Comic Reviews for late November.

The Flash 3. Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato.

Manapul’s and Buccellato’s Flash is one of the best titles to come out of DC’s New 52 initiative. The third issue further solidifies it among the very best books being published by ant company.

This issue picks up right where the last one left off, with Keystone and Central City in a mysterious blackout while the Flash ad his friend/partner Patty Spivot by to get to the bottom of a mystery involving Barry’s old friend Manual Lago.

The creators are telling their tale at a relaxed pace. Not that the Flash seems at all relaxed, he is in constant motion as the fastest man alive should be. However, they allow the central plot about Mob Rule and the blackout to move somewhat slowly as Flash deals with a multitude of smaller problems. Which allows the creators to experiment with how they show superspeed on the page.

That is where this book really shines. It is the perfect synthesis of art and writing. Better than any other comic out now, the Flash’s art and writing blend together to tell a story, which is what comics are supposed to do.

[****½]

Daredevil 6. Mark Waid and Marcos Martin.

Another great comic is Waid’s and Martin’s Daredevil. Like Flash, the art is superb. Marcos Martin is leaving after this issue (I believe) and he will be missed, even with the equally skilled Paolo Rivera is coming back on. It blends perfectly with Waid’s story. Daredevil again faces off with Bruiser. And again the way they show how Daredevil’s radar-like vision works is perfect comics. Bruiser’s powers are interesting, as is how Daredevil finally defeats him.

I do have some qualms about the story. It just seems too easy. I’m sure that this story will continue in a satisfactory manner, I have faith in Waid, but here the story seems to end just because the issue is ending. Also, there is little to no time for Matt Murdock in this issue. Still, it is a great read.

[****]

Quick Reviews:

  • Aquaman 3. Johns and Reis. Really good superhero stuff. [****]
  • Herc 10. Pak, Van Lente and Hahn. Marvel’s great Hercules saga ends with a dull thud. [**]
  • All-Star Western 3. Gray, Palmiotti, Moritat and Bernet. Not as good as previous issues, but still not bad. [***1/2]
  • Fury of Firestorm 3. Simone, Van Sciver and Cinar. The art is fine, the story should be better from this team. [**]
  • Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist 1. Trautman and Indro. Flash’s origin doesn’t really get to the good stuff. [***]
  • The Shade 2. Robinson and Hamner. Robinson’s return to Opal continues to shine. [****½]

 

 

 

NFL Picks Week 13 (And Last Week)

So last week I failed to get my picks posted. I did make picks, but what with Thanksgiving and having family around for the holidays I didn’t manage to get them up before the games. So I decided to just wait until this week to put up last weeks picks. Sure, I could have changed my picks, but since this is just for my own amusement there is no reason for me to cheat.

For last week:

Packers at Lions: Packers
Dolphins at Cowboys: Cowboys
49ers at Ravens: 49ers
Vikings at Falcons: Falcons
Browns at Bengals: Bengals
Buccaneers at Titans: Buccaneers
Panthers at Colts: Colts
Cardinals at Rams: Rams
Bills at Jets: Jets
Texans at Jaguars: Texans
Bears at Raiders: Raiders
Redskins at Seahawks: Seahawks
Patriots at Eagles: Patriots
Broncos at Chargers: Broncos
Steelers at Chiefs: Steelers
Giants at Saints: Saints

This week, I’m taking the upset special of Giants over Packers. The Packers are cruising, the Giants are desperate. I’ll roll the dice on desperate. Other than that I wanted to be crazy and pick the Colts over the Pats, but while I think the Colts will win at least one, it isn’t this one. I am going to ride the Tebow train.

Eagles at Seahawks: Eagles
Titans at Bills: Bills
Chiefs at Bears: Bears
Raiders at Dolphins: Raiders
Broncos at Vikings: Broncos
Colts at Patriots: Patriots
Bengals at Steelers: Steelers
Panthers at Buccaneers: Buccaneers
Jets at Redskins: Jets
Falcons at Texans: Falcons
Ravens at Browns: Ravens
Packers at Giants: Giants
Cowboys at Cardinals: Cowboys
Rams at 49ers: 49ers
Lions at Saints: Saints
Chargers at Jaguars: Jaguars

Week 11 results: 10-4
Week 12 results: 11-5

Total: 118-58

Like We Ever Left Dreamland

Some thoughts on Kirby: Return to Dreamland

As prevalent as Kirby games have been on Nintendo systems since the pink ball first appeared, it is amazing to think that Kirby: Return to Dreamland is his first main series console outing since 2000’s (I think) Kirby 64. Most of his games have been relegated to handhelds and even then were mostly remakes and offshoots. The few home games have been aberrations (Air Ride) or not really Kirby games at all (Epic Yarn, though it is delightful). For his first primetime outing in a decade, Kirby proves that he still has it.

Return to Dreamland is also a return to Kirby’s best game, Super Star on the SNES. Kirby’s trademark power-ups in both games have more than just one or two uses; most of them give Kirby an expansive new move set. It may take some time to learn how to use some of the powers, but for most of them, it is worth it. And the best always has been and always will be fighter, tied with parasol. While sometimes a specific power-up is needed, the game most fun when you simply chose a power you like and wreck the game with that. Another thing Return to Dreamland takes from Super Star, though admittedly it likely also takes it from New Super Mario Bros Wii, is the co-op mode. Four players can play simultaneously. While it is one of the games biggest draws on paper, it is mostly the games greatest failure.

Okay, maybe it’s not quite a failure, but 4 player is not as good as it could and should be. Disappointing is what I’d call it, especially compared to the madcap perfection of NSMBW. There a several problems in playing with more than 2 players. First, the screen is zoomed in too far, crowding the players into a tiny area. There is just not enough room for 4 characters. The second problem is the ability for players to ride on each other’s backs. Not that it is a bad idea, but it is way to easy to accidentally hitch on to one of your buddies, messing up some tricky platforming section. This is compounded by the zoomed in problem. The two together make 4 player a mess.

Kirby: Return to Dreamland falls just short of classics like Kirby Super Star and New Super Mario Bros Wii. It is still very good, and mostly enjoyable, but the aforementioned flaws–and a few others like the shared life pool–make merely a very good game instead of a great one. It does capture that wonderful joy that is inherent to the Kirby series, easy to beat but hard to master and fun for everybody. It just further cements the Wii as the best system for Nintendo games since the SNES.

It is Time to Meet Them

The Muppets Review

I saw The Muppets last week. You should do the same. It is a terrific movie, even for those who are not already fans of the Muppets. It manages to both cash in on viewers nostalgia while still offering something new.

Some of the new additions to the Muppets world are this movie’s main characters: brothers Gary and Walter, as well as Gary girlfriend Mary. While these characters eat up a lot of screen time, they never feel obtrusive. Rather than pull attention away from the real stars, Kermit and Piggy and Fozzie, they offer new viewers a lens in which to view the old beloved characters. Gary and Walter love the Muppets, and they help show new viewers that they should love them too. It is especially amazing how likable Walter is, considering he is a new Muppet made just for the movie. He could have been the Scrappy Doo of the movies, but his sunny optimism and suitably reverent of the true Muppets that he is a wholly welcome addition.

The movie plays off the fact that the Muppets have been largely out of the spotlight for most of the last decade or so. In the movie they have been broken up as well. Their triumphant return to movie theaters is also a triumphant return in the movie. At the behest of Walter and to save the old Muppet theater, Kermit tries to get the band back together for one last show.

As they travel the country to collect the troupe and prepare for the show, the jokes and bits start coming fast. Not all of the jokes hit, but they move on so fast soon there will be one that if hilarious. Some are great, like Fozzie;s fall to performing with the knock-offs the Moopets and Rolf’s tale. The musical numbers are also largely great, though it doesn’t appear that Jason Segel can dance even a little.

It is a celebration of the Muppets, but also a reintroduction. The movie doesn’t just look back on the Muppets and their history, but it does in a way that welcomes new fans to the fold, not excluding them for not being familiar with the past. As long as the viewer has no preconceived notions about musicals or puppets, The Muppets is sure to entertain. It is certainly more sweet for old fans of the Muppets, though. Whoever your favorite Muppet may be (mine‘s Rowlf), they will get a moment or two to shine. Unless your favorite is Rizzo the rat, who barely appears. I was flooded with warm memories of the Muppets upon watching this, and most of my Muppet related memories are about Muppet Babies.

This is the best family movie of the year, and one of the best movies of the year period. It manages to be funny without being insipid or vulgar, something not many movies accomplish. The Muppets will entertain kids without talking down to them and entertain adults without seeming childish. It is really, really good.