Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Small Victory On Black Friday

Pictured: A big pile of crap, for half the price!

Today marked only the second occasion in which I decided to set forth into the wild and brave the insanity that is Black Friday.

Oddly enough, both times my intention in doing so was not to capitalize on the various sales events, but rather to simply take in the spectacle of watching others step over each other in hopes of acquiring a precious Tickle Me Elmo-like gift, or in the case of this year, an incredibly cheap 40″ TV.

It’s funny, whenever I think of Black Friday and other Christmas/holiday related shopping insanity, there’s one image that comes to my mind.

Said image was from one of my brother’s old Mad magazines, and to date, it serves as the definitive vision of Christmas carnage in my mind:

Pictured: "The Last Parking Space At The Mall."

It might be kind of hard to tell, as the image is kind of small, but basically “The Last Parking Space At The Mall” is a brilliantly rendered Norman Rockwell-esque painting depicting a man shooting another man in a snowy parking lot while his wife attempts to pull him back into the car.

Mad Magazine is usually good for a snicker or 2, but this painting was easily one of the most brilliant fuckin’ comedic images I can recall from my youth.

Sadly though, I didn’t see holiday mayhem of any kind this time around.

I did however get to laugh at the people standing in line surrounding the Best Buy.

Seriously man, I spent close to 3 hours in the general area, and I never once saw that line shrink an inch.

Needless to say, I never even got to set foot in Best Buy this morning.

Oh well, thanks to holiday “tent culture,” virtually all of the really good deals in there are literally impossible to acquire without spending the night outside the building.

Or at least without bringing one of these...

Which brings me to the deals that I actually did get a chance to capitalize on.

I initially set out to “do” Black Friday with a friend of mine around midnight.

Said friend ultimately ended up walking away with 2 boxes of half price golf balls, while I bought absolutely nothing.

Fortunately, there were some other sales going on in the U-district at a reasonable hour that I ended up checking out after catching a few much needed hours of sleep.

First, I went to Zanadu comics, where a 50% off everything sale was going on from 8AM to 12PM.

In case you couldn’t tell from the image above, I ended up getting a softcover copy of the absolutely massive X-Men/Dark Avengers: Utopia, as well as the first volume of Ed Brubaker’s The Immortal Iron Fist.

Truth be told, I’m not exactly salivating over the prospect of reading either of these books, however Utopia will serve to complete my Dark Avengers trade collection, and Iron Fist is a book that, given my status as a rabid kung fu movie fan, should’ve been in my collection years ago.

All together now: "WAATAAAAAHHHH!!!!"

I’m a little wary of Utopia, as X-Men books haven’t been kind to me in the past, I don’t know, 15 goddamn years; but I’m hoping the Dark Avengers stuff will help to round things out a little.

Yes. I am in fact still made about this.

As for Iron Fist, I’ve read nothing but good about it, and I’ve been putting off reading it for a really long time; so I’m pretty sure it’s gonna’ be awesome.

Anyway, 2 good to great books for 50% off = Definitely worth it in my book.

Next I went to Pink Gorilla to check out their highly variable collection of used/retro videogames.

While I haven’t found anything too special there in a few years now, I was surprised to find a perfectly good copy of Super Castlevania IV.

Outside of that though, I didn’t find anything else exciting, or failing that; worth the asking price.

Despite this, I was surprised to be given a randomized coupon at the register, with the one I drew being a buy1 get 1 free!

Upon scanning the wall, I decided to pick up Donkey Kong Country 3, a game that, while inferior to the sequel (which I already own) is somewhat rare, and often prohibitively overpriced.

Lucky me, I got it for free.

Oh yeah, and I got a free poster too.

Anyway, while I’d like to say I made it through the day without spending a decent amount of money, I’m proud to say that I at least managed to save more than I spent this Black Friday.

How did you do?

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The Return Of The Dark Avengers

(Image courtesy IGN.com)

Awhile back I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to compose a guest review for a comic over at the excellent review blog, Collected Editions.

As a frequent reader there, I was aware that the chief writer there covered DC comics almost exclusively, however I myself was told that I would have free reign in choosing which comic I’d like to review, regardless of the publisher.

That being said, of all the comics I had read recently; I chose to review the first trade of the flagship title under Marvel’s Dark Reign banner, The Dark Avengers.

The Dark Avengers doing their best "SUCK MY DICK" poses.

Brian Michael Bendis has never been my favorite writer, but his trademark colorful dialogue, combined with a strong cast and Mike Deodato’s always stellar pencil work, made for an irresistible combination in my book.

For whatever reason, the idea of a superhero team composed of known supervillains has always “done it” for me.

Perhaps it also has something to do with the brilliance of writers like Gail Simone and Warren Ellis, but for what it’s worth; Secret Six and Thunderbolts have consistently been 2 of my favorite books over the past half decade.

Pictured: One of many reasons Secret Six deserves your money.

Anyway, as tends to happen with books that emerge from high-profile events, Dark Avengers came to an unfortunate end when the status quo was once again shifted following the events of Siege.

Norman Osborn, the team’s leader; was shipped off to prison.

The Sentry was (supposedly) destroyed.

Daken escaped to his own self-titled book.

And the rest of the team was either imprisoned, killed, or booted onto the Thunderbolts.

While I knew Dark Avengers wouldn’t last long, given the impermanent nature of Dark Reign; it nevertheless saddened me to see it go.

Thankfully, nothing ever stays dead for long in comics; and this coming November we’ll all be treated to a revival of Dark Avengers.

As happy as this makes me, perhaps the most important part about this is the fact that both Bendis and Deodato are supposedly returning to the book which, ideally; will result in a similar standard of quality.

Anyway, nothing else has really been announced about Dark Avengers at this point, other than the fact that Norman Osborn will once again be leading it.

Though somehow I doubt Deodato will be using Tommy Lee Jones as a reference again.

While my comic plate is, as always; very much full at the moment, I look forward to getting a chance to read a new Dark Avengers trade, which given the nature of Marvel’s release dates, won’t be until well into 2012.

If you think it’s silly to be anticipating a comic release about 6-8 months ahead of time, think about all the people that have been losing their shit over The Dark Knight Rises ever since 5 minutes after The Dark Knight hit theaters.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

After all, I’m one of them.

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Venom’s New Look

I’ve always liked Venom.

While many comic fans dismiss Venom as a gimmicky, over-exposed, and somewhat one-dimensional element of Spider-Man’s rogue’s gallery; I for one have always enjoyed reading him.

Maybe it’s the 90’s comic fan in me, but the savage, hulk-ed out, part-time anti-hero aspects of Venom’s character have always appealed to me.

I found the original Eddie Brock version of the character to be a menacing and effective counterpoint to the typically colorful antics of most Spider-Man stories.

When Mac Gargan (The Scorpion) took over as the new Venom, I found myself impressed by the pathetic and almost pitiable aspects of the character that was seemingly at the mercy of the symbiote.

Despite the ridiculous amount of hosts that the Venom symbiote has occupied over the years, one thing that I’ve found myself looking forward to with each new iteration, was the artistic design of the character.

The original Todd McFarlane take on the character, is ironically one of my least favorite.

Pictured: Venom showing us his pedo-face.

The bulk of the character’s build was a good design choice, given the more direct and less finesse oriented nature of Eddie Brock compared to Spider-Man at the time; but the teeth and lack of tongue action were something that the character would benefit from immensely in the coming years.

Also, I know it’s nit-picky of me to say; but the small patches of white on top of Venom’s palms were an addition to later iterations of the character that made a huge difference.

Jus’ sayin’ is all…

Anyway, as time moved on, Venom’s appearance became even bulkier, more toned, while his face became considerably more vicious and animalistic in nature.

Also, his coloration became akin to the Batman comics of old, wherein the blue highlights started to take center stage.

Pictured: The Venom I grew up with.

While I preferred the black Venom, I have to admit that the blue did a lot to improve the detail of the character from panel to panel, making his appearance far more dynamic than before.

When the host for Venom changed over to Mac Gargan, we found ourselves faced with a brand new design for the character for a new age of comics.

Pictured: Venom, as brought to you by the UFC.

Bearing a much larger “spider” symbol on his chest, as well as a color scheme that would switch from purple, to black, to even green at times; the Mac Gargan Venom proved to be one of my favorite takes on the character.

With a persona that could be described as “brutish” in nature I.E. dumb and violent, Gargan’s Venom (as well as the Ultimate version) allowed for the artist’s to go wild, often times drawing the character as more alien than anything else.

Not only that, but many writers also found ways to take Gargan’s menacing appearance, and child-like intelligence; and create some truly funny moments for the character.

While not exactly "funny," watching Venom put on a guard's helmet after eating him was just plain silly. I loved it.

It’s this versatility, at least from a design standpoint; that makes Venom so much fun for me.

The Venom symbiote itself has such a wide array of capabilities, that it really just becomes a matter of the writer and artist picking which traits and abilities they find most interesting and running with it.

Depending on the team involved, Venom can be anywhere from 6 to 15 feet tall, can change shape and bulk at will, can shapeshift to some degree, can be colored anywhere from purple to green, and can even exhibit cannibalistic tendencies.

Pictured: One of my favorite moments in Warren Ellis' Thunderbolts.

It all depends on who’s at the helm in the design department.

Which brings me to the point of this post:

While Venom has been rather quiet in the comics these days, I happened upon this article at IGN the other day that made mention of the character’s future.

The story details are still hush hush at the moment, but Marvel was kind enough to release this image of the new look for Venom:

Apparently the story has the Venom symbiote being worn by a new host, for the purpose of black ops missions.

While the government agent angle honestly doesn’t really peak my interest all that much, I must admit; the Venom symbiote is a pretty good tool for military/black ops missions.

Remember the shapeshifting I mentioned?

Well, I’d imagine that, along with the inherent superhuman capabilities of the symbiote; would be quite useful for infiltration or assassinations.

The story arc (beginning in a brand new Venom comic) is going to be written by Rick Remender, and pencilled by Tony Moore; so I expect nothing but good.

That being said, here is impression of Tony Moore’s design for the new Venom:

In keeping with the black ops angle of the story, Moore’s design is subtle and devoid of flash.

Looking very much like the ultra-modern tactical armor that seems to be so popular with the kids these days, the overall package is that of a more streamlined and “practical” Venom.

All the key elements of Venom’s previous designs are retained, with the only significant difference being a lack of a mouth, (suggesting a more internalized, if not level-headed character for the new host) and highlighted outlines for the eye area instead of filled in blotches of white.

Overall, the design is simple and unassuming, making it solid; and very difficult to hate.

I do find it interesting however, that despite the superpowers the Venom symbiote imbues it’s host with; whoever the character is that is going to be wearing it in this story arc seems to have little confidence in it’s capabilities, as he is very clearly still wearing plate armor on portions of his body.

Based on the slim figure of the character, as well as the Venom symbiote’s recently more aggressive demeanor; I’m guessing that the inhibitor that was used to force Mac Gargan’s Venom to appear more Spider-Man-like during Dark Reign is still being used on this version of the character.

Pictured: Dark Reign Venom. Yes, I do have a thing for Mike Deodato...

It’s just a guess, but if I’m right; that could probably serve as a plot device that weakens the symbiote, or specializes it’s capabilities somehow.

In any case, those are my thoughts.

The design is solid, if unexciting; a combination of traits that I hope won’t be used to describe the upcoming comic it’s being used in.

 

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Guest Review Over At Collected Editions!

The Collected Editions logo in all it's glory.

Wowee, lucky me!

Last month, the webmaster of a blog I frequent, Collected Editions; put out a request for guest comic book reviews for the month of November.

Being as I have been reading Collected Editions for quite some time, I jumped at the opportunity to contribute in some way.

At the time I had just finished reading Brian Michael Bendis’ Dark Avengers Vol. 1, Assemble; so with it fresh in my mind, I set out to write a review on it.

It took some doing, but I think I managed to write an article that measures up to the standard of quality that one would expect from a Collected Editions post.

While I’m on the topic, I’d like to thank the webmaster of Collected Editions for requiring me to edit and revise my writing.

Since I started this blog, I’ve been forced to self-edit my work; meaning I’ve pretty much stopped editing altogether.

You hear that Lucas!? STOP. EDITING.

It felt good to get a jab from someone telling me:

“Nice job, but you’re better than this.  Try harder.”

Thanks again.

Anyway, I’m guessing it would be in bad taste to re-post my guest review here, so instead I’ll just throw you guys a link:

LINK

Thanks for reading, and thank you again Collected Editions for hosting my work!

 

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Marvel’s Siege Review

I’m really fuckin’ tired tonight, so I’ll make this quick.

Oh wait, this is an event comic we’re talking about, so there’s no possible way I can say anything about it without first explaining a half dozen or so events leading up to it.

Man, I hate event comics

Anyway, Marvel’s most recent mega event comic, Siege, made it’s collected edition debut a weeks ago, and, fashionably late as I tend to be these days; I just got my hands on it a few days ago.

The basic premise of Siege, was to serve as that of a bookend to the era in the Marvel Universe known as Dark Reign, thereby kicking off the current era, The Heroic Age.

A tonal shift if I've ever seen one...

For those that are unaware, Dark Reign began after the attempted alien Skrull invasion of Earth during Secret Invasion, which ultimately resulted in the Norman Osborn AKA The Green Goblin, coming to prominence in the Marvel Universe as a legitimate public and governmental figure.

Hah, and I just happened to find a pic where George Bush was doing the Spider-Man hands!

Don’t ask.

Anyway, Dark Reign was an era that blanketed the entire Marvel Universe with, well, darkness.

Evil reigned supreme in Marvel from late 2008 to the beginning of 2010, when Siege was finally released.

The basic premise of Siege involves Norman Osborn and his Cabal (a secret collective of unified villains including the likes of Doctor Doom, The Hood, and Loki) attempting to “siege” Asgard, Thor and the other Norse God’s homeworld, which just happens to be floating 10 feet above Oklahoma.

Let it be known: Thor makes everything better.

Again, don’t ask.

While most of his Cabal scoff at Osborn’s ambition, and end up abandoning him, he nonetheless enacts his siege with the entirety of his resources, including the Dark Avengers, (evil replacements wearing the costumes and bearing the titles of established superheroes) several of The Hood’s otherworldly henchmen, all of The Initiative, and of course, the great golden retard himself, The Sentry.

Behold, the Meta Knight/Magneto/Chun-Li of the Marvel Universe... Broken-ass piece of fuck...

While Thor and the other Asgardians put up a decent fight, The Sentry proves to be too powerful to be harmed by anything they can throw at him.

Osborn’s victory seems to be in the bag until a few issues in, when Steve Rogers AKA Captain America, Bucky Barnes AKA Captain America with a Gun, Nick Fury, The Secret Warriors, The Young Avengers, and members of most of the other Avengers variants, decide to finally come out of hiding and assemble some bitches till they die from it.

Said panel of Assemblage.

Oh yeah, and then Iron Man shows up after finally waking up from his period of braindead-ery.

By "braindead-ery" of course I mean, "shrooming."

Go ahead and ask, don’t expect any answers from me.

Essentially, Siege is meant to serve as a massive culmination for all the conflicts brewing over the past year or so, as most of the battles that take place during the siege of Asgard have been long overdue.

By stories’ end, Osborn and his forces are defeated and/or repelled, however one final obstacle stands before our heroes…

A certain golden, retarded obstacles that’s just been given orders to kill…

At that point, The Sentry makes his long hinted at, and all too obvious transformation into his alternative EVIL persona, The Void, thereby resulting in a climax scenario that mirrors that of just about every major anime film since Nausicaa.

Pictured: The climax of Siege.

The world world crumbles, major characters die violent deaths… Oh whatever, I’ll just let Bill Murray handle this for me, he’s so much better at it:

CLICK HERE ‘CAUSE YOUTUBE FAILS AT EMBEDDING
*Sigh* Now that we’ve got all that goddamn explanation out of the way, let’s get down to how I felt about Siege.

I liked Siege.

It was straightforward, tautly paced, and reasonably approachable for the most part.

The whole thing is only 4 issues long, with an additional 2 included for the purpose of providing expositional padding for the collected edition.

Unlike say, DC’s Blackest Night (we’ll cover that some other time), which was 8 issues long, Siege had the advantage of being a streamlined, and simple event meant to appeal on the basest of levels.

Pictured: A similar ploy to appeal to said levels.

Probably my favorite part about Siege, was the fact that it really is just an “event.”

The whole story takes place over the course of a handful of hours, resulting in a scenario that feels focused and immediate to the point in which there isn’t really any room for plot holes to emerge.

On the downside, the relatively low page count also means that most of the individual battles you’ve been waiting all this time to see, the Venom vs. Spider-Man, the Wolverine vs. Daken, Iron Man vs. The Iron Patriot, end up being shown in the background of panels, but rarely ever explored in any sort of detail.

Sadly, this is actually kind of accurate...

That being said, Siege is an event that, like most event comics, seems to require the reader to take a look at some of the spin-offs and crossovers to get the whole picture, at least for the characters they care about.

Personally, I see myself checking out Siege: Battlefield and definitely Siege: Thunderbolts at some point, however I’ve heard Siege: Embedded is bad news.

Pictured: A woman receiving several copies of Siege: Embedded from an elephant.

While I haven’t personally read Brian Michael Bendis before, (remember, I’m not an Avengers guy) I can honestly say that after reading Siege, I’m thinking about taking a look at some of his other stuff.

While the plot progression was manic at times, due to the low page count, Bendis’ strength, in my opinion; is his ability to give a real sense of personality and voice to each individual character.

At the end of every issue of Siege, there are a few pages of text-only dialogues between some of the major players in the story regarding the events of, uh, the event.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I found these pages to be interesting throughout.

In particular, I was impressed by the first of them, wherein Osborn and his Dark Avengers sit down with Ares to plan out the actual siege of Asgard.

What? You didn't KNOW that Ares, the Greek God of war was a Marvel Comics character?

“Listening” to Venom and Bullseye bitch and moan about the inherent lunacy in taking on literal Gods on their home turf, was both funny and true to form.

Though each character’s speech is preceded by a note regarding who exactly is speaking, I bet most of us could read these scenes without such aides, as each character is written that sharply.

On the visual side of things, again, Olivier Coipel is not an artist I am familiar with, but, as with Brian Michael Bendis’ writing, I think I might have to check out his other stuff.

Coipel, who is apparently the current artist for Thor, has a style that is intrinsically geared towards the Asgardian aesthetic.

His men are burly and square-jawed, and his women are, well, burly and square-jawed.

Seriously, there’s a panel of Victoria Hand early on that is downright Xena in how butch it is.

Yikes! You could lose a hand to those cheekbones!

Anyway, outside of that one panel, Coipel’s work in Siege is gorgeous.

Aside from his very clean lines and wonderfully fluid character designs, the sense of motion and speed generated by his action panels is truly breathtaking.

Seriously, there were times in this comic that I caught myself being able to actually see the panels spring to animated life.

THIS my friends, is why I bought Siege.

Kudos definitely need to be given to the colorist of Siege as well, as the color palette is refreshingly vibrant and diverse throughout, with many of the earlier scenes being all blue skies and daisies and such, while during the later scenes, particularly the ones involving The Void, things take on an menacing and otherworldly tone.

Anyway, Siege was a good event comic for me, someone that doesn’t really care much for event comics.

It’s a shame most of the “slug-fest” aspect of the event was omitted from the core storyline, as unlike novels, comics are usually best crafted on the page rather than in one’s imagination, but oh well, I liked it anyway.

I’ll let yah’ know how the spin-offs turn out.

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