Monday, March 29, 2010

TV Tweets: March 22-28

As always, you can follow me at LowBrowJon to get my minute manifestos, as well as other LBM updates.
March 24th [Breaking Bad, Lost]
The two unexplained bad asses on #BreakingBad = my new favorite mimes on tv.
Welcome back, Heisenberg! (Yes, I'm aware that I only had to wait three weeks between when I finished season 2 and season 3 started and the rest of you waited for much longer. It was still a long three weeks, dammit.)
See what happens when you ditch the flash-sideways, #Lost? You get the best episode of the season, perhaps of the series.
I probably went too far in suggesting it was the best of the series, but entire seasons of the show have gone by since I was last this enthralled by a single one. What made this episode focusing on the mysterious Richard so engaging was we actually got answers to long-asked questions that not only were satisfying and gripping, but simultaneously helped to further explain the ultimate inquiry of why this island is what it is. Plus, that was some stage-level acting from Nestor Carbonell, Mark Pellegrino and Titus Welliver.
The flash-sideways may end up being cool. All I know is they have been either boring me or pissing me off each and every week and, right now, seem to have no impact on the "realtime" narrative of the show. Once their purpose is revealed, I hope to go back and have as happy a re-watch experience knowing what I know then just as I was given this week.
After the jump, read up on Human Target, Justified and the mid-season finale of Caprica.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Longbox Special: Under Siege

So here we go again with another big week for Marvel’s latest big event book.  This time around feels almost like a repeat of the last time they put out five books in a week.  Two of them are fairly lackluster, two are decent entries, and the fifth book makes me wonder why it was included at all.  Anyway, let’s have at it...

Might Avengers #35 is the book that made me scratch my head and wonder at why it’s being included as a Siege tie-in book this week.  The main focus of the book is on Pym and the return, once again, of Ultron.  The book skirts along side Siege but never gets itself directly involved.  There’s a call to arms from Steve Rogers, Vision and the other Mighty Avengers have taken off to assist, and Jarvis is shown leaving with the mystery case, which was delivered to Tony Stark during last week’s entry into the main event book.
Otherwise, this book features Hank, Jocasta, and a couple members of G.R.A.M.P.A as they are attacked by an army of Ultron controlled Jocasta bodies.  It’s all build up to a reveal that Pym built his Infinite Avengers Mansion on the body of The Wasp who it turns out is the sole inhabitant of Underspace, the opposite of Overspace, the realm where Eternity resides.
The book itself is fine for a Mighty Avengers story but I haven’t been following them for some time now.  Supposedly the next issue is a Siege tie-in as well, but if it’s anything like this issue I have to wonder at why this book is being included.  It forwards little to nothing of the main event story and serves mainly as a revelation to the fate of The Wasp.
Thunderbolts #142 is the book that Mighty Avengers #35 should have been.  However, like the last installment of this book, there’s just not anything going on that I really find myself caring about.  The action picks up where the last issue left off with the Mighty Avengers, sans Pym and Jocasta, fighting with the Thunderbolts who have been tasked with retrieving the Spear of Odin.
There is, of course, a lot of hitting and shooting and what not, all leading up to the eventual retrieval and fight for the spear.  There’s some indication that not all members of the Thunderbolts are behind Osborn and would rather see him not come into possession of such a devastating weapon.  Things get complicated when Asgard comes falling from the sky and the spear is lost in the rubble only to be recovered by an Osborn loyalist on the team.
I’ll admit that this issue wasn’t as bad as last but then again there was a lot more action and not so much talking going on.  Still, there was really nice development with the Thunderbolts just in the reveals of certain characters and their loyalties.  All the same, I could have spent my time better elsewhere.
Thor #608 wasn’t really that better elsewhere but it certainly picked things up a bit from last issue.  A prophecy made last issue comes to pass and puts one of the Asgardians on the spot.  Braxton is a battlefield for another pair of warriors, and Kelda visits with Bill’s family to break the bad news to them.
Tyr leads the Asgardians from the back lines terrified of a prophecy pertaining to the death of the god of war.  Upon seeing the corpse of Ares, he faces his own cowardice only to engage with The Hood who is now wielding the Norn Stones.  Volstagg and Ragnarok battle in the streets of Broxton until Volstagg retreats, the memory of Soldier Field still fresh in his mind.  This battle concludes itself in the shadow of Asgard.  All the while, Kelda has made her way into town to face the parents of Bill who take his death understandably hard and would rather have nothing to do with Kelda at the moment.  H.A.M.M.E.R forces show up to take Kelda into custody, a request she seems willing to see through.
Of course this issue wraps itself up with the fall of Asgard, something most of the books address this week.  It’s unclear if the floating city dropping on Ragnarok has taken him out of the fight or not.  This is another issue that is a vast improvement on the last but that’s not saying too much considering how weak that one felt.  Considering how key Thor is to what is happening, it’s surprising how distant this book feels from the heart of things.
Avengers: The Initiative # 34 splits its focus right down the middle of the book, starting up where the last issue left off.  First off, the Avengers Resistance is busy trying to take down Camp H.A.M.M.E.R.  Then, The Hood and most of his lackeys are called to Asgard, taking them out of one fight and into another.
Things look bleak for the team attempting to take down Osborn’s training facility, which is being overseen by a significantly powered-up Hood and his equally powered up thugs.  It’s in the eleventh hour that Penance makes his move and joins the fight, seemingly evening the odds.  This is all just in time for The Hood and company to be called by Osborn for back-up.  The book follows them to Asgard as they join the fight we see in the main book.  Constrictor and Diamondback suffer a bit of miscommunication as Asgard is brought down before she can reveal her affections for him.
Again, the fall of Asgard is the coup de grace for the events of a tie-in book but it’s an effective plot point to help tie in the events from one book to the next.  This time around, it looks like they’re pulling focus away from Taskmaster and spreading it out.  It makes me wonder if this is the beginning of the transition towards the end of this title.
Finally we have New Avengers #63 where two relationships are explored and, of course, Asgard goes boom.  Bendis is still using this book to explore more of the interiors of characters as opposed to focusing on the events of the event book.
This time around we get a look at the couples on the team, first up is Luke Cage and Jessica Jones.  They talk about being superheroes and parents, how those two things need to be prioritized in their lives for the sake of their kid.  Next is Clint and Bobbi’s relationship, which has seen its fair share of strain since her return after the Skrull invasion.  Her and Clint spend some time doing some old school hero stuff taking down a B-List villain and talking about the future.  Both of these stories are juxtaposed against the team’s attack on Osborn and his forces that are moving against Asgard.  With the city taken down, there are of course questions as to the fate’s of some of these characters.
New Avengers has managed to be a fine side book to the Siege event and plays itself very well as not being key to the events and more key to the characters.
Okay, there we have it, another week and another five books down.  Soon we’ll be moving into April and with it, the end of Siege.  I’m not sure how much I’ll miss writing these weekly bits up since I always seem to find myself at a loss in the how to address things.  Mind you, Second Coming is starting up this next week in the X-Books and I do like me some mutant story events.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

TV Tweets: March 8-21

As always, you can follow me at LowBrowJon to get my calloused catharsis, as well as other LBM updates.

March 17th [Lost]
So weird to see Sawyer and Liz Lemon hanging out, and on a beach no less! #Lost
That broad looked like Tina Fey. Seriously. To the point where my roomie and I debated if it was actually her guest appearing for a bit. Kinda figured it wasn't her when Sawyer pulled his gun on her and she quipped, "That's a dealbreaker!"
March 18th [Justified]
Damn, that was lots 'o racist rednecks gettin' pwned on #Justified. Jonny like.
This show has some serious promise. Aside from the ass-kicking, modern-day western goodness going on and the excellent casting of minor characters from other shows I enjoy (notably Walter Goggins from The Shield and Natalie Zea from Hung), the final scene in the pilot is what really gave me hope for the longevity of the show.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Longbox Special: Under Siege

After not one but two weeks without any Siege material from Marvel, we get the main book, two tie-ins and all hell breaking loose.

Siege #3 opens with the White House reacting to the assault on Asgard calling for the arrest of Norman Osborn as Captain America and his Avengers show up to launch their counteroffensive.  Thor engages Sentry on the streets of Broxton, which does not look like a fight that will end well for the thunder god.  Meanwhile, with Osborn’s forces on the ropes, backup arrives in the form of The Hood and his gang and Speed of the Young Avengers makes a delivery from Steve Rogers to Tony Stark.
The action moves along a good clip as Cap and his team get an assist from the U.S. government as H.A.M.M.E.R forces are taken down.  Iron Man shows up to neutralize Osborn’s armor and Norman finally makes the snap everyone has been waiting for.  However, this doesn’t happen before he has Sentry disengage Thor and bring Asgard to the ground.  The issue ends with a big cliffhanger and a new threat.
Bendis moves the action along really well in this issue and continues to portray Osborn as a fully dimensional character, not just a psychopath in power.  Coipel’s art brings the action to life in a way I have only seen since Bryan Hitch.  I’m very excited with the question of just how they’re going to wrap this up.  Also, it was good to see Iron Man back in the game.
Siege: Embedded #3 continues Ben Urich’s adventure to the front lines of Asgard as he stows away as an embedded reporter on a H.A.M.M.E.R transport with Todd Keller, the apparent Glenn Beck of the Marvel universe who is on the side of Norman Osborn.  Things go awry when the craft is hit by a thrown Venom and gets worse when it looks like all on board are on the menu for the monster.
A fortunately timed crash seems to save just about everyone on board, save those Venom already ate.  Venom also seems to have taken off to rejoin the battle as Ben and Keller’s nonplused producer manage to dig Keller out of the wreckage only to be forced at gunpoint to set up a broadcast from the streets of Asgard.  Meanwhile, Urich’s friend Will Stern has made his way to Asgard just in time to capture its fall on camera.
I’ve enjoyed how this tie-in book works the press angle and the fight that goes on via the news.  However, I’m still uncomfortable with the Todd Keller character.  He’s seemed very flat from the outset and doesn’t really get much depth.  It would be nice if he at least got one monologue like those given to Osborn to help flesh him out and maybe make a touch more sympathetic as a person.
Finally, Dark Avengers #15 continues to reveal just how it is that Norman Osborn got not only Sentry but The Void into his pocket.  The events of the Cabal meeting where Doom takes himself out of the mix is fully revealed and we see it’s The Void that was Osborn’s secret weapon.  It is in the wake of this even that the problem of Bob’s wife Lindy is taken care of.
During the attack, Avenger’s tower is evacuated giving Hawk/Bullseye the opportunity to take Lindy out to sea and neutralize her.  Upon his return, he relays that she couldn’t take her life anymore and jumped into the ocean sending Sentry off to find her.  There is a follow up scene with Victoria Hand and Osborn as Norman tells her to relay that the attack on Avengers Tower was an act of Latverian terrorism.
This issue works really well with the main event book in that it gives just enough information to allow an understanding why Sentry is behaving as he is.  It will be interesting to see just what they do with the next issue since I’m assuming it will be the last, wrapping things up with the wrap up of the event.
This was a good week for the Siege event and I’m interested in seeing they’ll be able to keep this level of quality through the rest of this month.  I know there were a couple of weak books last month and this month we’re going to see some other titles brought in with Mighty Avengers #35 and New Mutants #11.  I’m not sure what New Mutants is doing in there and it concerns me just a little bit with Second Coming just around the corner for the X-Books.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Shortbox: The Brutal and the Abysmal

Criminal: The Sinners (part 5 of 5)
writer: Ed Brubaker
artist: Sean Phillips
Marvel/Icon Comics, released 3-10-10
I love Ed Brubaker. I love Sean Phillips. And thus, as I've professed time after time on the site, I love Criminal. The Sinners, the latest miniseries from the pair, wrapped up two Wednesdays ago in predictably brilliant style.
The Sinners is another Tracy Lawless story, my favorite of the principal characters we've been introduced to thus far for a bevy of reasons, but most likely because of his similarities to Richard Stark's mastermind thief Parker from that series of novels. This time we join Tracy as he's still working off his debt to syndicate boss Mr. Hyde. This is going unsuccessfully, so Hyde taps him to figure out who is knocking off all the kingpins in the city, fearing he's next.
There's all the usual noir hallmarks -- dirty cops, dames, double-crosses, druglords and deadbeats -- but as Bru just about always does, he'll mix and match everything so you're full of genuine surprise as he pulls the rug out from under you again and again.
It's another stunning winner from this dynamic duo, and continues to be a must-read.
Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 22: Ultimatum 
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Stuwert Immonen
Marvel Comics, released 1-13-10
And then there is the worst comic I've read in -- well, I'm not really sure, but it's been a while.
Much as I unabashedly love Brubaker and Phillips, I love Ultimate Spider-Man. It is such a consistently fun and wonderful read. Or it was until it's swan-song edition.
The fault in volume 22 is that it's an addendum to the grand* event Ultimatum. It doesn't wrap up the series and barely has a discernible plot of it's own.
To be fair, this is Jeph Loeb's fault. I tracked down Ultimatum after finishing this collection because I had assumed some pieces in the puzzle would be put in place, and they were. Problem was, only some of them were, and not nearly enough.
Hey, look, here's some characters you love. Watch me destroy them for no rational or explained reason.
In other words, this was Loeb writing big, but without anything substantive behind it to there were yet more parts of the Ultimatum pie strewn around in the other Ultimate titles, but I'm not going to bother to read those. Ever.
Okay, so this isn't really very short for The Shortbox anymore, so I'll stop ranting and rambling.
Magus, who is an expert on all things in the Ultimate line, has assured me that USM has returned to form now that Bendis isn't beholden to Loeb's event plotline, and the other Ultimate titles are, ahem, ultimately better because of that shithole of an event. A red pill/blue pill situation if I ever heard one.
My advice is, don't read volume 22 of Ultimate Spider-Man. It makes me so sad to write that because almost all of the other 21 volumes are fantastic.
*[giant eye-roll]

**Note on The Shortbox: I'm not interested in giving ratings on comics any more (or any other media, for that matter), so any future entries will not have a rating included. I think you'll be better served by reading my opinion within the entirety of the review instead.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Longbox: Mystic Hands written by Magic Fingers, it only sounds dirty...

The Mystic Hands Of Doctor Strange
issue: 1
writer: Various
artist: Various
publisher: Marvel
Doctor Strange is one of my favorite Marvel Universe characters even though it seems like writers often have a hard time with him.  Most time there is too much of a focus placed on the power and not so much on the man that wields them.  A few years back, Brian K. Vaugn showed us what a Doctor Strange story should be with his miniseries The Oath.  In the time since then, Strange has lost his Sorcerer Supreme title and has gone on to do a bit of soul searching.
While The Mystic Hands Of Doctor Strange sounds like the title of a low budget, high concept porn flick, the book is a fantastic collection of four throwback-type stories written with a modern sensibility and illustrated in “glorious black & white.”  A lot of what these stories do is contextualize Strange’s history, addressing cultural movements of the time as well as addressing just who Stephen Strange is at different stages of his life.
The first story, The Cure by Kieron Gillen and Frazer Irving shows the mystical machinations behind the counter culture of the 70s and how Strange brings it to a close.    Melancholia by Peter Milligan and Frank Brunner tells the story of Strange dealing with the effects of the work he does juxtaposed with the story of a man living with his real world regrets and how he seeks Stephen's magic to fix them.  So This Is How It Feels by writer/artist Ted McKeever gives us a down and out Strange who has hit rock bottom and how a run in with a demon and the counsel of half a floating head turn things around for him.
The best part of this collection for me was the Mike Carey penned Duel In The Dark Dimension with illustrations by the man I feel defined what a Strange book should look like in The Oath, Marcos Martin.  Duel is presented in the form of an entry from one of Strange’s journals and is an illustrated story as opposed to a straight up comic story.  Carey chronicles the adventure of a novice Stephen Strange, still under the tutelage of the Ancient One, as he wanders off on the astral plane and how his arrogance is almost his undoing.
This book is certainly a welcome entry into the canon of Doctor Strange material.  The recent miniseries Strange by Mark Waid was a bit of a let down to me both as a story and in its visual presentation.  The structure of the stories also lends itself well to the casual reader who might not have a knowledge of the character and makes for a collection of fine character stories.  Hopefully we’ll see more Strange stories of this quality in the future.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

select button: Heavy Rain soaks you to the bone with compelling characters and story

Review: Heavy Rain
In Heavy Rain the player rotates through four characters as each of them tries to solve the mystery of the origami killer, a serial killer who kidnaps young boys and drowns them leaving their bodies in remote parts of New Jersey with an orchid on their chest and an origami animal in their hand.
Ethan Mars is the separated father of Shaun Mars, the latest abductee of the origami killer.  Having previously lost a son in a tragic car accident, Ethan is wracked with guilt and depression.  His only chance to save Shaun is to carry out challenges set before him by the killer to obtain clues to the boy's location.
Ethan’s path crosses with that of photojournalist Madison Paige.  She finds herself pulled into the mystery of the killer, looking for a story and hoping to clear Ethan who has been accused of abducting his own son.
FBI profiler Norman Jayden is sent in to assist local police in their investigation of the murders and to catch the killer.  He finds himself at odds with the local authorities as well as with his addiction to triptocaine.
Retired police officer and hard boiled private investigator Scott Shelby is engaged in his own hunt for the killer on behalf of the victim’s families.  He struggles with his own demons and the shadow of alcoholism.
The game world and characters are rendered both digitally and narratively as fully realized people and places which does a great deal to involve the player in what’s happening on screen.  The controls deploy a logic of interacting with the environment in a way that feels natural.  These two components work together to strip down the wall between player and game.
The strongest aspect of the game is the one that makes it the hardest to talk about and that’s the sense of agency the player is given over the characters.  It’s never made immediately clear what actions will have what effect on the progressing story and what is simply added flavor.  I know in talking with two other people who have finished the game, we all came to different endings for the game but we also created very different ideas of who these characters were by the actions we made them take.
The only issues I had with the game were in the voice acting and setting.  While the voice actors were good, it became painfully obvious with some that they were trying to hide their French accents.  Also, the game is never clearly located but is indicated to be taking place in and around New Jersey.  In several scenes it felt as though the developers had never even been to the place (according to an interview with Fast Company, game creator David Cage based the nameless city on Philadelphia, which they visited).  If they had placed the game in an actual city, it would have been one more way to bring in the player.
Heavy Rain brings a breath of fresh air to the art of games and storytelling and asks interesting questions of the medium and the player.  This game is an important step in the right direction that could bring games to a whole new audience where story and mood are as important as action.

Reviewed on: PlayStation 3

Monday, March 08, 2010

TV Tweets: March 1-7

As always, you can follow me at LowBrowJon to get my latest fingerful of characters, as well as other LBM updates.

March 1st [Smallville]
I was not aware that Speedy was added to the ranks of #Smallville this season. Yes, I'm catching up with another CW show.
Clark finally got a costume.
In it's ninth season, Smallville may finally be becoming something I'm not a little ashamed to admit I watch. They're finally embracing the superhero aspects of the DCU and letting the Clark/Lois romance blossom. The writers have begun making a little bit of sense of the unexplained messes created during earlier seasons, while cherry picking some of the best elements of the Supes canon to mix in. I think a great example is the inclusion of Mia (Speedy #2), which never would have happened a few years ago. She begins as a teenage prostitute, after all, and they didn't shy away from it too much. Later in the season we get another big superhero team-up on the show (I'll probably have something to say about it once I see it), which led to the news this week that there will be a tenth season. I wouldn't have been particularly happy to type that two years ago.

March 2nd [Big Love]
"These Boots Are Made For Walking" and....ALBY?!?!?! Also, that had to be the most intense game of tetherball ever filmed. #BigLove

March 6th [Parenthood]
So nice to see Lauren Graham on tv again, as she is as smokin' hot and talented as ever. #Parenthood
I guess the reputation of the cast made me want to check out this new dramedy, because it's not something I'd immediately gravitate to. It was a good pilot. I'm a little worried that it may become more drama than comedy, but as long as they maintain the balance, this may be a new addition to my weekly roster. But I really only tweeted about it because I wanted to post a pic of Lauren Graham. 
Mission accomplished.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Longbox

Stephen King’s N.
issue: 1 of 4
script: Marc Guggenheim
artist: Alex Maleev
publisher: Marvel
I’ve never been a big fan of Stephen King’s in the past.  Oh, I understand he’s the master of modern horror writing all that.  At least, that is what I’m told.  I have enjoyed a lot of his short fiction work and the occasional novel, but nothing has really driven me to his work.
N. is based on a short story written by King and adapted by Marc Guggenheim with direction from King and asks with question, “What if mental illness was communicable on par with the common cold?”  As with all King stories, there is a deep history that gets teased at and trails the story at hand.  This first issue starts off in 1911 as a family is destroyed in a murder suicide.  Flash forward to the present (well, 2008 anyway) where the suicide of a Psychiatrist opens the door to the mystery of the case of patient N. Nash.
Nash is an obsessive compulsive whose OCD is seemingly the result of an encounter with a dark otherworldly force residing in a stone circle in rural Maine.  His story unfolds in typical King fashion of the everyman encountering forces beyond his reckoning and how those forces scar the psyche, not unlike Lovecraft either.  Nash’s concern is that he may have unwittingly released something into the world that he has no ability to put back.  He is haunted by the nightmare of destruction at the hands of a terrible, black monster from beyond.
I’ve never read the short story this book is based on but I can say how much I enjoyed this first issue.  Marc Guggenheim has an excellent command of internal and external dialogue.  Since this is an adaptation of a story I’ve never read, I cannot say how much is his and how much is King’s.  In either case, the writing works well with Alex Maleev’s art.  His images create a darkly beautiful and engaging world.  Maleev has mastered the art of mixing photography and comic art to produce amazing visual storytelling.  This book is one of those that is worth it for the art alone, I’m just glad there is a solid story in place as well.
This is a case of a first issue doing what a first issue in any limited series should do; it generates interest in the story, gives you just enough to whet the appetite, and then promises fantastic follow up courses.  I’ll be interested to see how N. works itself out.

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Longbox: In Which Jon Discusses FABLES

For as long as I can remember, I've had an affinity for fairy tales. Whether they came from Aesop or Disney, I've always been a fan of the ones which were designed for children but could be enjoyed by adults.
Bill Willingham must've felt similarly because he's taken all of the characters from stories we were told in our youth and blended them together into a single universe. The only difference is that most of these stories are written for adults who still have deep affection for their childhood.
Fables is told with grandeur, delicacy to detail and wit. I adore it.
1001 Nights of Snowfall Cover

By the time I got hooked on the comic, the sixth collection of the series had been put out. Willingham and company have since completed seven additional collections of the Fables proper title, as well as six volumes of the spin-off Jack of Fables, the prequel graphic novel 1001 Nights of Snowfall and Peter & Max: A Fables Novel.
For this post, I will delve into the most recent releases: Fables vol. 13 and the Peter & Max novel.
Peter & Max: A Fables Novel
One of the most amazing aspects of the series is just how many characters from folklore, mythology and literature Willingham hasn't used yet.
This novel tells us the story of three of the more commonly known characters from children's folklore: Peter Piper, his wife Little Bo Peep and his brother Max.
I know. I know.
"Who the fuck is Max Piper?"
Trust me, you've heard of him. His famous fable reveal is responsible for one of the greatest self-inflicted facepalms I've ever given myself, a gesture I've become all too accustomed with since discovering this series.
This novel sets everything up like a classic children's novel of old, from the classic characters, the style of prose, and the inclusion of some beautifully rendered and placed black-and-white illustrations by Steve Leialoha.
Each chapter alternates between the present (basically up to date with the events of the main Fables title) and the past, where you learn how the three characters arrived at their current predicaments.
It's a story of brothers, of children becoming adults and of the allure and dangers of power, as well as two constantly repeated themes in the Fablesverse: the persistence of evil and the triumph of love.
Although the novel can be read without any knowledge of the Fables comics, the events of it will blend into the series soon. So, I recommend that you comic lovers seek it out. Aside from filling in the gaps for you, you'll get on hell of a story. It really was a fantastic read, and any big Fables fan will want know its story.
Fables Vol. 13: The Great Fables Crossover
This is a nine-part collection includes three issues each from Fables, Jack of Fables and the miniseries The Literals .
Fables, which tends to have an epic feel to it, is by far my favorite of the two principal series. Jack is outlandish and sophomoric, but has found it's niche on my bookshelf as well.
Jack, who in Willingham's world is the hero of the all the "Jack" stories you've ever heard (Beanstalk, Candlestick, Frost, etc.), splintered off into his own title a few years ago and hasn't been seen in amongst the original Fables since that time. I didn't think I'd like his off-hand a-holery mixing with the main title's characters again, but it was needed with the farm folk and wolf children to take a little gravity out of the darkness Rose Red has found herself in at this point of the series.
Fables' Snow White
The portions featuring the Literals (trust me, these characters fit into the canon just fine but would be too spoilery to even begin to explain for the uninitiated) were also a lot of fun to read for me, as there was an all-powerful figurehead for every major storytelling category you could conjure. Fashioning myself as a writer and genre-freak, this was a big selling point for me in this chapter of the comic.
I suppose my only real complaint was the lack of interaction between some characters. The Page sisters and Rose Red. The Pathetic Fallacy and Pinocchio. Mister Revise and the Adversary. All were ripe with possibility, but I guess there was only so many pages to include everyone, so I shouldn't complain too much.
It wasn't the best collection of the Fablesverse (that honor belongs to the lengthy, but heartbreakingly magnificent Vol. 10: The Good Prince); however, it was yet another very good one.
In all, this was a highly enjoyable crossover and, the best part, things actually changed at the close of it.
The world of Fables shows no sign of halting its expansion. The Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love miniseries about Cindy going off on things clandestine is in the middle of its six-issue run (I will be waiting for the trade, like all other things Fables), another standalone graphic novel entitled Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland about Bigby finding -- well, that would spoil some things, so we'll just wait and see -- and there's also the possibility that ABC will go forward with a pilot based on the series someday since they've optioned it.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

LowBrowMedia: 2010 Best Picture Nominees

Here are the LowBrowMedia staff reviews* of the 10 nominees for this year's award for Best Picture from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In some cases, posts are entirely dedicated to that movie. Others you'll have to scroll down into the article to find the review, in particular the "Best Of" lists.

Jon's Review (and here)

District 9
Mark's Review
Mike's Review
Jon's Review (and here)

The Hurt Locker

Inglourious Basterds
Mark's Review (and here)
Mike's Review
Jon's Review (and here)

A Serious Man
Mark's Review (and here)

Up made my Top 10 list (linked above), but I didn't write anything about it. It is certainly worthy of a Best Picture nomination and is easily the best of the Pixar films I've seen. The montage early in the movie covering 50+ years is absolute perfection. -- Jon

Up in the Air
Mark's Review
Jon's Review

* Note - The LBM staff did not review The Blind Side, An Education or Precious.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

select button: AvP made me want to cry acid tears

Review: Aliens vs. Predator
In my younger days, I used to believe that you could take two awesome things, smash them together, and mix them a bit to make something even more awesome.  This was just a dream of youth and in my adult years I have come to find that this usually doesn’t happen.  In spite of that, companies still feel the need to try it and these days it seems like they’re trying to smash more and more stuff together.  Case in point, Alien vs. Predator.

To the best of my knowledge, this game is not an attempt to adapt the movies of the same name into a game, which is good since I haven’t seen them.  I don’t really feel the need to do that to myself.  What this game feels like is an attempt to take three different games, smash them together, and make one awesome game.  What we get is one game made up of three lackluster components.  The colonial marine segment feels like an underdeveloped first person shooter.  The Predator segment feels like an underdeveloped first person brawler.  And the Alien segment feels like a poorly controlled, underdeveloped first something or other.  Each of these bits has its own story, none of which are really all that compelling either.

In the colonial marine section, you are an anonymous nobody referred to only as “Rookie.”  As is always the case, your ship takes a dive and you are tasked with trying to find what remaining marines are still alive on the planet so you can all escape.  As the Predator, you are a young warrior on his first outing in an attempt to keep the humans from acquiring technology from your fallen brothers.  Finally, as the Alien, you are specimen 6 who manages to get free from human captivity and makes its way killing whoever it comes upon.

Nothing in this game really serves to redeem it with the exception of Lance Henrikson’s presence, and you can always Netflix DVDs of the TV series “Millennium” for that.  The controls are generic and uninspired, and in the case of the Alien, the controls are a foe in and of itself.  In my various attempts to scale the walls and ceilings to get the drop on the humans, I found myself disoriented and receiving a heaping helping of pulse rifle to the face.

It’s a shame that this didn’t turn out better.  Maybe the currently in discussion plans for a sequel will see a better experience the next time out.  Oh, and I didn’t even bother with the online multiplayer having sold the game back to GameStop while I could get maximum value out of it.

Reviewed on: PlayStation 3

Monday, March 01, 2010

TV Tweets: Feb. 15 -28

As always, you can follow me at LowBrowJon to get my latest pixelated praises, as well as other LBM updates.
Feb. 23rd [Supernatural]
All caught up with #Supernatural. Finally.
I consider the continuing adventures of the brothers Winchester the most severely
underrated show on the tube. I got really behind this time around, and I'm not sure why because it gets a little better with each season. Not being a big horror buff, I find some episodes legitimately creepy since I'm not desensitized to it. What I come back for are love/hate brother relationship, the deep-seeded daddy issues and the monster/ghost slaying, not to mention the classic rock soundtrack, the obnoxiously loud Impala and the fact the show never takes itself too seriously.
Now in year five, Supernatural has delved deeper into it's literal Holy War it began last
year. We've always known there was a Hell after the litany of deamons strewn across the U.S. in the Supernatural-verse, but with last season's introduction of angels, my inner John Milton nut is immersed in pure bliss. Certainly not the best show out there, but it's mythology is tightly constructed and it'll be back for a sixth season. In other words, it's worth catching up on if you're behind.

Feb. 27th [Red Riding Trilogy]
Part 2 of #RedRiding Trilogy: Wow. Just... wow.
It first aired on the BBC and then IFC in the States, so I'm counting it as a television show. Kinda unfair to most other tv to do so though. Expect a full review when I watch the final installment. In the interim: this is an outstandingly executed project thus far. Can't wait to sink my teeth into the last bit.

Feb. 28th [
Is it safe to assume that Ron Moore is a big fan of Mafia Wars? #Caprica
Just saying...