Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Superman/Batman : Apocalpyse

Superman/Batman : Apocalpyse is the latest DC animated movie.  It's based on writer Jeph Loeb and artist Michael Turner's The Supergirl from Krypton, a story that spanned Superman/Batman #8-13.  The story reintroduces Kara Zor-El to modern age DC continuity as Supergirl.  The previous incarnation had been some protoplasmic entity known as Matrix, and that's about as deep as I'm willing to dive into that character!

The movie itself is a near faithful retelling of the original comic and the art style is a clear homage to the late Michael Turner.  Some liberties were taken, notably the ending with Darkseid, to streamline the story for mainstream viewers.  I don't feel the changes hurt the final product and any issues with the dialogue or story may be from following the source material too closely.  The voice acting is superb which is to be expected by perennial Batman Tim Conroy, Superman Tim Daly, and Wonder Woman Susan Eisenberg.  Summer Glau capably voices Supergirl as does Andre Braugher for Darkseid, however I did find myself missing Michael Ironside in that role.  And let's not forget the hottest woman in the movie Granny Goodness voiced by Ed Asner!

There have been animated movies with better story, but the action in Apocalpyse is  where it truly shines.  A one panel fight scene between Precious, a highly touted warrior, and the Furies in the comic is expanded to almost a full minute of violence, showcasing the true skill of Darkseid's elite guard.  Artemis and the other Amazons get their time to shine as they face off with an army of Doomsdays.  And the highlight of the movie for me is the battle between Big Barda, Wonder Woman and the Furies.  That said, I did feel the conclusion's fight with Darkseid ran too long.  Overall, I would say Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is a worthy addition to the DC movie library and it is likely to please everyone save the harshest of critics.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Vampirella Polystone Statue (Sideshow Collectibles)

She's been illustrated by legendary artists over the years.  She's had her iconic costume worn by stunning cover models.  She's even inspired a horrible film adaptation starring the beautiful and well cast Talisa Soto.  Now Vampirella is getting the Sideshow Collectibles treatment just in time for Halloween!

Vampirella stands 18" tall and weighs about 8 pounds.  The pose is perfect and the details incredible, everything from the hair all the way down to the base.  This lovely statue will also set your wallet back $289.99, but monthly installments are available so it doesn't have to hurt all at once.  Honestly, if I hadn't blown all my cash on other Sideshow statues, I'd be pre-ordering mine right now!  I highly recommend the exclusive version for its switch-out head, but you'll have to get on the waiting list.


Power Girl: Snow Job

There are very few comic books that I look forward to reading each month, and Power Girl is one of them.  Even after Amanda Conner and Jim Palmiotti left, this title hasn't lost any steam with the new creative team.  The current story Snow Job, now two issues in, starts with Starr Enterprises bankrupt, victimized by an employee who has fled the country.  The employee then turns up dead and Power Girl finds herself trying to solve a murder mystery.  There's also a great deal of action with Kara matched up against a seemingly stronger foe, with a surprise reveal at the end leaving me eager for the third installment!

Writer Judd Winnick has the right feel for his characters and it shows in the humorous moments between Power Girl and new Batman Dick Grayson in Power Girl #17.  It's not all fun and games, however, and Winnick capably shifts gears when the story needs to advance or take a serious tone.  The other key to good storytelling is artist Sami Basri.  His Power Girl is drawn sexy and strong with lots of fun facial expressions to get your eyes above her chest!  He's had many opportunities to draw Kara in action, and he doesn't disappoint.  If you haven't been reading Power Girl, then now is a perfect time to start!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wonder Woman: The Contest

Superman was killed by DoomsdayBatman was broken by Bane.  It seemed only fair that Wonder Woman have her big event in the 90's, so began The Contest.

This tale runs from Wonder Woman #90-93 as well as a Wonder Woman #0 issue thrown in; there was such a fascination with "zero issues" back in the day!  The plot is simple yet effective, and summarized on DC's website as follows:

"After winning a contest of physical and mental challenges, Princess Diana was elected to go to Patriarch's World to teach them the Amazon ways as the super-heroine Wonder Woman.  But years later, Diana's mother is unsatisfied with her limited progress to bring an end to all acts of hate on Earth, so she institutes another contest to name a new champion.  Attempting to defend her position, Diana enters the games ..."

The contest's ultimate victor was Artemis, a skilled warrior from the Bana-Mighdall tribe with a short temper and penchant for violence.  By winning the contest, and claiming the title of Wonder Woman, Artemis brought honor back to her banished tribe.  However, this is only half of the story as Queen Hippolyta had other motivations for removing Diana as Wonder Woman.

The Contest is well-written by William Messner-Loebs, but the real star is Mike Deodato Jr. and his artwork.  This guy was born to draw Amazons and monsters, and his run on Wonder Woman definitely put him on the map!  As a side, Deodato Jr. has said that part of his inspiration for creating Artemis was the Coda warrior and Kherubim Zealot of Wildcats fame.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Maxima of Almerac Spotlight

Time to take a stroll down memory lane, folks, and spotlight one of my favorite villainesses of all time: Maxima!  My introduction to this fiery redhead came in Action Comics #651.  I was a pre-teen at the time, and helpless against her AWESOME costume.  On top of that, I really enjoyed seeing a strong female villain with an arsenal of superpowers that rivaled Superman.  We're talking super strength, super speed, invulnerability, flight, teleportation, forcefield projection, optic force beams, telekinesis, telepathy, mind bolts, and mind control to state only a few!

The Empress of Almerac first appeared in Action Comics #645 as a simulacrum (a clone of sorts) escorted by her alien servant Sazu.  Maxima came to Earth in search of a suitable mate and, being that she was in Metropolis, it was inevitable that Superman catch her eye.  Things didn't end well, however, the simulacrum was destroyed and Sazu imprisoned.  It wasn't until 6 issues later that the real Maxima appeared to free Sazu and confront Superman.  After some playful aerial "catch me if you can" Maxima got serious and explained her motivations to Superman.  They were genetically compatible and she sought a worthy addition to her royal house.  Of course, Superman rejected Maxima and she did NOT take it well, with the Man of Steel resembling a human pinata and allowing Maxima to tear apart S.T.A.R. labs and display her awesome powers.  Maxima was ultimately beaten by Superman and imprisoned, but it would not be the last we saw of her.

Through the years Maxima has switched between good and bad, even joining various iterations of the Justice League.  Maxima has also had romances with various male heroes like Captain Atom, Aquaman, and Amazing Man.  I'd like to highlight her courtship of Aquaman in Aquaman #41 as being particularly fun.  As expected, Maxima's aggressive advances were not well-received and she found herself in a fierce catfight with Power Girl, Dolphin, and Tsunami.  Even in this handicap match, one gets the impression that Maxima could have beaten each hero individually, and only leaves when the situation inconveniences her.

And what does the future hold for Queen Maxima?  Sadly, Maxima was killed off during the Our Worlds at War crossover a few years back.  I'm not really sure what the crossover was about, but I can say that her "heroic demise" was a WASTE of a powerful and fun character.  The good news is that Maxima's demise wasn't drawn explicitly, so while her spaceship was clearly destroyed, it is possible that she made it out in time with her ability to teleport.  Or a writer could explain away her death as another simulacrum standing in for real Maxima.  Here's me crossing my fingers!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Power Girl: A New Beginning

Power Girl is my favorite DC heroine by far.  I've been a fan of Kara Zor-L since reading Justice League Europe and I'm also enjoying her new ongoing series.  The writers have made Power Girl more engaging and grounded in her attempts to juggle heroics with a civilian identity and a budding business - and executed far better than you'll find with her annoying brat of a cousin Supergirl.  The first Power Girl trade collects issues #1-6 where Power Girl pits her brain and brawn against the Ultra-Humanite and a trio of party-loving aliens.  Think Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and Lindsay Lohan - only interstellar!  And if that wasn't enough superhero fun, Terra guest stars and continues to build on her relationship with Power Girl that started in her Terra mini-series.  There are some gorgeous variant covers by Adam Hughes and Guillem March, but the real star artist is Amanda Conner who draws oodles of emotion and humor into each panel.  This is truly one of DC's finest ongoing series.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Super Street Fighter IV Anime

When Super Street Fighter IV hit consoles it increased the game's roster by 10 characters, including the brand new villainess Juri Han.  Juri is the first Korean fighter in Capcom's history and despite her youth is already a master practitioner of Taekwondo.  This femme fatale was an instant hit with the SF faithful and her popularity only grew with an anime spotlighting her character.  In the anime Juri, an agent of S.I.N., targets Shadoloo operatives with no care for the innocent civilians who get killed in her wake.  The team of Chun-Li, Cammy, and Guile arrives on the scene to stop her but... let's just say it doesn't end well.  The animation is beautiful and the action fluid as Juri takes on Chun-Li, Cammy, and Guile in individual fights.  There's also a battle with Bison's lady army of dolls.  Sadly, this anime is available for download only on Xbox Live at the moment... unless you can find a copy floating somewhere online!