With one successful collaboration under their belt in the form of Curse, writers Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel reunite for a different kind of evil, turning their eyes towards the sun burnt oil fields of Iraq. It seems someone is killing the townsfolk, and it’s up to former investigator Dana Atkinson to figure out who, or what, is behind the ritualistic murders. Part political thriller, part horror yarn, Burning Fields is an instantly compelling debut, grabbing your interest with a pair of rusty narrative pliers and shaking it for all its worth.
Valiant Entertainment has delivered some great titles as of late, but in The Valiant they really have something special. The triple threat of Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt and Paolo Rivera continues to impress, their men and monsters tale growing stronger both in vision and voice. The trio ably builds from their fantastic debut, adding new characters to the fray and teasing even more to come. The comic landscape is littered with team books, but this one is beginning to stand apart.
It's taken a few issues and even more alien body hops, but at long last the Planet of the Symbiotes is here. Unfortunately, the payoff doesn't equal the wait, writer Brian Michael Bendis delivering a rushed, bloated finale that nearly trips over itself in its desire to get to what comes next. It's a disappointing end to an anticipated origin, and one sure to leave readers wanting.
Following a roundabout path that would leave even the Family Circus' Billy feeling turned around, issue #23 culminates in the info dump of all info dumps, Bendis detailing the entire history of the symbiotes (sorry, Klyntar) in just a few meandering splash pages. Such presentation isn’t so bad all things considered, but given the weeks of buildup to get to that point, and the lightning fast setup to get past it, the very telling of the story feels almost completely unnecessary. Bendis then tries to give Flash Thompson some added depth, but given that Flash spent pretty much the entire arc either unconscious or raging mindless, his sudden moment of ascension feels woefully out of place. At least the new costume is cool?
Note: Full spoilers for the episode follow.
After what went down in the midseason finale, The 100 returned with another intense, harrowing episode, as the immediate aftermath of Clarke killing Finn was explored.
As sorry as I was to see Anya go, the dynamic between Lexa and Clarke has been a worthy follow-up. The fact that Lexa is, essentially, a “progressive” Grounder, and is trying to lead in a different way than those before her adds a lot of interesting layer – as when Lincoln noted that the list of those who’d want her dead is a long one. It was also good to learn about her past and the woman she loved and lost, and how that had hardened her, even as it couldn't completely submerge her more caring, empathetic instincts.
Sony is releasing two limited-edition Bloodborne PlayStation 4 systems in Japan in March, featuring an engraving of the game’s title and protagonist on the hard-drive cover.
Listed on Japan’s Sony Store, the two black and white variants are priced at 47,480 yen (approximately $400 USD) with a March 26 launch date to coincide with the game's roll out in the region. The consoles come packaged with the Bloodborne Collector's Edition, a controller and a headset.
The nice thing about Zombies vs. Robots is that it's no more complicated a concept than its name suggests. This franchise may have played out across various mini-series and prose stories already, but this new ongoing series is still a perfectly acceptable gateway into the ZvR-verse. As always, there are robots and zombies occupying a nuclear wasteland, and plenty of surreal fun is to be had whenever the two factions cross paths. This first issue offers ample fun, but also a taste of the wider potential this universe still holds.
Invincible #115 was a very action-driven issue, which was good as far as showcasing the work of new colorist Jean-Francois Beaulieu, but not so great in terms of satisfying readers after the series' long absence. Luckily, issue #116 focuses more on character and plot-building in the aftermath of Robot's big global takeover.
Robert Kirkman has wrapped up the series' latest epic and bloody conflict. And just as Robot intended, life on Earth does seem to be genuinely better for the average man on the street. Thus begins a pretty interesting philosophical conundrum - is it better to allow a tyrant to rule when he truly has made the world a better place? Or does a superhero's responsibility demand that mankind be free, no matter the cost? That's the dilemma Mark and other characters wrestle with in this issue. That, coupled with more ordinary drama like rebuilding the family home and eating dinner with the in-laws makes for a fun balance of light and heavy elements.
In this age of constant reboots and relaunches, it's a novelty to see a superhero comic revert to its original numbering. Not that it's going to last long in this case. Fantastic Four #642 kicks off "The End is Fourever," which also happens to be the series' final story arc. This issue pays off on a number of running threads, though at times the execution leaves something to be desired.
This issue's core problem is its over-reliance on superhero cliches. First there's the prolonged clash between the FF, Hulk, and the Invaders. You know the old chestnut - heroes fight due to a misunderstanding but eventually put aside their differences for the greater good. Given how much this series has showcased Marvel heroes fighting the FF already, this sequence could really stand to be toned down. There's also the cliche about the villainous mastermind explaining his evil scheme at great length to the incarcerated hero. To make matters worse, Mr. Quiet specifically notes his desire not to be a supervillain cliche before plunging into yet another cliche.
Maybe it's just me, but G.I. Joe is one of those franchises where the villains have always been far more fascinating than the heroes. Give me Cobra Commander and Destro and Baroness over Duke and Scarlett and Flint any day. The one exception is the mute ninja warrior Snake Eyes. So perhaps it's only fitting that IDW's latest G.I. Joe project see Snake Eyes switch sides and begin working as an agent of Cobra. This first issue is a solid start, though not really an ideal one for new readers not familiar with IDW's current Joe continuity.
Wolverines has far too large a cast for every character to be the focal point of every issue. The book needed to break up its focus so that only a handful star in any given chapter. Luckily, that's what happens with the third issue. Charles Soule and Ray Fawkes introduce another new character in the form of Fantomelle, and her debut is the driving force of the entire comic.
So far, Fantomelle is shaping up to be a solid addition to the Wolverines lineup. There's nothing particularly original abut the character, as she's basically just a riff on Fantomex. But the little differences do enough to set her apart, whether it's her more defined sense of morality or the fact that Fantomex's partner EVA has been replaced by a talking fox named Culpepper. The duo are introduced in a fun little clash with the Punisher before the writers shift focus to exploring Fantomelle's role within the Marvel Universe and how she ties into the larger Wolverines conflict.
Spider-Verse reaches its penultimate chapter in Amazing Spider-Man #13. This far into the story, it seems as though Dan Slott can slow down when it comes to setting up and referencing the various tie-in titles. The focus is more on the immediate conflict here, and Spider-Verse is better for it.
That's not to say there aren't a few annoying cases of invasive editor captions and plot threads that pop in or drop out as this series intersects with the tie-ins. One major death from an ancillary book is just referenced in a very matter-of-fact way when it probably deserved more attention. There's another scene involving the Superior Spider-Man that also seems rushed even though it doesn't connect to any tie-in book. But for the most part, this script is more focused and streamlined than we've seen from recent chapters.
Warning: Full spoilers for the episode follow...
Since last week's episode resolved so much of Freak Show's seasonal story, and included a fitting end featuring Jimmy receiving wooden lobster hands, this week's finale (which ran long, though all Horror Story finales do) felt like extra. Two threads remained on the show - those being the arcs of Dandy and Elsa - and depending how much you truly cared about the characters, you really could have stopped watching last week and been okay for the season.
Dandy's final massacre and subsequent comeuppance had a handful of thrills, though it dragged. So much so that I thought, during his extended death scene, that he'd wind up being rescued by the local authorities, perhaps raiding the carnival looking for escaped convict Jimmy. But Dandy, in his "final performance, got drowned. Revenge issued at the hands of Jimmy, Desiree, and the twins.
Beware of spoilers for Justice League #38!
This week's Justice League #38 by writer Geoff Johns and artist Jason Fabok saw Batman getting new bat-like superpowers thanks to being infected with the Amazo Virus. His new powers render him blind but allow him control over sound, including super hearing and a sonic scream not unlike Black Canary's.
343 industries is opening up the testing of an upcoming Halo: The Master Chief Collection content update to select members of the Xbox One Preview program, according a developer blog post.
The developer is branching out to beta testing due to “the scale of the update” and “to ensure the official release is the best possible experience for all players.” The patch includes matchmaking and party system changes and 343 Industries expects to share further details closer to the official release.
Xbox One users who wish to participate in the content update must reside in North America, have a copy of the shooter and are Xbox One Preview program members. Players, selected based on “highest levels of engagement” with the compilation, will be able to download the update on January 23. 343 Industries offers an FAQ about the content update beta and Xbox One Preview program on the developer blog post.
Warning: full episode spoilers follow.
Arrow wrapped up 2014 on a pretty high note, as we saw Oliver Queen go head-to-head and blade-to-blade with Ra’s al Ghul, only to be stabbed through the gut and kicked off a cliff. As far as cliffhangers go, that’s a pretty good one. And the show started off the new year on solid footing as well. For once, the focus wasn’t on Ollie himself, but the impact his absence is causing in Starling City.
Warning: Full spoilers for the episode follow...
"I'm a five star man!"
Ah, there's nothing quite like a Dennis meltdown. One can usually count on at least one of the members of the Gang to blow a fuse on any particular episode of Always Sunny, but this week "erotic man" Dennis met his match in the form of an online date ranking app that quickly whittled him down to an infuriating no-star rating.
Dennis probably actually stood a good chance of working his Dennis system on unsuspecting women once he decided to ditch the group dating aspect of the Bunchers app scenario, but the fact that he'd become overly-obsessed over being judged by others was glorious. He was now getting a taste of what he'd been doing for years, though it's Dennis so of course he felt indignant over the fact that he never did it in public and online for all the world to see. Things also got a bit blurry with the word "rate" after a while, with Dennis even shouting out at one point during one of his tirades "I will rate every single woman in this restaurant!" Giving the term an extra, uncomfortable vibe of violation.
Cast your mind back to 1982. It was a time of rapid technological progress – the Commodore 64 was introduced, Microsoft’s first Flight Simulator was released, Silicon Graphics and Adobe were founded, Sony debuted the 3.5inch floppy and Tron transported audiences inside the machine. Such was the promise and impact of home computers that - at the year’s end - Time magazine hailed the home computer as the ‘machine of the year,’ in place of its annual ‘man of the year’ cover story. (Yes, man of the year. That didn’t change until 1999.)
This week’s Deals With Gold offers a selection of discounted Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles and downloadable content, featuring Capcom Vancouver’s survival horror Dead Rising 3, Insomniac Games’ third-person shooter Sunset Overdrive and Frima Studio’s couch co-op platformer Chariot.
Five downloadable Xbox One games and DLC have been reduced by up to 50 percent off, such as Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse Edition, Sunset Overdrive and Chariot. Discounted titles marked with an asterisk are only available for Xbox Live Gold members:
Scotty actor Simon Pegg will be givin' her all she's got, cap'n, behind the camera as well as in front of it on Star Trek 3.
Deadline reports that Pegg, who plays the USS Enterprise's chief engineer Montgomery Scott in the rebooted film series, will co-write the script with Doug Jung, the creator of the TNT series Dark Blue. The original Trek 3 script had been worked on by Roberto Orci, who dropped out of both directing and writing the film. (Patrick McKay and John D. Payne were also writers on Trek 3.)
Warner Bros.' Suicide Squad still needs to find their team leader.
Variety reports that Jake Gyllenhaal has passed on the role of Rick Flag, the field commander of the DC Comics supervillain team. The studio and director David Ayer, who had worked with Gyllenhaal on End of Watch, will continue their hunt for a replacement.