Comic Movie and Gaming Console news plus more Dead Space update

A few intereting tidbits is movie news:

  • Looks like director Robert Rodriguez (“Machete”) may not be the director afterall for the Ryan Reynolds ‘Deadpool’ movie spinning off of Wolverine.  Rodriguez cites a tight schedule with Spy Kids 4 and other commitments puts his timeline in jeapordy.
  • Speaking of Wolverine, it looks like the sequel has found a new director in Darren Aronofsky.  The sequel will be ‘somewhat’ based on Wolvie’s lore of finding love in Japan (sans Jean Grey).  Maybe we’ll see the Silver Samurai?
  • In more sequel news, it’s noted that Honathan Liebsen has signed on to direct the ‘Clash of the Titans’ follow up.  It appears that the sequel will be filmed in native 3D as opposed to the post conversion process of the first and filming will kick off in January.
  • Now that Pirahhna 3D is out, someone is making a Sharks 3D movie…*sigh*
  • Rumor has it that sunglass make Oakley will have a tie-in with Disney’s new TRON movie, meaning cool new glasses ala the game grid?
  • Major Nelson over at XBOX has revealed that a new XBOX 360 controller will be released in North America shortly with an enhanced D-pad.  This will make the pad more accurate for hard-core gamers that love their fighting games such as Street Fighter, but unless you’re one of those types of gamers, no real need for it.  Said to also launch in Europe most likely in Feb. 2011.  One draw back?  The cost.  It’s reported to have a U.S. street price of $64.99
  • Also, expect Xbox Live to raise the price on their Gold membership by $10 come November.  That sucks, but they site the cost and demand of delivering and maintenance on more streaming and enhanced content. Boo!
  • In funny news, a compnay going by the name of Mojowijo has developed and will be marketing/selling ‘sex toy’ attachments for the Wii controllers, taking advanatge of the vibration technology.  Somewhere, somehow, bluetooth will be involved, but really?  Is there really a need to turn your Wii remote into a sex toy? Why not use the billion other products or your electric toothbrush for that matter.

Now onto my Dead Space updates:

The book, ‘Dead Space: Martyr’ – As of this writing, I’ve had the novel for about 9 days now and am close to being 3/4’s done.  It is not what I expected at all, but intriguing none-the-less.  Overall the book is a bit slow, but the good news is the chapters are relatively small and makes for a swift and easy read.  It’s definently geared towards mature adults with the language and descriptions inside and weaves an origin story about ‘The Marker’ and the church of Unitology as depicted in the game.  As far as I can tell, The Marker, very similar to 2001’s Monolith is a device of alien origin that has the ability to drive people slowly insane, mad, and violent when exposed for lengths of time or in close proximity to it. 

Of course, enter the cliched scientist who is discovering teh real meaning behind it, and the cliched military man who has his own ideas for The Marker and you cover a good a portion of some sci-fi rehash.  That being said, it’s not a bad book.  I actually find the authors writings very clever and it appears he’s taken great thought and care into developing a story that will have a good payoff for Dead Space fans.  I’m having a hard time deciding how predictable the events within actually are.  I can see some of the elements a mile away, but how the author gets there still holds my interest, and even this far in, The Marker, and its symbols are just as mysterious to me the reader.

Now that game: Beginning with Chapter 4 & 5, I have noticed the game is indeed getting harder.  I still love audio, text, and video logs I’m picking up and really help to set the tone.  I’ve also picked up the ripper and contact rifle as weapons.  I find the ripper is good in tight quarters when low laying necromorphs are surrounding you from various angles at once, but it’s damn slow on the reload.  The contact gun on the other hand…..I’m having a hard tiem figuring out exactly what it does.  It has a low ammo capacity, and shots are either hard to come by in the wild or expensive at the store and I just haven’t figured out how to best use it.

I’ve found a few more schematics, but the best upgrade so far is to Suit #3 and extra oxygen capacity.  There were a few moments in both 4 & 5 where oxygen is key, so make sure you have at least one extra air canister on hand.  I’ve also been using teh med packs a bit more as well.  There is one baddy in general that shoots off a ‘spore’ to the ground, which in turn sprouts a tentacle, which in turns spits out a deadly projectile at you.  Those projectiles pack some punch, so make sure you are in run-n-gun mode, have extra health packs, and are willing to use stasis.  You need to take these out quickly, because if you don’t they tend to multiply and once that happens, you’re as good as dead.  The key here is to sever all the vital points of the creature generally stuck to the wall that spits them out.  I think there are 6 vital points that must be dealt with and through trial and error, I found the good old Plasma Cutter and Stasis combination do the trick.  There’s one sequence here that the creature is at the end of a long hall….you need to run up to it (not to close though as it can one-shot you and rip your head off in one strike), but close enough to use Stasis and then ‘aim’ for the six points.  This may take a few attempts.

One other part I found very difficult was the manual gunnery station against the asteroids using the rail gun.  There’s a sequence where you sit in a chair and take aim at asteroids headed to the Ishimura and you need to pulverize them into dust before they hit the ship and take out the armor and bulkheads.  Sufefr enough damage and you’re dead in a fireball sequence.  Suffice to say, your aim, even with an analog stick must be true on and fast.  If too many slip by, you’re toast and you can’t recover.  Thus far this was my most frustrating moment in the game.  The whole sequence takes about 1.5 minutes, but after the first 60 seconds, it seems like it takes forever.  I must have died at least 10x in a row before I made it, and I made it by the skin of my teeth.  It’s a fun part and a nice departure from the rest of the game but it’s a little agressive and I felt it out of balance (meaning more difficult than I think it should have been). 

Too put it in perspective the ‘boss’ sequence at the end of Chapter 5, I got on the first try (cryo freeze 2x) and run, where this mid-level challenge seems very unforgiving.

These last two chapters, 4 & 5, I was able to complete each in about 1.5 hours instead of 2.  So I’m starting chapter 6 with about 9 hours under my belt thus far.

Xbox 350 Iron Man mod

I don’t have a lot of information on this mod, but you must admit, it’s pretty sweet looking.

Zachariah Perry Cruse, a 19 year old sculpture student, is the video game-playing Tony Stark behind this mod, capturing the Iron Man essence (or at least color pallet) with red plastic, gold chrome, and blue LEDs. Good thing the real Iron Man can’t RROD.

Cruse put the mod up for auction on Ebay, where it currently stands at $300, with one bid. In the item’s description he covers the basics and also lets on that the Xbox’s 120GB hard drive bears a Stark Industries label. That, my friends, is attention to detail.

Comics: Ghost Rider #34

Ghost Rider #34

Ghost Rider #34

It’s been a long time since I reviewed any comics (so much going on), and I’m still a bit behind in my readings, but I wanted to take the time share my thoughts on Marvels latest incarnation of the Spirit of Vengeance, Ghost Rider.

The current series (believe it or not is credited as volume 6) has wrapped up it’s Zadkiel arc ending in #32, and it looks as if Danny Ketch now the Ghost Rider again and writer  Jason Aaron with artist Tony Moore perhaps may be taking the book in a new direction.

After the culimation of such a long and convulted Zadkiel arc, this issue is a self-contained ‘fun’ issue that just stars Danny Ketch in the title role what the reader can imagine as only a few days or weeks after the issue #32.  It’s a bit unclear the exact passage of time, but it isn’t central to this story.  Danny realizes he was duped as Zadkiel’s agent in rounding up and destroying all the other Ghost Rider’s around the globe, and only has a fraction of the power he just had. 

Here Danny runs across the path of a Hillbilly Trucker who made a deal with a devil to sell his own soul so that he could continue to compete in today’s job market.  I know, I know…it’s sounds very lame up front, but the origin of the Trucker is actually done pretty well and within only a few panels.  It reminds you of the old ghost stories you heard around the campfire as a little kid…a legend of horrific fun.

There is the obligatory fight between the Trucker (with his truck no doubt) and Ghost Rider.  The action is tight and fast and Tony Moore’s art is really done well within the panels.  When Danny turns into Ghost Rider, the artwork on this alone give a whole new realization of the transformation process and you can imagine how brutal it is on the human host. 

The fight itself needs to be understood as fun, because you’ll need to set aside a little realism when your eyebrows cock that an 18-wheeler rig has the same hadnling and pickup speed of Danny’s cycle.  If you can get past that, supernaturally powered or not, you’ll have a good time.  The ending is good and a bit of a throwback to the old 70’s style B horror movies, and there a little gem surprise in the ‘end credits’ if you will.  I won’t spoil it here, but there was a little easter egg on the very last page.

I give this issue a 4 out of 5 for its art and fun value.

Now putting all the above aside I have a gripe and a concern.  My concern is that I think the regular run of this series may be ending with issue #35, and then launch into a 6 part miniseries and may continue thereafter as a ‘mini-series’ typ eof title.  That bums me out, because Ghost Rider has so much potential, and has had some good history and creativity under it’s belt, but it just can’t seem to get traction over at Marvel for the long haul.  They try and try with this title and it inevitably gets cut way before its time.  Maybe this sould be a ‘Max’ title, or bi-monthly until readers can appreciate this cast of characters.

Now my gripe:  Volume 6 started with Johnny escaping from ‘the’ Hell itself and having to defeat ‘the’ Lucifer (i.e. Satan…the antithesis of God).  After the first year Johnny not only put the Devil down, he also goes toe-to-toe with the Hulk (see World War Hulk crossover) and hold his own.  Then somewhere around the Zadkiel arc starting up, Johnny teams up with multiple versions of GR from around the globe and get defeated by Zadkeil?  WTF?  So Johnny can beat Satan, but can’t beat Zadkiel with the helps of others?  So is Zadkiel more powerful than Satan, the father of all sin and evil?  Yeah, I know this is a comic, but something just doesn’t seem to jive here….How did Zadkiel outsmart both heaven and Lucifer and defeat so many other Rider’s.  If you’re going to go that route, then you need to retcon Lucifer or change the story outcome somehow….this just doesn’t work in the overall mythos of the Marvel Universe, and that of our own to boot.

The return of Captain America

Captain America, aka Steve Rogers

Captain America, aka Steve Rogers

Here is a story I copied from CNN:

NEW YORK (CNN) — Perhaps he should be called Captain Phoenix?

Rising from the dead after being killed off over two years ago, Captain America is being resurrected by Marvel Comics.

Though the circumstances of his return are being closely shielded, the star-spangled superhero returns July 1 in a five-comic-book series, “Captain America Reborn.”

A big-budget movie in development by Marvel is also expected in 2011.

After close to 60 years in print, Marvel Comics killed off Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, in 2007, one of its most famous and beloved superheroes, amid a controversial story line.

He fought and triumphed over Hitler, Tojo, international Communism and a host of super-villains, but a sniper’s bullet cut Captain America down in 2007, a move that shocked many of his fans.

“The reaction was amazing,” says Marvel Executive Editor Tom Breevort. “It certainly was like the world went crazy for three days. Everybody had a point of view about it, including fans who hadn’t read the comic for 30 years.”

In the comic series, Rogers was to stand trial for defying a superhero registration law passed after a hero’s tragic mistake causes a 9/11-like event. Marvel said the comic story line was intentionally written as an allegory to current real-life issues like the Patriot Act, the war on terror and September 11.

Rogers eventually surrenders to police. He is later mortally wounded as he climbs the courthouse steps. It was a violent and strange end for an American hero and icon.

The primary shooter, Crossbones — working under the orders of Captain America’s longtime nemesis, the Red Skull — was caught. The identity of a second shooter is revealed in issue 600, which goes on sale Monday.

Many felt Captain America’s death in 2007 was symbolic of the time. And his return now?

“The tenor of the world now is when we’re at a point where we want to believe in heroes. Someone who can lead the way,” said Breevort. “It just feels like the right time.”

Captain America first appeared in 1941, just as the United States entered World War II. He was a symbol of American strength and resolve in fighting the Axis powers.

As originally conceived by creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Rogers was born before the Great Depression in a very different America. He disappeared after the war and only reappeared recently in the Marvel timeline.

Keeping superheroes dead and buried does not come easy. Even Superman, who was killed off by DC Comics in 1993, came back to life a year later.

And what of Captain America’s sidekick, Bucky Barnes? After taking up the shield and mission of Captain America for the past year, it’ll be time to relinquish the mantle. Is there room for two sentinels of liberty? Stay tuned.

Kablam’s take:  Well it seems to be a bit more ‘in-vogue’ these days to kill off main comic book characters in what I can only imagine is some strange publisher reason to either A) shake things up, B) create a sales spike or collectors edition, C) introduce a sweeping story arc, or D) perhaps something else altogether.  But I think we all know that iconic comic characters always return.   However it does seem that DC uses this tactic a little more freely than Marvel does (Superman, Batman, Jason Todd, Hal Jordan, Wally West, Green Arrow, etc., etc., etc.).

The way that Marvel handled Cap’s death in my opinion was done very well, and Marvel has done a a very good job of keeping the Captain America title running for two years without Steve Rogers, and bringing up Bucky (aka Winter Soldier) as a credible replacement.  Marvel took it’s time and crafted a very well paced yarn spotlighting many of Cap’s supporting characters to help fill the void, and many of these characters got some nice attention.

But did Marvel bring back Steve Rogers too soon?  In my opinion, yes.  Although it has been two years in publishing terms, it has only been a few months in comic continuity with Steve really only missing the Skrull invasion.  With Bucky finally getting the traction and recognition of being the ‘new’ Cap and participating in Avengers story-lines, its my opinion again that they could have waited on Steve’s return a while longer.

I’d personally like to see Dark Reign playout with Norman Osborn and the continued development of new baddie The Hood and the return of Nick Fury to take shape in the Marvel universe and allow for some of these other B-string heroes get due attention as well.  We just saw U.S.Agent come back to the forefront, a new development in the Thunderboldts and Norman’s Avengers.  In the aftermath of Civil War, M-Day, and the Skrull invasion we’ve also seen the apparent demise of Carol Danvers and Dr. Strange in recent weeks.

Can we just slow down a tad?

Captain America is by far one of the most iconic and recognizable characters in Marvel and I think it would mean so much more to bring Steve back in a very epic way, when the time is right and readers really aren’t expecting it.  To bring him back after such a short time, and especially around the 4th of July just seems a bit cliche and underwhelming at this point to me, and thus diminishes the grandeur of Captain America.

Mickey Rourke as Whiplash

WhiplashCame across this photo earlier today with Mickey Rourke in costume on the set of Iron Man 2.  Note that his chest plate has a similar look to Tony Stark’s armor, as the technology is clearly based in the same roots.

Rourke plays Ruskie, Ivan Vanko who constructs his own suit to battle Iron Man.  Also expect to see Natasha Romonav, aka Black Widow, to also appear in the film. 

Perhaps Widow may even join The Avengers ensemble cast in a few years once Captain America and Thor movies drop.

Nick Fury x9. YaY, Sammy Jackson!

Nick Fury

Nick Fury

It appears Ultimate Nick Fury is back afterall, at least in celluloid form.

It is reported that Samuel L. Jackson has made a long-term deal for the role of Nick Fury in Marvel Studios many upcoming comics based films .

Jackson’s commitment to play Fury, the leader of the espionage unit S.H.I.E.L.D., contains an option to play the character in nine future Marvel superhero films.

These are expected to include “Iron Man 2,” “Captain America,” “Thor,” “The Avengers” and “S.H.I.E.L.D.” as well as potential sequels.

Jackson expressed displeasure with the studios initial offer to reprise his role which he played in the closing moments of “Iron Man”.

Ultimate Nick Fury no more at Marvel Studios?

Marvel's "Shaft"

Marvel's "Shaft"

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Samuel L Jackson may not be returning as Nick Fury in future Marvel movies as recent negotions have broke down.

Samuel first appeared in the hit Iron Man movie as the re-imaged version of Nick Fury from the Marvel ‘Ultimate’ Universe line of comics (traditionaly, the Nick Fury in the 616 universe has been white and previously palyed in a tele-movie by Dabid Hasselhoff).

It was believed that he woudl re-prise his role in Iron Man II, as well as the in-development Thor and Captain America movies that would eventually lead into the anticipated Avengers movie in coming years.

While Marvel Studios won’t comment on the status of ongoing negotiations, Sam was recently quoted as saying “There was a huge kind of negotiation that broke down.  I don’t know.  Maybe I won’t be Nick Fury.  Maybe someone else will be Nick Fury or maybe Nick Fury won’t be in it.  There seems to be an economic crisis in the Marvel Comics world so [they’re saying to me], ‘We’re not making that deal.'”

This story is interesting to me on two fronts: 1) Sam appearing as the Ultimate version of Nick Fury in the post credit scene of Iron Man was a fanboy moment and very exciting to see a man of Mr. Jackson’s calibre in that roll.  2) With the recent Secret Invasion arc taking place in teh 616 universe, Nick Fury has returned from his comics abscence as has been playing a prominent roll in the ongoing story of the Skrull invasion and been helming a new team of exciting new heroes which will only be fleshed out in the new Dark Reign arc just starting.  I expect to see much more focus on Nick Fury thsi coming year or so.