Saturday, July 14, 2012

THE TRANSFORMERS: Regeneration One

NEW!! Transformers: Regeneration One #81 - When I heard that IDW was bringing back the creative team from the original Marvel Comics run of The Transformers, I was skeptical but intrigued!  Generation One died with issue #80 back in 1991!!  21 years feels like several lifetimes to me.  However, my love of Transformers has never died...I still collect the toys and am a fan of the current televised incarnation, Transformers: Prime.  I also loved last years' Transformers: War For Cybertron video game and eagerly await the sequel.  However, the orginal comics...I have to say, I own the whole set but I'm in no rush to go back and struggle through some of them.  On the other hand, many of the best characterizations and most interesting elements of Transformers lore came from the Marvel run of The Transformers.  So it was with mixed feeling that I purchased Transformers: Regeneration One #81, a direct continuation of the original comic by the creative team of Simon Furman, Andrew Wildman and Stephen Baskerville, all of whom also worked on issue #80 back in 1991 (and of course several other issues leading up to same!)  Furman, in particular, is practically synonymous with Transformers fiction, contributing as much or more to the mythos as any other writer, ever! 

So how was it?  Join me after the JUMP to find out!

El Professore Movie Review: Navajo Joe (aka A Dollar a Head)

Navajo Joe (aka A Dollar a Head)

Director: Sergio Corbucci
Starring: Burt Reynolds, Aldo Sambrell, Nicoletta Machiavelli, Tanya Lopert, Fernando Rey
* * *
After the huge success of Django, director Sergio Corbucci found himself an in demand director in Italy. An innovator who took the more well known Sergio Leone's concepts and exxagerated them often to the tenth degree, Corbucci would be the one who moved the Spaghetti Western into heretofore unexplored territory and featuring violence so extreme (by 60s standards), that they often ran into censorship problems. Navajo Joe was a good example of this.

Full review after the jump.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Hobbit Lego Minifigures and First Footage at SDCC. Plus a HUGE Image of 10 Scenes from the Film!

It's a big week for The Hobbit, and mostly thanks to the San Diego Comic Con.

Late tomorrow afternoon Peter Jackson will be screening footage from the film at his panel at SDCC, and the fanboys are already lining up for it now. I would be right there as well. I have no patience, and this is by far, my most anticipated film of the decade. 

If you miss the screening (or you are 2000 miles away), you can still see awesome things like The Hobbit Lego minifigures.

Gandalf, Dwalin, Bombur, Bofur, Bilbo and Balin

There are a few newly molded pieces in there, none of which are cooler than Balin's one-piece hairbeard.

Entertainment Weekly was also going all out Hobbit this week and released a HUGE scroll image featuring 10 scenes from the film. This is the most we've seen from the film yet, and it's loaded with little semi-spoilery sneak peeks. 

This is just the start of it. It goes on, and on, and on. Here's the entire 6000 pixel wide scroll. I'm sure it will make for many desktop backgrounds over the next 6 months.

And finally, click through the jump for an image from Weta's booth at SDCC of the three trolls (as seen in the top corner of the image above!). 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Readthrough of Time: Lord of Chaos

The Readthrough of Time continues this week with Lord of Chaos, the fifth volume in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. As with the previous books thus far...let's just get on with it.

What's Out? 11th of July 2012

One day late! I'll be honest cats, it's only because I have no idea what day it is anymore. Here's what came out yesterday:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man Video Game (Xbox 360)

Movie tie-in video games are notoriously awful, but the persistent positive buzz around the new The Amazing Spider-Man game prompted me to give it a shot myself. Why? Because I love Spider-Man games! The last one I played was the surprisingly fun Shattered Dimensions and if this one can bring me any of that same joy I am sold!

In fact, Spider-Man may even be my favourite videogame character to play. Many characters can just run, jump and shoot, but Spider-Man has such a vast array of abilities at his disposal thanks to his increased strength, sticky limbs, and super-versatile spider-spooge. He can shoot webs, swing, climb walls, grab things from a distance, hang people from the ceiling, and jump crazy high. Plus he constantly wisecracks. So the real question is, will being attached to Marc Webb’s overwrought spider-flick hinder Spider-Man’s potential? I did like the portrayal of Spidey in that film for the most part, but could we be facing a situation here where you “press X to cry”?

Oh! And did I mention that the word on the street is that this game plays a lot like Arkham City/Asylum? Find out what I thought... after the crazy high spider-jump!

New 10 Disc Marvel Blu-ray Set Feature The Avengers Plus a Glowing Tesseract!

I may occasionally question their plans for their comics, but there's no doubt that Marvel is currently doing a lot of great things with their movies. And on their own site they've just revealed the mouth-full that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One - Avengers Assembled (10-Disc Limited Edition Six-Movie Collector's Set) on Blu-ray, featuring Iron Man 1 & 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers. And they're all stored in Nick Fury's suitcase containing the blinding power of a light-up tesseract (that's "cosmic cube"for you laymen):

Oooh pretty, right? That tesseract will be handy for... well I guess you could kind of... it's a power source right? Or a portal? Or.... What exactly does a tesseract do? Nobody really knows. But it's super desirable. Also included are a bunch of Nick Fury's secret files which actually mostly consist of doodles, ticket stubs, and lists of celebrities he'd like to sleep with.

The truth is that this large suitcase will probably be stored clumsily against the shelving where you house all your regular Blu-Rays and guests will constantly point to it and say, "What the hell is that thing?" and your voice will tire from telling them. But I totally want one. It's available for pre-order on Amazon here, but no word yet on an Australian release as far as I can tell.

Join me after the jump to check out some of the art on those movie sleeves!

D-Day Dice Is Finally Here!! Mega Unboxing Photos!!!

At the time, it was the biggest thing ever.. D-Day Dice ended it's massive Kickstarter campaign at $171,805, almost doubling the previous record holder as the most funded Kickstarter board game. The record has been shattered a few times now by games like Steve Jackson's Ogre, and Zombicide, but today everything changes. Today I received my copy of D-Day Dice and it's bigger than ever. 

This is the game that changed Kickstarter. If you missed out, or if you're still waiting for your copy to arrive, just click through the jump for photos of everything the you get at the "Officer Level". There is a lot. Three full game boxes loaded with dice, boards, tokens and much more. Check it out!

America's Got Talent Quarterfinal Recaps: Idiotic Idioms and Charismatic Contortion

We enter week two of the America's Got Talent Quarterfinals with an odd episode. It started off slow, with some previous favorites struggling to wow me, and struggling to impress the judges as well. The music felt very dull (not the singers, but the music that played during most acts) and there was a lot of downtime during the performances. But it picked up towards the end, and now I'm having trouble narrowing down my top 4. There were two definites, and three others that I'm having a hard time choosing between.

Click through the jump for my top 5 picks (now with YouTube clips!) and thoughts on the rest. Let us know yours as well!

Review: Time's Last Gift by Philip Jose Farmer.

I must open with a confession about books. I don’t read nearly enough of them. I falsely accuse a lack of time, but the real reason is that I find it very difficult to identify novels that will appeal to my tastes. My favourite books, such as John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, Tom Robbins’ Jitterbug Perfume, Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love, and Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, have all been thrust into my possession by far more conscientious readers than I, who have gone out of their way to convince me that, “This is something you’ll like.” And they were right.

Such is the case now, as our new friends at Titan Books have sent a copy of their new edition of Philip Jose Farmer’s classic time-travel story Time’s Last Gift. To be perfectly honest, this is probably not something I would have picked up on my own volition, but it would have been my loss. Reading the entire thing in pretty much one sitting, I was instantly engaged by this off-kilter story of four time travellers who make a very calculated journey to 12,000 B.C. to study this primitive world, only to discover that one among them may be far more than he seems. And, for a very enjoyable few hours today, I was completely lost in that world right there with them. I was taken by surprise. I loved this book.

Share this incredible journey with me... after the jump!

On Terry Goodkind and His Latest Self-Publishing Endeavor

Terry Goodkind is arguably the most frustrating author on the planet.

There, I said it. I needed to get that off my chest, because his latest book, The First Confessor, came out earlier this month, and I'm still having fits about it. I've been a reader of the Sword of Truth series since I was a freshman in high school, and a fan for a shorter time than that. I'm not sure when it all completely went off the rails for me, but I know that the last two books he wrote, The Rule of Nines and The Omen Machine, were just...terrible. I wrote a review for The Omen Machine when it came out, and called it, among other things, a "shameful...ridiculous money grab" that "may be a contender for the worst book I've ever read." The novel that preceded it, The Law of Nines, was only marginally better, with "[s]ome of the worst writing I have seen...within an interesting story." Either way, considering the first book still ranks among one of my favorites?

I mean, what happened to Terry Goodkind, where did it go wrong, and what now?

Pre-Order Premium Format Batman Plus a Whole Lot Moar Batmangs!

Now that I'm really paying attention, it's astounding how many awesome products are announced just above every day! I'm going to blame it on the fact that Comic Con is just about to start, but I'm certainly not complaining. While there's plenty of cool new stuff to see let's ride that wave!

Both our friends at Sideshow and our friends at Big Bad Toy Store have intriguing stuff available for pre-order today and it all centres around a Batman/DC Comics theme. If the other day's Premium Format Poison Ivy made you feel funny (in a good way) then you should be equally impressed with today's 2 foot plus Premium Format Batman!

He has two swappable heads, both of which look suitably unhappy, and he's has that classic comic look in case you're growing tired of all the movie stuff. It's a must have for unhinged playboy billionaires or anyone who has dangled someone off a balcony by their ankles. He is available for pre-order here: 
DC Comics Collectibles Batman Premium Format Figure - EXCLUSIVE
(Yes that's the exclusive version. You want to try for that first before it sells out!).

More pictures after the jump plus a full set of New 52 Justice League figures! Holy smokes!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Stryder's Favourite Comics - 7/4/2012

The first comics of July are here for your perusal!  How hot is this Summer going to get?  Well, 4 out of 6 comic book covers show something already on FIRE!  Stay tuned...

Action Comics #11 - There's a lot going on this month and Superman's at the middle of it all!  First he needs to stop a shape-shifting robot named Metalek from destroying parts of Metropolis for reasons I'm unclear about.  Then he helps the neighbourhood rebuild, unintentionally driving up property values (who WOULDN'T want to live in the condo that Superman built?)

All this is the first couple of pages, when we get to see Superman's NEW secret identity!  Remember, Clark Kent DIED last issue!  Just a short time before new firefighter Johnny Clark transferred into the Metropolis Fire Department.  What a co-incidence!!

Supes isn't too sure he's made the right choice though, so he takes a side-trip to Gotham City to ask Batman for advice!  As The Man of Steel says "I needed some advice.  You always seem like the smartest guy in the room."

Of course Grant Morrison isn't about to leave us light on content!  We also discover that Lois Lane's little niece Susie is not just a normal little girl.  There's an alien who looks similar to Supes searching for her and calling her the "Future Child".  She seems like a child-prodigy of sorts and one can literally see the stars in her eyes...

Finally, there's an adorable short story at the end of this issue wherein a couple of tourists walk into the T-Shirt store where Superman orginally had his T-Shirts made!  Or so the vendor claims.  It's both amusing and enlightening!

Great issue and SO MUCH happening!  I really glossed over a lot...good work!  Action Comics really seems to be picking up steam lately (hee hee)

Of course there's plenty more!  After the JUMP.

Let's Build Moebius Model's Iron Man 2 Black Widow!

Buying a model kit is a treacherous business. Have you ever been lured by the Siren song of the pretty pictures on the box, only to have that tiny voice at the back of your mind sternly remind you that you are never going to get it looking like that and, in fact, will most likely mess it up? It's a total gamble and your prize purchase could just as easily wind up in a forgotten box of shame at the bottom of your cupboard.

Well, back at Supanova, I couldn't resist picking up Moebius Models' Iron Man 2 Black Widow model kit, featuring what is almost the likeness of Scarlett Johansson, to add to my burgeoning Scarjo Black Widow collection. The box art is certainly pretty, although it gives away little of what we'll actually find inside...

Well now it's the moment of truth! Let's crack it open and build her together! Will it be victory or crushing defeat! Will we add value or devalue? You'll see it all... after the jump!

The Book Was Better Podcast: Teaser for Episode 22!

Tuesday also means a brand new mini teaser episode of The Book Was Better, the podcast where Jessica and I discuss, debate and mock the book-of-the-film. These mini episodes reveal next week's novel, plus we respond to your feedback. Jess sums it up far better than I can:
"In this teaser episode of The Book Was Better, we ramble on about America, the Piggly Wiggly, cheques, swearing, Twitter and eventually get to revealing the ponderous tome we subjected ourselves to this week. I think it's funny? It's hard to tell, I am very tired. I know I giggled a lot."
You can grab it from the official site or download it on iTunes! 

Nerd History: The Trials and Tribulations of Wonder Woman

The New 52 Wonder Woman trade finally dropped last month - it was highly anticipated for me for a number of reasons, the chief one being that Wonder Woman is probably my favorite DC Comics superhero. That's admittedly strange, because, frankly, being a male fan of Wonder Woman in 2012 feels...dirty. I know a lot of that is simply perception of the comics industry (that has more than its share of questionable treatment of female characters and fans) and an ever-changing social atmosphere, especially on the internet. With that said, a friend insisted I jump in on Greg Rucka's run on Wonder Woman from a few years back, and I ultimately fell in love with the comic, flaws and all.

There's a lot of reasons to enjoy Wonder Woman. There are also a lot of reasons not to love her, and, even as a fan, her story arcs and her characterization in general create very polarizing feelings for me. It's ultimately a combination of history and the disparity between writers who do her justice and writers who don't really get it, and you end up going along for the ride. And there's a lot there to consider.

Tuesday Bounty: Glorious Bounty Book Three Draws to a Close.

It's Tuesday, and that not only means a brand new page of humour/sci-fi comic series Glorious Bounty (drawn by Grug and written by me) but it's also the final page of this current storyline! Yes, this is the final page of Book Three: The Convoluted Killbots! We did it you guys!

When we last left the crew they were chillin' like villains and teasing Bruce about the fact that his brain belongs to a woman (a detail he does not remember from their ordeal).

Click to embiggen or read it on the official site.

So that was the good news, and now the bad. There will be a (hopefully) short hiatus before Book Four due to a drawing injury. All will be fine, and the book is written, but it might take a few weeks to get us up and running again. But stay tuned and we'll let you know as soon as Glorious Bounty Book Four: Planet of the Lacklustre Lizards launches!

And in the meantime, why not start reading again (or for the first time) from Book One!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Michael Fassbender + Assassin's Creed = Fassassin's Creed!

I doubt I'll top that title, but resident ass-bender Fassbender is apparently producing and starring in a film adaptation of the hit stabbing-through-history videogame series Assassin's Creed. I can't tell you when it will be set or whether he will be Altair, or Ezio or Super Mario, but I am pretty 100% sure that he will wear a badass costume, probably with a hood, and that he will go out of his way to stab a lot of people.

The Fass elevates pretty much any movie to greatness. If you're making a film and you're worried that it might be a bit balls, then just put Fassbender in it and it will automatically become awesome. Sometimes (i.e. Shame) he'll even whip out his balls just to remind you who's in control. I think he's a great choice for Assassin's Creed and his presence alone could be enough to get me to go and see it when it hits.

Are you excited about Fassassin's Creed? Tell us all about it! We've got time.

Pre-Order Giant World-Devouring Galactus Maquette! Plus Life-Size Jango Fett!

In the countdown to Comic Con, our BFFs at Sideshow continue to reveal a ton of breathtakingly beautiful high-end product. Yes, Sideshow. You take my breath away. Just like that song.

This time feast your eyes on Jack the King Kirby's mighty, infeasibly-helmeted, planet-devouring tyrant Galactus, presented here as a whopping 33 inch maquette. Yes, that's nearly 3 feet tall! About the same as Tom Cruise:

I'm a huge Kirby fan and Galactus is one of my favourite Marvel designs ever! I love the audacity of a guy in a giant purple helmet. Galactus doesn't give a damn. He's hungry. And we can all relate to that.

You can pre-order this bad boy right here: Marvel (R) Collectibles Galactus Maquette and join me after the jump for more images plus a severed bounty hunter!

Super Golden Friends

DC characters mixed with the Golden Girls is not only something pretty hilarious, it's also quite charming and should be a real thing.

Aquaman is the best!

The creator said this would be the show he'd like to pitch to cartoon network and dam man he should!  I would watch the hell out of this show. I don't know if I'll ever forget that Superman strut though

Kickstart the Week: Spike: Real Keyboards and Protective Cases for the iPhone

I spend most of my Kickstarter money on Game projects (as seen in my backer profile), but I am consistently blown away by the Product Design category. Just a quick glance at the active projects, you will see the RoboChair and Ringbow, two completely different ideas sharing the elusive "staff picks" stage.

And then you will find Spike, the super affordable iPhone case with a keyboard built into it. Something about it sets it apart from the sea of iPhone accessories. It's partially the great design of a keyboard that is there when you want it to be, and not there when you don't want it to be... but it's also that it's such an anti-iPhone, iPhone accessory. The iPhone is built for touch, and this product eliminates the need for touch in many of the most-used applications.

I'm so excited for this, but I have one big unlikely curiosity. What happens if Apple reconfigures the keyboard in an update? I'm sure a drastic change is not going to happen, but they added a few keys in the recent updates, so it's possible that Apple could break Spike very easily if they wanted to. They have the digital upper hand, which can destroy a physical component at the push of a button... but I would doubt it will happen. People would revolt, but more importantly, there is no reason for it to change. It's still something to think about, but at about the same price of a regular case, it's worth taking the chance on Spike. For the extreme worry worts and early adaptors, there's even a level that allows you to upgrade to an iPhone 5 version upon release.

There are 32 days to go, and if all goes well Spike should fund well before the time is up. The project is currently at $44,575 of it's $75,000 goal, with 32 days to go.

Review: Lego Batman 2 (Xbox 360)

We love Lego. And we love Batman. We even almost love Superman even though he’s kind of a dick sometimes. So when you mix together all these things that we love and turn that lusty love-cocktail into a much anticipated videogame then it should be a surefire, super-studded, bat-punch to the pleasure centre. There’s definitely fun to be had. But will you climax?

Lego Batman 2 is a fun, humourous, mostly successful action/puzzle game which is only hindered by its own ambition. With a gazillion Lego games already under the utility belt, I’m sure there’s a lot of pressure to innovate. And this game certainly is ambitious with a large host of characters and the addition of a giant sandbox to bury yourself in. But these extra features come at a cost and Lego Batman 2 is not without its compromises.

To find out what worked and what didn’t... join me after the jump!

The Dark Knight Storms Melbourne

We're swiftly approaching release day for Christopher Nolan's trilogy-ending The Dark Knight Rises, and as part of the lead-up, Australian Rugby League team the Melbourne Storm are playing a 'specially themed Dark Knight Rises match' this weekend. I'm assuming it just involves them wearing a sponsored jersey, not having Bane come to explode half of the playing surface. Shame.

You can buy your very own Dark Knight Rises jersey from the Melbourne Storm online store for the princely sum of $175. Only 500 are being released, and the initial online allocation has already been exhausted, so if you're keen then get in quick!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

DexCon 15 Convention Recap!

It was super last minute, but on the eve of the 15th annual DexCon I made plans to head up to Morristown, NJ and attend my first Double Exposure Convention.

Double Exposure has been around forever in NJ, hosting conventions like DexCon (board games, miniatures, RPGs, LARPing, etc), Metatopia (all about game design) and Dreamation (more games, just in the winter) since the early 90's.

And let me tell you... at a glance, DexCon is pretty hardcore. Almost every single wall in the convention center looked like this:

Over 1000 game events in 5 days. Some big tournaments as well as friendly sessions of favorite games.

It was quite different than anything I've ever been to. Even while standing in line to enter the show, a girl was asking if anyone wanted to jump in on a game of Skip Bo. A group in front of me jumped in on it after saying that they've never heard of it. That was a pretty good example of how the day would go. Friendly gamers, playing games.

I spent most of the day at my table, next to WizKids/Neca, but I did a fair amount of wandering in-between my game sessions. Click through the jump to see what DexCon is all about.

Let's Relax and be Cultured for a Minute and Enjoy a Woodcut of Colonel Sanders.

It's not always news break-neck news about blockbusting Batmen and Spidermangs. Sometimes it's nice to sit back, be civilised and enjoy some good-old fashioned art. Sometimes it's all about a wood-cut of a fast food icon.

We were contacted by Loren, a wood-cut artist in Hollywood who must have stumbled across my thoughtful, incredibly factual reminisce on the late, great Colonel Sanders as part of our hard-hitting Movember coverage and assumed I was a fan of the San-Man. Loren... You assumed right! Here's the great man himself, via a carved piece of wood!

You'll find a far more factually accurate history of the man at Loren's blog Woodcutting Fool beginning with these immortal words:
"Though his karma is stained with the blood of generations of innocent poultry, Colonel Harland Sanders is an American legend. He may look like a beady-eyed, mint-julep swilling racist, but his story is quite inspirational."
You'll also find woodcuts of other legends like David Lynch, Gary Busey, and Steve Buscemi.

Thank you, Loren! Now we are cultured!

Borgnine Lives

Tom Keiser reflects on Ernest Borgnine:

There are too many memorable roles associated with the late Ernest Borgnine to count.

Some of you may only associate his booming voice with his role as Mermaid Man in SpongeBob SquarePants, where he was committed in his golden years to still fight EEEEEEEEEEE-VILLLLL!!!!!! Baby boomers and Generation Xers probably know Borgnine from his TV roles in “McHale’s Navy”, “Airwolf”, and, um, “The Single Guy”. Others still may know of him from some of the films they show on TCM, such as his supporting work in Johnny Guitar, Bad Day At Black Rock and From Here To Eternity. And speaking of his role as Fatso Judson in From Here To Eternity, Ernest Borgnine appeared as himself in “Boy Scoutz N The Hood”, one of the greatest Simpsons episodes ever. And oh yeah, he starred in a lot of crap too.

El Professore Movie Review: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes - The Unrated Director's Cut

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes - The Unrated Director's Cut

Director: J. Lee Thompson
Starring: Roddy McDowall, Don Murray, Hari Rhodes, Ricardo Montalban
* * * *
At last, my nearly two decade search for the darker and more violent version of my second favorite 'Apes' film (after the damn, dirty original) has ended thanks to one kind, anonymous soul who was able to convert his blu ray disc (the only way it was officially released, grrrrr!) onto a dvdr for my extreme viewing pleasure. The wait was worth it...

Full review after the jump.

Weta Comic-Con Exclusives

The geniuses at Weta are giving us a nibbly little taste of the collectible range for the upcoming Hobbit movie, with two pieces exclusively available at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend.

The leader of our raggedy band of heroes kicks off the range of 1:6 polystone statues. Thorin Oakenshield (with shield) has a limited run of 700 pieces, 500 of which will be available at SDCC, and the other 200 going up for sale at the Weta Cave in New Zealand and Ring Con in Germany. A non exclusive version sans shield will be available at the Weta online store from October 2012. I don't know if I'll be personally rushing out for this one, but it's a wonderfully dynamic pose, and an impressive looking statue. Can't wait to see what they do with Smaug...

The second item up for grabs is 'The Unexpected Journey', a stunning art print by Weta Workshop Conceptual Designer Gus Hunter.

Wowza. 100 signed and 400 unsigned posters will be available at SDCC, with additional copies available on the Weta website in October. Is it weird that I'm just as excited for the 'The Art of The Hobbit' book as I am for the actual movie? This image leaves me feeling pretty justified.

Review: Spider-man 'Flip & Attack Spider Jet'

Toy merchandising for movies is so strange nowadays. BACK IN MY DAY there was one action figure for each character. Just one. You didn't need more than that. We had the ability to use our imaginations. I found my old set of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves action figures the other day which proved my point. Well, okay, they DID make two versions of Robin, but it was casual Robin and Sheriff butt-kicking Robin. Not cyber ice-jet Robin or hyper atomic projectile blast Robin. They kept it simple.

NOT ANY MORE. Join me as I look at the Flip & Attack Spider Jet, released as a tie-in with the Amazing Spider-man movie. I must've missed the scene where Andrew Garfield turned into a shitty Transformer.