Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

John Cena and Paul Heyman Sell the PPV, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Just a warning folks, this one consists of mostly complaints. I was not happy with Raw this week.

Thoughts From Raw:

Paul Heyman urges John Cena to “give in” to defeat Brock Lesnar. I wasn’t as thrilled with this segment as a lot of other people were. Mick Foley even took to Twitter and called it “Quite simply one of the greatest interviews ever!” Respectfully, I disagree. It had nothing to do with either man’s performance. It’s just that we’ve seen this segment before. It’s the whole “This is who I am, and I won’t change!” speech. Off the top of my head, I can think of four people he’s done this with: Kane, The Rock, CM Punk, and Daniel Bryan. Mind you, Heyman might have orated his side of it better than the others. But the fact is, this is a rerun. Still, it’s interesting to see Heyman and Cena in the ring together. And at this point, Lesnar vs. Cena is still a hot match. So it didn’t hurt the build up by any means.

Roman Reigns def. Randy Orton via disqualification. I don’t know what the deal is with this match. It bored everybody at Summerslam, and it bored everybody again on Raw this week. It just seems like these guys are wrestling in a vat of molasses every time they get together. I assume they’ll be wrestling at least one more time on pay per view, but at this rate a Randy Orton/Roman Reigns match might actually deter me from buying a show.

Jerry Springer returns to Raw, does an in-ring segment with the Bellas. Poor Jerry. He’s actually a very eloquent speaker. But this…this was just not good. As ever, this was like watching the popular girls in high school have an argument. Good lord, I just…don’t…care. And what’s more, I really don’t think the fans care either.

Also, “Brie Mode” will never be a thing. Ever.

Adrian Neville & Sami Zayn def. Tyson Kidd & Tyler Breeze. This was the best segment on the show, for my money. All these guys were obviously hungry, and they showed it to us this week. Neville seemed to be the stand out guy, and seemed to have won the crowd over. And here’s hoping they’re able to bring the Tyson Kidd/Natalya storyline they’re doing on NXT to the main roster once he’s ready to come back up.

Bray Wyatt def. Chris Jericho in a steel cage match. In all honesty, since the creation of Hell in a Cell, steel cage matches don’t really do it for me anymore. But Jericho and Wyatt pulled off a decent one this week. My only big complaint was Wyatt crab walking toward the cage door, which was more goofy than anything else.

Dolph Ziggler shows the world The Miz’s “leaked” photos. I’m usually a fan of Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, and Damien Sandow. But I wasn’t a fan of what they did here, especially in light of Melina and Velvet Sky being among the victims of this mass cloud hacking. I rain on what little humor this segment actually provided, but that’s where I’m at on this one. By the way, do we have to keep calling him Damien MIZdow? If we’re going to keep him with Miz, can’t he at least have his name back?

Images from WWE.com.

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A Death of Wolverine #1 Review – Old Story, New Consequences

TITLE: Death of Wolverine #1
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
PENCILLER: Steve McNiven
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: September 3, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

While I haven’t exactly had my eye on the man called Logan lately, two elements attracted me to Death of Wolverine. Firstly, the notion that it would be a (more or less) self-contained story, told in four weekly issues. You wouldn’t need to do any research or back tracking to get into the story, and it wouldn’t drag like a lot of event comics do. Secondly, Charles Soule is the writer. Soule impressed me with this work on Superman/Wonder Woman, so I was interested to him work with Wolvie in a story that’s pivotal, to say the least.

When we open the book, Logan has lost his healing power. The issue doesn’t dive into the how and the why of it, it simply sets that notion on the table and keeps moving. (FYI, Logan got infected with a virus that suppressed the ability.) But now that our hero is vulnerable, a price has been put on his head and the bad guys are coming out of the woodwork to take him down. The question is, who has their sights set on Logan? Who is it that’s put him in harm’s way like never before? We find out at the end of this issue, and it’s someone we know quite well.

Of course, Death of Wolverine isn’t a new concept by any means. There’ve been a lot of “Logan fights his way through a lot of people” stories before. Hell, a few years ago we actually had Marvel Universe vs. Wolverine. So it’s not an uncommon story motif. And let’s not even get into superhero deaths. Coming into Death of Wolverine, we’re not even asking who or what will kill him, but rather how long he’ll actually stay dead. Still, the Wolverine vs. The World plot is as good as any to use if you’re going to kill off Logan. It’s a perfect way to give us some of his trademark violence and rage along the way.

We open the issue with a quiet scene, a calm before the storm (shown left). The reveal on pages four and five then gives us a strong sense of foreboding, and just what that storm will consist of. Soule stays pretty quiet from a narration standpoint, letting McNiven’s art do the talking. Considering the character we’re dealing with, and the quality of artist we have, that’s a wise move.

Soule also uses red, one-word caption boxes with white lettering to indicate intense pain, which Logan isn’t used to feeling the way normal people do. He simply tosses a body part out there (“Neck, “”Head,” etc) and lets the reader fill in the blanks. I’m interested to see how this trend progresses as we get closer to Logan’s demise.

Our villain for the issue is Nuke, a character created during Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil run. I’d just as soon not talk about Miller after Sin City: A Dame To Kill For bombed so badly. But the character serves his purpose here. He’s a meathead and a brute for Logan to beat up and get information from. He’s the kind of character Logan wouldn’t necessarily bat an eye over if he was his normal self. But now a fight with Nuke takes a different toll. Plus, McNiven and the artists make him look pretty good.

While it’s hardly a work of stunning originality, Death of Wolverine does what it sets out to do: Make me want to see how Logan dies. Soule’s writing rings true to the character, and the art sets the tone nicely. I’m curious to see where we go from here.

Front page image and image 1 from comicbookresources.com.

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Emasculating John Cena, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Raw:

The opening segment damn near kills the show. I hate to sound overdramatic, but that was in fact the case. Six man tags do so little for me anyway. But then to base it around the notion that Triple H doesn’t know if John Cena is really ready for Brock Lesnar at Night of Champions, after he friggin’ ran through the Wyatts last week, was nearly too much for me to take. I was worried the Raw broadcasts until Night of Champions would essentially be time killers, and this show did nothing to dissuade that. There was one bright spot to that opening segment though…

Triple H and Chris Jericho trade barbs during “Highlight Reel.” For whatever reason, Triple H likes to take little shots at the talent from time to time. We’ve seen these digs go toward top stars like John Cena, and even at virtually helpless ring announcers like Lilian Garcia. But occasionally, Hunter will get in there with someone like Chris Jericho, who doesn’t need to be in a WWE ring at this point in his career, and things get interesting. Granted, you can argue Jericho fired the first shot with the “shnoz” remark. But Hunter kind of kept things going needlessly. Either way, it’s refreshing to see talents who are unafraid to stand up for themselves and their characters when it becomes necessary.

John Cena lets Roman Reigns get the pinfall in the main event. So in a six man tag match where each man is supposed to be fighting to prove that he should be the top contender for the WWE Championship, Cena lets Reigns get the pin? Well, obviously it was to continue Reigns’ ascension toward main event level stardom. But from a character standpoint it made no sense.

Paul Heyman cuts a promo on the “emasculation” of John Cena at SummerslamWhile everybody else was essentially killing time, Paul Heyman was selling Night of Champions. I loved the direction he took things, and that’s the notion the whole show should have been built around. That could have fired up Cena, and prompted him to take charge in the main event. But instead they argued about whether Cena should really be the top contender.

The Miz (w/Damien Sandow) & Cesaro def. Dolph Ziggler & SheamusI actually like what Damien Sandow is doing as The Miz’s “stunt double.” Firstly, Miz got some nice heat out of the finish tonight. Secondly, it gives Sandow something do to other than wear silly costumes every week. And if they keep this duo together for awhile, it opens the door for a feud down the line. So what the hell, make Sandow a stunt double. Lord knows he’s played stranger roles this year…

Boredom with the Bellas, plus AJ and Paige. I was lucky enough to have gotten home late this week, so I was able to fast-forward through he vignettes where Nikki talked about “growing up Bella.” In terms of the in-ring segment, the acting was a little better this week, but it was still incredibly grating. I’m not exactly thrilled to see the intersection with Paige and AJ’s story, but this was obviously where it was going the whole time. I smell a triple threat match for Night of Champions. Paige vs. AJ vs. Nikki, and God help us, Nikki takes the title.

Incidentally, Stephanie vs. AJ? Yes please.

Goldust & Stardust continue to play heels against the Usos. Nope. Still not buying it. And if the chants are any indication (which they are, of course) neither are some of the fans. I maintain what I said last week. Goldust is too iconic for die-hard WWE fans to boo, and it’s silly for them to try and force the issue. But who knows? Maybe it’ll go somewhere good, and we’ll finally get to see the brothers fight. Though with the Bellas in a feud right now, it seems unlikely they’d go with another sibling rivalry program.

Images from WWE.com.

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Bella Twins, Bad Acting, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Raw:

Jerry Lawler hosts “reconciliation” between Brie and Nikki Bella. First of all, putting Jerry Lawler in the middle of this is hilarious. His reputation with women notwithstanding, I think they just did that for the “Jerry!” chants, the Springer show and what not. Secondly, the only reason I didn’t keep this segment on mute was for reviewing purposes (your welcome). My God the Bellas are terrible. This was silly soap opera acting at its worst. “I wish you’d died in the womb.” Psssht. Give me a break…

The sad thing is, there is an okay story under all the bad acting. I can see what they want this to be. Nikki went through hell when Brie “quit” WWE to be with her husband, and now she’s turned on her because of it. There was actually a point to her whole ear-splitting rant. But, as is the case with most instances when the Bella Twins talk, the delivery ruined it. It’s nothing against Nikki and Brie personally. I admire the fact that they’ve been performing with WWE for so long. They just don’t have he chops to fulfill this story’s dramatic needs. It’s sad, really. Especially for the audience, because we have to endure a LOT more of this. We’ve presumably got a series of Bella vs. Bella pay per view matches on the horizon…

Three ridiculous things are said during the Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Shawn Michaels panel discussion on Brock vs. Cena at Night of Champions:

1. Hulk Hogan: ”When it’s time, you know it’s your time.” This from the man who’s supposedly still trying to get in the ring again.

2. Shawn Michaels: “Everybody loves John Cena.” Really, Shawn? Everybody loves John Cena?

3. John Cena: ”I’m not going to Night of Champions to beat Brock Lesnar. I’m going to Night of Champions to beat Brock Lesnar’s ass.” Huh?

Goldust & Stardust seemingly turn heel on the Usos. This doesn’t make any sense. You’re going to try and get the fans to boo Goldust, a guy who’s been around for decades, and who probably has one of the best and most unique personas in the company’s history? I don’t get it.

WWE airs another interview package with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. As usual, this was very effective. Paul Heyman must have a degree of creative input as far as what Brock is saying. How else could these be so good on such a consistent basis? I’d love to see Cena react to what Brock said about his dad and his childhood…

Cesaro def. Rob Van Dam, will face Sheamus for the United States Championship (presumably at Night of Champions). Remember when Rob Van Dam was the WWE Champion? Damn, that seems like a long time ago. On the plus side, Sheamus and Cesaro have had good matches in the past, and will likely give us another one whenever they end up facing off.

AJ Lee and PaigeLesbianism for a PG era. Oh c’mon. That’s exactly what they’re giving us. It’s Trish Stratus and Mickie James all over again, only now they’re PG so they have to imply everything. I did, however, like the image of AJ hugging an extremely reluctant Paige. The notion that Paige tried to out-crazy AJ and failed is an amusing one. And of course, AJ is always good with that kind of stuff. “My little English muffin.” Classic.

Seth Rollins and Kane face off against Roman Reigns. I’m a bit surprised we’re not getting more of Reigns vs. Orton, their rather dull match at Summerslam notwithstanding. Still, putting Rollins with Reigns makes creative sense, given their Shield backgrounds. But somebody needs to put in a memo to STOP using those damn fake cinderblocks. Cement doesn’t just crumble like sand when you throw it against cement. And it CERTAINLY doesn’t smash into a million pieces when you bash someone’s skull against it. The fact that Dean Ambrose wasn’t bleeding like hell last week as Raw went off the air put a major damper on his departure, in my opinion.

Rusev def. Jack Swagger. So Swagger loses to Rusev…again. I can only assume we’re building this up for one last match where Swagger finally does get the win, here. Otherwise, it seems like they’re killing him off…again.

Images from WWE.com.

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A Review of The Multiversity #1 – Justice League vs. The Avengers (Sorta…)

TITLE: The Multiversity #1
AUTHOR: Grant Morrison
PENCILLER: Ivan Reis
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: August 20, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Grant Morrison tends to lose me when he goes cosmic. In my ever-so-humble opinion, he tends to talk over his readers’ heads with the complexity of his stories. That’s why I prefer his Batman stuff to stories like Final Crisis, or even his work on JLA. But this far, he’s got my interest with The Multiversity, possibly because it harkens back to Crisis on Infinite Earths, which will satisfy some of us that have been longing for the pre-New 52 DCU.

Oh, and there’s also a publicity stunt involving a bunch of analog Marvel characters. Yay…?

The Multiversity sees Nix Uotan, the last of the Monitors (a group of cosmic watchmen, basically) and his chimp sidekick Stubs lured to Earth 7, which has been laid to waste by demonic entities called the Gentry. He saves a hero named Thunderer (a Thor analog), who then returns to a big Death Star looking watchtower base to summon heroes from all 52 worlds in the multiverse. Among them are the Superman of Earth 23 (who is also the president of the United States), Captain Carrot, and an analog for Savage Dragon. Together they must find a way to save the multiverse from Nix Uotan, as he fights against the influence of the Gentry.

The core concept of The Multiversity is, of course, awesome. We get a good look at the New 52 DC multiverse while spending time with characters we’ve either never seen before, or in the case of Earth 23 Superman and Captain Carrot, don’t see very often. We also get some fan service for longtime readers, what with Nix Uotan being the “multiversal monitor,” plus a computerized simulation of Harbinger (again, see Crisis).

Oddly enough, the issue solicitation also makes note of Earth Prime, another old school DC concept. Earth Prime is the world where we, the readers, live. In older stories, writers have used Earth Prime for meta purposes, most notably with our old friend Superboy Prime. The comic book we’re reading seems to know it’s being viewed on Earth Prime, and as such is pleading with the reader to stop reading! Similarly, The Multiversity reintroduces the notion that one Earth’s reality is another’s fiction. For instance, Superman’s adventures on Earth 23 are by Red Racer (the book’s resident comic book reader) on Earth 36. So if you know what you’re looking at, you can essentially look in on other worlds.

You’ll also meet Aquawoman of Earth 11, which I’m guessing was the inverted gender Earth that Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness showed us way back in 2005′s Superman/Batman #23 and #24. We also see a pint-sized Wonder Woman and Steel, presumably from the “Li’l Leaguers” story done in Superman/Batman #51 and #52. Gypsy is also in one of the group shots. Whether she’s the Gypsy we met in the Vibe ongoing series remains to be seen. All these different characters are a lot to take in, but having them all together makes for a hell of a visual. Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Nei Ruffino do an awesome job with the art.

But while it’s cool to see the reintroduction of some older multiverse concepts, starting off with a bunch of Marvel analogs turned me off. While this is by no means a new trick, the way DC and Grant Morrison featured it so prominently in the first issue of a story that’s been anticipated for five years is…disappointing. They even make a point to allude to all the Marvel movies. Okay, we get it. Marvel exists. And oh, look! Some of these analogs are getting beat up! How cute. But this little stunt isn’t edgy or cool. If anything, it makes DC look even more like the definitive number two publisher, because they feel the need to jab their competition in a big book like this. Really? That’s the best they can do for the first issue of a story that has practically limitless possibilities?

Still, The Multiversity, which will continue as a series of standalones before bookending with issue #2, is undeniably packed with potential and intrigue. But thus far we haven’t gotten much in terms of substance. It’s a pretty book, but Morrison spent much of this issue explaining things. Who people are, what the multiverse is, what the Gentry wants, etc. Once we get into these one-shots, Grant will have more time to stretch out and do some storytelling. But I’m hoping against hope that he keeps things as simple and straightforward as he can. Let’s be creative, but let’s also not get lost in what Captain Carrot himself refers to as “cartoon science.”

Front page image from wired.com. Image 1 from bamsmackpow.com. Image 2 from comixology.com. 

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A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review – When The Fanboys Are Right

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
STARRING: Megan Fox, Johnny Knoxville (voice), Noel Fisher, Alan Ritchson, Jeremy Howard,
DIRECTOR: Jonathan Liebsman
STUDIOS: Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Movies, Platinum Dunes, Gama Entertainment, Mednick Productions
RATED: PG-13
RUN TIME: 101 min
RELEASED: August 8, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The fanboy/fangirl community has earned the right to be skeptical. Over the years we’ve been let down by so many lackluster takes on comic book stories and concepts. Too many to name here. So when this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot was announced, with Michael Bay attached as a producer and Megan Fox cast as April O’Neil, a lot of justified skepticism and criticism was leveled at the project. Fans would go on to scratch their heads at the sight of these new CGI motion capture Turtles, and roll their eyes when Johnny Knoxville and Tony Shalhoub were brought in at the last minute to do voice over work for Leonardo and Splinter.

But as both a critic and a fanboy, my philosophy is that while you have every right to be skeptical, you’ve got to see the full movie before you can officially condemn it.

And as a life-long, die hard Ninja Turtles fan, it breaks my heart to tell you the skeptics were right. Not only that, but the film’s three major problems were all evident in the trailers and the advertising:

1. They overthought the concept.
2. They forgot to have fun.
3. They cast Megan Fox.

As expected, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a rehash of the origin story. There are some tweaks here and there, but essentially it’s the same. Our heroes are Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo. They have a sensei/father/humanoid rat named Splinter, a human friend named April, and an arch enemy called The Shredder. In this film, The Shredder and his scientist pupil Eric Sacks (William Fichtner) attempt to steal the mutagen in the Turtles’ blood, and use it as a cure for a bioweapon they plan to unleash on the city, thus allowing the Foot to extort massive amounts of money and rise to power.

There’s been a lot of talk as to why the Turtles and Shredder were tinkered with so much in this film. They’re all gimmicked up for no real reason. Leonardo wears bamboo armor, Michaelangelo wears pants when none of the others do, Donatello wears taped glasses and is geared up like a friggin’ Ghostbuster. Meanwhile, Shredder is no longer a sinister ninja master wearing some intimidating bladed armor. Now, he’s essentially a nameless, faceless big bad who puts on a techno wondersuit and becomes an evil CGI Transformer. All the pure hate and evil has been sucked out of him, and he’s been reduced to a mere special effect.

So why has so much been tinkered with to the point of ridiculousness? There could be a multitude of reasons. But my gut tells me the filmmakers wanted to give us something a bit different than what we’ve seen before, while also making our villains more dangerous, and raising the stakes. This is all fine on paper. But remember, you’re catering to a vast audience ranging from little kids to grown adults, and all these people are expecting these characters to more or less look a certain way. For the Turtles, it’s been bandanas and elbow/knee pads for 30 years. If you’re going to change that, give me a reason. Donatello’s techno attachments make sense, but they overdid it. Ditto for Shredder. It’s a classic case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

This notion of four talking turtles and their enemy who wears knives on his arms is pretty damn far-fetched. But if you pull it off the right way, you can suck the audience in and get them invested in this ludicrous fantasy. But make it TOO ludicrous, and give the audience too many questions to ask, then the whole thing falls apart and you lose that connection. Ninja Turtles lost that connection with me once friggin’ RoboShredder walked on screen. They stretched our suspension of disbelief too far and robbed us of an awesome villain in one fell swoop.

Ninja Turtles isn’t much fun to watch, either. Mikey brings some great comic relief to the table, as he should. But the boys in green spend most of the movie either bickering with each other or dealing with the battle at hand. I believe they’re brothers, but the fun of seeing them interact on the big screen is missing. It’s ironic that one of the elements that the Nickelodeon show really nailed, the Nickelodeon movie let sail over its head.

And then there’s Megan Fox’s portrayal of April O’Neil. This version of April, much like the one we saw in the ’80s cartoon, is a hard-nosed journalist who’s not willing to risk her safety to get the big story. She’s the Lois Lane of the TMNT universe. In Ninja Turtles, she’s in many ways the main character. She’s also the one we’re supposed to connect with, and it’s her actions that drive the story forward.

But in the end, casting Megan Fox as April O’Neil was a TERRIBLE mistake, and it’s her presence on screen that drags the movie down more than anything. Instead of coming off as ambitious and brave, the character becomes annoying and stupid. It boggles the mind just how many better actresses could have been chosen to play this part (for instance, Mae Whiteman, who voices the character on TV). But instead we’re forced to endure Fox’s wooden, and at times downright irritating performance.

Casting aside Megan Fox (gladly) for a moment, one can argue the April character was overemphasized in this film anyway. When we open the movie, she’s struggling to be taken seriously as a reporter. Her cause isn’t helped when she brings her boss (played by Whoopi Goldberg) this story about six foot turtles that can talk and do karate. But is the movie about her, or is it about the Turtles and the oddball family they’ve created together? Thus, the film becomes unfocused. Come to think of it, that whole “April wants respect” plotline isn’t even resolved. So in the end, it didn’t even matter…

The sad thing is that from a story standpoint, what we see in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles isn’t necessarily bad. If we’d made a casting change or two, simplified everybody’s look, and fleshed out Shredder, this could have been a passable attempt to revive the TMNT movie franchise. It wouldn’t have been perfect, but it would have at least been respectable. Instead we have this. A joyless, largely lifeless CGI suckfest. And ultimately, that’s pretty much what the skeptics said it was going to be, isn’t it?

Fate added insult to injury, what with this movie being released one week after Guardians of the Galaxy. That movie did the whole sci-fi/action/comedy flick in a way that got almost everything right. As much as I love the franchise, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles got almost everything wrong, just as we all feared it would. If you’re looking for your Turtle Power fix in the modern era, my advice is to stick to the TV show.

RATING: 3.5/10

Front page image from fandango.com. Interior images from rottentomatoes.com.

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A Ghostbusters: Mass Hysteria! – Part 1 Review – Chaos Unleashed!

TITLE: Ghostbusters, Vol. 8: Mass Hysteria! – Part 1
AUTHOR: Erik Burnham
PENCILLER: Dan Schoening
COLLECTS: Ghostbusters #13-16
FORMAT: Paperback
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $17.99
RELEASE DATE: 
August 6, 2014

(Need to catch up on IDW’s Ghostbusters? Check out Check out volumes OneTwoThreeFourFive, Six, and Seven.)

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’ve said this before. I’ve been saying it since 2011. But it was true then, and it’s still true. So for my money, it’s still worth saying. If you’re a Ghosthead and a child of the ’80s and ’90s, Ghostbusters is a dose of pure, unadulterated, nostalgic fun. This Erik Burnham/Dan Schoening run is something really special, and there are no two men better qualified to spearhead a Ghostbusters 30th anniversary event comic like Mass Hysteria.

Tiamat, the Mesopotamian goddess of chaos and the sister of Gozer, has come to Earth. In ancient times she and her followers were responsible for banishing Gozer from the terrestrial plane. Now, after her brother’s defeat, she’s taken an interest in Earth and the Ghostbusters. And because “I want to start this game with everything that my brother had,” she’s targeted Dana Barrett and Louis Tully. That, combined with this attack coming on the heels of Winston’s wedding to Tiyah, and Tiamat’s attack is going to be extremely personal for the boys in gray.

As a long time Ghosthead, the most exciting aspect of this book is the return of Dana. Her presence evokes so many memories and emotions from both the audience and the other characters that you could almost do a story solely about her re-entering the picture, without any ghostly threat. Case in point, in issue #15 Venkman gets a call from her. Three words in, he leaps over his desk, gets on a motorcycle, and speeds off to her apartment. His trademark coyness and wit is nowhere to be found. Anyone or anything that can make Venkman take life seriously is obviously a hefty story element.

Dan Schoening draws a nearly perfect Dana Barrett. Her face is done slightly less cartoony than the other characters, with defined cheekbones and an accented chin. Out of all the characters from the films, she looks like the most like her corresponding actor. Schoening even gave her Sigourney Weaver’s haircut circa 1994/1995. My only complaint is an unconventional one: Her fingernails. This has actually been a consistent complaint of mine about Schoening’s work, as it has applied to almost all the female characters. But it’s never been immensely noticeable until now. I’m not sure if these girls are supposed to be wearing acrylic nails, or if they’re just long. But the effect makes them look like – I’m just going to say it – witch fingers. Very few things in these Burnham/Schoening books are weird in a bad way. But this is weird in a bad way.

I almost wish they’d saved Louis for another story. Because of everything that’s happening, he doesn’t necessarily get time to shine, save for a scene in a bar. Also, Louis is uncharacteristically depressed in this book. It’s understandable given the circumstances, I suppose. But it’s not really the character we’re hoping to see. Still, Schoening fits him right into the books cartoony style.

As for Tiamat, she’s got a sort of Medusa/snake lady thing going on, which is cool. I like the chaos element she brings to the story. Blood rains from the sky, cars start floating, the Ghostbusters run into future versions of themselves. It’s a lot of fun, and I actually wish they’d amped it up a bit more. But then again, this is only the first half.

As ever, Schoening injects the proceedings with plenty of Easter eggs from Ghostbusters lore and ’80s/’90s culture. The “future” Ghostbusters, for instance, are wearing the same outfits as the Real Ghostbusters ”Fright Features” action figures from he late ’80s. That’s a goddamn riot. There are also a bunch of cool guests at Winston’s wedding, including Ivan Reitman, Bobby Brown, Stevie Wonder, Martin Short as he appeared in Father of the Bride, Roland Jackson from Extreme Ghostbusters. We even see Estelle Winslow from friggin’ Family Matters! Why? Why not? As always, it’s those little details that make this series not only a lot of fun, but great for repeat reading.

Unfortunately, we may need to do a lot of repeat reading if we want our IDW Ghostbusters fix in the near future. This volume (the second Burnham, Schoening, and their cohorts have done) is ending with issue #20 in September. Granted, they haven’t ruled out a third volume, and Burnham and Schoening will are actually working with Tom Waltz on the epic Ghostbusters/Ninja Turtles crossover miniseries, which debuts in October. But the fact is, Burnham and Schoening’s days with the boys in grey could be coming to an end. Would a 30th anniversary event like Mass Hysteria! be a fitting way to cap off what they’ve done with the Ghostbusters? Yes. But it would still be heartbreaking to see such a phenomenal team break up. Their stories have had their share of flaws (I still don’t know why Mel needs to be around). But as far as I’m concerned, this is still some of the best GB content ever produced.

RATING: 8.5/10

Front page image/image 1 from majorspoilers.com. Image 2 from followingthenerd.com.

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The Biggest Fight of the Summer. Plus, Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Raw:

WWE airs Cena vs. Lesnar video package, featuring interviews with both men. I always love when they do produced interviews with Brock this way. This is the only way we should ever hear him talk. He doesn’t have the pressure of being in front of a live crowd, the producers can try different takes, different lines, etc. He can be a really effective talker when he does it the right way. These video packages with Brock always leave an impression, and an resonate for a long time. What resonated with me about this one? Brock’s question: “For God’s sake, why wouldn’t Brock Lesnar beat The Undertaker?…Because he’s some mythical God? It’s not rocket science, people.” That was really good.

But let’s not discount Cena, either. His stuff about Brock only having to have “one fight every so often” in the UFC was good. These past two weeks, they’ve played up the differences between Cena and Lesnar very well. The idea of the passionate champion against the merciless mercenary has been conveyed effectively. The whole “blood and urine and vomit” thing might have been a bit too much. But all in all, I’m really ready for this match.

Still, as good as Cena vs. Lesnar will be, I can’t help but wonder how different the story would be if we had that David vs. Goliath scenario that a Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan match would have given us…

Roman Reigns def. Kane in a Last Man Standing Match. Heck of an opening match. Reigns and Kane went all “hardcore” for us. This should have been the main event, for my money. I actually think WWE should have put Stephanie and the Bellas on first, then close the show with the Last Man Standing Match. Why not? Yes, it was a good way to draw fans in. But if Steph and the Bellas are good enough to close a show, why can’t they open one? Plus, the knowledge that I’ve got a pay per view quality match coming my way would damn sure keep my interest.

Triple H, Jerry Lawler, and JBL plug the cost of the WWE Network to the point of obnoxiousness. Ah, I get it. They tried to get away with lots of shameless plugs by turning them into a comedy bit. It’s PG era DX logic. Except, much like the PG era DX, these plugs got old REAL fast. Obviously the WWE Network isn’t growing as fast as the company would like, and as such they’re shoving it down our throats each an every week, to the point that it’s actually obnoxious. But what they need to realize is that Raw caters to essentially the same audience each and every week. So plugging this network so mercilessly isn’t going to do any damn good, because most of the people who want to buy it have already done so. Mind you, I think the news that the Network is expanding overseas is terrific, and will boost subscriptions tremendously. Hopefully, that’ll allow WWE to be a little less intense in promoting this thing. Once they go overseas, it’ll be a new ball game.

Dean Ambrose def. Alberto Del Rio. I heard Paul Heyman say something on a podcast awhile back about Stone Cold Steve Austin. He said to watch the way Steve Austin hits the ropes, because he goes all out every time. For whatever reason, I was compelled to do that in this match with Dean Ambrose. In paying attention to detail like this, I came to appreciate the fact that every single time he’s out there, Ambrose looks like he’s fighting for his life. And in this match in particular, a Beat the Clock match, that was displayed quite poignantly. It also made Del Rio look pretty damn good, as the obstacle Ambrose just couldn’t clear. Really good match.

Heath Slater def. Seth Rollins. Cool little moment for Heath Slater this week, not that it’ll matter in the long run. So Slater’s new tag team partner is Titus O’Neil, huh? They could be entertaining together, I suppose. O’Neil was terribly miscast as a bruiser heel, so it’s nice to see him getting the chance to talk and be charismatic again. I still miss the Prime Time Players, though.

Images from WWE.com.

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A Guardians of the Galaxy Review – For God’s Sake, A Talking Raccoon!

TITLE: Guardians of the Galaxy
STARRING: Chris Pratt, Zoe SaldanaBradley Cooper (voice), Dave Bautista, Lee Pace
DIRECTOR: James Gunn
STUDIOS: Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
RATED:
PG-13
RUN TIME:
122 min
RELEASED:
August 1, 2014 

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Guardians of the Galaxy is a great movie, and a great accomplishment for Marvel Studios. Strictly at face value, the film features none of the A-list Marvel superheroes (Iron Man, Captain America, etc.) to gain the quick attention of mainstream audiences. Yet it has still managed to be a big draw because it looks like a hell of a lot of fun. And much like moviegoers have come to associate clean and innocent merriment with Disney, or gorgeous animation with Pixar, audiences have put their money down for Guardians because they know they’ll get a fun and epic thrill ride from Marvel.

And Guardians of the Galaxy delivers.

Twenty-six years ago, young Peter Quill was abducted by a group of space smugglers called the Ravagers. Fast forward to present day, and he’s become the space pirate codenamed Star-Lord. But when a mysterious orb comes into Star-Lord’s possession, he finds himself swept up the business of Ronan the Accuser, who seeks to use the orb in a twisted bargain with galactic warlord Thanos (who moviegoers will remember from the post-credits scene in The Avengers). Ronan sends the assassin Gamora to retrieve it. Along with a humanoid raccoon named Rocket, a giant tree-like creature called Groot, and the musclebound Drax the Destroyer, they soon become swept up in a conflict that will decide the fate of billions.

Despite the incredibly high stakes and all the dizzying dangers our heroes find themselves in, Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s that sense of humor that sets the film apart from anything else in the Marvel has ever brought to screen. Movies like Captain AmericaThor, and of course, The Avengers, have been mostly action and drama with a touch of humor thrown in. Guardians ups the humor quotient to the point that it’s what you’ll walk away from the movie thinking about. As I’ve discussed before, Marvel smartly carves out cinematic niches and territories for its characters. With Iron Man its technological wonder mixed with wit, with Thor it’s mysticism from other realms, with Hulk it’s monster movie drama, etc. Clearly, with Guardians of the Galaxy it’s a blend of high octane sci-fi action and comedy. It makes for an awesome mix.

Guardians also makes excellent use of music to not only help incorporate the humor, but make itself more accessible. The Peter Quill character stays in touch with his Earth roots via an old mix tape his mother made for him before she died. As such, the film is filled with songs from the ’70s and ’80s like “Hooked on a Feeling,” “Cherry Bomb,” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” The soundtrack injects the movie with a certain energy that better connects us to our hero, and the proceedings at large. And again, it sets Guardians apart from anything Marvel has done before.

Chris Pratt is the heart of our movie, and delivers the goods both sentimentally and comedically. At one point, Pratt described the Star-Lord character as a mix of Han Solo and Marty McFly, which is pretty spot-on. But Bradley Cooper also deserves immense credit for making Rocket Raccoon exactly what he needed to be. He had the snark we were all looking for. But the character also gets very emotional at times, which isn’t necessarily something you expect from a gun-toting raccoon. As for Dave Batista in his Drax role, he’s not a master thespian by any means. I’ve seen most of what he turns in here from watching him on WWE TV over the years. That being said, he does fine. He’s obviously very convincing as a big bruiser type, and he also gets some of the best one-liners in the movie. He may not have come out on top at Wrestlemania, but he got a nice victory here.

The most notable criticism I can hurl at Guardians is that all the details of who is aligned with who, and who came from where can be a bit much to take in at first. For instance, we’ve got Gamora, who is working alongside another assassin named Nebula. They both work for Ronan, who is aligned with Thanos. Gamora and Nebula are both Thanos’ adopted daughters (sort of…). But Gamora secretly hates Thanos because he murdered her family, and wants to keep the mysterious orb out of his hands. It’s also a bit awkward keeping track of where Peter comes from, and how he got to be what he is. The movie hammers it in enough times that you eventually get it. But still, it’s a rockier start than one would like.

As ever, Marvel is planting seeds for future films. Guardians has some fairly obvious implications as far as the Infinity Gauntlet story is concerned. Thanos is in this movie, but nothing is really done with him. Thus, in addition to being a pretty awesome movie in its own right, Guardians also serves as the next step on the road to Thanos’ showdown with The Avengers, which I can only assume will be in the third Avengers film. Foresight. It’s by God amazing when you use it correctly.

Incidentally, hey Warner Bros? This is what Green Lantern should have been like. Just saying.

At the end of the day, Guardians of the Galaxy surpassed virtually all my expectations. What we have here resembles a blend between The Avengers and Star Wars, with a bit of Men in Black thrown in. Marvel continues to expand its boundaries, and with luck, change a few opinions about what a comic book movie can be.

RATING: 9/10

 Front page image from majorspoilers.com. Interior images from rottentomatoes.com.

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TNA’s TV Woes, Selling SummerSlam and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Not at all happy to hear TNA is allegedly getting the boot from Spike TV this fall. That company may now finds itself in the very scary position of having to find itself another network in time, or risk going belly up.

People can crack all the jokes they want about the creative at TNA. But the fact is, the number 2 wrestling company in the United States could be in a potentially devastating position. If this turns out to be true, it could be terrible news for wrestling fans, and it’s especially bad news for wrestlers looking for work, experience, and mainstream exposure.

To my knowledge, nothing has been officially announced yet, so I’m going to avoid jumping to hasty conclusions. But here’s hoping that if TNA is indeed leaving Spike TV, another network will pick Impact Wrestling up. The show, after all, continues to draw in the ballpark of a million viewers every week.

Thoughts From Raw:

John Cena and Paul Heyman open the show with a verbal confrontation. I loved the “Biggest Fight of the Summer” promo WWE produced for Lesnar vs. Cena at Summerslam, and the opening segment between Cena and Heyman was an awesome way to follow it up. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: When John Cena has a topic he can sink his teeth into, and he doesn’t have to pander or blatantly promote anything, he can be awesome on the mic. We saw that from him this week, and it’s no coincidence that a mic master like Paul Heyman was the one to bring it out of him.

I’m of the mindset that we don’t need to see Brock Lesnar again until the Raw before Summerslam. Let Cena and Heyman carry it, and build to a mini-confrontation between Brock and Cena on the go-home Raw.

John Cena def. Cesaro. Any time these two are in the ring, it’s essentially a giant test of strength. And hey, that’s a good thing. As unlikely as it may be considering their different backgrounds, Cena and Cesaro seem made for each other. This match also showed us Cesaro and Heyman may not have completely severed ties…

Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella close the show with an in-ring brawl. I’m not a fan of either Brie or Nikki Bella. But I will say this: When was the last time a diva segment closed Raw? You’ve probably got to go back to the days of Trish Stratus and Lita to answer that one. Granted, Stephanie isn’t a wrestler, per se. But still, it placed an added emphasis on women’s wrestling that hasn’t been seen in WWE in quite some time. And to her credit, Brie’s acting has gotten a little bit better. Though that “You deserve to go to hell!” line was a bit much.

Has it really been over a decade since Stephanie wrestled? It doesn’t seem that way. The two Stephanie matches that immediately come to mind are her bout with Trish from February 2001, and her match with Vince from fall 2003. I have no doubt she’s as capable as ever. Lord knows she’s as muscled as we’ve ever seen her, and is probably much stronger. I doubt this will be a beautifully coordinated masterpiece of a match, considering Brie isn’t exactly Shawn Michaels. But then again, neither was Trish when Steph wrestled her. So who knows? Maybe they’ll surprise us.

Randy Orton and Kane brutalize Roman Reigns. I like the idea of a Reigns/Orton match at Summerslam. Distancing Orton from the WWE Title picture for a bit will be good for him, in my opinion. He’s done just fine in his role as The Authority’s chosen one. But let’s have him help elevate Roman Reigns, and possibly Dean Ambrose, before we put that bright a spotlight back on him.

Chris Jericho vs. Seth Rollins went to a no contest when The Wyatt Family interfered. I was really enjoying Jericho’s work with Rollins before the Wyatts got involved. I believe one of the announcers called Rollins “cat-like.” Corny as it sounds, it’s true. From an in-ring standpoint, there’s nobody else on the roster quite like him. That can only work in his favor as time goes on.

R-Truth def. Bo Dallas, ending his undefeated streak. So…R-Truth, huh? The guy with little to no discernible momentum, who’s been singing the same song since 2008, is the guy who finally pins Bo Dallas? Well that sucks. Granted, it wasn’t the most prestigious streak in wrestling history, but it could have amounted to a little more than what it did. Nothing personal, but R-Truth? Still, it allowed Bo to show off his vicious side, and that’s a plus.

Front page image from betweentheropes.com. Image 1 from tnanews.com. Images 2 and 3 from wwe.com.

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