Friday, September 30, 2011

52 Pick Up Part 4

The New 52 in Review: Week 4

Christopher Holden continues a series reviewing the New 52 with…
All-Star Western opens with Jonah Hex and Amadeus Arkham teaming up to solve the mystery of a slew of Jack-the-Ripper-like murders in 1880’s era Gotham City. As per usual, Jonah Hex is portrayed perfectly by Gray and Palmiotti. However, Hex seems somewhat out of place in Gotham, regardless of the time period. If he remains the main protagonist, I hope the stories return to the plains. Arkham’s internal commentary provides an interesting perspective on the situation, as well as a deeper examination of Hex’s motivations, but ultimately Arkham’s presence proves as annoying to the reader as he seems to Jonah. The story picks up at the end with revalation of the involvement of what appears to be the Skull and Bone society. If you’re a Jonah Hex fan, I would suggest skipping this opening story arc and waiting for a more traditionally western tale to be released.

Since Brightest Day, Geoff Johns has been hyping up his renovation of Aquaman into a more badass character. Sadly, the first issue of Aquaman is not too impressive. Although Johns does a good job placing Aquaman in a modern setting, he spends most of the issue trying to prove that Aquaman is not a joke, but instead seems to simply perpetuate the joke further. The plot makes little sense, since most of the comic shows random humans making fun of Aquaman to his face, yet at the end of the issue Aquaman decides to abandon his kingdom and start a new life on land with his wife. Although I’m interested to see if the series picks up, I will not be spending any more money to feed my curiousity.

Despite being very nicely drawn, Batman: The Dark Knight is the weakest of the three new Batman titles. The first issue was generally forgettable and uninteresting. The plot shows yet another breakout from Arkham Asylum, with the appearance of a ‘roided out Two-Face at the end, who spouts one of the dumbest lines I’ve heard in comics “You can call me One-Face now.”

Blackhawks gives us a modern interpretation of an old team. All the characters are new and seem somewhat relatable, and there is a great deal of action involved. The new series carries the previous iteration’s tradition of giving the main characters nicknames that appear to be based on ethnic backgrounds, however unlike the original Blackawk characters these names are not so straightforwardly stereotypical, but instead stem from a specific story from the character’s past, making them more three dimensional. The story is somewhat interesting, but doesn’t really grab you. If anything I would wait and look at the first trade before investing any time with this title.

Continuing with the same creative team as pre-Flashpoint, Flash #1 is wonderfully drawn in creative ways, but seems far more like a CSI Central City book than a Flash title. One major change is that Barry is no longer married to Iris West, but is instead dating his co-worker Patty Spivot. Also, it should be noted that there are still no signs of Iris’s favorite nephew Wally. The opening storyline is weak, which may deter new fans who began reading because of Flashpoint. Overall, this is an alright book, but not a very good Flash book.

The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men redefines the story of Firestorm by expanding what and who Firestorm is, while incorporating the two different protagonists that fans have grown to love. By including Ronnie Raymond, Professor Stein and Jason Rusch in the origin, The Fury of Firestorm appeals to various generations of Firestorm fans while offering up a completely new story that seems darker and more in depth than stories of the past.

Continuing with the theme of giving each human Green Lantern a re-introduction, Green Lantern: New Guardians provides a simplified retelling of Kyle Raynor’s origin. Following this, the start of a mystery opens up concerning a multitude of mulitcolored lantern rings abandoning their owners and finding their way to Kyle an attempt to recruit him. Much like the other Green Lantern opening titles, this works as a great jumping on point for new fans.

At first glance, I assumed this title was made to appeal to the Twilight crowd, and would offer nothing of interest. I was incredibly surprised to discover that it provided a captivating story set in continuity, with dark undertones and great artwork. The protagonist is remniscent of Blade in his motivations, but has a more complex story, and a strong Frankenstein-like tie to the antagonist. I’m excited to see how this story will play out, and what role it will play in the greater DCU.

This title is basically the new Shadowpact. Not too much happens in this first issue, as an emphasis is placed on introducing all the characters, and putting together a purpose for the team to form. An interesting scene is shown where Superman, Wonder Woman and Cyborg are defeated by a sea of jagged magical teeth conjured up by a powerful crone. Although the first issue was not the most exciting, I feel like this is one title to watch, as it seems like it will become very interesting and hopefully thought provoking as the series progresses.

The Savage Hawkman is nicely drawn, but is not too interesting. Once again Hawkman’s origins are indeterminable and Carter Hall is not a particularly likeable character. It is intriguing to see that the Hawkman costume, made out of Nth Metal, is now apparently symbiotic, but it’s not enough to warrant reading any more of this series. I suggest either waiting for the inevitable re-introduction of Hawkgirl to pick up this title, or just avoiding it altogether.

The story opens with the demolition of the old Daily Planet building, and the unveiling of the new one, which symbolizes a sense of progression forward for Superman and his world. The story is written with an interesting editorial perspective, making the entire comic feel like a story written for the Daily Planet by Clark Kent. There is a great deal of action, but an equally large amount of character development, making a simple story about Superman fighting a fire monster much more compelling. The writing makes the reader sympathize with Clark Kent at the end of the story. Although I still believe Action Comics is the best Superman title of the new 52, Superman is a close second, and a title I would not miss.

Without a doubt the best comic of the week, Teen Titans did a great job of re-introducing the characters of Kid Flash, Red Robin, and Wondergirl. Much of the story reads more like a spy tale than a superhero story, with Tim and Cassie being followed by mysterious men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. throughout. There are plenty of easter eggs provided as well, with brief glimpses of Beast Boy, Starfire, Bunker, Miss Martian, Static, and a re-designed Raven appearing on Red Robin’s computer. A great moment in the issue is when Cassie first becomes Wondergirl and evokes (clone) Superboy’s first appearance by shouting “Don’t. Call. Me. Wondergirl!” which is ironic because she’s set to meet him in the next issue. I am incredibly excited for this series, especially since it runs hand-in-hand with the equally amazing new Superboy title.
Long story short, the entire comic revolves around a pair of federal agents at a strip club who are checking out the main attraction who performs under the stage name Voodoo. It turns out she’s an alien, but you don’t find out until the last page or two, so most of the story is a lot of unnecessary cheesecake. Basically, buying this comic is like going to a strip club, you waste your money and leave filled with shame and regret. This is a horrible comic that has no future; do not waste your time or dignity on it.

Part 3 can be found here:
Part 2 can be found here:

Part 1 can be found here:

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Bimbofication of Starfire

For the most part, I have enjoyed DC’s new 52, with the exception of a couple comics that have not sat well with me for various reasons. However, I had not hated any of the comics that have come out, 
until I recently read Red Hood and the Outlaws. Although its depictions of Jason Todd and Roy Harper were generally amusing, the new interpretation of Starfire has made me angrier than Atrocitus. Not only has Starfire become a glorified sex doll, complete with a Crawford-esque beauty mark, but her entire history and personality has essentially been erased.

The first thing we learn about Starfire in this new universe, before we even see her, is her breast size. Then, once we finally see her, that is all we can focus on, because the only thing covering her “38s” are essentially pasties with the magical ability to defy gravity. Shortly afterwards we find out that Starfire has been sleeping with Jason Todd, as he brags to Roy about how she’s “with” him, and quips about his “giant red helmet.” Later in the issue, after several gratuitous scenes of Starfire at the beach, Jason leaves her sight for two seconds so she propositions Roy for sex instead, because “Hell, why shouldn’t she have sex with every man she sees?”

The greatest insult to the character is the revelation that supposedly, “Tamaraneans don’t see humans as much more than sights and smells. And they have a terribly short attention span about all things earth.” Which is to say, Starfire still canonically spent time with the Teen Titans, but she neither remembers her time with them, nor any of the relationships she has formed on earth. This not only completely changes the character for the worse, but spits in the face of Wolfman, Perez, and all the other creators who has developed the character over the years.

I realize that the new 52 is meant to reboot and change a lot of characters, so that DC can move forward and improve their universe. However, changing a character from a strong willed warrior with friends, relationships, and emotions into a brainless bimbo with the mind of a goldfish and the libido of a rabbit is not progress; it’s disgusting. These new #1s are supposed to be appealing to a younger audience, and most young people who know of Starfire remember her from the Teen Titans cartoon, where she was portrayed as an sweet, innocent, naïve girl who cares about her friends and teammates. Presenting Starfire instead as an emotionless sexual deviant who can’t remember the names of her past friends and lovers will clearly drive these fans away. Granted Starfire has always been a sexually charged character, but she would always enter a physical relationship based on an emotional attachment. This however, is no longer the case, as she tells Roy pre-coitus “Love has nothing to do with it.”

Bleeding cool recently reported  that “There were a handful of staff, mostly other women, who believed the writer was trying to equate being a strong woman with being, frankly, a slut.” I’m not sure it I would even give Scott Lobdell that much credit. It seems to me that he decided to make Red Hood and the Outsiders his very own sex and adrenaline fueled fan fic, which worries me because he is essentially handling the entire Teen Titans franchise. Lobdell’s lack of tact, subtlety, and respect makes me worry how he will handle characters like Rose Wilson and Caitlyn Fairchild in Superboy, and has me scared for the horrendous mess that I’m now sure will be Bunker in Teen Titans. With the new 52, DC promised progress with a greater emphasis on strong female characters and creators, but with Scott Lobdell on the helm of 3 books, it seems the company has made a huge mistake, and is taking giant leaps backwards.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

52 Pick Up Part 3

The New 52 in Review: Week 3

Unlike many of the other new 52 relaunches, there is no retelling of Diana’s origins. She simply IS Wonder Woman, and she is not one to be trifled with. Connections to the Greek gods are still an important aspect of the story, although given the looks of Hermes and Apollo, there may be more to the Greek Pantheon than meets the eye. Like any great Greek tale, the story begins in medias res, and although there is not a lot of focus on Diana, she is presented as a warrior who has been thrust into a new adventure of many. Wonder Woman has been reinvented several times over the last couple years, and I think this is the best interpretation we have seen since DC: The New Frontier.

Where Detective Comics #1 presented the definitive version of Batman, Batman #1 showcases the modern Batman, complete with his extended “family” and the bat computer linked up to special contacts, controlled by voice commands. The artwork is inked well, showcasing the artist’s strong, dark, clean lines. Interesting revisions on classic villians appear, as well as a quick glimpse of a revision on the classic Robin costume. Batman’s monologue at the beginning helps set the scene and the mood, as an intriguing mystery begins to unfold that will leave the reader puzzled and yearning for more. Batman #1 is the perfect book to carry the character, and the franchise, into the future. This is another book I certainly would not miss.


An all around entertaining tale, Birds of Prey does a good job introducing the first two members of the team; Black Canary and Starling, a fun, intriguing new character. Both are revealed to on the lam; Black Canary wanted for a murder she didn’t commit, and Starling on Government watch lists for unrevealed reasons. A small cameo by Barbara Gordon is given, and Katana is alluded to, but neither Huntress nor Poison Ivy make an appearance. The only negative aspect of this comic is Black Canary’s costume. It is clear that it was meant to incorporate parts of her old outfits, but the final amalgamation clashed so horribly and appeared so odd that I was constantly distracted by how strange she looked.


Although Jaime Reyes is a relatively new character, this new series resets his timeline and retells his origins in a relatively similar way, but without the looming threat of Infinite Crisis, or any allusions to previous Blue Beetles, making for a much smoother introduction to the character. The prologue grabs your attention and introduces an aspect of the Blue Beetle scarab that previously wasn’t explained until much later in the series, bringing new readers up to speed, while showing older readers that things will move much quicker this time around. This is a great first issue that effectively sets up Jaime Reyes’ world, as well as that of the Blue Beetle scarab.


In this new series, it appears that DC is trying to change Captain Atom into a cross between Dr. Manhattan and Firestorm. The story finds Captain Atom discovering that he can manipulate the molecular structure of matter, and that using his powers may be killing him. He looks exactly like Dr. Manhattan, but with flaming hair, and an atomic symbol on his chest, instead of on his forehead. Through the issue, Captain Atom looks like he was drawn with colored pencils or painted with a fine brush, whereas the rest of the world is clearly inked, making for very dynamic visuals. Generally interesting, Captain Atom may not be the best of the new 52, but I can certainly see it gaining a fan base.


Focusing on the character of Deadman, the first issue of the story arc adds a great deal of depth to the character, making his origin seem more interesting and the plight of his existence bleaker and more sympathetic. Well written, although very dark and depressing, the issue draws the reader in and . Despite being a thought provoking story, I’m glad that the Deadman arc is limited, as Deadman’s story is not strong enough to maintain a long term series.


Similar to Green Lantern #1, Green Lantern Corps #1 continues from where the series had previously left off, and puts a focus on the everyday lives of the human corp members, namely John Stewart and Guy Gardner. Once again this Green Lantern title does a good job of grounding characters, allowing a good opportunity for new readers to jump aboard. However, the excessive amount of brutal violence seen in the first couple pages are unwarranted, out of character for the title, and borderline sickening; an aspect that will easily drive away potential readers.


Much like its companion title Legion Lost, Legion of Superheroes is completely inaccesible to new readers, and is even difficult to follow for casual readers who don’t regularly follow Legion of Superheroes titles. However, unlike Legion Lost, there are a wider variety of characters who regular DC readers will recognize, such as Mon-el and Starman, and despite its convoluded nature, the storyline is somewhat easier to follow. Also, the artwork is significantly better. Legion of Superheroes is aimed primarilly at long time fans, offering nothing to new or occasional readers.


It’s great to see Dick Grayson return as Nightwing, especially with the first issue showcasing the character returning to his roots by visiting Haley’s Circus. The current storyline ties in with the mystery occuring in Batman, and paves the way for the one of the first new DCU crossovers. This first issue focuses on the character of Dick Grayson, showing how different he is from Bruce Wayne, and how different the alias of Nightwing is from Batman.


There is so much that’s wrong with this comic that I can’t go into details about it all in one post, so I’ll focus on the positive aspects, and summarize the bad in one word: Starfire. Red Hood and the Outlaws is what you would get if Michael Bay made comics. That is to say, it has lots of insane, crazy action, bad puns and it’s great visually. Although there isn’t a great amount of character development, the comic presents Jason and Roy as unique characters who, for better or worse, have stepped out of the shadows of their mentors. If you want a mindlessly fun comic with a lot of shit blowing up, and you are able to look past the atrocities concerning Starfire, then you will enjoy Red Hood and the Outlaws.


Taken from Supergirl’s point of view, this first issue shows Kara’s crash landing on earth, and her first encounter with both humans, and her cousin Superman. Through her internal monologue, we learn a great deal about Kara’s history, personality, and home world; as well as her first perceptions of Earth. Filled with action and great characterization, Supergirl is off to a good start,….now if only the poor girl can find some appropriate attire for her nether regions.

Part 2 can be found here:

Part 1 can be found here:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Spoiler Returns

Spoiler Alert For the New 52… By Which I Mean Stephanie Brown is the Spoiler in the New 52

With Barbara Gordon reclaiming the mantle of Batgirl in the rebooted DCU, it was uncertain whether the most recent Batgirl, Stephanie Brown, would remain part of continuity. However, just as Dick Grayson has once again reverted to the persona of Nightwing, it seems that Stephanie Brown has similarly been returned to being Spoiler. This is revealed in passing in the recent solicitations for Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes. It reads:
“Guest stars galore! Batman and Spoiler team to face the School of Night while Batman Incorporated travels to a sinister Cold War interrogation facility to face the mind-bending menace of Doctor Dedalus for the last time while the true identity of Leviathan is finally revealed, with shocking consequences for the Dark Knight.”

While others may bemoan the change in Stephanie Brown’s alter ego, viewing the restoration of her first superhero identity as a step backwards from the titles of Robin and Batgirl that she seemingly worked so hard to gain, I see this transition as a good thing. It was revealed a couple months ago by Dylan Horrocks, that Stephanie’s tenure as Robin was simply a red herring to distract readers from the fact that DC had intended to kill her off (luckily it didn’t stick,) while simultaneously making her important enough to earn a case in the batcave, similar to Jason Todd’s.
And although I enjoyed Stephanie’s run as Batgirl, the title seemed to focus on the legacy Stephanie had inherited, moving her further away from how she was first portrayed. Much like how many people consider Impulse to be the definitive version of Bart Allen, I believe Spoiler to be the definitive version of Stephanie Brown. It is an identity unique to her; one that she forged on her own, and worked hard to maintain, despite most of the Bat-family telling her to quit, because they claimed she wasn’t good enough. Welcome back Spoiler. Let’s hope you get that solo title you deserve.

(via DC’s The Source.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Jimmy's on the James- Lynchburg, VA

While attending a show in the arts district of Lynchburg, I came across an intriguing little restaurant called Jimmy's on the James. My girlfriend Isabella and I put down reservations and returned shortly following the end of the show.

When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by the owner, Jimmy, who shook our hands and spoke with us for a minute or two before our waiter, Bob, showed us to our table. Because it was 10 O'clock on a Thursday night shortly after school had started back, we were the only patrons that late into evening. Alone in the flickering light of electric candles, we were treated to the sound of Jimmy crooning while tickling the ivories. With the sounds of Sinatra in our ears, and frames of the Marx brothers on the wall, the atmosphere transported us to a bygone era, making us feel as if we were sitting in Rick's Café Américain.

I ordered a Bullet Bills Burger, which boasted the inclusions of tomato, caramelized onion and a dollop of sweet yellow relish (the last of which I chose to omit from my burger out of preference). However, the menu neglected to mention the highlight of the concoction, Manchego, a Spanish cheese made from goat milk, which made the burger explode with flavor bordering the orgasmic. Isabella ordered Jimmy's Pasta Jambalaya, which consisted of bowtie pasta covered in a mixture of shrimp, andouille sausage, crawfish, peppers and chicken. The portions were enormous, and Bob joked that if Isabella could finish the bowl, than he would give her a prize (he was very friendly.) I also ordered one of the locally brewed red ales that Jimmy's had on tap which, alongside my burger, filled me to the brim. Despite being perfectly content, Isabella and I ordered a small dessert, Becca's Chocolate Chess. About the size of a double shot of alcohol, the tiny cake was smothered in a hot chocolate sauce in a combination that was the perfectly portioned, incredibly sweet end to a perfect night.

With a friendly, attentive staff, delicious food, and a wonderful atmosphere that harkens back to the speakeasies of the 1940s, Jimmy's on the James is an absolute delight that's perfect for a nice night out with friends, or a romantic dinner for two.

Teen Titans' New Gay Character

The Flamboyant New Addition to Teen Titans

Reports came from Bleeding Cool yesterday that Brett Booth and Scott Lobdell will be introducing an outwardly gay character in their upcoming re-launch of Teen Titans, as a member of the team. Seen in solicitations under the moniker of the Wall, the character’s name has since been changed to Bunker. His powers are as yet unknown, but given his names and the cover of Teen Titans #3, it appears that they are defensive in nature, with the hero being able to create barriers and other constructs.
This seems to run right along Dan Didio’s statements in an interview with the Advocate back in July.
"One of the things we’re very focused on doing… is rather than [change an existing] character, we want to make sure that this is the basis of who that character is right from the start. So if we’re going to introduce a gay character in Teen Titans, we want to make it a new character and make sure that is an integral part of who he is, or who she is, right from the start so we can really learn and grow with her or him."
As for Bunker, Bleeding Cool cited Brett Booth’s blog, which said:
“His real name is Miguel Jose Barragan. He was raised in a very small Mexican village called El Chilar. He was very loved by his family and the village as well — and they were as accepting of his homosexuality as they were to his super powers when they first manifested. To that end he grew up in an angst-free environment. He was born out of the closet and so he has a very refreshing outlook on life.”
“We wanted to show an interesting character [whose] homosexuality is part of him, not something that’s hidden. Sure they are gay people who you wouldn’t know are gay right off the bat, but there are others who are a more flamboyant, and we thought it would be nice to actually see them portrayed in comics. Did we go over the top, I don’t think so. I wanted you to know he might be gay as soon as you see him. Our TT is partly about diversity of ANY kind, [it's] about all kinds of teens getting together to help each other. It is a very difficult line to walk, will he be as I’ve read in some of the comments ‘fruity’? Not that I’m aware of. Will he be more effeminate than what we’ve seen before, the ‘typical’ gay male comic character, yes. Does it scare the shit out of me that I might inadvertently piss off the group I want to reflect in a positive way, you’re damn straight (pun intended!)”
The pursuit of diversity and progress are important and lofty ambitions in any medium. However, Booth’s seemingly honorable intentions appear to indicate that Bunker may end up as more of a caricature than an accurate portrayal of the gay community. However, the fact that Booth seems aware of the ball of very intricate gender, sexual orientation expressing, and promoting stereotype issues that he is playing with. After all, if Glee can do it…
On the other hand, Booth starts out his quote by implying that out “gay people who you wouldn’t know are gay right off the bat” are “hiding” their sexuality, without acknowledging that we live in a society that assumes straight until proven gay, where the attempts of gay men and women to only bring up their sexuality when it is actually relevant to a conversation, as when talking about significant others, and not when it isn’t, as when buying a shirt (a luxury enjoyed by all straight people), is interpreted as “hiding” by those they interact with. Perhaps Booth is self-consciously as worried as he needs to be.
Hopefully Miguel/Bunker will be treated in a respectful manner and become a relatable, three dimensional character, and not simply a token character.
(via Bleeding Cool)

Friday, September 16, 2011

52 Pick Up Part 2

New DC in Review: Week 2 


In this first issue of Batman and Robin, the main focus is the budding relationship between Bruce and Damian; both as a father and son, and as crime fighting partners. Expecting development primarily in Damian’s personality, I was surprised to find a great deal of growth in the character of Bruce Wayne. Coming into acceptance that he is now a father, Bruce is finally able to let go of the tragic death of his parents and begin to cherish the life they lived instead of focusing on how they died.

In order to symbolize this change in perspective, Bruce takes Damian to Crime Alley on the anniversary of his parents’ death, announcing that it will be for the last time, and that from now on, they will remember his parents by celebrating their wedding anniversary. Alluding to classic Batman (Adam West), the Batpoles are brought back into continuity, and an explanation is given as to why setting a grandfather clock at a certain time opens the hidden entrance to them. The action is this issue is limited and only acts as a precursor for a larger story that will deal, in some way, with Batman Inc. Exploring the new dynamics of the famous duo, Batman and Robin is written strongly, and promises a journey that will take the characters to new places.


After six years of waiting, Batwoman has finally received her own title and it has been well worth the wait. Beautifully drawn, every page is a work of art. Flowing seamlessly, the art and dialouge mesh together to tell the story in an endless series of splashpages that feel like a lucid dream. The tightly knit connection between the art and writing allowed for the author to fill in the audience with the characters’ history, without bogging them down with excessive dialogue.
Answering a query posed by many fans, it is revealed that Renee Montoya does exist in this continuity. However, Qquestions still remain as to her current status. The relationship between Batwoman and her cousin Flamebird is developing interestingly, and is a nice nod to the Golden age Batwoman and Batgirl. According to this issue, Flamebird is still a former Teen Titan. It’s impossible to know whether this means that the Teen Titans team that will be (re)-introduced later this month will not be the first one in the new continuity, or if this is just an artifact of Batomwan‘s original setting of pre-reboot continuity. Batwoman exemplifies what makes comics such an amazing and unique medium, and is one title that no one should miss.


From the first line it’s made clear that the main point of this comic is to establish that Deathstroke is badass. In this endeavor it succeeds quite well. Deathstroke is depicted as a meciless mercenary who doesn’t like competition and always gets the job done. Well drawn, the issue is chock full of action, but not a lot of any real character development. Neither his connection to the Teen Titans nor his family are mentioned, leaving the story to focus simply on Deathstroke and how “badass” he is. Fans of Deathstroke, and bloody, action filled comics in general will love this title.


A spectacular swords and sorcery adventure, Demon Knights incorporates a great number of established DCU characters in a thrilling medieval era story. Seeing younger versions of time faring characters such as Shining Knight, Madame Xanadu, and Vandal Savage is an absolute treat and makes the new DC continuity seem more fleshed out. The love triangle between Jason Blood, Madame Xanadu, and Etrigan is intriguing and makes me wonder if Betty Ross and the Hulk have a similar relationship. An unexpected treat, Demon Knights puts you in a world of high adventure, and makes old characters seem new and more exciting than ever.


Combining a multitude of ideas, both new and old, Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. is a science fiction adventure with a very Hellboy-ish feel. The inclusion of the Creature Commandos adds significantly to the book, as does the involvement of Ray Palmer, who has not yet become the Atom, but still is able to manipulate the size of matter. Father Time, recently reincarnated as a domino masked pre-pubecent school girl, is an incredibly interesting character, whose caustic interaction with Frankenstein is sure will make for a great dynamic throughout the series. This new series has a lot of great ideas combined together, and if they can continue to mesh well together on a mothly basis, it will make for an excellent series.


Despite being a #1, Green Lantern is not a restart, but instead simply a continuation of where the title had been progressing. However, the start of the new series works as a great jumping on point. The story opens up with Hal Jordan stripped of his ring, while Sinestro is forcibly re-instated in the Green Lantern Corp, for reasons yet unknown. Moving forward, the title promises to re-establsh the relationship between Hal Jordan and Sinestro, as well as to focus on Hal Jordan as a person. Although geared more towards fans familiar with the franchise, Green Lantern #1 is a very accessable read that breaks down well known characters and re-examines who they are.


The first issue of Grifter offers up a new introduction to the character of Cole Cash. Focusing on his career as a con-man, the issue develops who the character is before he dons his mask, and works as the exposition for the birth of Grifter. Although the premiere issue is somewhat slow, it sets up a lot of plot threads that engage the audience and makes them want to pick up the next comic, where hopefully questions will be answered and more action will ensue.


Unless you’re not a fan of Legion Lost previously,this title is not worth your time. In a generally un-interesting, hard to follow story, a multitude of characters are presented that you don’t have enough time to identify, let alone begin to care for. Although the team is clearly a part of the Legion of Superheroes, no attempt is made to identify or explain who or what the Legion is, leaving new readers in the dark. With a new continuity, DC had the perfect opportunity to revitalize the Legion franchise with a new title about the core team and it’s origins in the new univese, but instead they wasted our time with this throw away book. There is a nod to a “Flashpoint wall” in the story, but that is pretty much the only interesting thing in this book.


Known primarily for his association with the Justice Society of America, Mister Terrific is very interesting as a solo character, much more so than when part of an ensemble. The writer gives a good sense of depth and humanity to the character, while making his origin interesting, mysterious, and concise. One of the most notable aspects of this story is the inclusion of Kara Starr, who was formerly known as Terrific’s JSA ally, Powergirl. Whether Kara still retains power has yet to be seen, but akin to her most recent adaptations, she runs a billionaire dollar company and is very successful. However, I was upset to see her first introduced primarilly as the girl Michael was sleeping with; reducing her first appearance in this new continuity to being simply a buxom beauty wearing Mr. Terrific’s faux Lakers Jersey post coitus. The changes made to Terrific’s costume look… well, terrific; and the story is action packed enough, without becoming mindless. Although I was never a big fan of Mr. Terrific before, having him in a solo series has gotten my attention, and I look forward to reading more abou the character.


Keeping in line with Green Lantern #1, Red Lanterns #1 maintains the continuity established by Geoff Johns over the last couple years in the Green Lantern books. The previously established characters of Dex-star and Atrocious are presented as surprisingly relatable characters who, although consumed by rage, are sympathetic and somewhat altruistic characters. Atrocious’s backstory, coinciding with that of the red and green lanterns, is relatively accessable and understandable. Although an overall well written book, it is difficult to see where the storyline will progress, and whether the story will be enough to keep the title afloat when mixed in a sea of other Lantern books.


One of the most mysterious books to be released in the new 52, Resurrection Man is absolutely captivating. Reminiscent of The Fugitive, mixed with a hearty helping of supernatural elements, the story follows an enigmatic John Doe on the run from a mysterious organization, who has the ability to ressurect from the dead, each time being reborn with a new super power. The main character’s inner monologue is incredibly descriptive, conveying to the audience the impossible sensations he can feel. Maintaining it’s Vertigo roots, Ressurection Man is dark, deep, and keeps you captivated from the first page.


A good ensemble book, this new incarnation brings Suicide Squad back to it’s Task Force X roots, and makes the team tougher than ever. Updated in many ways, the issue provides new characters, new costumes, and in two cases new bodies. The introductions and backstories are woven in fluidly, allowing the reader to familiarize themselves with each member of the team, while still providing a thrilling story. Harley Quinn’s new costume, which apparently was meant to evoke Batman: Arkham Asylum, came out far too revealing. Other suspicious character changes are King Shark’s transition from one Street Shark to another, and Amanda Waller’s mysterious weight loss. Overall, the new Suicide Squad seems like an interesting group who’s tougher than ever, but unsettling decisions made by the creators leave me wary.


As a long time fan of Superboy, I will sorely miss the version of “The Kid” that came out of the ‘90s that I grew and matured alongside. However, after reading Superboy #1, I am excited for this new interpretation of the super cool clone. Although similarly grown in a lab, using an extraction of Superman’s DNA, I am doubful that Superboy’s origin will continue to correlate with the Reign of the Superman/Death of Superman continuity. Superboy has a far different personality than his past version; appearing closer in mannerisms to how he is presented in the Young Justice cartoon, or how Superman is shown in the Flashpoint title, Project Superman. Within the issue, there are noteworthy cameos by Rose Wilson and Caitlyn Fairchild, with an allusion to a possible relationship with Fairchild in the future. The end of the issue ties directly into the new Teen Titans title, once again paralleling Young Justice. Although this is not the Superboy I grew up with, he is still similar in many aspects. He still possesses tactile telekinesis, will become a member of the Teen Titans, and his genetic composition still plays a large role in molding his personality. Despite my preconceived notions going in, I greatly enjoyed this title, and look forward to seeing this new Superboy grow and develop both in Teen Titans, and in his own book.

For part one, click here.

Scientists Discover Tatooine

The New York Times has reported that NASA scientists have discovered a planet that, similar to Skywalkers’ home planet of Tatooine, orbits two suns simultaneously, making it the first planet definitively discovered to do so.

“Sometimes the orange sun rises first. Sometimes it is the red one, although they are never far apart in the sky and you can see them moving around each other, casting double shadows across the firmament and periodically crossing right in front of each other.”

The scientists who discovered the planet have even taken to calling it Tatooine:

“The official name of the new planet is Kepler 16b, but astronomers are already referring to it informally as Tatooine, after the home planet of Luke and Anakin Skywalker in the George Lucas ‘Star Wars’ movies, which also had two suns.
‘Reality has finally caught up with science fiction,’ said Alan P. Boss of the Carnegie Institution, a member of the research team.”

Outside of being incredibly cool, this revelation also brings into question the reliability of the most prominent theories as to how planets are formed.

“People don’t really know how to form this planet.”
It was long thought, Dr. Seager said, that for its orbit to be stable, a planet belonging to two stars at once would have to be at least seven times as far from the stars as the stars were from each other. According to that, Kepler 16b would have to be twice as far out as it is to survive.
“This planet broke the rule,” she said.

And before you ask, no Tatooine is unfortunately not a desert planet. In fact, it’s quite the contrary, with Dr. Doyle describing the weather on the planet as similar to “a nippy day in Antarctica at best.”

Via The New York Times

Thursday, September 15, 2011

WaterStone Pizza/ Jefferson Street Brewery - Lynchburg, VA

While visiting the Lynchburg area a couple weeks ago, my girlfriend Isabella and I stopped by WaterStone Pizza for dinner. There was a 20 minute wait when we arrived, so we waited at the bar which was supplied by Jefferson Street Brewery. The bar tending staff was superb, and we tried both the Jefferson Street Amber Ale, and American Pale Ale. The Amber Ale was smooth, with a distinct taste similar to Killian's, and the American Pale Ale was mildly bitter with a vaguely fruity taste.

Once seated we ordered buffalo wings as an appetizer, which was a special for the day and not usually available. This is quite a shame, because the wings were excellent. Hot, flavorful and smothered in sauce, the wings seemed to melt right off bone, and were accented by the creamy bleu cheese provided in the ramekin. Unfortunately, the wait staff was a far cry from the bar's level of service, and we had to wait for some time before being served, as well as in between courses.

For the main course, we each ordered a 10" pizza, which we were more than happy to share with each other. Mine was a Waterstone White, with romana tomatoes and pepperoni, while she ordered a Margherita pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms.Both pizzas had a thin, crispy crust, but were very filling. Ordering pepperoni on my pizza was a mistake, not because the pepperoni was bad, but simply because it didn't belong on a white  pizza. However, the pepperoni worked very well on my girlfriend's pizza, working in conjunction with the seasoned tomato sauce and romano tomatoes.Although both pizzas were good, the Waterstone White was certainly superior.

While working on our pizzas, Isabella and I ordered another round of beers, this time trying Jefferson Street's Honey Wheat, and Oatmeal Stout. The Oatmeal Stout was dark and flavorful, bitter with a sharp coffee aftertaste, whereas the Honey Wheat was comparable to Blue Moon, but was lighter and a bit more watery.

Although the pizza was very filling, we couldn't help ourselves from trying WaterStone's Rootbeer Float for Two. Arriving in a 32oz mug that we got to keep, the float was flooded with locally brewed Jefferson Street's Root Beer, and filled to the brim with soft, delicious vanilla ice-cream. It was the perfect end to a delicious meal.

Although WaterStone's pizza was good, I was more impressed with Jefferson Street's beer selection, and would return primarily for their bar scene. I was upset by the shoddy service in the restaurant, so I would suggest ordering their pizza to go, and buying a growler if you're hungry/thirsty and don't want to spend a lot of time waiting. However, WaterStone has a great atmosphere, and would be a great place to go with a group of friend to grab a couple beers.