Sunday, May 31, 2009

Double Shot Anime Review: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 23 & 24

Ep. 23 - "Schneizel's Mask"

With Nunally shown to be alive in the last episode it was no surprise that Super Maid survived. Still it was nice to see her return and continue to be loyal to Lelouch to the end.

As for Nunally, while her reappearance was surprising and was effective in shaking Lelouch's confidence it kind of feels like they brought her back to late in the game and I thought her death like Euphy's death affected Suzaku in the first season Nunally's death served as the final motivation Lelouch needed to strike out on his own and continue to make the world better. But now that she is back I feel bad for the kid as she has always been used against Lelouch to shake his confidence. It kind of feels like her character just has not grown since the beginning and it is to bad because I did like her character, and still do, but since she has not really had much character growth like Lelouch, Suzaku, Kallen, and C.C it seems like she is only steps back instead of forward compared to the others.

Still I did like Lelouch and Nunally's confrontation as it helps to show that Lelouch is not a villain as he has shown to the whole world but that, like with what he said to Kallen in the last episode, he needed everyone close to him to not be by him as he is going to a place that he will not be able to return from. And with how vulnerable he was shown to be in front of Suzaku and C.C. and then later alone with C.C I continue to wonder what exactly the Zero Requiem plan and if it means that he will get the happy ending that he deserves with his sister.

Also while the quick montage in the beginning of the episode served as a nice calm before the storm it is the kind of scene(s) that show the creators are rushing to the end. Instead of showing us what these characters are saying to one another and giving them so much needed moments to show there motivation they aren't and only Lelouch, Suzaku, C.C and Schneizel are the only one's getting there moments to shine. Also I got to say that the "death" of Cornelia at the hands of Schneizel doesn't help to make him a bigger villain than his father was and I kind of see it as a pointless death.

Speaking of this rush am I the only one finding myself hating the Black Knights, especially Ohgi, more and more with each episode since they betrayed Lelouch. They continue to look like a bunch of little kids that had their toys taken away with the lame excuse that they are not puppets to be manipulated when that is exactly what they are as they allow Schneizel to control them. And it seems that the writers are scared to piss of any fans by killing off any of the major characters as the battle by Mt. Fuji would have served as a perfect time to kill some of the characters that could have help motivate some of the other characters during the war

But I will say I did like the chess match between Lelouch and Schneizel but this time instead of chess pieces they are using actual Knightmare Frames. It is this type of strategy battle that shows the difference between Code Geass and your typical mecha animes (cough*Gundam*cough). The little strategy made the battle even more dramatic when it came to all of the Knightmare Frames to finally starting to fight and I loved seeing that Lelouch never stopped thinking and was prepared for anything as he set up Mt. Fuji to erupt. It was a cool move that sets up the final battlefield for the last two episodes.

Episode Rating - 8.3/10

Ep. 24 - "Sky of Damocles"

After the last episode I started thinking why is it that I have not been enjoying these past few episodes of R2. The thing I keep going back to is that each episode feels rush but now with this episode I finally figured out why I have not liked the previous episode as much as season 1: fan-service. I am not talking about naked anime chicks but that this series is trying to make fans of each character happy by not killing them off. In one episode we think one character is dead but then in the following episode they turn out to be alive and well, except for Euphy and the Emperor (so far), which is what happens here as we find out Cornelia and Gilford are alive. Then you add the massive amount of characters there is on this series it only makes it harder to juggle all these characters which is what the creative team are trying to do which makes R2 rush to the end. I will probably mention it again in the last episode next week.

Outside of the annoy thing of the creative not having grown a pair and actual kill off characters the other complaint I have is that after everything the writers did a very bad job with convincing me that Schneizel was a good end boss for Lelouch to face. After everything I would have much rather prefered Lelouch's father to have been the end boss as he was build up for that and Schneizel wasn't until these past few episodes. If anything Schneizel only seemed to prove a minor annoyance as Lelouch was quickly able to defeat his big brother. But now I guess that Schneizel is taken care of I guess Nunally will serve as the end boss for Lelouch as she holds the key to the FLEIJA bombs.

Still the one thing I found odd is that Lelouch did not tell Schneizel to obey him like he has done to everyone else he has putting under his control but instead he told him to obey Zero which even though Schneizel knows he was Zero Lelouch isn't that character anymore. Odd and I wonder how that will play into what will happen in the end.

I got to say that I did like how Lelouch treated Diethard in his last moments. It was great to see a character that was never looking out for anything but creating a story of a God. Diethard was probably that I never really like and it was great to see Lelouch pay the ultimate disrespect to him by saying that he was not even worth using his Geass on. That was the ultimate burn.

I did like the battle between Lelouch's two "girlfriends." While it was clear that Kallen would easily beat C.C. it was a nice show of how far both characters have come from how they portrayed themselves at the beginning of the series. Both Kallen and C.C. were harsh characters, C.C. moreso, with hard exteriors but now both characters have become much more emotional due to their relationship with Lelouch. It was interesting seeing how C.C. actually said she actually cared about winning and then saying that Kallen wins. It probably will be taken in many ways for those pairing fans and I guess the fight was more for them than anything else.

Also it was cool seeing Lelouch and Suzaku teaming up together to destroy the FLEIJA bomb before it exploded. It was a great moment and showed that even though these two were enemies for the whole series when they work together they make an excellent team. The best part of the team-up was seeing how Lelouch was able to make all of the calculations needed to make the plan work in such a short time. It continues to show how smart he is and that in the end with how he beat both his dad and Schneizel that he is probably the smartess person in the series.

And it was interesting that Lelouch told Lloyd, Cecile, and Sayoko to free the UFN leaders and to tell the Black Knights he forced them to work for them. It is clear that this was all part of that Zero Requiem plan he came up with and it will be interesting to learn what the Zero Requiem actually is as we still have no clue other than it involving Lelouch pushing everyone closest to him away for the plan to succeed.

Overall this was a good episode, though just not as good as the previous episode, that builds the final confrontations between Lelouch and Nunally and the final battle between Suzaku and Kallen. If anything else the final episode of R2 should be one hell of an end that will either piss me off or think this was a great series and ending.

Episode Rating - 7.7/10

Also I just wanted to add that for the final episode I think I will try and catch it during the first showing and Twitter throughout the episode so if you watch this series and have a Twitter be sure to log on to twitter about the episode.

Double Shot Anime Reviews: Bleach 120 & 121

Ep. 120 - "Hitsugaya scatters! The Broken Hyōrinmaru"

Coming back to the action we are treated to another quality episode of Bleach. It is interesting that unlike Ikkaku fight with Edorad were it had a whole episode focused on it this episode focused on Hitsugaya, Renji, and Matsumoto's fights with there Arrancar. Still this did not take away from the episode and actually added some nice suspense as they were getting their assess handed to them while having to wait for approval to release their limiters.

One of the things that I continue to enjoy about this new arc is the music playing during the fights. They have a nice Spanish feel to them and adds to the suspense of the fights. Also it makes the releases of each Arrancar even better and the animation crew have done a very good job capturing all of the Arrancar's releases.

The only complaint I have with this episode is that I remember Ururu's fight with Illfort to have been much more violent in manga than it was here. Though it was cool seeing Ururu enter her Anti-Soul Reaper mode it felt that they were holding back with the violence as her fight with Illfort could have had some potential to be more violent than it was.

Still that is a minor complaint and it was fun seeing how Hitsugaya, Renji, and Matsumoto struggled in their fights. For Hitsugaya, Renji, and Matsumoto there fights seem to humbled as they were barely able to survive long enough to get there releases to fight at full power approved. Especially for Hitsugaya who is suppose to be a mid-tier Captain in the Soul Society his struggle with Shawlong shows that even the Captain's in the Soul Society need to do some trainning if they are to beat the Espadas who are on a whole nother level than the Arrancars he struggled to survive against.

While not on the same level as the Ikkaku vs Edorad fight this was still an entertaining episode. And the ending with Ichigo, Hitsugaya, Renji, and Matsumoto going full power was a great way to end the episode and I can't wait to see the next action-packed episode.

Episode Rating - 8.4/10

Ep. 121 - "Clash! The Protector vs. The Bearer"

Huh, that's interesting in the last episode of the first Shinigami vs. Arrancar fight is when we get a new intro song. While I was expecting a new intro I didn't think we were going to get one until after these fights were over. Still the new intro does a nice job building excitement for the episode and a preview to some characters we are going to see a lot more off down the line.

Starting from were the previous episode left off Hitsugaya, Renji, and Matsumoto release their limiters and fight at 100% of their power. It was a nice way to turn the tide of the fight and it was cool seeing Renji's finisher for his bankai being used for the first time it was definitely powerful and gives his bankai some much needed power as it has only been used for defense and physical attacks up to now. Also this battle with the Arrancars was probably the most humbling for Hitsugaya with even being in bankai he was still severely injured by his opponent. It makes me wonder that how far apart are the Captains in the Soul Society and the Espadas are in terms of power.

One thing I was surprised about was how violent the animators were able to make Ichigo's beating at the hands of Grimmjow look. After what seemed like a tamer version of Ururu's fight in the last episode I wasn't expecting this part of the episode to be as violent. Still it made the moment were Ichigo launched his Getsuga Tensho even more effective and seeing how little it actually hurt Grimmjow gives us an example of the power discrepancy between him and Grimmjow. And this serves as the final step in Ichigo having to go to Shinji and his group of Vizards as he is unable hold his inner hollow back.

Overall this was a good episode and sets of for Ichigo, his friends, and all of the Soul Reapers to have to go through some intensive training in order to fight the Espadas that they are sure to face in the near future. Even the comedy with Keigo's sister was well done and gave this episode a light moment in between all the dark stuff going on in this episode. Hopefully all of the action we got in these past few episode does not mean that the following episodes will be slow episodes which is something the anime has done a lot of after heavy action oriented episodes.

Episode Rating - 9/10

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Legen-wait-for it-dary Comic Book Highlights of the Week 5/21/09

While I was able to review Battle for the Cowl #3, Bleach, and Code Geass here at the Legacy and post reviews for the Comic Book Cartoons and Superman/Batman #60 over at the Rokk's Comic Book Revolution I wasn't able to find time the past few days to post reviews here for the other comics I got this past week. I've been busy working on this redevelopment project the past few days so I haven't found the time to do much blogging after Memorial Day. Still I thought I would post the weekly comic book highlights of the week though I should be able to post reviews next week and I'm thinking of reviewing the first part of "American Son" from Amazing Spider-Man. Also before going into the highlights for the week I thought I share a cool thing I saw yesterday while driving home: Optimus Prime on the Luxor Casino.

I was a bit surprising seeing Optimus their promoting the upcoming movie as it was the first time I saw it and I just wondering how long its been up their for. Anyways here are the comic book highlights for this week:

Cover of the Week: Superman/Batman #60
I really like Francis Manapul work and I thought he did a great job with this cover and I like the little touch of Batman's cape having Gothropolis on it.

Amazing Spider-Man #594 Highlights
Spider-Man pulls of his best Daredevil impersonation as he allows his Spider-Sense let him know were the new Vulture will attack from.

I guess this is the marriage that is being advertised in the future issues of Amazing Spider-Man. I wonder since Aunt May has always been like a mother to Peter doesn't this marriage make Peter and J. Jonah Jameson Jr. brothers now? I hope the marriage does happen just to see how Peter and JJJ Jr. interact as brothers.

I am really excited for "American Son" and can't wait to see Spider-Man finally tackle his number one villain now in control of all of the security for the United States.

Battle for the Cowl #3 Highlights
Hm, so with so many heavy hitters they still can't fight off a gang war that is against mostly villains and gangs with no superpowers.

This dialogue was probably the best dialogue Tony Daniel provided in the whole mini-series.

I still don't get why it wasn't Two-Face or Penguin who blew up Gotham City as Black Mask didn't appear much for supposedly being the villain of the series, or at least second villain.

Even though I still question the move to make Daniel the writer of the series I love all of his artwork for this series and that is one of the things I would not question is the man art abilities.

So I guess this is were the Robin mantle switches hands right.

Here it is three issues to get to the outcome most, if not all, Batman fans predicted: Dick Grayson as the new Batman and Damien Wayne as the new Robin.

Captain America #50 Highlights
What better way to spend your birthday than being chased by guys on rocket packs while shooting rockets at you.....

how about being attacked by Nazis on your 18th birthday.

Even though this was mostly a filler issue it was nice to see Bucky get a nice moment with his new family.

Just an example of the phenomenal work by Marcos Martin. Marvel needs to put Martin on the Avengers or another Spider-Man story.

Superman/Batman #60
Interesting combinations to create the Justice Titans.

Well at least we learn their names, to bad other than Night Lantern the Justice Titans weren't given much dialogue in this issue.

It was obvious we would see an amalgam of Lex Luthor and Joker but Manapul does great work with the character design.

Wolverine: Weapon X #2 Highlights
Even in the Marvel Universe Wolverine is the most overexposed superhero. That's saying something.

Ron Garney did a great job illustrating this fight sequence between Wolverine and the Adamantium men. It should be one of the fights of the year.

While this is an overused splash page I can't wait to see how Wolverine is able to take each one down in the next issue.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Double Shot Anime Review: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 21 & 22

Ep. 21 - "The Ragnarök Connection"

Holy Crap! This episode was totally mind blowing with how many surprises we got in this episode. Still while there were some great surprises in this episode there were still some noticeable faults to the episode that have continued from the past few episodes but I'll get to that later. I liked the opening to the episode as it added a little comedy with Lelouch's mom Marianne, who is using Anya's body, trying to draw a mustache on Suzaku only for him to wake up before she could.

The biggest surprise is that Marianne was not only returned but that she was not the perfect mother that we were lead to believe. She is actually the Emperor's accomplise and lover in his plans to destroy God. It was a great twist as both of Lelouch and Nunally's parents were villains with how they used their kids in their plans without remorse. Also it was a cool reveal that Marianne actually had a Geass that transferred her mind into other people that she used right before she died.

The philosophical battle between Lelouch and his parents was fun to watch as it was two arguments that are understandable but the viewer still sides with our hero Lelouch. And it was awesome to see how Lelouch was able to turn C's World on his parents and had them destroyed. It was a great moment that made Lelouch look like a complete badass with how he not only activated the Geass on his other eye but also basically commanded all the dead to be under his control. And him becoming the Emperor with Suzaku was an interesting twist that I did not expect to see until the very end of the series.

Now even though I dug the battle between Lelouch and his parents as well as him becoming Emperor this episode continues to have the rushed feeling that all the past few episodes have had. Even though it was cool to see Lelouch basically declare himself as Emperor it felt like it was a rushed decision especially with the two month time skip. By having the two month time skip it only looks like a convenient plot device so that the Black Knights don't reach Kamine Island in time to find Lelouch even though they were on the island while the stuff in C's world was going on. Up to this point it feels like we are going to get very little development with the Black Knights now that Lelouch is not their leader anymore and they continue too look like dumbasses for what they did as they seem to be directionless without Lelouch as they did not accomplish anything in the two month time skip other than standing around.

Also with only 4 episodes to go we have yet to learn what Schneizel's endgame is as it has not gotten very much development. And with the Emperor, or former Emperor, gone it seems that Schneizel will play the role of final boss for the series. And up to this point it only feels like they are going to be forcing the ending and that the creative team are just coming up with stuff out of their asses hoping it fits. But by doing this it seems they are overcomplicating things as everything for the last 4 episode will be rushed.

Now even with the continued faults this episode had like the past few episodes I would be lying if I said I wasn't intrigued with what will happen in the last few episode. And with Lelouch as Emperor I have no idea how the creative team behind the show are going to end this series which should make these last few episodes fun to watch and will at least give me, and all of the fans of the series, plenty to talk about.

Episode Rating - 8.5/10

Ep. 22 - "Emperor Lelouch"

For some reason I was very underwhelmed by this episode. This is not to say that this was a bad episode as there was stuff that I did like, but for some reason this episode did not click for me and it felt that it was just an average episode. The big problem was that it felt like it was a very slow paced episode that was not needed when their is only 4 episodes, or 3 after this episodes, left before the end.

I did like the action we got in this episode between Suzaku and Bismark, who was shown to have the Geass power to see the future, and the other Knights of the Round. Now even though it was some good mecha battle I thought it was rushed and only made the Knights of the Round look like weak chumps since we have not seen them fight much before this episode and makes Suzaku look like Kira from Gundam Seed Destiny when he got the Strike Freedom since he clearly has the strongest Knightmare Frame that no one other than Kallen, who I guess would be the Athrun of this show, can match. Still I guess this episode helps to build up the inevitable fight between Suzaku and Kallen as they both are the best pilots on the show and have the strongest Knightmare Frames. For that the action got its point across though the fact that the Knights of the Round looked like a bunch of weaklings really hurt a fight that should have gone a bit longer.

Also with the fact that we only have three episodes left to go it is still hard to see Schneizel as the final boss for the series. I know I am repeating myself from the my reviews for the past few episodes but this just feels very rushed and really comes across as unbelievable. Even the cliffhanger with Nunally appearing at the end, who I was surprised to see though since we didn't see her body I didn't think she was dead, wasn't very interesting as it doesn't help the fact that Schneizel's endgame has been vastly underdeveloped. It would have been better if it ended with Nunally opening her eyes since that would have been a great ending. If there was still 6 or 7 episodes left in the series I think there could have been more development in making Schneizel as big of a threat as Lelouch and Schneizel's dad but right now I can't believe that he turned out to be the final boss of the series.

Now I did find a few things interesting about this episode, the biggest being what Lelouch's real plans are now that he is the Emperor of Britannia. From his conversation with Suzaku it seems that Lelouch is only playing the role of an evil Emperor, which is obvious, and that it all has something to do with the Zero Requiem he mentioned. And I wonder now that how many people actually know what Zero Requiem is and how Lelouch's plan works now that Schneizel and Nunally are in his way. Also I found it interesting that after playing a character that had a serious screw loose most of the season that the creative team are setting Nina up for a redemption type arc now that she will be working with Lelouch.

The other thing that I found interesting is the kiss between Lelouch and Kallen. While I could care less who Lelouch ends up with it does seem that the creative team are giving a lot of the different fans of the LelouchxShirley, LelouchxCC, and LelouchxKallen pairing some scenes during R2 to satisfy them and give them hope that Lelouch ends up with one of the girls, sans Shirley since she is not around anymore. Still now that Lelouch has distance himself from Kallen by acting cold to her after the kiss it could be interesting to see were this goes as it seems Lelouch has feelings for both CC and Kallen.

Overall this was an average episode that does not live up to some of the great episode quality this show has been known for. The biggest thing going against this show right now is that it is rushing to the ending and it seems with only 3 episodes left we will see this show rush even more now as there still a lot that has to happen before the last episode.

Episode Rating - 7.1/10

Double Shot Anime Reviews: Bleach 118 & 119

Ep. 118 - "Ikkaku's Bankai! The Power That Breaks Everything"

See now this is what I am talking about. This is the kind of episode I have come to expect from Bleach. Not only did we get some kick butt action but we also got some good information about the Arrancars. Even though we had some good action scenes during "The Bount" arc they were never at the same level as what we got in "The Soul Society" arc. The Ikkaku vs Edorad was just great to watch. Just like in his fight with Ichigo Ikkaku's unconventional fighting style makes for some great fighting and this fight was no different.

It was awesome to see Ikkaku's bankai animated. This was one of the things that I did not expect to see when I first read it in the manga. It was unexpected but totally fitting that Ikkaku would have a bankai as he has been around and trained others for a while now. Once he released his bankai the fight went from being great to one of the top fights we've gotten in Bleach. I really dug Ikkaku's bankai as just like his zanpakuto it is a three section axe-like weapon. And it is pretty cool that unlike the energetic Ikkaku his bankai is lazy and needs to be woken up by either being damaged or have Ikkaku be damaged for a while before having it reach full power. It was a nice weakness that helps to make the fight more dynamic and I like the addition of the dragon crest on Hozukimaru slowing turning completely red as it was something that is noticeable in the manga, for obvious reasons, but it is here.

Also it was cool to learn that the Arrancars swords actually hold their true hollow forms and it will be cool to see what the other Arrancars who are fighting in these episodes look like. Also I am looking forward to seeing how Rukia and Ichigo deal with Grimmjow as he is the leader of the group and one of the Espadas. This was a fun episode and I hope that the next few episodes can give us some more kick ass action like in this episode.

Episode Rating - 8.8/10

Ep. 119 - "Zaraki Division's Secret Story! The lucky men"

Though this episode was not as good as the last episode this was still another very good episode of Bleach that gave us some backstory on Ikkaku and Yumichika. I actually expected more of these types of episodes for the Soul Reapers during "The Bount" arc since there was too much of a focus on the Bounts and it would have been good for an anime exclusive arc to have.

Now while these backstory type episodes tend to be a bit on the boring side Bleach has done a good job with giving us episodes that are purely character backstories. What made this episode fun is that we got some good action in it which is something to be expected from Squad 11. Zaraki and Yachiru's involvement made this episode much more fun to watch as they have a great presence when given time on the show, especially Zaraki who is one of my favorite characters on the show.

What was cool about this episode was how they showed us that even though Ikkaku may not want to be a Captain it seems that he may be one at the end of the series as the Soul Society needs Captains like him to fill in the gap left by Aizen and the other two Captains. What I also liked was the relationship between Ikkaku and Renji and how hard Ikkaku trained Renji into being the strong sword fighter he is now. It helps to show that Ikkaku should be a Captain in the future as he can teach many of the younger, less experienced Soul Reapers how to fight. Though he will have to get over his reliance on having to work under Zaraki and actually showing others how powerful he is before becoming a Captain.

Overall this was a good episode that gives some backstory on Ikkaku and it was good that we got to see the end of the fight Ikkaku was having against Edorad as we can see the others fight in the next episode.

Episode Rating - 8.3/10

Friday, May 22, 2009

Battle for the Cowl #3 Review

Creative Team
Writer & Artist: Tony Daniel
Inker: Sandu Florea
Colorist: Ian Hannin & JD Smith

Story - Last Man Standing

Finally the new official Batman has arrived and unlike how Didio and others in DC want to think that it was a surprised to the readers which character ended up taking the Batman mantle (read here) it was not. In the end Tony Daniel's Battle for the Cowl is just one predictable roller coaster ride that had absolutely no surprises for the reader. The truth about Battle for the Cowl is that it was everything that I was expecting it to be: a summer popcorn for the brain blockbuster movie that is nothing but stalling on DC's part to set up the new status quo of some of the Bat-family characters. And really there wasn't much more than that for Batman fans to expect as in this new Event-era that comics are in now most of, if not all, these event mini-series have been a big let down one way or another. It is really just to bad that Daniel's writing could be half as good as his art as his art was phenomenal during this series.

The one thing I will credit DC and Daniel for is making Battle for the Cowl very accessible to new readers in order for them to get into the Batman books. Even though I am still a new reader to the DC Universe in general I will say that other than Spider-Man I have been reading Batman comic books the longest and as a long time Batman fan, relatively, I do sometimes forget that comics need to be new reader friendly as at times many stories will get convoluted with the history of the characters that it is hard for new readers to get into. But something like Battle for the Cowl is actually a good jumping on point for someone like my little cousins or some of my friends to read and get these characters and why they are taken the roles they are taking next month. So in the end while I would recommend new readers to get Morrison's Batman and Son, The Black Glove, and R.I.P stories on trade paperback as well as maybe Tomasi's run on Nightwing those stories aren't completely necessary to read this one and I think in that way Daniel was a success in his writing of Battle for the Cowl.

Unfortunately for Daniel I am a long time Batman fan and started reading comics right before another story that is very very familiar to Battle for the Cowl and that is Knightfall. Yep that's right no matter what Daniel or DC will say this is the same exact story that I read 15 years ago as a little. The only difference is that Battle for the Cowl last three issues while Knightfall was split into three seperate stories (Knightfall, Knightquest, and Knightend) that was over 30 issues long and lasted a year and a half. The story basically has Jason plays the psycho Batman role that Azrael played during Knightfall, Tim play the same role that Dick played in Knightfall by being the Batman who distracts the psycho Batman long enough for the "real" one to show up and take down the psycho Batman, and then finally Dick plays Bruce's role and is the one who takes down Jason with relative ease as he dominated most of the fight with Jason.

Now speaking of Jason playing the psycho Batman role in this series I just hated the explanation Daniel gave for the reasoning behind Jason becoming the gun-totting Batman. It would have been a much better explanation if Daniel said that because of how Jason was already a hot head during his time as Robin that when he used the Lazarus Pit to make a full recovery, back in Batman Annual #25, that slowly over the past few years since his return he has been losing his sanity due to the after affect the Lazarus Pit has on who ever uses it. It would have at least been a much more reasonable answer to Jason's portrayal during this mini-series than him flipping out because Bruce message to him saying that Jason is his biggest failure, which Jason already knew and stated during Under the Hood. In the end this just made Jason into a little crying kid that had his toys taken away by his father and at this point it would have been much better idea if Jason never came back from the dead as all the potential he had upon his return has been wasted and I could care less if I never see Jason again since he was already non-existent in the Bat-books even before Battle for the Cowl for the past two years.

The fight between Dick and Jason I found to be very anticlimactic and cliche. While I liked that Daniel showed Dick to be the superior fighter as he dominated most of the fight with Jason getting only a few hits in the ending really killed a fight that was actually pretty cool. The whole Dick reaching out to Jason telling him to grab his hand only for Jason to let go of the railing and fall into the water below is about as cliche as a writer can get. At no point was I worried about Jason's fate as I know he will be back and that lack of suspense shows the difference in quality between something like Morrison's suspenseful Batman: RIP and Daniel's bad cliche ridden Battle for the Cowl.

Another thing Daniel failed in is making me care about the gang war in Gotham. In truth this is were I kind of wish DC would have given this series to someone like Tomasi, who has not written a big crossover yet in the company. It is just hard to believe that the US army would just go in and take down Penguin and Two-Face gang war in such a stupid manner as it would be much more realistic if it was the National Guard or another organization set-up to handle this stuff in a much better manner. Also by having the army come in and quickly take down the Penguin and Two-Face it makes the Network who are a group made of some of the best fighters in the DCU and some powerhouses into being really incompetent and useless.

Also I still don't get why Daniel used Black Mask in this story as he was just used as an excuse for Daniel to draw some cool explosions and a burning city. With how little Black Mask appeared in this series it would have been a better move to make it Two-Face as the one who was behind everything in order to build him up into the Joker to Dick's Batman as they were already shown to have a Batman/Joker relationship in the last arc of Nightwing. Also I am guessing that the new Black Mask is Hush as he is probably going to be involved in one of the first story arcs of one of the Bat-books were he will be shown to try and destroy the Bruce Wayne name by posing as him and then using Black Mask to destroy everything Batman worked to make better.

Finally, the biggest problem I had with this issue in particular was how many inconsistencies Daniel had with the writing and the art for Tim and Damian. In the last issue Damien was shown to be bleeding out from his chest but then in this issue Daniel writes off all of that injury by saying Damien only had minor injuries due to the suits protection. And then Tim had a batarang the size of a football stuck in his chest that clearly pierced through the suit into his sternum at the end of the issue only for in Daniel to say that it barely pierced the suit and caused a few cuts. This is were probably Daniel should have just cut back on the dramatic splashpages/panels as it really hurt his writing in this issue and is a perfect example of why these type of endings to scenes don't work since they will be written off by the writer later in the issue or series.

Issue Rating
Story: 2.7/10 - Daniel's writing on this series was very unimpressive and showed that it had been a while since he has written a comic as a lot of the dialogue came off as bit amateurish.
Art: 8/10 - Daniel and Florea combine for some excellent artwork that shows why Daniel's artwork is hundreds of times better than his writing. Though the inconsistencies between this issue and the last two issue hurt how effective the art should have been.
Overall: 5.35/10 - Battle for the Cowl is as predictable as a story can get and this was nothing but filler to get the characters to the point for the relaunch of some of the Bat-titles. And as of now this story failed to get me interested in the current direction of the Bat-books.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Legen--wait for it--dary Comic Book Highlights for 5/13/09

Cover of the Week: Green Lantern Corps #36
I like how there is no empty space on this cover for GLC #36. It gives a nice preview to the hectic war going on in Oa.

Dark Reign: Hawkeye #2 Highlights
So this is basically how we are suppose to see H.A.M.M.E.R as. If this keeps up it looks like Norman's reign over the Marvel Universe will meet a quick end.

I continue to love how Bullseye continues to get under Norman's skin. And it will be nice to see the usual homicidal maniac I expect Bullseye to be.

Green Lantern Corps #36 Highlights
Emerald Eclipse in essence is the sequel to Sinestro Corps War. It is great that at least GLC knows how to integrate the other Lantern Corps while continuing the war between the Green and Sinestro Corps.

With Sodam turning the Daxam sun yellow I wonder if we will see a war between Daxam and New Krypton in 2010.

Oracle: The Cure #3 Highlights
This was a nice little cyber battle between Oracle and the Calculator, though it was a bit of a one-sided battle.

Ultimate Spider-Man #132 Highlights
Who doesn't love a good chick fight! The best part was when Kitty says she loves Peter as much as MJ while her current boyfriend, Kong's looks on. When USM is relaunched as Ultimate Comics Spider-Man I would like to see more stuff with MJ and Kitty.

With Venom involved later on this was a nice battle between Spider-Man and the Sinister Six and I hope that we get a Sinister Six II storyline when this title is relaunched.

I was impressed with how Immonen was able to capture the Ditko Peter Parker. And I like the creepy look to the zombie Uncle Ben at the end of this page.

Man I will be super pissed if Loeb kills Ultimate Peter Parker. It would only give me another reason to hate Loeb's work in an ever growing list of things I hate about his work.

War of Kings: Ascension #2 Highlights
The Annihilus baby back and it should be an interesting plot point after War of Kings is over for Nova or Guardians of the Galaxy to pick up on.

It should be interesting to see how DnA will mix Blastaar into the main War of Kings book and if his escape from prison 42 will mean that some of the other Marvel heroes on Earth will get involved in War of Kings.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Legacy Shorts: Comic Book Reviews for 5/13/09

Dark Reign: Hawkeye #2

Creative Team
Writer: Andy Diggle
Artist: Tom Raney
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colorist: Guru eFX

Story - Hawkeye Part 2 of 5

Diggle continues to impress with how well he understands the homicidal maniac that Bullseye really is. I love seeing how Bullseye, as Hawkeye, took out the camera crew at the beginning of the issue and then pinned down to helicopter pilot with one of his arrows and then placing an explosive arrow right out the pilot to give him a chance to live. It was a very sick act I expect from Bullseye. And I also continue to enjoy how Bullseye continues to find ways to get under Norman's skin by the actions he does as Hawkeye.

Now as I said before I have mostly stayed away from most of the Dark Reign books but just from the few Dark Reign books I have read I have not seen H.A.M.M.E.R portrayed the way they were in this issue. Norman and his H.A.M.M.E.R organization were portrayed as plain terrorist in this issue with what they did to the workers at the TV station. This portrayal doesn't really fall in line with how H.A.M.M.E.R has been portrayed in the past and with more actions like this it may be just time before Norman is new power.

Also I continue to dislike that it is only Ben Ulrich that is calling Norman's rise to power in question. It has been one of the more unrealistic things that almost no one has questioned the amount of power Norman currently has and it is another that hurts this issue as we are reminded of this in the middle of the issue.

Issue Rating
Story: 7/10 - Though Diggle writes a great Bullseye I found his portrayal of H.A.M.M.E.R and the reminder of the non-questioning of Norman's actions to hurt this issue.
Art: 7.7/10 - Raney's art continues to look great but I still would have preferred someone like Aja or Lark to draw this book that should have a darker feel to it.
Overall: 7.35/10 - Dark Reign: Hawkeye #2 had an entertaining beginning and ending but a lot of what happened in the middle of the issue hurt how good this issue should have been.

Oracle: The Cure #3

Creative Team
Writer: Kevin Vanhook
Artists: Julian Lopez & Fernando Pasrin
Inkers: Bit, Norm Rapmund, & Fernando Pasarin
Colorist: HI-FI

Story - A Matter of Anti-Life or Death

All I can say about this series is that I guess I should have learned already what I get when I get my hopes up. Oracle: The Cure had some potential to show why Barbara could carry a book on her own but in the end this series proved to be little better than what you would read in a fanfiction. Other than Morrison it just seems that any writer trying to pick up some of the plot points from Final Crisis are just doomed to failure. And Vanhook made the search for the left over Anti-Life Equation on the Internet very uninteresting. It doesn't help that I could have cared less about a battle between Barbara and the Calculator as we have seen it in the past before and in a much more interesting story. I kind of wish Vanhook would have used another villain for his story than the Calculator as the story did not feel very fresh.

Issue Rating
Story: 4.5/10 - Vanhook was very unimpressive with his writing as it felt I was reading dialogue from a fanfiction.
Art: 6/10 - Lopez art was good though this issue have a lot more inconsistencies that hurt the look of this issue.
Overall: 5.75/10 - Overall Oracle: The Cure was a very disappointing mini-series and I have no idea how this ties in with what DC has in story for Barbara and the new Batgirl book in the future though I could care less.

Ultimate Spider-Man #132

Creative Team
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Inker: Wade von Grawbadger
Colorist: Justin Ponsor

Story - Ultimatum Tie-in

If there wasn't more of a reason to hate Loeb and his Ultimatum event but for the first time that I can remember in its almost 10 year run Ultimate Spider-Man actually wasn't released last month. And if that wasn't bad enough it seems that Ultimatum has finally affect the quality that we get in Ultimate Spider-Man. Even Bendis and Immonen best can't help make Ultimatum a better event. Still the team of Bendis and Immonen due their best with what little they have to work with and still continue to make the Ultimate Spider-Man tie-ins to Ultimatum much more compelling that the event itself.

Again as always the strength Ultimate Spider-Man #132 is the stuff that goes on in Peter and supporting cast lives. The short fight MJ and Kitty get into, MJ actually punches Kitty, was great. The best part was right when Kitty says she loves Peter as much as MJ and just stopping before saying Peter's name was made even more awkward as Kong, Kitty's current boyfriend, was there as well with a shocked face. Bendis does a great job with this scene as his dialogue is perfect and it will be interesting to see if Kitty and/or Spider-Woman will be able to reach Peter before what looks to be his final moments if we are suppose to believe what Loeb has been saying.

Also while Bendis went a bit to long with the stuff going it was still much more enjoyable than the senseless fighting over in Ultimatum. And I got to give it up Immonen as his artwork continues to grow on me and he kicks some butt with his artwork in this issue. Also I liked the little call back to the Nightmare plotline from issue #70 and #71. It was cool to see how he brought Spider-Man's worst enemies to life and used all the people Hulk killed against him in order to mess with both heroes mentally.

Issue Rating
Story: 7.8/10 - Bendis does the best to give this Ultimatum tie-in much more depth than the event itself though their is little he can do to stretch out the very thin story of Ultimatum.
Art: 8/10 - Immonen does a great job in this issue and his splash pages were awesome.
Overall: 7.9/10 - Overall this was a good issue of Ultimate Spider-Man but still not close to some of the better issue of this series. Still an average issue of Ultimate Spider-Man is better than most of the other titles on the market.

War of Kings: Ascension #2

Creative Team
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: Wellinton Alves
Inkers: Scott Hanna & Nelson Pereira
Colorist: Guru eFX

Story - Null and Void

Though the last issue showed some promise with the Fraternity of Raptors showing themselves to be villains this issue suffered from focusing on giving the reader insight into Christopher Powell, better known as Darkhawk. I found the stuff dealing with Chris to be a very boring character study and would have preferred to see more of a focus on Talon and the Fraternity of Raptors.Still I am enjoying how DnA are building the Fraternity of Raptors into the antithesis of the Nova Corps and hope that after War of Kings is over that DnA build up a war between the Nova Corps, what's left of the Nova Corps after War of Kings, and the Fraternity of Raptors as it would be awesome to see and give Nova a Sinestro Corps War type event. Also I will be interested to see how DnA tie-in the ending of this issue into War of Kings.

Again the star of this mini-series continues to be Wellinton Alves great artwork. I love how Alves capture all of the cosmic stuff. I hope that Alves gets a more splash pages of action to draw in the last two issues as he wasn't really given any in this issue.

Issue Rating
Story: 5.3/10 - DnA do an good job when the issue did not focus on Chris. To bad most of the issue did focus on him instead of Talon and the Fraternity of Raptors.
Art: 8.4/10 - Alves does a great job with all the cosmic stuff and I would love to seem him back on Nova or tackle an Iron Man book.
Overall: 6.85/10 - This was an average issue and this mini-series still has potential to be a good one. Though I wonder how the ending of this issue will tie-in to the main series.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Double-Shot Anime Review: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 19 & 20

Ep. 19 - "Betrayal"

Man just when you think you know were the creative team behind Code Geass is going to take this series they throw us this curve ball of an episode. R2 continues to be an interesting second season for this show. As this season continues to move closer to the end I am starting to finding a lot of things to like and hate about each of these past few episodes.

The best thing about the second season continues to be how the second war between the Black Knights and Britannia has slowly been taken away everything from Lelouch. I this episode, like many episodes in this season, we see Lelouch break down and act out of character. With the death of Nunally it is understandable the mental breakdown Lelouch had at the beginning of the episode as without her the reason he was doing everything was thrown out. If the death of Nunally wasn't enough Scheizel was able to convince the Black Knights to betray Lelouch as he reveal's Zero's true identity to them. And then you add the death of Rolo, Lelouch is basically all alone in the world. It will be interesting to see how Lelouch will be able to work alone as he has had an army working for him for a while. Also I will be interested to see if Kallen will abandon the Black Knights and look for Lelouch with what he said before Rolo rescued him.

Speaking of Rolo's death I was very surprised that the creative team behind Code Geass was able to sort of redeem the Rolo character by giving him such a heroic death. After the death of Shirley it did seem that Rolo would get some sort of horrible death in the middle of this season but I got to hand it to the creative team for giving fans a moment heroism to Rolo as it may be questionable if he should have gotten the kind of death he did. It was a cool bit of action and a sad ending to Rolo who did everything for the only family he ever knew.

Now the problem with this episode is that like the past few episodes it is feeling like the creative team is starting to rush to the end. I found that the reasoning the Black Knights used was actually kind of stupid. From the beginning almost every member of the Black Knights especially the Oghi, Todoh, and Diethard have all know and reinterated that they were all pawns in Zero's army. And for them to feel betrayed just because they found out something that they've known all along just made all of the Black Knights look very stupid. This is a freaking war what did they think they were a bunch of buddies having a good time. It was a very rash and stupid decision that only makes it look like the creative team needed Lelouch to get on his own and needed to do it quick as they were running out of episodes to do it.

Also I thought that we should have seen more of the aftermath of the FLEIJA bomb detonation as we only see a small bit of reaction from Suzaku, Nina, and other supporting characters. These characters should have given them more time to show their reactions but again it is only an example of rushing through things that we don't get those moments. Also I found Suzaku's maniacal laugh at the end to weird and come out of nowhere as we get no internal monologue from him.

Overall this was a good episode that had the bad parts of the episode actually weigh it down from being better.

Episode Rating - 8/10

Ep. 20 - "Emperor Dethroned"

In the aftermath of the last episode we get another episode that was a mix of good and bad. And with how close we are getting to the end it seems that this is going to be how these last 5 or 6 episode will be like as the creative team behind Code Geass are rushing through the plot of this series.

Now I got to had it to the creative team as Lelouch has become a much bigger badass now that he is alone. Just from how he acted in this episode I would even say that the Black Knights were the ones weighing Lelouch down from defeating the Emperor and Britannia. Lelouch actual accomplished more on his own to take down Britannia on his own than when he was the leader of the Black Knights. I loved how Lelouch used his Geass to make Britannia have a little Civil War in order to cause enough of a distraction to reach his father. And the moment that Lelouch appeared on Kamine Island was one the best moments in the series and the background music and the Knightmare frames bowing down to him was perfect as it gave Lelouch's march a hail to the emperor feel to it. I am really looking forward to his second confrontation with his father and what he has up his sleeve to take down his immortal father.

Also it was a big surprise to me that Marianne, Lelouch and Nanally's mother, has been inside of Anya's mind this whole time. While I knew something was off with Anya since she could not remember her past and have moments in battle were she would freak out for no reason but I was not expecting it to be because Marianne resided in her mind. Though know with her being alive, in a sense, and her and CC, who got her memory back, headed towards were Lelouch and the Emperor are having their confrontation I wonder what kind of role they will play.

Now just like in the last episode I continue to have a problem with how stupid the Black Knights are look like little whining babies in this episode. There really is no other way to put it other than that they are acting like babies that got their toy taken away and I guess it is only right the biggest baby in the group, Ohgi, is leading them. I hope that Ohgi really isn't the leader of the Black Knights as he showed in this episode that he isn't a very confident leader and that Kaguya or Todoh are much more fit to lead the Black Knights now that Lelouch is gone.

Also this bring me to my next point in that I kind of wonder how much time will actually be devoted to the Black Knights and Scheizel's plan in the next episode as the next episode will probably be mostly about the confrontation between Lelouch and the Emperor. And if that is how the next episode is framed up than there will be less than half a dozen episodes left before the finale. And right now we still have yet to know what Scheizel has planned in order to become the new Emperor. The Scheizel plotline has been one of the plots in Code Geass that has really lacked development and I hope they don't rush through things and we get more of a sense of what Scheizel has planned.

My last complaint with the episode is that I am really starting to dislike Suzaku as a character. At the beginning of the series Suzaku was one of my favorite characters but his constant flip flopping with his loyalties from being loyal to the Emperor, to forming an alliance with Lelouch, and now being loyal to Scheizel. I am kind of hoping Kallen or Bismark (the Knight of One) takes him done just to show him that he needs to stop being so annoying and actually pick a side.

Overall this was another mixed bag episode and I am hoping the creative doesn't start rushing things though that is what will probably happen as R2 is running out of episodes. Still I am hopeful that we can get a great episode(s) next week.

Episode Rating - 8/10

Double-Shot Anime Review: Bleach 116 &117

Ep. 116 - "The Evil Eye, Aizen Returns"
This was another episode that was dominated by characters either sitting or standing around talking. While not a bad thing this type of episode is getting old and repetitive. Also since we have gotten a lot of comedy in the past few episode the comedy in this episode fell a bit flat and I did not enjoy it as much as the previous few episodes.

The best part of the episode was probably the first few minutes were we saw the meeting between Aizen and the Arrancars he has working for him. It was cool to see all the different Arrancars animated and it should be fun seeing all of them in action in the future.

Another thing that I thought was pretty interesting was the development with Orihime and her revealing how much she likes Ichigo to Rangiku. Starting with this episode Orihime looks to take a much bigger role in the series and it should be interesting to see how the self-doubt Orihime has could make her resolve to get stronger in the future. Also it does not hurt that the scene had some fan service with Rangiku.

Overall this was a bit of a boring episode with a few nice scenes though with how Grimmjow and his Arrancars arrived to Earth at the end of the episode we should finally get the action we have been looking for in the next episode.

Episode Rating - 6.9/10

"Rukia's Battle Commences! The Freezing White Blade"

Finally we get some action. While it was not a lot of action it was still something. Still this was felt like yet another set up episode as we only get to see most of the matches up that will be dominating the next few episodes. Also while the comedy with Chappy, who was using Rukia Gigia, and Ichigo was okay but I could do without the comedy in Bleach for a few episodes to at least make the comedy feel fresh later on.

After spending most of the series on the sidelines, except for a few instances, it was cool to see Rukia in action. What I found interesting is that Rukia does have a shikai form to her zanpakuto. It was actually questionable if Rukia did have a Shikai since the few times we have seen her wield a zanpakuto she has only used its unreleased form. I like Rukia's shikai, called Sode no Shirayuki, and it being an ice type zanpakuto. Though it was to bad we did not get to see Rukia use her zapakuto more as she made quick work of her opponent.

Also I found it interesting how like Uryu and Orihime it looks like Chad will be going through some sort of training in the future to get stronger. It will be interesting to see how Chad will get stronger as he has a long way to go before he could breach the gap between him and the Arrancars.

Again this was mostly a set-up episode to the match-ups we are going to see dominate the next few episodes. I am looking forward to the fighting and I just we see some solid action in the next episode and from the preview it looks like that is what we are going to be getting.

Episoder Rating - 7.2/10