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: Batman Cacophony #1

Cacophony 1

Cacophony 1

I generally have a very favorable response to anything writer/director Kevin Smith touches.  I enjoy his movies immensely, although at times I find the abrasive language a bit much and sometimes overdone.  But when it comes to his comic book writing, who can deny that he helped re-elevate many DC and Marvel characters who seemed at one time very cool, but were losing their ‘it’ factor.

He helped me discover Daredevil when he took over the relaunch of that title years ago, and I still collect and read that avidly (of course M. Bendis has a lot to do with that today).  He brought Green Arrow back to the forefront of DC (although I’m not sue how that title is doing today).  And even the often delayed and criticized Spiderman & Blackcat series helped bring Felicia Hardy into her own again.

With that said I was excited to learn that Smith would be involved in a three issue series starring Batman, although I was a bit surprised Smith chose this character to tackle.  There’s been a lot of focus on Batman as of late with the Final Crisis/R.I.P storyline, All Star Batman project, Batman & The Outsiders (personal yawn), The Dark Knight movie this past summer, in addition to all the other Bat titles that DC is churning out.  I often think Batman is becoming DC’s own Wolverine….over exposed and involved in way too many titles to keep his continuity in check.

A Batman story needs to be impressive and handled well in my opinion to hold my attention, and to grab my $3.99 anymore, and I believe that Smith can usually turn out gold.  With what I personally think is becoming a fiasco over at DC with the very drawn out and sometimes confusing and continuity challenged chaos which is Final Crisis, I despretly want to like this book.

I just finished issue 1 (of three), and I’m happy to say I approve and look forward to the next two installments.  However, while it was indeed good, it was not ‘great’.

As always, Smith’s intricate dialogue and creativity are what help make this book such an enjoyable read.  Smith, like Bendis can tell a fun story with snippets of humor and dark and scary content and seem to blend the overall theme and direction fairly well.  That said, the initial setup with and backstory with the Joker and Deadshot was intriguing and a very fresh idea for once in the often rehashing of anything dealing with Arkham Asylum.  The interaction between these two is classic, both funny and disturbing at times.  However, the one gripe I have is the stated $20,000 a disgruntled guard agrees upon to sell all of Arkham’s secrets.  It should have been much higher, and the explanation as to why the guard was let go to begin with was a bit weak.

Smith’s prior creation, Onomatopoeia, also shows up to run interference with Deadshot.  Onomatopoeia, doesn’t talk, but instead, mimics the sounds of his surroundings and my first thought upon seeing his costume was a possible homage to Bullseye (Marvel).

The Joker is also portrayed a bit more disturbing than I remember him in the past, with some homosexual and necrophilia tendencies.  With Smith at the helm of writing, this doesn’t really surprise me too much, and adds an additional ‘creep’ factor to the clowned prince of crime.

There is a scene about half way through the book between Onomatopoeia and The Joker which seems to be the initial setup for act two and a hint towards Onomatopoeia’s motivations.

So by now you’re wondering, “Where is Batman in all this?”.  In an abrupt cut, Smith takes us to witness villain Zsasz commit a heinous crime, and once again Smith throws in a very disturbing moment in which Zsasz turns his back to the panel and commits self mutilation on what can only be suggested as his genatalia before Batman crashes in to take him down.   All in all, I’m not exactly sure what the point was in all this other than Smith wanting to inject a twisted moment into the book and shoehorn Batman in at this point.  It’s not that it doesn’t work and detracts from the overall story, but its placement and abrupt cut over to seemed a bit off.

That also goes for another character, Maximillian Zues, who is introduced to the story in another abrupt cut scene.  My first thought was “What?  Of all the characters to choose from, why Zues?  Well, I’ll just have to trust Smith to flesh this out in the next issue as only he can.  I just hope I won’t be scratching my head at the end of issue 2 as I am now. 

The pencils provided by Walter Flanagan also leave me a bit unsure how I feel in the end.  In some panels I think Flanagan did a fine job, especially with Jokers expressions and mannerisms.  Yet in others, the artwork felt simplistic and rushed and ‘under-developed’ like with Zsasz and Maximillian.

Overall, even with a few jarring interuptions in the flow of the book and inconsistent art, this is still a buy and already more cerebral than what happening over in Batman & The Oustiders…once a fine book that seems to have lost its way (already much like the newly revamped Titans)

Movies: Captain America possibly gets writers

captamerica1Scripters for the previously released “Narnia” films are in negotiations to script “First Avenger: Captain America” for Marvel Studios.  They are Christopher Markus and Stepehen McFeely.

Early information on the movie has Captain realizing his origin on becoming America’s first super soldier during World War II as he fights the Nazi’s and evil scientists.  The movie should close with Cap being put on ice as when the ensemble movie “Avengers” is released, it will be set in modern times, and of course, Captain America will be there.

Captain America is scheduled for a May 6, 2011 released.

Comics: G.I. Joe #0 (IDW)

Joe #0, Cvr A

Joe #0, Cvr A

Oh, boy.  Oh, boy.  Was I ever excited to walk into my local comic book store yesterday and pick up the teaser issue for the new G.I. Joe imprint from IDW Publishing.  There are two covers for issue #0: cover A and cover B.  Of course, for just $1 each, I picked them both up.

Issue #0 can be best described as a preview or introductory issue of things to come in a newly re-vamped G.I.Joe universe.  One thing you’ll note from the start is that classis Joe scribe from the original 1980’s Marvel version, Larry Hama is back.  He is re-envisioning the Joe universe into contemporary times and while it’s a fresh take on most of the character we all grew up with, he promises to add a few new ones in due time as well.  The biggest teaser Larry Hama indicated in a brief interview at the back of the issue was that he is creating a new bad guy that will even give Destro and Cobra Commander a run for their money.

It’s also promising to see a return, although again an updated look to their classic costumes.  While Devil’s Due did a makeover on some of the characters that were positive (Cobra Commander for one), other Joe’s looks took off in a completely other direction.  And clearly, there doesn’t seem much influence from the upcoming movie (2009) incorporated in their duds either.

But I was also happy to learn, there just won’t be one Joe title, but three.  One of them, G.I.Joe: Cobra will only be a 4 issue series however, but we’ll get to see things from the viewpoint of our favorite terrorist organization. 

Oh and Hama reports there will be no Cobra-La either.

Anyway, there are three seperate sneak previews contained within the issue…just enought to get you excited and the characters are pretty reconizable, although they’re all Joe’s…no Cobra’s.

I got the impression that the Devil’s Due run, especially the last 12 part arc ‘World War III’ will be ignored (thank God, as the series ended horribly) as this is a re-imagining of the franchise.  There were hints dropped that the Joe’s are just forming and just learning of Cobra.  To be honest, I am not exactly sure how I feel about that as there is some classic history and lore that I just won’t be able to dismiss that came out of the 80’s, and ever some decent arcs from Devil’s Due as well.

But all in all, the Joe franchise is back and I couldn’t be more excited.

Battlestar Galactica & Hulk come to Xbox

This past week, XBox Live announced that episodes of the late 1970 series “The Incredible Hulk” starring both Bill Bixby (Dr. Bruce Banner) and Lou Ferrigno as his alter ego (The Hulk) have been made available for download.

In similar fashion XBox Live has also stated that the original episodes of Battlestar Galactica (1978) have been available as well as well as the more recent Sci-Fi channel re-imagining of the series currently filming its final season.  The newer series is said to be available in both SD and HD flavors.  It is unclear if the dreaded Galactica 1980 is or weill be made available.  One can only assume the final season will be made available as well at a future date and the one-shot movie: Razor which featured the crew and adventures of the Battlestar Pegasus.

Comics: Mighty Avengers #15

Mighty Avengers 15

Mighty Avengers 15

I was thinking about writing in regards to Secret Invasion #3 when I happened to pick up MA #15 and was really impressed by the overall story and artwork.  I’m a big fan of John Romita Jr’s work…he has a very distinct style….some may say ‘blocky’ when it comes to character renditions, but for some reason I’ve always found it visually appealing.

It should be said that Romita is credited with the ‘breakdowns’ where two other artists do the ‘finishes’, but clearly John Romita Jr’s work beams through on most of the panels.

With that said, the story itself stood out as a great pre-cursor to Secret Invasion in just how the Skrulls were able to infiltrate and impersonate some our the Marvel Universe characters.  At first I thought this was a very unique take on the plot, but after thinking for some time, it dawned on me that one of the plot points was very similar to a scene within the Indiana Jones movie ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’.  See, in the comic a young, attractive female college student is seen sitting in the audience making goo-goo eyes to Dr. Henry Pym as lectures on genomes and physics.  In RotLA, a female college student makes goo-goo eyes to Dr. Jones as he lectures on archeology in a fairly like manner.

But that’s where the parallels stop.  In MA #15 we get a glimpse of the tenuous relationship between Hank and Janet (aka ‘Wasp’) as Janet comes home one night drunk where Henry is working in his study.  I must say, Janet was looking ‘pretty good’ in her disheveled state (messed up hair, blouse unbuttoned, etc.) and as far back as I can remember this was the first time I had empathy for Hank and why he ‘may’ have a tendancy to ‘snap’ at his on-again/off-again wife.  Clearly there are two sides to every story.

As Janet gives up and leaves, we advance a few days or perhaps even a week, and shockingly Dr. Pym is shown in some very risque panels with his female student.  While tastefully done, there is some amount of ‘teasing’ the reader on Dr. Pym’s adulterous behaviors.  There are some great moments all within a few pages which you can understand just how the Skrull’s learn the weaknesses of their targets.

Without giving away the ending or ‘spoiler’, let’s just say the transition of Hank Pym now makes sense if you are a reader of The Initiative and we get a clue to the larger puzzle of how the Skrulls were able to do what they did.

As a stand alone issue, Mighty Avengers #15 won a lot a favor in my heart,

X-Factor #1: Quick and the Dead

Pretty Boy PietroI was never too much a fan of the early X-Factor days.  I think the only issue I can recall is X-Factor #5 (Vol. 1) because this is credited as the first appearance of Apocalypse.  My friend Brian Liles actually bought this back issue for me as a birthday present years ago because he knew how much I liked Apocalypse.

As a matter of fact I really wasn’t into most of the X-titles as there were just too many of them, and in my personal opinion some of the storylines, and characters for that matter, were just plain crap and filler material that Marvel was cashing in on for anything that had a ‘mutant’ in it.

But when Peter David came aboard to relaunch the title (Vol. 3) in 2005, I’ve been an avid reader ever since.  I truly believe that Peter David is one of the most profound and intelligent comic crafter and story tellers of both sci-fi and comics genres.  If you ever get a chance, please read his Star Trek: New Frontier series or even his run on DC’s Aquaman (Vol. 5, 1994).  Mr. David carves out a unique niche in the X-verse (if you will) and gives so much more depth, personality, and motivations to the characters he touches moreso than anyone else in the current X-verse.

So here we have this one shot #1 issue.  I didn’t even realize it was a one shot when I picked it up.  I just saw the X-Factor logo and figured it was the next issue.  As a general rule, I stray away from one shots unless it has so much hype around it or is critical to another comic event that I would otherwise be lost without it.  Most of the time 1 shots are highly forgettable and generally just fluff.

Surprisingly this issue was a personal treat after I thought about it for some time.  See, Quicksilver has been more or less a prick since the events of M-Day in which he played a pivitol role.  His arrogance and warped sense of justification had him basically on the brink of being considered a villain one again and he gets to a point were he attempts to murder Layla Miller (she knows stuff) of the current X-Factor roster after hurting and killing others.

We pick up the story of Pietro in a jail cell, mumbling names to himself, in the fetal position.  For the first time in a long time I really had the sense of bing in Quicksilver’s mind, and Peter David is able to tell an incredible journey in just a few pages of his personal torment that has been plaguing Quicksilver the last few months.  He’s at one of his lowest points both emotionally and physically, having sporting brusies and cuts from a recent altercation.  He is visited by his sister, father, daughter, and lover in part of his broken psyche until he begins to see the error of his ways.  It’s these flashbacks of historical context and conversation in which Pietro begin to gain confidence once again in himself. 

From his jail cell he witnesses a man beating his girlfriend, and when no one comes to her aid or listens to Quicksilver, he finds the reserve of energy within him to reactivate his powers (perhaps they were never gone to begin with…he just shut down…not his powers) and busts out just in time to save her.  At this point the art work grows from small dark panels within the pages to larger and brighter artwork until there is one large 1 panel splash page about 2/3rds through, clearly showing a new and invigorated Quciksilver.

Using his super speed (though I always thought DC’s Flash speed powers were displayed better) he runs the world in a carefree manner until he launches himself off a mountain…..hits a plane in midflight….falls to the ocean….and is rescued by a passing luxury liner.   Okay, I know that last part seems a little gay, but through the thought balloons and artwork, it actually does gel.

So Quicksilver is free and a good guy again and only time will tell when he shows up again.

There is only so much you can do in one issue, and Peter David did a great job.   But, and I do mean BUT, there are other aspects that have yet to be explored?  So after the events of M-Day, does this new found confidence aleviate fim from any responsibility for the deaths and destruction he caused?  Will X-Factor, or especially Layla, forgive him?  Will the Avnegers and various mutants forgive him?  Eh…just seemed a little too neatly wrapped up there at the end and hoepfully will be explored more in depth later.  I hate when comics leave major chracters or major events surround certain characters shelved for no particular reason like a bad cliff hanger that we as a reader never get any resolution of and everybody just seems to move on.