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By Amy McGarey On 15 Jul, 2014 At 10:26 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Company Spotlight, Featured, International News, News, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarThe new female Thor

To keep up with a growing female audience, Marvel has announced today that they intend on creating a new Thor series where Thor is a female. The new Thor series will be written by Jason Aaron with art by Russell Dauterman and will premiere in October.

In case you don’t understand how this is going to work, Jason Aaron explained, “This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.”

How will this work in the Marvel Universe where Thor is involved in multiple comic book series? “The inscription on Thor’s hammer reads ‘Whosoever holds this hammer, if HE be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.’ Well it’s time to update that inscription,” says Marvel editor Wil Moss. It seems like for the next Thor series, the male Thor that we all know and love will be deemed unworthy to wield Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer. The title of Thor will be passed on to someone who is worthy, she just so happens to be female. Traditional Thor will still be involved in the Marvel Universe. My best guess is that the new Thor series will mainly focus on female Thor, while another series will probably handle the issue of where old Thor fits in and what he will do, if anything, to get his hammer back.

As a fan of Thor, I’m excited for this new change in the story line. I think the big fuss about it so far has centered around people thinking that Thor is getting a sex change or that Marvel is pushing some kind of transgendered agenda on everyone. Traditional male Thor will still be very much involved in the Marvel Universe. I look at this as more of a Superior Spider-man situation than killing off a beloved character. Peter Parker came back in the end, so I’m sure old Thor will pull through. I think of all this as welcome news in a long line of Marvel drama, such as the recent rumors of cancelling Fantastic Four and X-Men.

Thor will be joining several other female heroes that have their own comic book series, like Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Elektra, and Ms. Marvel. Maybe Thor will be filling the void for the female warrior archetype that has become popular with characters like Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones.

By Charles On 3 May, 2013 At 06:15 AM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Editorials, Featured, Movie News, Reviews, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No Gravatarhot-toys-iron-man-3-mark-xlii-limited-edition-collectible-figure-2Okay, so funny story: I’m feeling deja-vu right now. Why? Because exactly one year ago today I was sitting in my kitchen, pounding out a quick list of “lessons” learned from the midnight release of “Avengers.” Now, a full year later, I’m sitting in my bedroom, about to pound out some wayward thoughts about another Marvel movie, Iron Man 3. Wow, thing’s don’t really change for the geek blogger, do they?

So last year, in my list of lessons, I made it a point to state that fans of the comic book heroes should forget Iron Man 2 ever happened. Iron Man 3 only drives the final nail into that coffin. Seriously, I watched the second movie about two weeks ago, trying to remind myself what was wrong with it. Was it the performance easily phoned in by Downey, Jr? Was it the utterly ridiculous accent affected by Mickey Rourke? Was it the over-the-top Justin Hammer, or the blatant overcompensation of the Stark Expo? No, it was ALL of that, and what should have been an amazing look into the day-to-day psychosis of Tony Stark ended up being a cartoon movie on par with Phantom Menace, just sans a motion capture fan-pandering and the utter brilliance of Liam Neeson.

Iron Man 3 is quick to shed any vestiges of that previous misstep. Borrowing heavily from the same character development and loss that worked so well in the Dark Knight Rises (yes, I am making that comparison here), Iron Man 3 manages to capture both desperation and the bravado of Tony Stark, while still showcasing that the man can feel pain. Actual, legitimate pain. Remember, this is a character created specifically to be unlikable, and now we the audience not only see his vulnerable side, but we see him suffer because of it.

iron-man-3-trailer-11-questions-raised-118967We watch as he loses not just his home and armor, but his peace of mind. We watch him dream up nightmares of what he has seen and done. We witness the stress of actually BEING Iron Man finally take its inevitable toll on what is in fact just a man. A brilliant, arrogant genius of a man, but ultimately still just a man. We watch as it robs him of any sense of security he might have had, and cast him into a well of self-doubt and fear that takes actual effort to claw out of. This Tony Stark cannot, and will not, just buy himself freedom from his demons. No, now he has to actually face them, and surpass them, before he loses himself.

No more chasing shadows and suppressing his shortcomings, no, this time we get to see the real Tony. And, as he puts it so eloquently in the film’s closing moments, we watch as he realizes the suit wasn’t his obsession, nor his therapy, but rather it was his “cocoon.”

That, my fellow comic fans, is a story worth seeing. Never you mind that we saw it play out to utter perfection last summer with Bruce Wayne, this time we get to see it again, and watch it happen to quite possibly the most deserving douchebag in the entire comic book canon. Hell, its so worth seeing, that I’ll probably go again next week, just to see if I missed anything.

Some random tidbits now, before my coherence leaves me:

Ben Kingsley, OMGWTF. The man still has it, and in droves. Ditto for Gwyneth Paltrow, who proves, and quite definitively, that she has an inner badass that just needs the right method to convey.

blight

Blight

While I am aware that this film’s plot was culled from the “Extremis” storyline in the comics, the entire time I watched Aldrich Killian “do his thing,” I kept picturing Blight from Batman Beyond. Not that I have a problem with that, Blight was awesome. I just couldn’t shake that notion. (Which, in hindsight, is also probably why I started thinking of Dark Knight Rises…tenuous connection, I know, but one that my mind is already predisposed to making.)

Obligatory post-credit scene? Check. We get to see Ruffalo again. Do not miss out on that, especially all you Tony/Bruce shippers.

And lastly, one does not mess with Don Cheadle. Seriously, don’t mess with him, OR his toys. WARMACHINEROX

This rant has been brought to you by the letters S and D, for sleep-deprived.

By Charles On 31 Dec, 2012 At 05:11 PM | Categorized As Animation, Editorials, Featured, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarWell, that’s that: the curtain falls on 2012. An interesting year, in many regards: the WiiU finally gets released (and no, I don’t have one), portable gaming enters a new phase, and gigantic film projects see the light of day.

I spent most of it traveling. Cons, cons and more cons- I hit 14 this year- distracted me from much of the nerd-sphere in 2012. But I still managed to experience a few notable contributions to the geek canon this year. Quality over quantity, I would hope.

wreck-it-ralphWreck-It Ralph: What kind of world do we live in today? A few years ago, Pixar was at the forefront of Disney Animation, producing some of the best animated films in this country, and destroying Dreamworks right and left. (Dragons? pssh, not when we got Buzz Lightyear to save the day!) Then chief creator John Lasseter was pulled out of Pixar, given full control over Disney’s entire animation department, and set loose to change the future of the company. In 2011, Pixar gave us Cars 2, and Disney unveiled Tangled.

In 2012, Pixar gave us Brave, and while that was a heartwarming, beautiful fable about the love between mother and daughter, it didn’t hold a candle to what Lassie threw at us in November.

Like Toy Story before it, Wreck-It Ralph was a loving tribute to the bond between man and machine, gamer and game, player and toy. But it was so much more than that. It was an open greeting to gamers from any generation, be it the old arcade days, or the new shooter co-op networkers. It was a massive in-joke, targeted at both the children flocking to see the huge-handed antihero save the day, and the parents “dragged” along to chaperone. It was an alternative to the father/daughter dynamic that Disney championed all through the 90s. It was by far the BEST VIDEO GAME MOVIE EVER MADE! Why? Because unlike any adaptation or “re-invention” of a classic story, Wreck It Ralph wasn’t trying to be something it wasn’t-  it was a film about games, for the people who play them. It wasn’t even a video game movie, really, it was a movie about the love and power of video games themselves.

My only question now is, “When Can I See You Again?”

the-dark-knight-rises-vs-the-avengersSummer Superhero Blockbusters: I refuse to acknowledge Avengers vs Dark Knight Rises. That’s just not a fair comparison. Both films embodied their respective “genres” and “publisher” perfectly, from Avengers’ bombast and pitched battles, to the cerebral brilliance of Bane. Both films managed to conjure powerful emotions, and keep me rooted to my seat through multiple viewings. Both films left me feeling infinitely satisfied, and yet yearning for more More MORE.

If last year’s crop of hero films set the bar high, this year’s made it impossible to reach. That’s really all that can be said, now that the dust has settled (and the BluRays are on repeat). Given Marvel’s track record these past two years, the sequels might live up to the newly wrought hype, but if not, it doesn’t really matter either. And despite there being news of a new Batman franchise (to lead into a Justice League counter to Marvel’s majesty), I’m in no rush to see how that turns out. Seriously, if this is the last I ever see of these series, I’m happy.

Oh, and Amazing Spider-man was pretty good too.

cwhlv_1Children Who Chase Lost Voices: While this film was technically released last year, it received little real fanfare among the anime-watching demographic. Which is a shame, since this film highlights many of the reasons why director Makoto Shinkai is being called the next Miyazaki. Lush settings, developed characters, silent gods and terrifying monsters abound in this fable about death, loss, the afterlife, and learning to cope. Not since Spirited Away has a film managed to evoke so much emotion, while still remaining  firmly in the realm of whimsy and fantasy. This one is not to be missed.

Nintendo 3DSXL: I resisted buying a 3DS pretty much since it was released. Either the 3D hurt my eyes, or the price was too steep, or there were no games I wanted to play on it- take your pick, I just stalled on buying one for most of the past year, and most of the previous one as well. Finally, seeing a very generous discount on the newly released, gigantic 3DSXL over the holidays, I had to finally buckle down and grab this monster.

I don’t know why, I don’t know how, but this unity managed to fix every issue I had with the older model. While I still don’t use the 3D very often (or on a very high setting), its clear that with the XL, Nintendo wanted to prove it was more than just a simple gimmick. A pleasing interface, larger screens that display better resolution than the DS LL ever did, and a worthy selection of new titles have helped convert me into a believer. I still don’t think the 3DS was a necessary release by a long shot, but as an upgrade to an aging DS unit, it’s a more than worthy successor.

Revolution: Since the planet seems to be on the verge of some type of impending armageddon (and definitely NOT the Mayan one, since you’re alive to read this), it’s little surprise all the shows devoted to doomsday- from series about real life preppers to fears of nuclear annihilation to zombies feasting on flesh. Even co-creator Eric Kripke dabbled in the end times during his last two seasons on Supernatural, and JJ Abrams spend a chunk of LOST waxing philosophical about the state of humanity.

BLACKOUT -- Season: Pilot -- Pictured: (l-r) Anna Lise Phillips as Maggie, Graham Rogers as Danny, Tim Guiee as Ben, David Lyons as Bass Monroe, Billy Burke as Miles, Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie, Andrea Roth as Rachel, Maria Howell as Grace, Zak Orth as Aaron, Giancarlo Esposito as Lt. Neville  -- (Photo by: Nino Munoz/NBC)But in Revolution, there’s more than just a dystopian alternative future to look forward to. In a world where technology has failed, and electricity just a memory, it is the deeds of the humans living during these trying times that drive the “story” of us all. But whereas other shows rely on aliens, gods and other unreal critters to take us down and force our survivalist instincts to kick in, on Revolution we are our own jailers, as much as we are our only hope. Humanist, provocative and more than a bit surreal, this is a dytopian show about a very real possibility, and it asks more of us the viewer than it asks of its characters.

Psycho Pass: I could easily wax endlessly about the virtues of this series, but I already did a few weeks ago. Let me simply state that the more of this show I see, the more adamant I am about this being the best anime of the past 5 years. If you’re not watching Psycho-Pass, you’re doing it wrong.

NonNonBa: Sometimes fans of manga forget that there’s more to the medium than shounen fights and girls falling in love. NonNonBa is one of those times. Equal parts autobiography and exploration of the hidden world of youkai, Shigeru Mizuki manages to lend a healthy dose of both realism and humanity to his landmark gekiga book, giving  a strong emotional tie to its young hero, and highlighting the “quaint” mannerisms of pre-war Japan, family ties and the realms of mystery that only youth can conjure up. NonNonBa is a splendid example of what manga can accomplish, and does it without big battles, shirtless fighters or swooning ladies.

lobby1Otakon: I never thought I’d be writing these words, but Otakon was my favorite convention this year. Out of a personal-record-breaking 14 cons attended in 2012, Otakon has managed to stand out as the best weekend I had. Not to say that this was a landslide opinion of mine- it faced stiff competition from at least 2 other cons- but it goes to show that sometimes I’m wrong. In this case, my insistence that the biggest anime con on the East Coast could never top the smaller affairs I prefer was proven dead wrong.

Otakon did everything right. Solid guest offerings, decent merchandise variety, wide panel selections and intriguing official programming. It also seamlessly executed the weekend, with no real stumbles (at least in my humble opinion). But what really worked was a flawless melding of fandoms and people, bereft of “annoying” quirks/memes and “holier than thou” attitudes. This was my fourth Otakon, and while I thought last year was the experience I had been craving, it will be 2012 that will go down as the year it all came true.

Cards Against Humanity: Anyone who has ever played Apples to Apples knows this tale- eventually, after hours of seeing the same cards and questions roll around, one player will inevitably look at the question at hand, and drop the Helen Keller card, despite it being terribly inappropriate for the situation. Some people around the table will laugh, some will stare blankly, and some will admonish the person for “being disgusting.” And the game will roll on.

cards_against_humanityNow imagine a game of Apples to Apples where EVERY card is pretty much that situation. That, my friends, is “Cards Against Humanity.” Or, as many of my fellows refer to it, “Apples to Apples for Horrible People.” This game, an early success story courtesy of crowd-sourcing juggernaut Kickstarter, became a mainstay of game rooms and lobbies during the 2012 con season, in some cases pulling together people off the street for a few hours of completely inappropriate fun, at the expense of political correctness, tact and often sleep. The incredibly simple concept of pairing up questions like “What is there a ton of in heaven” and “White People Like_____” with answers ranging from “The 3/5 Compromise” to “Assless Chaps” crossed “boundaries” between attendees (and in one case, non-attendees who happened to know of the game) and led to some very interesting stories over the course of the weekend.

While technically released in 2011, this game will go down as one of the biggest card games of 2012, simply because of its simplicity and appeal. Anyone who hasn’t had the chance to play this game, just go to their website and download the free PDF version, print and go. You will not regret it (at least not the “acquiring part”).

supernatural_8-2Supernatural: I wanted this show to end two seasons ago. I couldn’t understand why the series had to go on after saving the world from the Apocalypse, returning Lucifer to his cage and setting things right, aside from the desire for more $$$ on the part of the producers. What followed after the standout 5th season were two hot damn messes of broken plots, throwaway characters and a whole lot of straw-grabbing (albeit with some true gems mixed in from time to time) that lacked much of the appeal and strong narratives that made the first seasons pure gold. Blame was tossed around, the showrunner was canned at the end of season 7, and fans just hoped for one last chance at glory before their favorite series went the way of the dodo.

Season 8 has completely wiped those feelings away. A return to sharp writing, experimentation and appearances by fan-favorite guests have breathed a new life into the fading series about brothers battling the forces of darkness. While not plodding back into familiar territory, or retreading past story lines, Supernatural has managed to set itself apart from contemporary shows like Grimm and Fringe, once more showcasing why this series has managed to gather such a rabid fan base and cult favorite status among a television landscape full of such shows.

If this is the last season, it will surely go out with a bang. But a part of me hopes its not.

Some honorable mentions:

Skyfall: James Bond + The Dark Knight + Skyrim = BEST BOND EVAR!!!! It’s hard to believe that Sam Mendez directed this, and not Christopher Nolan.

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Django Unchained: Too late to be included here, this is the best spaghetti western since…well…okay, this is the best spaghetti western of all time.

Pokemon White 2: This can be summed up simply- 147 hours. That’s how much time I’ve spent playing both White 2 and Black (since the White 2 release), all in the name of breeding the “perfect dragon.” Right now that title goes to a Dragon Dance Haxorus named Nidhogg, but there’s a Garchomp with Outrage breathing down its neck.

ConnectiCon: Otakon’s closest competition this year  is fast becoming the blueprint for how future fan conventions will play out. This Massively Multi-Genre event crossed boundaries while increasing its profile and experiencing growingpains with stride.

Dusk Maiden of Amnesia: While the series can lack focus at times, and has a hilarious copout of an ending, episode 10 is the hands down creepiest thing I’ve seen in an anime aimed at the younger demographic.

By Charles On 4 May, 2012 At 07:26 AM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Featured, Movie News, News, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarIt’s 3:10 AM, and while all my better sense is telling me to get to sleep, I can’t. Because I must take this moment to record the myriad thoughts flowing through my head. See, I just went to see Avengers. Somewhat spur of the moment, and unexpectedly in 3D. And while I can keep my hold on this rare case of post-midnight lucidity, I must mention a few things- lessons mostly- from watching this movie.

This is not a review. There really is no need for a formal review, because let’s be honest, you already know if you’re going to see this movie. My words will not sway you in any way from that path. Take this, then, as a few things to look out for, or just as the ramblings of an exhausted 30-something lifelong geek late at night.

First, an analogy: Avengers :: Marvel as The Dark Knight :: DC. This pretty much sums up the movie in as few words as possible. Everything we have come to expect from a Marvel movie in the past decade is on display here, at it’s utter best. Don’t try to over-think it, just enjoy it. Dark Knight Rises will be out in a few months for your cerebral pleasure.

Second: The 3D doesn’t suck, but it’s also not necessary. Seriously, just save the money from a 3D surcharge and go see it twice. You will want to.

Third: Forget Iron Man 2 ever happened.

Fourth: You will laugh, cry, cheer and come way from the experience feeling blown away. Last Marvel movie I saw that did that for me was First Class, but I’m a self-admitted X-Men junkie. Hell, I don’t even like or read Avengers comics, and I still had a blast here.

Fifth: Mark Ruffalo is the best Hulk, and is easily the best performance in the film. Downey and Hiddleston come in a very close second, but we’ve seen them both doing this in their own films. Ruffalo came from out of nowhere.

Sixth: Two post-credit scenes. One will mess up your pants. I will not say which.

I guess that’s all I have to say then. Enjoy the movie this weekend!