Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

The Randy Orton Face Turn, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Hell in a Cell 2014 seems to have exceeded people’s expectations, which is always nice to hear. Sadly, I wasn’t able to catch the show. What really sucks about that, is I wasn’t able to see the Dean Ambrose/Seth Rollins cell match. From what I’ve seen, they put on an awesome match, while paying tribute to a couple of the classic matches (Undertaker/Shawn Michaels and Undertaker/Mick Foley) in the process. Thankfully, WWE made the right call and put that match on last. I said it before the show, and I’ll say it again, there was no way Orton and Cena were going to top them. It also makes a nice statement about WWE looking toward the future.

And by God, Ambrose and Rollins are such stars.

Thoughts From WWE Raw:

Randy Orton goes on a verbal tirade against Seth Rollins to kick off the show. Alright, I’ve got to eat a little crow here. Last week I said, “Randy Orton is a great wrestler, but he’s just not a good talker.” Well, Orton proved me wrong in the very first segment of this week’s show. But keep in mind, what I was saying last week was how phony and heavily scripted Orton’s promos usually sound. This week, he ditched his usual slow pace and just ranted. It was awesome. And apparently, Orton went into anger management in 2006. Hey, I believe it.

With the RKO on Seth Rollins, the Randy Orton face turn appears to be in full swing now. That’s a good thing. It gives Randy an opportunity to freshen up his character, and opens the door for some new rivalries. I’m also interested to see if he can continue pushing the idea that the RKO can be hit any time and anywhere, as all those Vine videos so delightfully conveyed.

Team Cena vs. Team Authority booked for Survivor Series*groan* Well, it looks like we won’t get Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series. And on top of that, we got another “You should turn heel, John” promo, this time from Triple H and Stephanie. Triple H’s part of it was fairly intriguing, with the notion that Cena’s getting beat up, and “can’t stop the future.” But still, it’s incredibly disappointing that we won’t be seeing Brock Lesnar for another month. What’s more, when we do see him, he’ll be against Cena again. Granted, Someone else (Randy Orton, perhaps?) could be added to the match. But it’s still disheartening.

Bray Wyatt cuts a return promo on Dean Ambrose after costing him his cell match. I still don’t understand some of what Bray Wyatt is saying in these promos that everybody loves so much. But I suppose as long as he understands it, and can motivate it, that’s what matters. Really intrigued by what we might see from this Wyatt/Ambrose program.

Dean Ambrose opts to assault Cesaro with a microphone instead of wrestling him. I hate to say this, but how far has Cesaro fallen since his big battle royal win at Wrestlemania? He’s so talented, and deserves so much better. But good lord, who hasn’t beaten this guy lately?

Ryback def. Bo Dallas. It looks like the returning Ryback is a babyface again. The timing of Ryback’s heel turn last year was odd. But it did give him a chance to develop his on-screen charisma a bit more. I get the impression that the somewhat unhinged personality we see him display on television is very much an extension of who he really is, which is how most good pro wrestling personas develop. It’s also nice to see another fresh face on the show.

Hulk Hogan shows up for another Susan G. Komen segment. I like Hogan in this role. It suits him well  at this stage in his career. They can use him on television without him stealing the spotlight, as he inevitably does, whether it’s intentional or not.

Incidentally, Jesse Ventura told an interesting story about Hogan on Piper’s Pit with Roddy Piper this week. I have no clue how much truth there is to it, but it sounds like the Hogan we know. He tells it during the last 15 minutes of the show.

Mark Henry heels on The Big Show during a tag team title match. Predictably, Mark Henry goes heel. Nothing wrong with that. Henry’s a guy the fans love to hate. I’m interested to see if they turn the “Sexual Chocolate” chants into something that pisses Henry off. They might as well. The fans chant it every time he’s in the ring.

Images from wwe.com.

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A Review of The Walking Dead, S5E3 – Sweet, Sweet Revenge

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

So what does it mean to be a good guy in the world of The Walking Dead? We continued to ponder that question this week. We certainly have several examples of what it means to be a bad guy, the latest being Gareth and his camp of cannibals. Those opening shots of the cannibals eating Bob’s leg, juxtaposed with the ones of the walkers were awesome. And then you had Gareth putting his hand against the glass, which was an awesome visual representation of the question, “What separates us from them?”

What’s been cool this season is that if you’ve been collecting the comics, you can actually read along with certain segments of the show. For instance, Father Gabriel’s confession, the dialogue between Gareth and Rick in the church, etc. I love how the show isn’t the comic book, but it’s always fun to see them intersect.

On to the good stuff…

Thoughts From The Walking Dead, S5E3:

Bob dies peacefully after revealing he was bitten during the events of last week’s episode. Not surprised to see Bob die this week, in a surprisingly tranquil manner. After last week’s cliffhanger, I think we needed an episode where the good guys got a win. Bob’s whole “tainted meat” tirade was pretty great. In all honesty, I’m surprised this character lasted as long as he did. But his death scene was extremely impactful, leaving both Sasha and the audience to wonder what good can come from so much carnage.

Rick, Sasha, and the others massacre Gareth and his group. Again, we blur the lines between good and evil. In that moment, the only real difference between Rick’s group and Gareth’s group was that the former didn’t eat their victims after they were dead.

After the massacre, Michonne picks up her sword again. Again, some great symbolism. Michonne ultimately has no choice but to pick up that sword, even though she doesn’t necessarily enjoy wielding it.

A hidden Carl holds his gun forth in defense as the cannibals taunt the group. I was actually proud to see Carl standing up for himself and his friends in such a scary moment. One can only wonder what Carl thought of his dad slicing Gareth up the way he did.

 Glenn, Maggie, Abraham, Rosita and Eugene leave the group to head for Washington. The group definitely needed to shrink, at least for a little while. Things were getting crowded. I was disappointed we didn’t see Glenn and Maggie give Rick a proper goodbye. Lord knows they may never see each other again. We haven’t spent a lot of time with our favorite post-apocalyptic couple this season. With Father Gabriel around, and the show taking plenty of cues from the comic book, I’m curious to see if they’ll have themselves a makeshift wedding.

Father Gabriel confesses to the group. Gabriel’s confession about locking his congregation out of the church in the wake of the apocalypse was just as awesome on television as it was in the comics. And I love that he has to describe it for us, so the whole scenario is left to our imagination. It never fails, what you picture in your head is always worse than what they give you on screen. But the question still remains: What happens to him now? His big secret is out. So from a storytelling standpoint, what do you do with him? Obviously he’s a coward. So do you keep him around to have him face his fears? Or do you kill him off to illustrate there’s no room for that kind of cowardice in the face of a zombie apocalypse. I’m very curious to see if he makes it through this season.

Front page image/image 2, and image 1 from amctv.com. Image 3 from wetpaint.com. Image 4 moviepilot.com.

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A Death of Wolverine Review – Going Out Like a Champ…or a Chump?

TITLE: Death of Wolverine
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
PENCILLER: Steve McNiven
COLLECTS: Death of Wolverine #1-4
PUBLISHER: Marvel
GRAPHIC NOVEL PRICE: $24.99
GRAPHIC NOVEL RELEASE: January 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder 

Death of Wolverine is a surprisingly quiet story. Quiet in the sense that there were so many paths it could have taken with Logan’s death. He’s an X-Men and an Avenger after all. Half the Marvel Universe could have been incorporated into a big, explosive, cosmic battle, culminating in the death of this once immortal hero.

Instead, Charles Soule, Steve McNiven and the rest of the creative team give us something more reserved, and perhaps more personal for Logan. We see traces of his larger role in the Marvel Universe. But for the most part, it’s a rather intimate affair. It’s Logan, plus some characters that have a special connection to him. It’s not necessarily what you’d expect, but it has a nice feel to it.

Having lost his healing power, Logan is now a marked man. An unknown enemy has put a price out for his capture, and now Logan finds himself vulnerable in more ways than one. In the end, Logan does pay the ultimate price for that vulnerability. But as one might expect, he doesn’t go without a fight. And that fight brings him face-to-face with more than one person from his past.

Death of Wolverine isn’t terribly inventive or surprising. But does it need to be? We already know the outcome, after all. The story is structured like a mini farewell tour for Wolverine, as his quest to find the mystery villain brings him to Canada, Madripoor, and finally a site not unlike the facility where Wolverine as we know him was created. Soule, McNiven, and the creative team seem more intent on making us ponder and appreciate the character, which is fair enough. The execution has its flaws. But I tip my hat to this piece for its intentions, as well as the amazing artwork.

McNiven is definitely in top form here. His art has a lot of detail to it, and in Logan’s case a lot of soul. In the first issue alone, McNiven does an awesome job of showing us a man who’s emotionally and physically exhausted from decades of brutality and violence. Then we move on to hopelessness, pain, depression, and then a bit of that classic Wolverine rage. Over the course of the story, he also gets to draw Logan in a variety of costumes and scenarios. We get good ol-wife beater wearin’ Logan, Logan in costume, Logan in samurai garb, and even sharp-dressed Logan. Again, paying tribute to the character and where he’s been. McNiven is able to maintain that quality over all four issues, which demonstrates just how good he really is.

Under Soule’s pen, Logan seems a bit more introspective as he ponders his own mortality. At first he seems pretty depressed and despondent about the whole thing. But by issue #3 he seems to have found some hope that this change will allow him to live a normal life away from all the fighting. During a conversation with Kitty Pryde, Logan says: “No more doing something horrible and telling myself I’ve got until the end of damn time to make up for it.” The idea that, in the face of his own mortality, Logan has guilt over what he is and what he’s done is interesting. Soule revisits that idea during the story’s climax, which is appreciated.

The story also uses different colored text boxes to illustrate Logan’s different senses. Red for pain, blue for smell, yellow for sounds, etc. The novelty does wear off gradually. But it’s a good choice given who our lead character is, and the kind of story we’re in.

Perhaps the biggest flaw in Death of Wolverine is its need for breathing room. All things considered, Soule might have overcomplicated things. The first issue moves along at an appropriate pace, both setting the table, giving us some action, and establishing Logan’s mindset. But by issue two we’re shoving different characters in front of Logan, simply for the sake of having these epic fights. But they’re so condensed that they don’t necessarily have the time to be as epic or gripping as they could have been.

Take the Wolverine/Sabretooth fight, for instance. Theoretically, the entire story could have been built around one last fight between Logan and Creed, where one of Wolverine’s arch rival finally kills him. Instead, we got a daydream sequence (shown above), followed by a fight that featured Sabretooth in an oddly submissive position courtesy of Viper. And in the end, any potential consequences brought on by the fight (most notably Logan losing his eye) are undone when Kitty Pryde pops up with a dose of “regen serum.” What’s the point of taking Logan’s healing factor away if you’re simply going to give him a miracle cure when he’s in a jam?

I also wasn’t thrilled with the way Logan actually kicks the bucket. While staying spoiler free, it’s poetic in its own way. And again, I appreciated Soule’s nod to the journey Logan has been on as a human being. But in the end, Logan essentially takes himself out, and winds up looking more like a depressed Silver Surfer (if you’ve read the book you know why) than a dead Wolverine. So not only do we not give a villain the distinction of having killed our hero, Logan winds up going out like a chump. All those decades of blood and heroism, only to die like that?

Soule and the folks at Marvel seem to have had a decent take on Wolverine’s demise, and the artists are able to give us a stellar looking Logan. But in the end the presentation got watered down, and quite needlessly in certain cases. But regardless, the end result is the same. Wolverine is off the table…for now.

RATING: 6/10

Front page image and image 3 from comicbookresources.com. Image 1 from denofgeek.us. Image 2 from comicbookherald.com. 

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