Sunday, July 26, 2009

Toy Review: History of the DC Universe: Manhunter (DC Direct)

Growing up with the Manhunter story by Archie Goodwin & Walt Simonson was one of the greatest stories every written. It was just amazing. I just couldn't stop re-reading it.
Then in 1986, after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC came out with the History of the DC Universe. This was a 2 issue mini-series, explaining how the universe was after Infinite Crisis.

Then last year, DC Direct announced they would be making a line of action figures based on the History of the DC Universe. Designs based on George Perez's amazing art. And imagine my surprise when I found out they were making a figure based Manhunter.

And then imagine my disappointment when I finally bought it.

When I first saw the Manhunter figure at Toy Fair, it just amazing. Multiple points of articulation, amazing sculpt, a Bundi dagger, Mauser, and removable throwing stars. I couldn't believe my eyes. I couldn't wait until it came out.

Finally, last week I was able to buy it.

Wow, what a waste of money!

While the sculpt is still amazing, that's where the joy ends.

The Mauser has been left out. I don't fully understand why they didn't include it. DC Direct already created one for the New Frontier Blackhawk figure, so the mold should still be available. So where the heck is it?

And the throwing stars aren't removable. They are glued on. What the heck is up with that?

Finally the Bundi dagger. We don't get just one, we get two, which would be great, if he could hold the damn thing. I had pry the hand open to fit around the dagger. And even then it doesn't look right. They don't look like Simonson's designs at all. They look more like crutches.

There are about 19 points of articulation, but the ab joint is totally pointless. He can't bend at all.

All in all, Manhunter is just a disappointment. At about a $15.99 price point, it's not worth the money.

I think going forward if I want DC Universe figures, I'll buy them from Mattel's DC Universe line.


Read More

Comic Review: Green Lantern #43(DC Comics) By Eddie R

Good Cops, Bad Cops

It’s nice to see a classic team up story every once and a while. I had always found that when you paired Hal Jordan and Barry Allen together, you knew you were going to see some real good character interaction. With Barry basically being the good cop, and Hal being the bad cop, each plays off the other’s strengths and weaknesses quite well, and this story is no exception.

Green Lantern #43 continues to delve into the mystery which is Blackest Night, with The Flash Barry Allen and Green Lantern Hal Jordan, looking for clues as to why someone would desecrate the remains of one Bruce Wayne. But before they get too far into their investigation, the heroes get paid a visit from a certain undead Martian colleague, and fellow cop. The battle which follows is full of great action sequences, showcasing why Barry and Hal are the heroes they are. It also shows what kind of menace they are up against.

To me, the best gimmick of Blackest Night so far has to be the ability of the Black Rings to allow you to see which part of the emotional spectrum your opponents are part of. I guess this would allow a tactical advantage for the Black Lanterns, as you would be able to exploit this as a weakness, turning your enemies’ emotions against themselves. In the past this has proven effective to a certain degree, especially in the case of the Psycho Pirate, via the Medusa Mask. But now on such a universal scale, this emotional manipulation, coupled with the war of light, just makes this story more compelling. Not only are the heroes’ emotions being played with, but so are ours. And to me, that’s good writing on Geoff John’s part.

But like any good cop story, there has to be an equal balance of mystery and action, and if this issue is any indication of what’s in store for us with Blackest Night, this is going to be quite a ride.


Eddie R
Review Co-Editor

Read More

Comics review: Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #2 (DC Comics) By John H

Nothing more than Feelings…

What would we be without our emotions? They control our very existence. They allow us to feel, and bask in the inner strength they give us. They urge us on when faced with despair, or bring us to our knees when the pain is too great. Some have the will to control the vast churning chaos that is the human soul, and some choose to be guided by their emotions, strengthened only by whatever feeling of the human kaleidoscope they hold dear. But on the flip side, some choose alternative means to suppress these emotions from their very existence via mental disciplines such as mind control, or with external aids such as drugs.

In Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #2, feelings are shown as what drives the various Ring Corps to their ultimate ends. In this issue we are again shown examples of how these members of the individual Corps wield their power and how they recruit.

In the first story, an Angel loses her wings due to her pride. Seeing herself as superior, she never realizes that without her wings she is nothing. When said wings are lost, she encounters great fear and eventually rage. But this rage gives her power without freedom. So perhaps the loss of her wings was both a gift and a lesson, loosing freedom but gaining great power. Question is which is better?

Our second tale is one of love lost and choices to be made. When dealing with love, one should always stay one step back for fear of losing your head. Things change and feelings mature and love can change as well, when faced with the danger of losing a love most cherished, a rash decision doesn’t seem so rash at all.

The last tale is about greed. Greed, and the resulting pride, shows how ownership is a fickle thing, and how easy it is to claim that anything is ours. It seems the reality of the situation is something is yours until somebody stronger takes it from you. That includes everything you own, even your life.

These tales are a great glimpse at what is to come. I found some stories to be too short, and some much longer than needed, but overall a great read. At least this is something to keep us informed and entertained in between issues of Blackest Night.


John H
Senior Reviewer

Read More

DVD Review: The Watchmen (single-disc edition) by Roger Vozar

Condensing a book into movie form is always tricky and only more so when the source material is as rich as the "Watchmen." With all its text pages, flashbacks and subplots such as the Black Freighter storyline, it combines the action of a graphic novel with the weight in prose of a literary tome.

There's no way any adaptation would not lack some of the depth of the graphic novel, even with the 2-hour, 42-minute running time of the theatrical release. While that's the case here, the most important elements of Alan Moore's classic survive the translation.

Several scenes are lifted straight from the graphic novel, the strongest of these involving Rorschach, with Jackie Earle Haley capturing the ironic essence of a character named after a subjective mental test who nevertheless colors his views in distinct black and white terms.

Other performances are fine - Jeffrey Dean Morgan is appropriately loathsome as the anti-hero Comedian and Billy Crudup seems not quite human as Dr. Manhattan.

Everything that's needed for a great movie is there, yet something seems lacking. I'm not such a die hard fan that I can't allow director Zack Snyder to take the liberties with the storyline that he did toward the end. When I first read the graphic novel, I was caught in the powerful grip of despair that it evoked in the first half and felt a bit let down toward the end.

For me, what was missing from the film version is that overwhelming sense of dread that this bleak vision might just be the way the real world is headed. That's what sets the stage for the debate about where to draw the line about what actions are acceptable to try and stop the downward spiral.

Of course, that might not be the case for someone who sees the movie before reading the graphic novel. "Watchmen" is entertaining, action-packed and does a good job translating the comic without taking too much artistic license. Having read "Watchmen" first, however, the movie lacks the same "wow" sensation. All the pieces appear to be in place, yet something seems missing.

EXTRAS: Unfortunately, I had the single-disc edition, which has no additional material whatsoever. The 2-disc "director's cut" has an extra 24 minutes of footage, a 28-minute feature on the Watchmen "phenomenon" and a series of brief features called "Live Journals," a reference to Rorschach's book.

An "ultimate" version of the movie, with the animated Black Freighter footage incorporated, is supposed to be released sometime this fall, so completists may want to wait to purchase that release. Of course, as we've seen with other movies, studios will continue to add material and pump out even more "special" editions if people will buy them, so you can never tell when that merry-go-round will end.
Roger Vozar Staff Reviewer

Read More