are the story and comic-book-still cutscenes. Written by Marvel super-scribe Brian Michael Bendis, the tale incorporates some of Marvel’s most famous story arcs from all their major comic lines into one tidy package. The basics, though, boil down to this: Dr. Doom has a Cosmic Cube, and he feels like messing with reality, because that’s what megalomaniacal bad guys do. I’ve also got to compliment the top-notch voice acting in the cutscenes, including instantly recognizable pros like Nolan North as Deadpool, Steve Blum as Wolverine, and Keith David as Nick Fury.

After choosing your characters, it’s time to actually play the game. And by the time I got a third of the way through the campaign, I’d already grown bored. Instead of offering any kind of variety or difficulty, the game simply threw more and more enemies at me—or gave them an insane amount of health—in the hopes of slowing me down. But it’s not like I was actually doing anything. I played as Hawkeye for most of the game after wasting my money, so all I had to do was get a decent distance away, hold the Shift key in order to ground my hero, and then hold another button to attack. Sometimes two. If I played as the Hulk or Thing, the only thing that changed was my distance relative to the target. The enemy spawn times are also horribly balanced, and I’d regularly clear an area of Hand ninjas or HYDRA goons, only to have them reappear nanoseconds later.

One decent aspect of the gameplay, however, comes in the dungeons. If you turn on auto-grouping, you can enter any dungeon without the fear of being completely overwhelmed. Unlike a lot of other MMOs, when you enter a dungeon around the same time as other players, you can be automatically placed on a team with them. Of course, this can lead to the confusing dilemma of having six Hawkeyes on the same team (which happened to me a lot) and getting your particular avatar lost in the chaos, but if you’re a more introverted gamer, you don’t have to worry about pulling up an awkward chat window, begging for assistance, and dealing with complete strangers.

Normally, this is about where I’d wrap up my review, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the most disappointing aspect of my time playing Marvel Heroes: the technical side. I purposely waited as long as I did to put up my review because I was waiting to see how the game performed after some patches. While the game has seen several small patches and one major fix in the two weeks since the game went live, I’m still experiencing many gameplay-balance problems, as well as numerous technical issues.

Every 20 to 30 minutes, my game crashes or freezes for no apparent reason, and while I’ve reported this error on the technical forums, it remains unfixed after performing the recommended actions from the support staff. I’ve made sure my drivers are up to date, I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled the game launcher, and I’ve even turned down the specs to the lowest possible setting (my PC isn’t the highest-end gaming rig, but it should handle the minimum requirements no problem).

This left the support staff confounded—and me increasingly frustrated. So, I want to warn people before they play Marvel Heroes: In my experience, it just doesn’t work as well as it should. And after perusing the forums, I found that the error I encountered is actually pretty common. Then again, you get what you pay for—and the core of the game is free, after all.

So, if the game works for you perfectly, that’s great, but at the end of the day, fewer crashes still won’t make Marvel Heroes the most worthwhile of experiences unless you fall in love with its price tag.

Developer: Gazillion Entertainment • Publisher: Gazillion Entertainment • ESRB: N/A • Release Date: 06.04.13
4.0
While Marvel Heroes does some nice things, the Marvel license isn’t enough to cover up glaring technical and design flaws. As much as I wanted to like this game, I can’t recommend something that is, at its core, broken. In the end, you get what you pay for (or less, if you actually invested in this).
The Good Story that expertly reimagines some of Marvel’s greatest moments.
The Bad Constant crashing and glitches; uninspired gameplay.
The Ugly Expecting to get something for nothing—and then being surprised when what you get just isn’t that good.
Marvel Heroes is a PC exclusive. 

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.

It was an interesting week in the comic world as IDW brings back another old-school hero while Marvel and DC continue to try to spin our old heroes into something new. So let’s just get right to it with this week’s Pullbox!

IDW – Judge Dredd #1 – The year is 2100. Most of the world is a radioactive wasteland aside from a small strip along the North American east coast where all people can do is build upward at this point. The facilities of this last bastion of humanity are mostly automated, but occasionally man’s primal urges to break the law rise to the surface and when this happens, there is only one true form of law. The Judges And the most severe of this militant law-enforcement group is Judge Dredd.

Capitalizing on the fair success of the Dredd movie, this comic is the start of bringing Britain’s most infamous comic book hero ever here to the States in a way that stays true to its dark, dystopian future. This first comic is a joy for any comic reader that is even just vaguely familiar with the character as it throws you in head-first to Judge Dredd’s world without pulling any punches. Pick this up and stick with it folks because it is going to be one hell of a ride from here on out.

DC – Talon #2 – Calvin Rose begins his war against the Court of Owls in earnest in the hopes of finding the women who helped prevent him from succumbing to the same fate as all other Talons. When he looks to hit one of the Court’s primary fund reserves, however, he realizes that he may have bitten off more than he can chew and will need to push his skills as an escape artist to the test if he hopes to live.

Even though this book is only a couple of issues in, and I didn’t even really enjoy the whole ‘Court of Owls’ concept, Talon shows a lot of potential as it is already introducing new and unique characters, and looks to be working hard to give Calvin some nemesis of his own to do battle against. The idea of bringing back Owls from the dead could get old quickly, but it definitely works through a couple of issues and it should be interesting to see how Calvin’s war on the Owls continues in the coming months This is definitely one book to keep an eye on.

Marvel – Astonishing X-Men Annual #1 – In this one-shot story, we again see how being an X-Man affects Northstar and his marriage as The Friends of Humanity terrorist group has started targeting the loved ones of mutants instead of just the mutants themselves. Labeling them gene traitors, Northstar must aide his friends in hunting down the hate mongers before his husband becomes the next casualty.

If you’ve been reading Astonishing X-Men, this Annual issue really helps put a nice little bowtie on the recent events that have happened with Northstar and his wedding and all that. It doesn’t really feature a lot of action, but does a nice job of fleshing out some characters, including Karma, Northstar, and his husband, and feels like it is setting them all up for something big in the future. A solid read, but not a must have unless you’ve been following this series very closely.

DC – Batman, Inc. #5 – Batman claims he’s had a vision of the future where Damian becomes Batman and Gotham gets wiped off the map because of it. Everyone Bruce knows and loves die in the future and so in order to prevent this from happening, Bruce wishes to send Damian back to Talia as a peace offering.

A little confusing at first, as is typical of most of Grant Morrison’s more recent works, it all comes together in the end as this issue has an old-school ‘Elseworlds’ feel to it that I appreciated. Also, having the Joker being the villain the brings about the end of Gotham was a nice touch as any time you can work in the Clown Prince of Crime is a bonus for sure. It would have been nice though if aside from explaining Batman’s insane vision, if this issue has actually done something, like, I don’t know, forward the story, perhaps. Not the best issue of Batman, Inc. in how it relates to the series, but I’ve read worse.

Marvel – Secret Avengers #34 – Captain Britain and Hawkeye are trapped in the Earth-666 parallel universe where all the heroes we know are classic movie monsters (Thor is the Mummy, Wolverine is a vampire, Punisher is a Frankenstein monster, etc.), Venom and Valkyrie are ejected into space, and Hank Pym gets turned into a Deathlok!

This was one of the most difficult issues for me to follow in a while what with so many different stories going on at once. I usually love Rick Remender’s work, but he needs to get a grip on the reigns of this one fast because it feels like an out of control train ready to wreck at any time. And it’s not like I tried jumping into this one cold turkey. I’ve been following this series and still had trouble trying to piece together everything that was supposed to be happening. The whole feel of Secret Avengers seems to have taken a downward turn ever since Hawkeye took it over from Captain America and even though I’ve been with this book since the very beginning, it needs to pick up soon or I’m jumping ship.

Sorry to have missed the past couple of weeks folks. Lots of various fall preview events have pulled us, the EGM Staff, into a dozen different directions and so certain things had to be sacrificed. But we are back this week and have a brand new Pullbox ready to go!

IDW – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #14 – Raphael is taught an important lesson about his temper as Casey Jones and April O’Neil are officially welcomed into the family. Meanwhile, Baxter Stockman begins to learn just how deep General Krang’s resources go and the Shredder begins to hatch his latest scheme in the hopes of finding someone to replace Karai as his number two!

The big reveal this issue that propelled TMNT #14 into my top spot this week is in the picture directly above this entry. Yes, the creation of the Technodrome is underway and with it means the likelihood that Shredder and Krang will finally form their partnership sooner rather than later. Also, with Shredder ready to make a move, the action will likely start to pick up again as this issue’s main focus was Raphael’s needed lesson in anger management. All told though, Kevin Eastman hasn’t lost it as this remains one of the best-written comics on the market today and should appeal to TMNT fans new and old alike.

Marvel – Wolverine and the X-Men #17 – It’s the issue we’ve all been waiting for. Nevermind AvX, this is much more monumental to the X-Men universe. Finally, we have explained to us what the heck Doop’s job is at Wolverine’s academy!

Taking a short break from the AvX event for a more light-hearted moment, this issue shows us that Doop is indeed an X-Man and more than pulls his weight around the academy, even if no one but Wolverine sees it. Just seeing what Wolverine needed to do to recruit Doop though will have you cracking up, and when you see how much of a ladies man he is, you might just fall on the floor. A well-written issue that was a much-needed change of pace from the seriousness of the AvX event and its upcoming fallout, this is a great one-off story to get into this series.

Marvel – X-Men Legacy #274 – A lot has been going on in the world of the X-Men and now more than ever, mutants are hated and despised because of the acts of Cyclops and the rest of the Phoenix Five. But Rogue is a hero. And so she keeps on doing heroic things. But it’s not easy to be heroic when Magneto comes to her in the middle of a train wreck and starts pouring his heart out to her.

Nice to see this little lover’s spat finally get resolved, even if it wasn’t in the way we expected. This loose end needed to be taken care of for a while and this one-off story does that while also waiting for the rest of the AvX books to wrap up. It also features several great shots of Magneto (one is above) and a lot of great art in general for such a simple story so kudos to  David Baldeon (penciler), Jordi Tarragona (inker), and Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist) for the style that drips off this book.

DC – Batman: The Dark Knight #0 – Continuing the DC series of Zero Issues that tell more elaborate back stories of some of our favorite heroes, this tale of Batman looks at what he does when he learns that Joe Chill is the man who killed his parents and wants to know why.

More so than any other of the Zero Issues from DC, the Batman ones I think have been the best because they’ve only added slight twists to the classic tale or told never before heard stories of Batman in the early days involving his training and whatnot. This one with Joe Chill was particularly interesting because it turns Joe Chill from a low-ranking mob hitman into nothing more than a common mugger looking for his next score. Same basic premise, but it adds an interesting twist to the character as Batman learns the hard way that there are just bad people in the world on all levels of the social ladder. A solid read for all Batman fans if you can get past the fact that yes, we have heard this one before.

DC – Red Lanterns #0 – The birth of Atrocitus, the Rise of the Manhunters, the creation of the Green Lanterns, and the spawning of the Red Lanterns is detailed in another continuation of the Zero Issues from DC.

Another story we’ve heard before, but with more detail and another twist as we finally learn just how it is Atrocitus was able to survive while the rest of his planet in Sector 666 got turned to ash. Great art, especially if you love the color red, and a chilling tale of how Atrocitus watched his family burn around him and how he rose up to hate the Guardians more than anything else in the universe. I especially loved the design of the Manhunters and the sequence when they started annihilating everyone in their way. A solid read if you’re a fan of the Red Lanterns or even Green Lantern for that matter, but again, a story we’ve heard before, just with more details now.

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.

A bit late this week. Clearly must still be recovering from the trip to Gamescom. Either way, after catching up from the missed week before, we ready for another edition of the Pullbox!

Marvel – Secret Avengers #30 – Many of the villains of the Marvel Universe start to get wise to Venom’s act and soon what seemed like an easy snatch ‘n’ grab turns into all out mayhem! And with it, Taskmaster bolts for Max Fury with the Third Crown. Lucky for them, it seems the completed Crown will not work on the head of a Life Model Decoy. That doesn’t mean the Secret Avengers are out of the woods yet though…

Tons of action, great banter between Venom and Taskmaster and later Hawkeye and Vengeance, and a cliffhanger that sets up this story arc possibly coming to an end soon. If it doesn’t end soon, you can expect a lot more conflict and action in the coming issues as it looks like some of the Secret Avengers are falling under the power of the crown. And it’s interesting how once again, being just a robot, how Max Fury is left all alone. If you haven’t been reading Secret Avengers, now is not the time to jump in, with such a convoluted story line, but if you have, keep going!

Marvel – Astonishing X-Men #53 – After being blown up at Northstar’s wedding, Wolverine starts to put himself back together and Beast helps this small team of X-Men figure out who has Karma, who put her up to this, and just what they’re going to do about it. And Northstar is none too happy about having his wedding crashed by exploding nanobots.

I think the best part of this comic was that we are really starting to see how far Iceman’s powers go. For a long time he was considered an Omega level mutant who was only held back by his own inhibitions and lack of imagination. In this book, as we have in a lot of other recent X-Men stories with Iceman, we see just how far he is able to push himself as he’s split up his consciousness, pulled himself back together from almost nothingness, and in this issue created an absolute monstrous ice creature. The rest of the issue though was rather lackluster, but hints at something larger as it looks like yet another new X-Men villain is in the business of existing simply to make their lives miserable and prove they are not as special as they think.

DC – Batman Incorporated #3 – In order to see just how far Leviathan has permeated the power structure of Gotham, Batman dusts off an old disguise, fan-favorite Matches Malone, to see if he can’t stir up some trouble in Gotham’s underbelly and get a few snitches to point him in the right direction. Unknown to him though, the snitches might be in Leviathan’s pocket, too.

Bringing this long-time alias back to life, after the real Matches Malone was killed by the Ventriloquist some time ago, and having Malone’s new crew being other members of Batman, Inc. was just a stroke of genius by Morrison. And he needed it considering how much momentum this book lost in the launch of the New 52. Finally though it seems to be back on track. And the idea of Robin having his own second identity now, although a bit too early in his life for my liking, was a nice touch as now everyone who has ever worn the yellow cape has matured into something more. And keeping with the red theme that now permeates Nightwing’s costume to match Red Hood and Red Robin, Damian decided to do the same as his new moniker is Redbird. What this means in the future, we will have to wait and see, but at the very least after ‘Matches’ stumbled into a Leviathan trap, I think he’ll be happy to have Redbird around next issue. 

DC – Green Lantern: New Guardians #12 – After finally realizing who has been pulling the strings of members of each lantern corps, Kyle and the others must band together to stop Invictus once and for all before he brings chaos to every star system in his path. But will the secret that Sayd has kept for so long also drive this group apart once their mission is accomplished?

Honestly, for what was supposed to be an epic final battle with Invictus, this issue felt flat in a lot of ways and was more about the upcoming drama within the Green Lantern Corps as Invictus folded like a house of cards after the Lanterns figured out what his power source was. It was also mostly about how no one in this New Guardians Group could trust one another, even after all they had been through and Kyle is left there twiddling his thumbs. The only interesting thing this issue brings up is the corruptions amongst the Guardians and how Kyle will fit into that picture as the fabled ‘Third Army’ that has been built up over the last few months will finally come to fruition in the next couple of issues. 

IDW – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #13 – The Turtles are still rattled after nearly losing Splinter to the hands of the Shredder and even Splinter himself isn’t the same. But when Casey Jones stumbles into the sewers, beaten and bloodied once again by his father, Raphael has enough and goes out to wreak vengeance on the old drunk. Splinter feels this is a perfect time to teach his son a lesson of ninjitsu though. Meanwhile, the Shredder realizes that Karai is not fit to serve him as his second-in-command, even though we find out that she was the one who resurrected Shredder, her grandfather. We also see Krang finally show off his true form, that of a living brain!

Even though Shredder and Krang were two short asides for the main part of this story, this is obviously setting up the team-up that fans of the 80s cartoon have been waiting for. Shredder needs a new second-in-command, Krang needs someone more competent than Baxter Stockman. The ending to this book was shocking though and makes me wonder just how dark Kevin Eastman will take his original characters in the next issue as Splinter is definitely different after his encounter after his old nemesis. If you haven’t been getting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles yet, now is a great time to get on board as it looks like business is about to pick 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.

An absolutely massive week made this Pullbox a little harder than normal as it seemed comics were coming from everywhere! Marvel, DC, and a cavalcade of indie stuff was successfully sifted through though and now we have this week’s Pullbox!

IDW – Ghostbusters #11 – The Ghostbusters continue their tour across America, battling pesky poltergeists all over the country, and this time they end up in Roswell, New Mexico on behalf of that state’s governor to take on a whole slew of alien ghosts!

Still probably my favorite monthly book that I’m picking up, Ghostsbusters does a brilliant job of coming up with new and interesting foes for the Ghostbusters to face while maintaining the humor that made the movies such classics. I literally can’t remember the last time I laughed out loud at a comic book before this monthly started almost a year ago. The best part of each book though is they are so easy to just jump right into because if you’re reading this book, you likely already know all the major players and what is going to be involved. I honestly hope writer Erik Burnham can continue the hysterical momentum he has going with this book as I continue to look forward to it each and every month.

DC – Batman: The Dark Knight #11 – Commissioner Gordon has been abducted by the Scarecrow and Batman is hot on his trail after finding traces of a variant to the Scarecrow’s infamous ‘Fear Toxin’. The Dark Knight though stumbles right into a trap laid out by the villain and ends up with a dose of this new toxin himself!

While reading this book, I was a little worried that, like with Mr. Freeze, they might be twisting The Scarecrow’s origin as well, and unfortunately I was right as it seems Jonathan Crane had a father who liked fear more than the boy ever did. At the very least, he is still the villain he always seems to have been, just crazier and with ‘Fear Toxin’ being in the BatComputer database, we at least know Batman should be more than aware of this new look Dr. Crane’s potential. Seeing where this rather generic, at least up to this point, Scarecrow story goes from here though should be interesting as this book tried to pull itself from the doldrums towards the end.

DC – Green Lantern #11 – After saving Sinestro from the Indigo Tribe and reformatting his ring, Hal Jordan wants to start enacting a plan to save the Guardians of the Universe…from themselves. Sinestro though points out that in Jordan’s haste to save him, he let Black Hand escape and in his mind, that is a far greater threat at the moment. So the unlikely duo travel to Sinestro’s secret layer where he hides the Book of Black in the hopes it will give them insight to both their problems.

I admit that I’m starting to tire of the world’s worst buddy movie pairing in Sinestro and Hal Jordan and long for this ‘Third Army’ arc that clearly looms on the horizon. Where exactly the relationship between Hal and Sinestro is heading, I have no idea, but I sure hope it gets there soon as I’m a little sick of it. At the very least, the re-introduction of Black Hand as a villain and his ability to re-animate the dead should prove a worthy adversary for the Green Lanterns for the time being and is the only thing keeping me interested in this book at the moment.

Marvel – Secret Avengers #29 – Max Fury, the evil clone of Nick Fury, has succeeded in putting together a hive of scum and villainy that would make Mos Eisley cower away. With many of the Marvel’s major and B-list villains congregated in one place, the Secret Avengers have their work cut out for them, especially as whatever it is this new Masters of Evil is planning could spell doom for the world as we know it.

It’s nice to see Secret Avengers get away from the AvX event and get back to the story that was being told before all that nonsense started. Unfortunately, it was such a convoluted storyline to begin with that if you’re like me, you can barely remember what happened a few months ago and how everyone is connected. All we really need to know though is the world is in trouble, Ant-Man is a traitor, and Venom and Taskmaster are gearing up for a battle of epic proportions next issue. And honestly, Venom seems to be the only interesting character in this bunch now as Cap and Beast are still dealing with AvX so the more he is featured the better. His little ‘disguise’ was absolutely brilliant as well and made a relatively boring book somewhat interesting as a whole.

Marvel – X-Treme X-Men #1 – After returning home from a parallel dimension where X-Men were sacrificed to keep the planet powered, Cyclops was looking for a way back to help those he left behind. Meanwhile, three alternate universe X-Men in the forms of a youthful Nightcrawler and Emma Frost, and a grizzled Wolverine, serve as leaders for this new world and use the psychic abilities of severed Charles Xavier heads to teleport their world into a new dimension with an uninhabited Earth. Teleporting six billion people between dimensions is a little difficult though and it seems they’ve awaken almost a dozen new threats to the multiverse. Now joined by our Earth’s Dazzler and one of the Xavier heads, this odd grouping of multiverse X-Men must save us all!

If you couldn’t tell from the description, this book is out there. Like way out there. There’s even an octopus Charles Xavier. And some of that deals with the fact this feels very much like Exiles did for some time. I don’t know how long this book will last, as these multiverse adventures start to get a little confusing and drive folks away after a while, but it definitely seems to be a lot more fun and upbeat than any other X-book out there right now, even if with entire universes collapsing in one each other. The weird dynamic between characters is entertaining beyond words and with plenty of action promised for future issues, this is a new monthly that, at least through the first issue, has pleasantly surprised me.

Another slow week for the most part, most likely because of the July 4th holiday, but the comics that did come out were mostly quality. So let’s see what we grabbed in this week’s Pullbox! Quick note: With EGM storming SDCC next week, the Pullbox will be taking a week off!

Marvel – Amazing Spider-Man #689 – Spider-Man, along with help from the living vampire, Michael Morbius, has found a way to once again supposedly cure Dr. Curt Connors of being The Lizard. What neither knows is that although they’ve cured him of the physical affliction of being The Lizard, Connors’ brain is still that of his reptilian alter-ego and sets plans in motion to continue his quest to make all of Manhattan populated by lizard people!

For the most part, I refuse to read Spider-Man comics ever since the worst storyline I’ve ever read in my comic book loving life in One More Day. But in honor of the new movie (which was awesome by the way) and new game (also really good) I figured I’d buck the boycott for one week, especially as it involves the Lizard. What perfect timing that he’s the main bad guy in the movie (sarcasm)! Seriously though, this was a solid comic if you’ve stuck with the wall-crawler through his ups and downs then you’ll enjoy the action as it sets up an epic storyline between Spidey and one of his all-time great foes. And Michael Morbius’s presence is the icing on the cake.

Marvel – Wolverine #310 – After being out of Wolverine’s spiky hair for some time, Romulus has found a way to escape out of Cloak’s darkness dimension and has also found a way to bring Sabretooth back to life. But was Sabretooth ever dead to begin with? Going back to where his most heinous memories originate, Wolverine searches Silver Fox’s cabin and the Weapon X facility and realizes he’s stumbled into another nightmare, a Sabretooth clone factory.

You knew it was only a matter of time before both Romulus and Sabretooth came back. The idea of clones though is probably the least interesting way they could have done it. Still, Jeph Loeb is one of the few people I trust with this and the set-up so far has been tremendous. Lots of action and making Cloak and Dagger major players will be interesting if they stick around for the whole of the arc. All in all if you like Wolverine, this will have everything you love about him in it, bub.

DC – Batman: Detective Comics #11 – Mr. Toxic’s true identity is revealed as…Hugh Marder?! The man Batman has been trying to save is also the same man who is trying to kill him and so there is a lot more science involved debauchery going on as the on going theme this week seems to be clones.

I understand that DC is still trying to build up Batman’s rogues gallery (for some unknown reason since it’s the most celebrated in comics already), but this story is a bit too sci-fi for me and Mr. Toxic looks like a bootleg version of the Atomic Skull. Honestly, so far this arc has been very forgettable and has done nothing to impress me and if it wasn’t a Batman monthly, I’d probably have dropped it from the Pullbox with a lot of the other ‘New 52’ garbage DC has tried to force down our throats. Hopefully this will start to pick up, or at least end quickly so that we can start a new arc that maybe I’ll care about.

DC – Red Lanterns #11 – The Red Lanterns continue their search for what has caused their power battery to become corrupted before it’s too late. The new human Red Lantern is lost in space and following his own trail of death, Bleez is trying to beat off the Star Sapphires, and Atrocius is still using blood prophecies to try locate his abomination that started it all. Who will find the source first though?

I liked that even though there was three different stories going on at once, the pace of the comic kept up throughout and there was just enough action to keep you intrigued about what might happen next with each major character and if any of them would finally catch their quarry. It does a great job of setting up the major confrontation in the next issue that we’ve been waiting for though and will hopefully end this ‘plagued’ Red Lantern Battery arc so we can get back to seeing what Red Lanterns do best and that is kick intergalactic butt.

IDW – The Cape 1969 #1 – Set in the midst of the Vietnam War, this origin story for Joe Hill’s The Cape sees how the main protagonist of that original volume comes into possession of the demonic piece of cloth and where it gets its power from as we watch his dad fight through 1969 Vietnam.

Joe Hill is one of the best comic writers of the day and seeing him branch out from his already amazing Locke and Key series is a real treat. What’s best about this comic though is that you don’t need to have read the original The Cape to pick this up and start enjoying it for what it is. This gritty, gruesome, swear word filled first issue will blow you away with its depth and action and make you forget that its supposed to be the origin story about a soul-consuming piece of cloth. Joe Hill definitely got his daddy’s writing genes.