Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review - Dark Souls 2: Crown of the Iron King DLC

In Dark Souls 2, the areas where there are some environmental variables that impact your character's health are some of the more trying. One such area was the Iron Keep. The area was rife with molten lava, flame-spitting statues and rotating platforms. You may think one visit to the area was enough, but From Software doesn't seem to think so. The second DLC for Dark Souls 2 sends players to the sweltering landscape for the Crown of the Iron King. We checked out the DLC on Xbox 360, courtesy of a review code sent by Bandai-Namco.

Rumble #1 Means War

Earthquakes are typically preceded by (and accompanied by) rumbles. Ground stirs that alert you that something isn't quite right and you should brace for something bad. John Arcudi and James Harren want Image Comics to warn readers about impending rumbles in Rumble #1, a new ongoing series launching December 17. In it, a scarecrow—a warrior scarecrow god called Rathraq, that is—walks into a bar...and it’s all downhill from there. After a long absence, Rathraq is back and very unhappy. This is bad news for his old enemies, yes, but even worse news for everyone else, including bartender Bobby LaRosa who finds himself caught in the chaos.

“Rumble is not just fantasy, not just action, not just drama, or not just humorous, you know?" said Arcudi. "That’s too limiting. That’s not how we live. You wake up happy, then something happens that messes up your whole day (of course, in the case of Rumble, that ‘something’ just so happens to be a giant sword-wielding scarecrow and some monsters), but you still manage to have a laugh that night. What I like about this book is that any character can have a day like that. Any of them, human and non-human."

“James’s art allows us to go in all the directions the story needs to go," added Arcudi. "Nobody draws ferocious action the way James does. Monsters smashing each other’s heads in, that’s in the book, and James kills on it! But he also can set a spooky mood, and while his idea of what’s ‘funny’ is rather bizarre, that’s exactly what the book needs!”

Rumble is a modern-day action fantasy series where rundown dive bars, undead kitty cats, psycho skinheads, and giant mummies run amok. Rumble #1 will be available on December 17 and can be pre-ordered with Diamond Code OCT140580. Full press release below.

Valiant Offers Humble Bundle to Benefit Doctors Without Borders, The Hero Initiative and CBLDF

Humble Bundles have a way of being awesome for multiple reasons. The first is you get a ton of great stuff. The second is you get to name your price. And the third is that part of your payment goes to some really great causes. Take Valiant Comics for instance. Their recently launched Humble Valiant Bundle will offer up more than 120 issues of their books to interested parties. A special one-time offering loaded with collections of Valiant's best-selling series and online debuts, customers purchasing the Humble Valiant Bundle can choose to benefit three vitally important charities – Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the Hero Initiative and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF).

"The Humble Valiant Bundle is by far one of our proudest achievements," said Gavin Cuneo, Valiant’s CFO and Head of Strategic Development. "While this is a fantastic opportunity for readers to access the Valiant Universe, what makes this partnership so important is the support it provides to three incredible charities with crucial missions in comics and around the world. Each of the organizations – Doctors Without Borders, the Hero Initiative, and the CBLDF – serves an incredibly important cause, and finding a way to further their missions with the support of Valiant's fans around the world was just too good to pass up."

The Humble Valiant Bundle features a longbox-busting digital library of 24 graphic novels and collections and spans all of Valiant's most popular superhero titles – including X-O Manowar, Archer & Armstrong, Harbinger, Bloodshot, Quantum and Woody and more. With a total retail value of more than $420, the Humble Valiant Bundle is the single biggest comics offering ever presented by Humble Bundle. Featuring work by an all-star cast of top talents – including writers Joshua Dysart, Matt Kindt, Bob Layton, Jim Shooter, Fred Van Lente and Robert Venditti, alongside artists Doug Braithwaite, Clayton Crain, Cary Nord and more – the Valiant Humble Bundle is the perfect place to discover why Valiant continues to win over fans and critics around the world with high quality storytelling and outstanding artwork.

Fans can name their price to receive the first two volumes of X-O Manowar, Archer & Armstrong, Quantum and Woody, Harbinger and Unity. Plus: get the classic Shadowman video game as an extra-added bonus. Contribute more than the average price to get even more of Valiant's blockbuster publishing line with the first two volumes of Bloodshot, Shadowman and Eternal Warrior – plus the first volume of Rai and Harbinger Wars. For $15 or more, Valiant will open the vaults and unleash the entire Valiant Masters digital series, showcasing the legendary origins of one of the greatest universes in comics. Re-presenting the original adventures of Ninjak, Rai, Bloodshot, Shadowman and H.A.R.D. Corps – plus a Humble Bundle-exclusive Valiant Masters volume of classic X-O Manowar not available in print – the Valiant Masters series celebrates Valiant's historic legacy, and include dozens of pages of rarely seen bonus materials and special features.

The Humble Valiant Bundle runs for two weeks beginning Wednesday, September 17, 2014 and ends Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 11 AM PDT. Full press release below.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

I often find that even if you’re a hardcore "go team Spike"/"Angel sucks" type who can’t stand this guy, Angel has managed to at least earn his viewers' begrudging respect by the end of the show. A friend of mine once related Buffy and Angel to chess. They commented that in Buffy’s game, she’s one of the most powerful pieces on the board. Angel? It seems like he’s a much smaller piece on his board, but he’s playing in a much bigger game. The goal for Angel always seems to be to be striving to see more of the bigger picture.

See--and this is going to be a radical statement--but Angel seems, to me, like the most heroic social worker the world has ever known.

Review - George Pérez’s Sirens #1

"It's working! I'm getting full readings on the Sirens! Positive scans all around."

The question of whether or not intelligent life exists beyond the stars is one that may never have an answer. Sure, we'll keep looking, but we may not like what we find. For instance, if we just so happen to realize that there are a group of women out there from various eras who come together as an intergalactic fighting squad, we may not know what to do with ourselves. That makes reading George Pérez’s Sirens #1 from BOOM! Studios even more important. The issue is written and illustrated by George Pérez, colored by Leonardo Paciarotti and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.

The Wicked + The Divine Prepares for Second Arc

The Wicked + The Divine is a pretty intense look at immortality and where it crosses paths with popularity. To this point, the Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie collaboration about gods being briefly reincarnated as pop stars before dying has had some interesting storylines. Like all good things though, The Wicked + The Divine is preparing to come to an end. Well, the first arc is at least and the creative team is excited for the changes coming about in The Wicked + The Divine #6.

"With the first arc, we wanted an intense, classic comics' build, rising towards the fifth issue as this big, earthquake-sized heart-attack climax,” said Gillen. “Our second arc—FANDEMONIUM—is different. It's a line of chasers on the bar, each a micro-nuke cocktail, served with a wink and distilled for concentrated effect. The first arc was a week or so in the gods' two-year lives. In the second arc, each issue is separated by a whole month and focuses around a single gathering of fans. Time's running out. Time's always running out."

The Faust Act is over. Welcome to Fandemonium. The second arc of The Wicked + The Divine begins with issue #6 in its traditional manner (i.e. a ludicrous pun) and something like “nothing will ever be the same again.” But if you think about it, you can say that about literally everything, ever. Also, some comic story. Probably. it hits stores December 17 and can be pre-ordered using Diamond Code OCT140611. Full press release below.

Dynamite Launches Lady Demon

Way back in the day in the 90s, things were different. Kriss Kross made us jump, jump. AOL became forever synonymous with an obnoxious, chirping sound. And Lady Demon was the vivacious and vicious hellraiser who served as a cornerstone of the Chaos! Comics horror universe. It's been a while, but now she's returning, courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment, Aaron Gillespie and Mirka Andolfo. Lady Demon #1 is scheduled for a December release and will feature a wealth of comic book cover options, including those by artists Joyce Chin, Mirka Andolfo, Allison Sohn, Cat Staggs, Cedric Poulat and Mike Mayhew.

"Lady Demon is the natural choice for the next Dynamite / Chaos! character," says Aaron Gillespie, whose Lady Demon series runs concurrently alongside his in-universe Purgatori series. "She brings the same delightfully nasty attitude and alluring visual aesthetic as the other Chaos mainstays, but she adds an action element that will be unique to her book. While the other Chaos books dealt with world-ending battles and intricate plots, the Lady Demon miniseries focuses on the woman Lady Demon possessed. I am using Lady Demon to tell a violent, sexy, and still very human story of revenge and redemption."

The original Lady Demon won legions of fans with her spitfire attitude and sultry looks in the original line of Chaos! Comics titles during the 1990s. Now, as Dynamite Entertainment revives the brand with a bold new look and attitude (with such bestselling comic series as Chaos, Evil Ernie, Purgatori, Chastity and more), Lady Demon debuts her new incarnation in her very own title. The solicitation for Lady Demon #1 sets the stage: "On the run from Lucifer's hit squad, Lady Demon rides a newly arrived soul back to earth. Little does she know, the soul is attached to a woman in the middle of a dark conspiracy. That suits Lady Demon just fine... because it means she gets to kill a whole lot of people."

"Fans have been asking about Lady Demon since before our first Chaos! book even hit shelves," says Nick Barrucci, Publisher and CEO of Dynamite Entertainment. "We knew from the start that we had to bring her back in a special way, and now the time has finally arrived. We've been so pleased with the work that our many Chaos! contributors have done, Aaron Gillespie and Mirka Andolfo included. Aaron's been delivering month after month on Purgatori, and Mirka's artwork on the world-building (and world-destroying) Chaos miniseries was spectacular. We can't wait for fans to see what these two have planned for Lady Demon."

Lady Demon #1 will be solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors' October Previews catalog and slated for release in December. Comic book fans are encouraged to reserve copies of Lady Demon #1 with their local comic book retailers. Lady Demon will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, iVerse, Dynamite Digital, and Dark Horse Digital. Full press release below.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Following in the Footsteps of Batman

Brandon Engel (@BrandonEngel2 is a big fan of the comic books. He lists Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Batman (particularly the Dennis O'Neil/Neal Addams stuff from the seventies) and Empire of the Dead among his favorite books. Seeing as how Batman is up there, it makes sense that Engel would write about the longevity of a character like Batman.

Ask three different people why they love Batman and you’re likely to get three different responses. That, in and of itself, is a testament to what makes the character great.

The old Bat is 75 now. Let’s think about what this means for a second: in the eighties, when Frank Miller released his Dark Knight Returns series, the character would have been probably in his fifties or sixties. Twenty years prior, the television show featuring Adam West parodied the older comic books and the old Batman film serial from the forties. This means that Batman is so old, that he already felt dated to kids growing up in the sixties and that the notion of Batman being old and returning to his former glory is a concept that has been visited and revisited time and time again over the course of the past thirty years.

Review - Criminal Macabre: The Third Child #1

"The world thinks they love monsters."

The things that go bump in the night do so in an attempt to scare everyone else. And for the most part, they do a pretty good job of it. That's why it's important that humanity has defenders like Cal, even if he is losing a little bit of that humanity. Criminal Macabre: The Third Child #1 from Dark Horse Comics offers a glimpse into his rapidly fraying world. The issue is written by Steve Niles, illustrated by Christopher Mitten, colored by Michelle Madsen and lettered by Nate Piekos.

Dynamite Annoucnes Death of Apollo

All good things must come to an end. Sooner or later, even those characters we know and love meets their proverbial maker. In December, Dynamite Entertainment is ending the career (and life) of one of the more fiery characters in Battlestar Galactica in Apollo. In Battlestar Galactica: The Death of Apollo, Dan Abnett and Dietrich Smith can be blamed for the heartwrenching chronicle of the iconic Viper pilot's last days -- an event hinted at during official TV series continuity but never before revealed.

"During one of our editorial meetings, it came to light that Apollo -- whom many would consider to be the very soul of the original BSG series -- had died tragically off-screen in-between the 1978 and 1980 Galactica shows," says Nick Barrucci, Dynamite Publisher and CEO. "We realized that we had not just an opportunity, but a responsibility to the fans, to shed light on the character's noble sacrifice. The first person who came to mind to write such an important story was Dan Abnett. Thankfully, he agreed and turned in an amazing pitch. The term 'blaze of glory' cannot even begin to describe what Dan Abnett and Dietrich Smith have planned for the Galactica's favorite son."

When Battlestar Galactica first captured the hearts of sci-fi fans in 1978, the bold starfighter pilot Captain Apollo stood out as the central character of the series, defending the fleet from the Cylon menace as deftly portrayed by actor Richard Hatch. After the original series came to an end in 1979, the sequel series Galactica 1980 continued the tale of the nomadic fleet, but set years after the events of the previous run. Captain Apollo was no longer a member of the cast, and in-story dialogue strongly implied that the implacable hero had met his demise in the intervening years. Dynamite Entertainment, for the first time ever, fills in the gap between Battlestar Galactica and Galactica 1980 which officially reveals the fate of the beloved character.

The solicitation for Battlestar Galactica: The Death of Apollo #1 sets the stage for the action of this milestone event: "The fleet has been travelling for years, and at last the human survivors seem to be leaving the war and the Cylons behind them. But the threats never go away. A voice from the past and a bizarre twist of fate leads Galactica into danger once again, and events will take place that will change everything forever."

Battlestar Galactica: The Death of Apollo #1 will be solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors' October Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty marke, and slated for release in December. Battlestar Galactica: The Death of Apollo will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, iVerse and Dark Horse Digital. Full press release below.

Harbinger: Faith #0 Flies High in December

One-shots are quick looks at rather familiar characters. Sometimes though, the characters aren't exactly familiar, but only somewhat known. This December, Valiant is tapping Joshua Dysart and Robert Gill to introduce readers to Faith. Not Faith of Whedonverse fame, but Faith of Harbinger: Faith #0. And the one-shot gives readers a chance to discover how Harbinger's high-spirited teenage fangirl went from the heart and soul of Peter Stanchek's teenage Renegades to the newest member of the world's most elite super-team.

"She may not be physically strong, or brilliantly tactical, but her emotional intelligence and psychological strength are unparalleled among the other Renegades," said Dysart. "I think some part of her understands that her light is needed even more in a world where you can lose your friends and face down horrible swarming alien insects. I think she sees a dark and violent world all around her and instead of that corrupting her, it reinforces her. Again, there’s a hint of that in this issue, but it’s also about a question we all ask ourselves, where do we go from here?"

Her first and only boyfriend to date is a little bit of a douche, her friends are all gone, and, after her insane adventure in Mexico City, Faith Hebert is feeling a little frustrated with the direction of her life. She’s just a normal super-powered young woman in an increasingly crazy world. Here’s the story of a true innocent and a kind heart in a hard world. From the comic shop of her youth to the moment she found out that she was actually light as feather, Zephyr is the western wind. Warm and kind, she blows across us all.

Harbinger: Faith #0 features covers by Joe Quinones, Lucy Knisley and Brian Level. It'll hit stores this December as one of the most unique, most sincere super-heroines anywhere in comics today takes on her very first solo adventure. Full press release below.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Review - Purgatori #1

"It is high time we humble this prisoner."

When you spend your lifetime as a feared goddess, you make a lot of enemies. A LOT of enemies. Those enemies tend to hold grudges, so when they get your hands on you it's not going to be good. Purgatori is a character who's always gotten her way. That's about to change in Purgatori #1 from Dynamite Entertainment, written by Aaron Gillespie and illustrated by Javier Garcia Miranda.