I Want These Green Lantern Converse All-Stars!

Like most Filipinos, I have more shoes than I ought to. I absolutely don’t need another pair and I really shouldn’t spend the money…but I totally want these Green Lantern Converse! I can’t find any online (in my size), but there are some Journeys stores in SoCal that claim to have them in stock. I really shouldn’t…but they’re so cool!

What do you think of these GL kicks?

TPB Review: Batman & Robin and Red Robin

Two weekends ago I devoured the comic-book trade-paperbacks: Batman & Robin volume 1: Batman Reborn, Red Robin: The Grail, and Red Robin: Collision. I read each one at least three times. Here are some random thoughts on these three books.

Batman & Robin: I absolutely love Frank Quitely’s art. It’s so distinct and full of character. His pencils are consistently great in this Batman & Robin run. Too bad I can’t same the same thing about Grant Morrison’s writing. I really don’t understand what happened to him. He used to be one of best and most consistent writers out there. For the last few years he’s had outstanding moments mixed with ones that leave you thinking, “What the f*ck was he thinking?!?”

Anyway, I was drawn to this book because I’m a big Nightwing fan and I wanted to see how Dick Grayson would do as Batman. I’m also fascinated by Damian Wayne, the new Robin. Damian is the son of Bryce Wayne and Talia al Ghul (Ra’s daughter). He was genetically bread for physical and mental perfection, but he’s also arrogant and harshly warped (being raised by the League of Assassins will do that to you). This version of Batman and Robin is fun because Batman is the light character and Robin is the dark one.

The first half of the book is kind of mess thanks to a really lame villain. The second half is infinitely better thanks to the return of the Red Hood (Jason Todd, the second Robin). It’s fun watching the Red Hood try to modernize vigilantism with a brutal sense of justice and using social media tools like Twitter. The second half of the book is really good, combining a sharp story, excellent action, and great art.

Red Robin: First off, it was hard to read these books without thinking of endless fries at Red Robin. Getting past that, this was the most pleasant comic-book surprise I’ve had in 2010. As I mentioned in this Coffee Talk, I love “tweener” characters — heroes that are no longer sidekicks, but aren’t the primary heroes just yet. These two books trace Tim Wayne’s (formerly Drake) path from being a sidekick as Robin to becoming his own man a Red Robin.

I absolutely loved Chris Yost’s writing in these books (you really need both trade paperbacks for the full effect). It blends action, mystery, a global chase, coming-of-age, romantic tension, and more. The story is well paced; it does a fantastic job of alternating the fight scenes with Tim’s cerebral stuff and fun banter between the various characters. The two books culminate in a plot by Ra’s al Ghul against Red Robin and it’s so completely awesome to see how Tim outsmarts one of Batman’s sharpest foes. [Minor Spoiler Alert!!!] I totally marked out when Ra’s called Tim “Detective” right before kicking him out a window. Ra’s usually reserves that title for Batman and using it on Tim shows how his respect for the former Boy Wonder has grown.

Like most Bat Books, the story begins and ends in Gotham. In between, Red Robin travels the world on an impossible quest. Of course he emerges triumphant, but it’s one hell of a ride to the end. While I can’t fully recommend Batman & Robin volume 1, I highly suggest picking up these two Red Robin books. I expected to enjoy them, but I was surprised that they were among my favorite reads of 2010. Excellent stuff.

Binary Thoughts on the Young Justice Premiere

I just watched the premiere of the Young Justice on Cartoon Network. As a standalone cartoon, I thought it was great — lots of fun and quite enjoyable. As a huge fan of the Young Justice and Teen Titans comics, I had some problems with it. I’ll definitely be watching the series regularly and have high hopes for it, but I’ll have to get used to some things. Here are some binary thoughts on the premiere.

Bad: Using Earth-16 as the show’s setting gives the writers a lot of freedom. It also allows the writers to piss off fans of the mainline comics. As I mentioned earlier in the week, the show mixes elements of Young Justice and the Teen Titans books. In some cases, it takes the best of both worlds (5150). In other cases, the writers unnecessarily create new elements that will annoy comic-book fanboys (like me).

Good: The premiere was well paced, with snappy writing and fun action. The team is a good mix, with Robin providing the book smarts and Aqualad bringing calm wisdom. Kid Flash wasn’t defined well and Superboy didn’t add much (which makes sense from a storytelling perspective). I’m confident that Supes will come along, but I worry about KF being redundant (more on this later). I’m really looking forward to Miss Martian, as she’s one of my favorite characters in the current Teen Titans books…and green chicks are totally hot.

Bad: This complaint has everything to do with me being a fanboy. Although the Robin in the Young Justice cartoon is supposed to be Dick Grayson, he’s more like an amalgamation of the first three Robins. Like Dick, he has incredible acrobatic skills and reacts well in most situations. Like Jason Todd, he’s impetuous and sometimes acts without thinking things through. Like Tim Drake — one of my favorite characters over the last few years — he’s a skilled computer hacker. I really don’t like this mix. I wish the writers went with a pure version of Tim Drake; in the comics he’s the least physically powerful member of the team, but his leadership, computer skills, maturity, and intellect make him the perfect leader. In the cartoon he’s kind of an impetuous and goofy kid that can flip around and hack computers.

Good: I like the Aqualad is the smart one in the group…mostly because I like that the brown kid is the mature and logical one.

Bad: Would someone explain to me why Aqualad is brown? If he spends most of his time underwater, I don’t see how he (or his ancestors) can maintain a tan.

Good: I loved Speedy’s (Green Arrow’s sidekick) portrayal. He was excellent as the rebellious youth.

Bad: Sadly, Speedy bails 11 minutes into the show and it doesn’t look like he’ll be a regular.

Bad: What’s up with Young Justice being Batman’s covert operations team? I suppose this makes the show a mix of Young Justice, Teen Titans, and The Outsiders, but shouldn’t Bats use…I don’t know…adults for covert-ops missions?!? Perhaps Batman was watching too many episodes of 21 Jump Street when he came up with this brilliant idea.

Bad: I worry about Kid Flash being redundant. While I like that Robin and Kid Flash have a tight rapport (Dick Grayson and Wally West are best friends in the comics), they were too similar in the premiere. It made me wish that the writers used Impulse (Bart Allen) instead. Bart’s goofy innocence — kid was raised in the future in a lab and doesn’t quite understand how the world works — would have made for a more distinct character. Then again, the “not understanding the world” thing would have conflicted with Superboy (a clone) and Miss Martian (a…uh…Martian).

Even though I listed more bad things than good, I’m really looking forward to watching more Young Justice. I just have to get used to the show’s setting and the spin on characters I know so well from the comics. I’m sure it will be fun and, at the very least, I’m sure I’ll dig all the cameos by the adult heroes.

If you happened to watch the premiere, let’s talk it up! I’d love to hear your thoughts on Young Justice.

Don’t Forget to Watch Young Justice on Friday!

I’m totally psyched for the premiere of Young Justice on Cartoon Network. The new DC animated series kicks off with a one-hour special on Friday before regular episodes in January. Even though the show is called Young Justice, it has more in common with the Teen Titans comics than the excellent Peter David books. The lineup includes Robin (Dick Grayson, not Tim Drake), Kid Flash (Wally West, as opposed to Bart Allen’s Impulse), Aqualad (who is brown skinned for some reason), Superboy, Artemis (instead of Arrowette), and Miss Martian.

In addition to the teen sensations, there will be plenty of cameos by the grown ups. Batman, Superman, Green Arrow, Captain Marvel (don’t call him Shazam!), and others will be in the show’s initial run.

I hope a bunch of you watch or record Young Justice so we can talk it up over the weekend. Any of you interested in the show?

Binary Thoughts on the Green Lantern Trailer

If you haven’t seen the trailer for the upcoming Green Lantern movie then check it out (embedded above). As a huge fan of the GL comics, I had mix thoughts on the trailer. Let’s break it down binary style.

If you haven’t seen the trailer for the upcoming Green Lantern movie then check it out (embedded above). As a huge fan of the GL comics, I had mix thoughts on the trailer. Let’s break it down binary style.

Good: I loved seeing the supporting characters. I marked out when Abin Sur, Tomar-Re, Sinestro, and Kilowog were on the screen. The aliens look frickin’ awesome and I’m already excited for a sequel with a yellow-ringed Sinestro. It’s also kind of cool that Jango Fett is playing Abin.

Bad: I never liked Hector Hammond. He looks like a nob in the comic books. He absolutely looked like a nob in the trailer. There’s no way to make this character look cool. Peter Sargaard is a fine actor, but I sincerely doubt he can make this character interesting.

Good: Ryan Reynolds looks great as Hal Jordan. When he first started ring slinging, Jordan was young, brash, and reckless. I absolutely get that feel from Reynolds. Perhaps that’s why he snagged Scarlett Johansson….

Bad: I really hate the Green Lantern costume Reynolds wears. The ridges bother me. I said this before, but it’s worth repeating: the costume looks like a green piece of salmon nigiri.

Bad: I’m not digging Blake Lively as Carol Ferris. She’s too damsel-in-distress and doesn’t seem like someone that’s in charge of a large aviation company. Perhaps I’ll change my mind if she appears in a purple bikini in the sequel as Star Sapphire.

My initial vibe is that it’ll be okay, but hardly one of the best superhero movies. As a Green Lantern mark, I’m sure I’m going to enjoy it. Please check out the trailer and let me know what you think!

Marvel Pinball Featuring Spider-Man, Iron Man, and More

My buddy Cbake at Marvel just posted this cool video of the upcoming Marvel Pinball for PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. The game features Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wolverine, and Blade pinball tables with their respective villains making appearances. (On a side note, did Blade get in the game through affirmative action?) As a comic-book fanboy and a pinball fan, I’m really looking forward to this one. Kindly check out the video and let me know what you think (please)!


Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam Disappoints

After the outstanding Batman: Under the Red Hood and the good Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, I was really looking forward to Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam. One of the most intriguing and complex anti-heroes in the DC Universe, Black Adam is one of my favorite characters. Unfortunately, this animated feature didn’t convey what makes Black Adam so interesting.

But first, let’s cover some positive features of The Return of Black Adam. For the most part, I loved the art. It’s very clean, bright, and cheery, which fits in with the nature of Captain Marvel (yes, his name is Captain Marvel, not Shazam). The characterization of Billy Batson/Captain Marvel is well done. You really get a feel for his purity and innocence. The voice acting is great all around, which is par for the course with DC animated features. That’s pretty much it for the positives.

One problem I had with the art was the fight scenes. Superman, Captain Marvel, and Black Adam are three of the most powerful characters in DC Comics. Every time one of them throws a punch, windows should shatter and tidal waves should form in the ocean. The final fight scene between Neo and Agent Smith in The Matrix Revolutions is what a battle involving these three characters should be like. Instead, it was kind of like pro-wrestling with high-wire flying. The artists and animators did not illustrate the awesome power these three characters wield.

My minor gripe with Black Adam’s portrayal was his accent. He sounded Eastern European. In the comic books he hails from the fictional North African country of Kahndaq, which is supposed to be between Egypt and Israel. I’ve met people from Egypt and Israel. None of them sounded like Russian spies, which is that the Black Adam in this feature sounded like.

My major problem with Black Adam’s portrayal was its simplification. In the comics, he has been a villain and a hero. He has been in the Injustice Society and the Justice Society. He’s a beloved god-king in Kahndaq, but viewed as a severe threat to global stability by most other nations. He has a code of honor. He has suffered tragedies that have given him a harsh view of justice. He’s not really a bad guy or a good guy, but he’s done heroic and heinous things. In The Return of Black Adam, he’s just an evil dick. He was appointed Earth’s protector by the wizard Shazam and was corrupted by power — no complexity, no layers, and no depth. It’s so sad that Black Adam is nothing more than an evil dick in this movie.

I was disappointed immediately after watching Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam. After an hour or so passed, I kept thinking about one of Billy Bob Thornton’s lines in Bad Santa: “They can’t all be winners, kid.” After so many excellent and very good DC animated features, I suppose it was time for a dud. I just wish it didn’t involve one of my favorite characters in the DC Universe.

Emma Stone Playing Gwen Stacy, Not Mary Jane Watson

The sexy Emma Stone was rumored to be playing Mary Jane Watson in the upcoming Spider-Man reboot. It turns out that she’s slated to play Gwen Stacy, previously portrayed by Opie’s hot daughter Bryce Dallas Howard. According to E!:

After some initial confusion, it was revealed that Emma Stone would not be playing the beloved leading lady. Instead, she’d be playing Gwen Stacy.

I always liked Gwen better anyway. Hmmm, I wonder what Emma Stone would look like with long, luxurious blonde hair….

Update: Check out Emma’s Gwen Stacy hairstyle!


(Not a) Review of Superman/Batman: Apocalypse

Thanks to RPadholic Tokz_21, I finally got around to watching Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. Following up the excellent Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, the latest DC Comics animated movie dazzled me. As a fan of Jeph Loeb’s work on the Superman/Batman comics (not to mention a fan of hot blonde Kryptonian girls), I knew I’d enjoy this movie, but I was surprised that it exceeded my expectations. Superman/Batman: Apocalypse has it all — great story, beautiful art, and visceral action. Here are some random thoughts on the movie.

Here’s a spoiler-free summary before I really get into things. Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is about a naked hot female Kryptonian girl that crash lands in Gotham Bay. After injuring some civilians and damaging public property, Batman decides that he doesn’t trust the girl. After meeting Superman, the girl claims to be his cousin — Kara Zor-El. Things get wacky from there and all kinds of different locations are visited before epic fights with epic villains ensue. Now let’s get to the spoiler-riddled part of the review!

I was absolutely floored by the movie’s art, which surprised me because I’m more into plot and dialog when it comes to comics. DC has usually done a great job with its animated movies, but Superman/Batman: Apocalypse takes it to another level. The artists and animators did a masterful job contrasting the movie’s various locations. Dark areas like Gotham and Apokolips played off light locations such as Metropolis, Paradise Island, and The Fortress of Solitude. The artists also got to draw traditional superhero costumes (Supes, Bats, Wonder Woman, etc.) and funkier Jack Kirby Fourth World characters like Big Barda, Granny Goodness, and Mad Harriet. The variety and quality of the art is outstanding.

As for the story, it’s mostly good. It’s based off of the excellent “The Supergirl From Krypton” storyline by Jeph Loeb. While it’s not as good as the fantastic Batman: Under the Red Hood, I enjoyed it a great deal. Part of it is because I enjoy how DC’s “big three” — Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman — play off of each other. Part of it is because I love Kirby’s Fourth World stuff. I was psyched to watch a movie with Darkseid, Big Barda, Granny Goodness, and The Female Furies. I marked out when Barda opened a closet and Mister Miracle’s costume was there. I loved the plot in the comics and liked the movie adaptation. That said, the storytelling has its flaws.

One reason the Superman/Batman comics work so well is its use of inner monologue. In the books, the thought bubbles are often more important than the spoken words. Reading what Superman and Batman actually think of each other is a different and highly entertaining. All of this is lost in the movie, which is understandable. The pacing would be dreadful if one-third of the movie consisted of characters thinking. However, a vital element of the comics was lost in translation.

The voice acting has a weak spot that can be jarring. Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly are excellent as Batman and Superman, respectively, but they’re always awesome. Andre Braugher, Susan Eisenberg, and Julianne Grossman put in strong performance as Darkseid, Wonder Woman, and Big Barda. The weak link is Summer Glau, who plays Kara/Supergirl…rather poorly. She’s the movie’s central figure. Everything revolves around her. When you have a bunch of strong voice actors playing off of a weak one, it drags the whole performance down.

There was one scene that I absolutely loved in the comics and completely worked in animated form. I marked out when Batman played Darkseid into surrendering. It’s such a cool moment — the human outsmarting the god. Andre Braugher’s concession speech is delivered perfectly.

At the end of the day, I really enjoyed Superman/Batman Apocalypse, but I don’t think that most people would enjoy as much as I did. The Fourth World characters were a big reason this movie was so much fun for me. Most people probably don’t give a damn about Stompa or Lashina and couldn’t point you to Armagetto or Necropolis on a map of Apokolips. Casual fans would prefer Superman/Batman: Public Enemies or Batman: Under the Red Hood. I’m hoping that some of you will give this movie a shot. The art is so good, the action is fantastic, and the story is enjoyable. Plus, Big Barda and Supergirl are total hotties.

DC Universe Online Trailer Makes Me Go Fanboy

It’s a bummer that DC Universe Online has been delayed until 2011, but this trailer should make you feel a wee bit better about things. It’s fast, slick, and full of awesome DCU heroes. Check it out and let me know what you think (please). Super Buddies unite!!!