Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

The Wyatt Family Unites, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From WWE Raw:

The Wyatt Family destroys John Cena in a 3-on-1 handicap match. This week’s main event was really strong. By putting the fans in control of the main event, the WWE got to almost gauge their support for both Cena and the Wyatts. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Bray once this program with Cena blows over. Clearly the fans are warming up to them. Is it too soon to make Bray Wyatt a bizarre and non-traditional hero figure, akin to the likes of The Undertaker, Kane, Mankind, or Goldust? Or do we put him back with Daniel Bryan in the near future, and have him try his hand at a main event program?

I’m very curious as to how the creative process works for Bray Wyatt’s promos. How much does he come up with, and how much does creative come up with? How much is ad-libbed, and how much is scripted? I’m always curious about that kind of stuff, but his are especially interesting in that respect, as they’re so articulate.

Daniel Bryan appears on Raw, mere hours after his father passes away. Obviously WWE wrote around him this week, keeping him off the mic and writing him out of the show in the very first segment. Kudos to WWE for making the right decision. As a fan, I extend my condolences to Bryan, and my gratitude for being willing to come out on television despite the terrible circumstances.

Rob Van Dam def. Cesaro. I’m surprised to see RVD advance over Cesaro in the tournament to decide a number one contender for the Intercontinental Championship. Cesaro would have been a great choice, but he’s obviously got unfinished business with Jack Swagger. Hopefully, this feud will help decide whether Cesaro is indeed a heel, or the babyface that the fans want him to be. I maintain that if he’s a face, the alliance with Paul Heyman doesn’t make sense.

Bad News Barrett def. Sheamus. Along those same lines, it’s very interesting to see Bad News Barrett pick up a win over Sheamus. Sheamus has proven himself as someone who can consistently play a role in delivering some really good matches, and tonight was no exception. To his credit, Barrett has taken a persona that could have been a disaster, and made it work. The fans are into him, and that might bode well for him in the next couple of weeks.

“Rybaxel” joins the announce position during a match. Good Lord. Who the hell gave these guys headsets? One of them has no personality, and one of them has about half a brain. I’ll give Curtis Axel credit for at least trying to put his team over, though. What was that story Ryback told about his dad serving Mr. Perfect and Razor Ramon at a bar? What the hell has that got to do with anything?

Evolution and The Shield trade verbal barbs. The only gripe I have with this segment is with The Shield’s half. Ambrose kicked things off well, as one might expect. Reigns brought things to a nice, concise point. But Rollins seemed to lose his focus and get carried away. His part of the promo seemed to go about 30 seconds to a minute longer than it should have. Still, while this program doesn’t do any favors for Daniel Bryan’s main event profile, I can’t deny I’m interested to see this match at Extreme Rules.

Cody Rhodes pushes Goldust away after they lose to The Usos. THERE we go. That’s what I want to see. Plant the seed. Cody’s the heel, Dustin’s the face. Let’s do this!

El Torito pins Drew McIntyre in a six-man tag match. You know, I was actually mildly amused by the Hornswoggle vs. El Torito stuff. But ouch. So much for “The Chosen One.”

Mark Henry takes center stage in a promo for Slam CityIf only he’d been that dominant against Brock Lesnar…

Images from wwe.com.

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A Ghostbusters, Vol. 7 Review – Sinterklaas is Coming to Town

TITLE: Ghostbusters, Vol. 7
AUTHOR: Erik Burnham
PENCILLERS: Dan Schoening, Burnham, Felipe Torrent, Erik Evensen
COLLECTS: Ghostbusters #9-12
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $17.99
RELEASE DATE: April 9, 2014

(Need to catch up on IDW’s Ghostbusters? Check out volumes One, Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six.)

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

First and foremost, R.I.P. Harold Ramis. Never forget, Ghostheads, never forget.

Normally, it’s difficult for me to get into holiday-themed comic books or TV shows. For instance, there’s a wonderful episode of Justice League called “Comfort and Joy,” which takes place during the holiday season. I can never bring myself to watch it because something feels off about watching a holiday episode in, say, April. In this case, however, I’ll take whatever excuse I can get to see Erik Burnham and Dan Schoening do more Ghostbusters. And that’s exactly what they give us with Happy Horror Days!

This book sees the boys (and girls) in gray go to work on Halloween, El Dia de Los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), the Sinterklaas celebration (more on that in a bit), and New Years Eve. Most of the cases involve children in one way or another. But how are they connected? And is it all leading to something terrible on the horizon…?

As a life-long Ghosthead, this series remains an absolute joy. Burnham’s writing is as close to the tone of the movies as we’ve ever seen from a Ghostbusters comic, Dan Schoening gives us delightful cartoony likenesses of the actors, set in a world that seems to be a hybrid of the movies, The Real Ghostbusters, and ’80s culture in general. There are so many little Easter eggs in these issues it’s almost impossible to spot them all in one sitting. But if you go to Ghostbusters.wikia.com, and look up the individual issues, they actually go panel-by-panel for you. For instance, in this book alone you’ll find a ghost based on Bill Murray’s Caddyshack character, a quick look at Laura Summer, the voice of Janine from the first two seasons of The Real Ghostbusters, and a litany of other RGB references. It’s an honest-to-God treasure hunt for children of the ’80s.

Vol. 7 sees Mel character come back to the team as a Ghostbuster/FBI liaison, and we see quite a bit of her in this book. I continue to have trouble getting into her character. To yours truly, she still comes off like a stand-in for Dana Scully. One would think the more time we spend with her, the less that would be the case. But she still seems very vanilla. I appreciated her being placed in a Day of the Dead story, as it texturizes her a bit differently than the other characters. But simply put, I just don’t find her very interesting. I’ve recently wondered if that’s because, unlike most of the other characters, we’ve never seen Mel in the movies or on a cartoon. But by that logic, Ron Alexander would be a boring character by comparison, and that’s certainly not the case. It’s unfortunate, as there’s certainly nothing wrong with injecting a bit more femininity into the Ghostbusters.

The creative highlight of the book is issue #11, in which Peter, Egon, and Mel investigate a haunting by Sinterklaas, the mythical figure whose legend helped inspire the creation of Santa Claus. Like Santa, Sinterklaas leaves gifts for good children. But he also punishes the bad ones, fairly severely in some cases. Hearing Egon get picky about how it’s not Santa Claus, it’s Sinterklaas,” is amusing. But what really makes it special is what Venkman does when he comes face to face with the spectral Sinterklaas, who has a small child in his grasp. He maintains his trademark Venkman snark and wit. But the scene also illustrates that deep down, under all the scheming and womanizing, he has a kind heart. It’s a fantastic character moment.

This book also plants some seeds for Mass Hysteria, the big story IDW is doing to commemorate the 3oth anniversary of Ghostbusters. These occur in the main story, as well as the various back-ups Burnham does with various artists. Particularly notable is the debut of Eduardo, who fans may recognize from the Extreme Ghostbusters cartoon. Like Kylie, he helps out at Ray’s book store. But this book sees him sucked back into ancient Mesopotamia, to deliver a message to the Ghostbusters from an entity called Tiamat. Google that word. It’ll give you some interesting insight into what Burnham, Schoening, and the gang are planning.

In issue #12, we see the Chicago Ghostbusters run into a familiar face: Alyssa Milano’s character from Ghostbusters: The Video Game, Dr. Alyssa Selwyn. Dr. Selwyn has brought the “World of Gozer” exhibit to the Windy City, and as one might expect, things go bad. Erik Evensen’s art isn’t done any favors when it’s put next to Schoening’s work. But all in all, it’s nice that they connected the Chicago team to Mass Hysteria that way, and incorporated a familiar character in the process.

Ghostbusters, Vol. 7 is less fulfilling than its predecessors (as I said, I’m not a fan of holiday episodes). But by the standards Burnham and Schoening have set, that’s still more satisfying than a great many other books you’ll find on the stands. But it does give the reader a sense that something big, and not-to-be-missed is coming. And again, based on Burnham and Schoening’s reputation, I’m inclined to believe it.

RATING: 7/10

Front page image and image 1 from comicvine.com. Image 2 from uwstout.edu. 

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The Power of the Warrior, and Other Ponderings from WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

As everyone knows by now, last Tuesday we lost the Ultimate Warrior to a heart attack. This week, WWE celebrated the life of the man born as Jim Hellwig with a tribute show. As a long time wrestling fan, I can tell you I’ve seen far too many of these tribute shows…

As someone who owns The Self Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior, there’s definitely a certain surreal quality to seeing Hulk Hogan and Triple H praise Warrior, after seeing them tear him down on that DVD. But of course, it’s obviously great they buried the hatchet after all these years.

My heartfelt condolences go out to Warrior’s wife and children. What should have been an amazing week for them turned into an awful one , in literally the most tragic way possible. Perhaps the only solace they can take in this, aside from the fact that Warrior loved them very much, is that before he went, he was able to put smiles on his fans’ faces one last time.

Thoughts From WWE Raw:

Stephanie McMahon sends Kane after Daniel Bryan. I don’t like this. Nothing against Kane, and Lord knows he’s got enough history with Bryan to justify a feud, but this should not be Bryan’s Extreme Rules program. That’s not a main event level feud. For my money, Kane has Batista’s job. Batista tapped out at Wrestlemania. Batista’s the guy with something to prove. Batista should be the one facing Bryan in some kind of gimmick match. But instead…

Evolution re-forms to attack The Shield. I don’t necessarily have a problem with Evolution re-forming. I just don’t know if now was the right time. Maybe after a Batista loss to Bryan at Extreme Rules, or something. It just seems like The Shield stands to benefit from Extreme Rules much more than Bryan does. Mind you, Bryan is the WWE Heavyweight Champion, so it’s not like he’s fading into obscurity. I just think Kane is a very weak choice for his first title defense.

WWE starts tournament to crown #1 contender for Intercontinental Championship. Given that he’s riding the momentum from Wrestlemania, I don’t see how the winner of this tournament could be anyone but Cesaro. I imagine he’ll subsequently defeat Big E. at Extreme Rules, and walk away with the gold.

Cesaro def. Mark Henry. Despite clearly heading down a babyface road, having aligned with Paul Heyman, Cesaro has apparently made an abrupt U-turn, and stayed heel. This week, Heyman did a great job taking the wind out of the sails of those who might cheer for Cesaro. I can only assume Heyman will, at least for the foreseeable future, be acting as Cesaro’s version of Ricardo Rodriguez. That’s not only a great way to make sure Cesaro stays a bad guy, but it’s a great excuse for Heyman to keep hitting it out of the park on the mic.

Sheamus def. Jack Swagger. So…because Cesaro is still a heel, I suppose that means Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter are simply moving on. That’s a little bit of a disappointment, considering we not only had all that build up, but Swagger and Cesaro could have undoubtedly had a great pay per view match. But hey, at least he had a solid match with Sheamus this week.

Bray Wyatt invites John Cena to “Come out and play.” Once Cena started with the comedy stuff, I KNEW the Photoshop bits were coming. But on the plus side, Bray Wyatt was successfully able to transfer is promos from the ‘tron to the ring, with a greater intensity and articulation than we’ve ever seen from him in front of a live audience. He’s getting better. Imagine how good he’ll be in a year…

Paige def. Alicia Fox. Can we give Paige a last name? And how about Emma, while we’re at it? And Lana? It almost seems sexist to simply call women by their first names (Sheamus notwithstanding). Incidentally, that kick Paige gave to Alicia Fox sounded nasty. As in, made me look up from my computer and actually pay attention to the match, nasty. I’m not as prone to do that when certain other girls are in the ring. And DAMN…what was that finisher called? A “modified scorpion cross lock?” Either way, it looks awesome. Paige is off to a nice start.

Speaking of Lana… I’m actually pretty partial to Lana, as opposed to Alexander Rusev. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, his face just kills the whole “Bulgarian Brute” thing for me.

Vignettes continue to air for Bo Dallas. Until this week, I hadn’t seen much of Bo Dallas’ work on NXT. But I caught a little of his “Occupy NXT” segment, and I really enjoyed what I saw. This “Bolieve” thing sounds like a real heat magnet. I’m anxious to see  how he’s changed since we last saw him on the main roster.

Fandango & Layla def. Santino Marella & Emma. Layla is a good parter for Fandango. It makes great use of her dancing talents, and more importantly, it casts her in a heel role. Her voice is so damn grating that I find her impossible to cheer for in almost any capacity.

Images from WWE.com.

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A Game of Thrones, S4E2 Review – Don’t Get Married On This Show…

By Seth Miller
Staff Writer, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Game of Thrones, S4E2:

- JOFFREY’S DEAD!!!  This is the complete reversal of “The Red Wedding.” It is moment of pure television bliss that happens once every few years, and makes everything a little better. Go out, hug a friend or family member, dance for joy, raise a glass, and celebrate this joyous moment!

- But back to the rest of the show, we get to catch up with…JOFFREY’S REALLY DEAD!  I’m sorry, but this is the best thing that has happened on this show so far. I am running out of ways to express my joy so I will finish with a hearty WOOOOOOHOOOOO!

- Getting back to the recap for real, we start off by visiting the man who will surely replace Joffrey as the most hated man on the show, Ramsay Snow. Ramsay is out in the woods hunting down a woman because his girlfriend was jealous of her looks. But his father, Roose Bolton who is fresh off the ultimate dick move at “The Red Wedding,” quickly brings him down to. At Ramsay’s side the entire time is Theon Greyjoy, who is so broken that he doesn’t even take a chance to kill Ramsay when he has a razor to his throat. Now the Boltons know that Bran and Rickon Stark are alive and they will be hunting for them. Ramsay has become more than a replacement for Joffrey, he is worse than Joffrey. Joffrey was psychopath, but he was dumber than a bag of hammers.  Ramsay is also psychopath, but he has enough intelligence to psychologically break someone and how to make his insanity useful for his father’s cause. Joffrey is dead, but someone far worse has replaced him.

- In this time of villainy, the people of Westeros need heroes who challenge those in power. With that in mind, Stannis Baratheon is moving forward to take the Iron Throne. He may not be the most noble man on the show, but he is better than some of the others… and there he goes burning people alive.  Stannis has gone full on fanatic, and is burning anybody who he thinks is his enemy or won’t reject the religions of Westeros, this includes his brother-in-law. While all this is happening, Melisandre is smiling with delight at the proceedings. Stannis is embracing the Lord of Light, but the scene at dinner with Melisandre and his wife shows that even he is starting to grow tired of this religion. Melisandre is asked to explain her faith to Stannis’ daughter, and we learn there is a god of light and a god of darkness. She says there is no hell, other than the life everybody is living in now. From Melisandre’s perspective, anyone she kills is going to heaven, and that helps explain how she can do some of the things she does. It is also refreshing to see Stannis starting to get tired of his chosen religion. Perhaps we will see him start to break away from Melisandre as the season goes on.

- Bran Stark is continuing his quest, but he may be losing his grip on reality. He is spending more time being in the mind of his direwolf, and he is starting to get his life as a human mixed up with his life as a direwolf. To be fair, if anyone of us was in Bran’s position it would be tempting to stay a direwolf. On the plus side, it looks like we are getting some plot development in terms of what is going on with the White Walkers.

- Jaime is still working on being a swordsman again, but he can’t get the hang of using his left hand. Tyrion advises Jaime to use Bronn as a sparring partner, and we get my second favorite scene of the episode. I really hope we get a scene between these two for every one of the remaining episodes this seasons.

- Tyrion is still being beat down by almost everybody in this episode. Varys tells Tyrion that his father knows about Shae, which means her life is truly in danger. This leads to Tyrion doing what is possibly the dumbest thing he has ever done. Shae shows up, but Tyrion tells her she has to leave. However, instead of telling her she is about to get caught, Tyrion sends her away Harry and the Hendersons style by telling her she means nothing to him. There is no way this is not going to come back to bite Tyrion in the ass…

- The wedding itself was filled with moments that I loved. Jaime and Loras Tyrell finally meet up, and I’m fairly confident Jaime is going to mess Loras up in future episodes. Oberyn Martell is continuing his streak of being a badass who wants revenge on the Lannisters and eye banging anyone he fancies (Loras in this case). Olenna and Tywin continue to have some of my favorite conversations on the show, and we are reminded the kingdom is in debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos, and they do not forget about people who owe them money.

- The lead up to Joffrey’s death (I can’t write that without smiling) was a refresher in why this punk needed to die. First, he destroys the book Tyrion got him as a gift, then he names the sword he used to do so. He’s even worse at the wedding. He throws money at musicians because they bore him, pays people to be attack Dontos the Fool, and he is even worse to Tyrion. He arranges a show with little people to torment him, along with just about everybody at the wedding. He pours wine on Tyrion’s head, forces him to be his cupbearer, and just in general cranks his awfulness up to 11. If this were your first episode ever, you would have seen all you needed to be happy that Joffrey is dead.

- Random thought: I have no idea how long those doves were in that cake, but I guarantee that they crapped all over it.

- Favorite moment: Do I even have to say it?

Image 1 from themarysue.com. Image 2 from nydailynews.com. Images 3 and 4 from latimes.com. 

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A Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review – Covering His Ground

TITLE: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
STARRING: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford
DIRECTORS: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
STUDIOS: Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures
RATED: PG-13
RUN TIME: 136 min
RELEASED: April 4, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a unique beast among the Marvel Studios library. It doesn’t star a loveable, wise cracking hero like the Iron Man films. It’s not a majestic ride like the Thor films. It doesn’t feature a world-decimating threat like The Avengers, either. Rather, The Winter Soldier is an interesting blend of espionage thriller, mystery, and superhero action flick. That’s the kind of story we’ve seen numerous times on comic book pages, but one we rarely (if ever) see on-screen. It’s a great little niche for the Captain America brand, and all in all, makes The Winter Soldier a unique chapter in the universe-encompassing saga of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

S.H.I.E.L.D. is not what we thought it was. A devastating secret is revealed that makes fugitives out of Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) and Natasha Irons/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Along with their new ally Sam Wilson/Falcon, they must discover and defeat the parasite that has been rotting S.H.I.E.L.D. from the inside out for so many years. But to do so, Rogers will have to face an old friend. Someone from he past he thought was long dead. Enter the Winter Soldier.

The first thing that struck me about The Winter Soldier was the use of a costume based on the one that first appeared in the pages of Steve Rogers: Super Soldier. The less colorful look seems to nullify the character from some of the “hokey American boy scout hero” vibe, which some casual fans plague him with. It’s also a much more practical, soldier-like costume (not that superhero costumes have ever been considered with practicality). But in the end, the film also isn’t afraid to give us our hero in the red and blue suit. While the movie isn’t as colorful and flamboyant as some of its Marvel Cinematic siblings, it doesn’t hide from that side of the character, which speaks to the filmmakers’ respect and admiration for him.

What The Winter Soldier really illustrates, especially now that we’re in phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is just how different the various franchises are. For the most part, each one has its own designated ground to cover. Cap is the idealist who tackles ethical questions regarding freedom, and the price one pays for it. Thor is the mystic warrior of the group, who battles threats from other realms. Iron Man is the technological wonder, known for his trademark wit. And Hulk (from what we’ve seen of him at least), is our horror/monster movie character. Mind you, the lines between these various franchises can blur at times, as at the end of the day, they’re all superhero movies. But Marvel has done a beautiful job of making each character and their world very distinct. Thus, it becomes that much more epic when they all come together in an Avengers movie.

The movie’s titular character, played by Sebastian Stan, is awesome. He’s got a fantastic look, and all of his action sequences with Cap, Black Widow, and Nick Fury are awesome. The only major complaint I have about him deals with his connection to Steve Rogers during World War II. We saw this character in the first film, and we’re reminded of him early in this one. But the friendship and the closeness the two characters had isn’t emphasized enough to make the reveal of The Winter Soldier’s identity the weight it should have. Comic book fans may feel it because they’re already familiar with this relationship. But casual moviegoers, and even the more devoted Marvel movie fans may be left wanting more.

The partnership between Steve Rogers and Natasha Irons is interesting to watch. There’s definitely a certain sexual chemistry between them, which is interesting when you consider what we saw between Natasha and Clint Barton/Hawkeye in The Avengers.  Whatever there is between them is doomed to fail because of their obvious philosophical differences. But Cap, the ultimate straight-laced good guy, and Natasha, who has such a checkered past, definitely make an intriguing duo. Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), Cap’s love interest in the comic book continuity, doesn’t have as prominent a role as I’d hoped. But hopefully they’re just setting the stage for something in the third film. Interestingly enough, The Winter Soldier has a great scene between Steve Rogers and an elderly Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), his love interest from the first film. Peggy’s relation to Sharon Carter is never explored in this film. But again, ground work.

All in all, Captain America: The Winter Soldier manages to stand a step above most other Marvel movies. It’s a hell of an action movie. And while I wouldn’t say the film raises any pressing questions about freedom or the American way, there are some ethical issues on the table that give it enough extra depth to set it apart from other comic book movies.

RATING: 8/10

Images from rottentomatoes.com. 

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Wrestlemania XXX and Raw: The Streak Dies, The Yes Movement Lives

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Well…there’s certainly no shortage of things to talk about, is there? All in all, Wrestlemania XXX was likely the best ‘Mania WWE has put on in at least three years. Needless to say, we ran the emotional gauntlet.

We’ll start with what everybody left Wrestlemania thinking about…

Brock Lesnar Breaks “The Streak,” and Pins The Undertaker. When ‘Taker was pinned, I was as shocked and horrified as everybody else. The faces in the crowd (as WWE wonderfully displayed) told the whole story. Nobody could believe it. It was unthinkable that The Undertaker could lose at Wrestlemania. As great as The Undertaker’s matches against the likes of Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and CM Punk have been in recent years, for most “smart” fans, it’s always been a foregone conclusion that ‘Taker would come out on top, because that’s just what ‘Taker does at Wrestlemania. Why should this year have been any different?

Then the WWE, Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman, and The Undertaker shocked the world. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that moment where we all sat there in a state of stunned horror was actually a thing of beauty. Moments like that are what pro wrestling should always strive to be about. It got a visceral, gut reaction out of the fans, the likes of which we haven’t seen in years, if ever.

Just think about how you felt as the cameras filmed Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman leaving the ring, and then cutting back to ‘Taker over and over again, just laying there. In the moments that followed, The Undertaker slowly rose to his feet. And for the first time ever, we saw him in a way we’d never seen him before. For the first time ever, he was just a man. Not the “Lord of Darkness,” not the “American Bad Ass,” not the “Last Outlaw,” just a man. A man who’d just had his life’s work blemished in front of our eyes. And yet, the crowd applauded him. They gave him a standing ovation because despite his loss, they loved him. They loved him for what he gave to them. They still love him.

Could things have been different? Maybe even better? Sure. Should ‘Taker have lost to an up and comer, i.e. Roman Reigns or Bray Wyatt? Probably. Did Brock Lesnar deserve to be the guy who broke the streak? Maybe, maybe not. Was the match all that good? Eh, not really. But in the end, none of that really mattered. All that mattered were those few minutes after ‘Taker was pinned. THAT Wrestlemania moment will last a lifetime.

We also CANNOT disregard Paul Heyman’s role in the importance of what’s happened in the last few days. That promo on Raw may have been the best mic work he’s ever done. He had a fantastic line with: “Brock Lesnar is here to shock the WWE universe, and put tears in the eyes of children.” But also, the way he was rubbing the heat in the fan’s faces was amazing. When he slooooowley recited that 21-1 line, it was absolute magic.

So was this the last time we’ll ever see The Undertaker? I doubt it. I don’t think he’d want to leave the fans on such a downer. One thing’s for sure, a rematch would be money in the bank.

And hey, what’s this I hear about a man called Sting?

Daniel Bryan Wins the WWE Championship. Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, and Batista deserve a world of credit for not only having the match of the night, but for bringing the crowd back to life after the Brock/’Taker match essentially punched everybody in the gut. And I tip my hat a second time to Batista for tapping out to end a match that I suspect he was originally supposed to win.

But in the end, it had to be Bryan. I really don’t think they could have told the story any better. The match with Triple H was actually the second best match of the night, drawing a hell of a lot of heat for The Authority, while further cementing Bryan’s underdog status. To see him come back from everything and win it all is what Wrestlemania is all about.

So now the question is: What’s our main event for Extreme Rules look like? Also, how will The Shield, who are still babyfaces after Wrestlemania, play into things?

John Cena defeats Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania, fans heavily cheer the Wyatts on RawBray Wyatt needs to stop saying the name of the town he’s in during his little intro. It gets him a pop, and he’s supposed to be a heel, right? You wouldn’t know it looking at the crowd from both Wrestlemania and Raw. They were actually singing “He’s Got The Whole World in His Hands.” That’s awesome.

Should Bray Wyatt have beaten John Cena last night? Eh, maybe. In truth, it really didn’t matter who won that match. It’s obvious those two have at least one more pay per view match in them, and last night was really just about the initial impact between the two. As I made note of on Twitter, Bray getting into that crab position was a great little moment. I’m anxious to see what they do at Extreme Rules, as the stakes are only going to get higher from here.

Bad News Barrett def. Rey Mysterio. I used to think it was impossible for Rey Mysterio to be a heel. But has Rey ever had more heat than he’s had in 2014? Between taking a huge amount of the crowd’s hostility at the Royal Rumble, and then going out there against a very pro Bad News Barrett crowd, maybe Rey should bite the bullet and go to the dark side before he retires. Stranger things have happened…

Paige Wins the Divas Title From AJ Lee on RawUgh. Not a fan. Nothing against Paige. I really know nothing about her. But remember when they did this with Gail Kim? She won the Women’s Championship on her first night, and yet she never really caught on. Why would you give the title to a woman that none of the mainstream fans know yet? Seems like lazy booking to me. At least let AJ feud with her a bit. Or if you need to take the belt off of AJ, why not give it to Tamina?

On the plus side, I’m happy the New Orleans fans didn’t drown AJ with chants for CM Punk, even as she gave us a promo that was rather reminiscent of Punk’s run as WWE Champion. Yes, they were there. But they let her do her thing. She should be proud the fans respect her that much.

Cesaro Wins Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, Becomes a “Paul Heyman Guy” on Raw. Well sheesh, had the fans known Cesaro was going to be in the battle royal, I’m sure a lot of them would have predicted a victory for him. But it certainly made for a great surprise regardless. What’s even more surprising is that he’s become the newest “Paul Heyman guy.” But Cesaro is most certainly a babyface at this point. So what does that make Heyman? Is he a heel when he’s with Brock, but a babyface when he’s with Cesaro? Is this leading to Heyman turning on Cesaro, and getting us to a Cesaro vs. Lesnar match? Now that would be a sight to see…

Rob Van Dam Returns to WWE, defeating Damien Sandow. I maintain that it would have been nice to see RVD at Wrestlemania in some capacity. But hey, better late than never.

Alexander Rusev def. Zack RyderStill not impressed with Rusev. Why don’t we just bring back Vladimir Kozlov? It’s basically the same character, but they threw in a blonde chick with an accent.

Steve Austin and The Rock Join Hulk Hogan in the Ring at WrestlemaniaObviously Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock being in the same ring at the same time was a hell of a way to kick off the show. But the weird thing is that it was almost overshadowed by Hogan saying “Silverdome” in his promo instead of “Superdome.” Yeesh, of all the times to flub a line. Still, he took the ensuing jabs like a champ. And he actually put a nice little band aid on the whole thing at the end when he emphasized “…and the Superdome…” in his closing line. He managed to come out of the whole thing unscathed. I’m not a big Hulk Hogan fan. But hey, credit where credit is due.

Vignettes air for Adam Rose. I’m getting sort of a Russell Brand vibe from Adam Rose, and I mean that in a good way. He’s got an interesting presentation, and I’m interested to see more of him.

Images from wwe.com.

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A Review of Game of Thrones S4E1 – Breaking the Ice

By Seth Miller
Staff Writer, Part-Time Ninja

So this is Primary Ignition‘s first Game of Thrones recap. Before we get into it, let’s get something established. These recaps will be intended for people who are just watching the show. I’ll mention history and events that took place before the show, but I will not talk about every detail from the book, spoil big plot points, and compare it to the show.

- We open with the destruction of the Stark’s valyrian steel sword, Ice, being broken down and reformed into two new swords. Valyrian steel is the rarest metal in all of Westeros and the methods to make more of it were lost centuries ago. Owning one of these is a huge boost for a noble family and it is the one thing the Lannisters didn’t own. Tywin Lannister oversees the whole tragic affair, with “The Rains of Castamere” as a soundtrack, and Tywin tossing a wolf pelt into the fire caps it off. The symbolism is definitely not subtle but that doesn’t stop it from hurting like hell.

- The result of that forging was a sword for Jaime Lannister, who now wants to take his original posting as a Kingsguard back. Tywin will have none of that, considering Jaime is the only of his sons who he considers worthy to rule over Casterly Rock. Jaime has never wanted real power, he only wants to be close to his sister/lover ,and that has been reinforced by his journey back to King’s Landing. He wants to do his to maintain some shred of honor as well, but everything he wants just pisses Tywin off. Tywin pretty much disowns Jaime. But Jaime is back with his sister so he couldn’t care less.

- Unfortunately, Cersei is not that happy to have her fuck brother (going to throw that out there, send it back if you hate it) back in King’s Landing.  She is being married off to Loras Tyrell, the gayest man in Westeros, and Jaime comes back scarred which is something Cersei can’t deal with.  To cap off the Jaime thrashing, Joffrey insults Jaime’s legacy as a member of the Kingsguard and Brienne is still holding Jaime to the promise he made even though Catelyn Stark is dead.  I’m very excited for this season simply because we have Jaime back in King’s Landing and bouncing off characters he hasn’t worked with as much.  Also, he may hate it but he is pulling off the golden hand look.

- Everybody is also beating up Tyrion Lannister. His marriage with Sansa is a nightmare because he is love with Shae, and Sansa hates him because he is a Lannister. His relationship with Shae is also on the rocks because she feels neglected, and she still thinks Tyrion tried to send her away at the end of season 3. From his entrance until the end of the episode, we see a less confident and a more weary Tyrion. He has been beaten down by his father, sister, and nephew. He’s barely holding together.

- It seems Sansa has made a new friend in Dontos the Red. She saved his life way back in season 2, and he is repaying her with the gift of his mother’s necklace, the only thing of value his family has left. Given the track record on this show for friendly and helpful characters, he is playing Sansa for his or someone else’s ends.

- This episode also introduced us to Prince Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand of Dorne. Dorne is the southernmost kingdom in Westeros and was left out of the original formation of the realm, which is why you come up with eight kingdoms in the so-called Seven Kingdoms. Because of that, people from Dorne have developed their own set of customs that run opposite to the rest of Westeros. They have nothing but hatred for the Lannisters, but they hate Gregor Clegane, a.k.a. the Mountain, way more than the Lannisters. The Mountain raped and murdered Oberyn’s sister, Elia, during Robert’s Rebellion and got away with it because he is Tywin’s muscle. The Martells are here for vengeance and they won’t leave until he gets it. It was a great introduction to the characters that established their motivations, personalities, and fulfilled the unwritten rule that every episode needs nudity.

- Jon Snow may have dodged execution for now, but he is still in trouble on multiple fronts. The Night’s Watch is comprised entirely of people who hate him, and Ygritte is gearing up to unleash hell on Castle Black with a band of cannibals. For those eagle-eyed viewers who may have noticed him but not remembered, the man who was especially harsh on Jon and said he ran the City Watch in Kings’ Landing was Janos Slynt. He did command the City Watch but was fired and sent to Night’s Watch because he betrayed Ned Stark and Tyrion didn’t trust him because of it. Jon is stuck between the Night’s Watch, who wouldn’t mind executing him and wildlings that also want to kill him, this is a precarious situation and it is going to take everything Jon has to survive.

- Daenerys Targaryean is continuing her quest for vengeance against the noble families of Westeros by conquering kingdoms nowhere near Westeros.  She has devoted herself entirely to freeing the slaves of Slaver’s Bay and it seems like nothing will stop her.  Along the way, her favorite swordsman, Daario Naharis (played by Michiel Huisman who replaces Ed Skrein) continues to put the moves on her and she discovers the bodies the people of Mereen have left on the road for her.  Apparently, they haven’t caught on to the fact that you don’t want to piss off a woman with a trio of dragons; you would think people have caught on to this concept.  I’m sensing some foreshadowing with Daario’s comment about needing to know a land to rule it and Daenery’s interest or lack thereof with the comment.  This season will more than likely be about how effective of a ruler she could actually be.

- Arya Stark has officially scared the crap out of me.  Since the murder of her father, mother, and brother she has been getting closer to the darkness. Arya killing Polliver, the man who murdered her friend, was dark. But it also felt righteous considering all the times the bad guys have gotten away with horrible crimes. The build-up was fantastic and the repartee between Arya and The Hound. The Hound continues to be one of my favorite characters mostly because no one can call out the bullshit of this world better than he can. While most buy into the romantic notion of knights and grand swords with names, The Hound will remind everyone that this an especially brutal world and the lies people use to disguise that fact.

- Best line: The Hound’s description of people who name their swords. With the sword Ice being broken down into two swords and in the hands of people like Joffrey, this quote is going to come up a lot.

Images from latimes.com.

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Brock Buries The Undertaker, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From WWE Raw:

The Undertaker cuts a promo on Brock Lesnar, before the Beast gives the Dead Man an F5. Well, we knew Brock was going to come out on top this week. The whole thing’s been pretty one-sided up to this point. I can’t believe how trim The Undertaker looks, though. When he took off his jacket, I literally looked at my fiance and said: “The Undertaker is 49 years old. Can you believe that?”

With ‘Taker’s promo, I get where he was going with the whole “take you into deep water” metaphor. But he lost me with the “swim back to shore” thing. Good metaphor, not so good follow up.

By the way, did you folks catch that commercial for UFC Fight Pass featuring Lesnar? That did nothing to hurt the build up for ‘Mania, I guarantee you.

WWE Releases Ultimate Warrior: The Ultimate Collection. I was hoping there was going to be some sort of documentary/commentary element to this DVD. Needless to say, it’ll be very interesting to hear what Warrior has to say about his WWE career, especially when you consider what many of his old colleagues have said about him over the years (see The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior).

Vickie Guerrero reveals that Wrestlemania‘s Diva Invitational will be one fall to a finish. This whole match is lazy booking as far as I’m concerned. We haven’t built a solid rivalry between AJ and anyone else, so let’s just throw ALL the girls in there. This is the kind of thing they used to do with the Cruiserweight Division before it went belly up.

Daniel Bryan closes out Raw with an attack on Triple H. A perfect way to end Raw, sending fans into Wrestlemania rooting for the top babyface, as they should be.

Triple H cuts a final in-ring promo on Daniel Bryan and the “Yes Movement.” Triple H was really rubbing it in fans’ faces this week. As I mentioned last time, the whole “this generation” thing is a great point to harp on too. Even as a “smart fan,” it gets under my skin. It was also a good move putting Fandango over while using the whole “Fandangoing” fad from last year.  I am a millennial after all.

Did Batista actually get cheers when he cut Triple H off? That’s gotta be the first time he’s heard those since the Royal Rumble. I’ve got to admit, even I was glad to see him. How ironic. As so often happens, actually giving the fans the pleasure of booing someone they don’t like, actually makes that person more popular. They don’t like him yet, and they may never like him again. But he’s not getting “X-Pac heat” anymore. At this point, I’m actually looking forward to what’ll likely be a match between Daniel Bryan and Batista at Extreme Rules.

Also…and I’m just throwing this out there…wouldn’t it be cool if CM Punk cost Triple H the match with Bryan? I know, I know…it won’t happen. But wouldn’t it be cool?

Alberto Del Rio def. Big E. Del Rio officially has “X-Pac heat” with me. Supposedly he’s on his way out soon, and I won’t be shedding a tear. Nothing personal, I’m just tired of the same old act.

“Do I have your attention now, kids?” Another really good promo by Bray Wyatt this week. That line “Do I have your attention now, kids?” line was great.

Cody Rhodes & Goldust def. Fandango & Damien Sandow. During this match, the announcers talked about Fandango being an afterthought. But you know who really has a complaint in that respect? Cody and Goldust. Since they didn’t get to have their much-anticipated feud during Wrestlemania season, hopefully we’ll get to see them have a grudge match at Summerslam

Piper’s Pit turns into a preview of the Andre Battle Royal. It would have been a hell of a lot cooler to see Roddy do something with Triple H and Stephanie. But sadly I doubt they’d trust Steph in there with someone old school like that, especially after her in-ring segment with Dusty Rhodes last year. In any event, it’s always cool to see Piper on TV. Did they promote his appearance before the show? I don’t recall hearing anything about him being there beforehand.

Summer Rae def. Natalya. It usually irks me to see Natalya have to put over women who are less talented than she is. But I was alright with her jobbing to Summer Rae. The real-life Danielle Moinet has developed into a nice television character, and she’s interesting to watch (and not just because she’s hot). I’d be really surprised if we didn’t see her in the Diva’s Title picture sometime this year.

Fatal Fourway Tag Team Title Match moved to the Wrestlemania Pre-Show. Had a feeling one of the matches was going to be downgraded. It kinda stinks for those involved, but I’m glad it wasn’t the Andre Battle Royal, as it easily could have been.

Images from WWE.com.

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A Review of The Walking Dead, Season 4 – Who We Are, and What We’ll Do…

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

And now we bid adieu to season 4 of The Walking Dead…

Compared to the previous seasons, this was a big improvement. It combined the fast pace and action of season 3 while still making time to explore the characters without feeling like the show was doing nothing.  Some may have felt the finale didn’t meet their expectations, but I thought we got some great action, the plot moved forward, and we have a great set up for season 5.

- The themes for this season have been about whether or not people can move forward from their past, and what keeps these people from giving up. With the prison, the group found a sense of stability and started to find the things they lost in the apocalypse. People like Hershel reminded others of who they were, and to try their best to bring out the best in others. In the prison, our characters essentially had their own little world. But The Governor brought a mini-apocalypse with him, and the lessons Hershel was trying to teach Rick were only as relevant as the sanctuary that they were taught in. If you have no place to be safe in the apocalypse, you have to do what you must to survive. While you can still be civilized in this world, there is still a line that should not be crossed, as we have seen in these last few episodes. Hershel’s philosophy may not work completely for this world, but they are a reminder of what the world used to be like and something for our heroes to remember so they don’t become something worse.

- With their home destroyed, the characters had to find out why they want to survive all over again. For some, it was finding those that mean the most to them (Glenn & Maggie). Others reverted back to their old ways because they had nothing else (Daryl). This season was about pushing the survivors to their breaking points, and then bringing them back together with a better understanding of how they fit into this world, and how important they are to each other. Just about every character found their balance. Personally, I think they could have done more with Maggie’s story this season. Glenn was just as single-minded, but his interactions with Tara developed his character. He became more like Hershel. Maggie was focused on Glenn ,but didn’t get as much compared to him.  On the plus side, she did get some stylish zombie killing done via a street sign.

- This seasons themes are best exemplified via Rick and his journey. As we see in the flashbacks, Rick was been trying to build something bigger and better, but this strategy only worked when they had the prison. Without it, Rick loses that sense of humanity he strives for and reverts to his primal instincts to protect Carl and the others. The core of Rick’s character is still his desire to protect his son. It doesn’t matter if that means trying to farm so Carl learns more than killing. He will question his actions and their morality, but he will always do what is necessary to protect his son.

- One of my favorite developments this season has been the friendship between Michonne and Carl. Earlier in the season, Michonne burst into tears when she held baby Judith. We learned that Michonne had a son who didn’t survive. She was in a refugee camp with her family, her boyfriend and best friend were bitten, and she turned them into her “pets” with no prior thought. She has lost everything, but she finds something to live for in the prison. She lets her guard down a bit, and forms a bond with Carl. Michonne has lost so much in the apocalypse, but finds meaning in her life beyond surviving with Rick and Carl. As for Carl, he came into the season confident as an unrepentant killer who was being forced to farm, and finished out the season admitting that there was something wrong with him and he was afraid to tell his father. He realizes he has problems and he has someone he can talk to in Michonne. These two characters have saved each other in more ways than one.

 - “Zombie apocalypse really sucks” moment of the week: Joe’s gang finding Rick and the others. Being captured by the cannibals is bad, but most of the group is back together by then and that’s something

- Zombie kill of the week: Technically, it wasn’t zombie but I’m giving it to Rick, because his method of finishing Joe was pretty messed up.

- Two things to remember going into season 5:

1. - With most of our heroes trapped, their only hope from the outside is Carol and Tyreese. That isn’t that bad, considering Carol has become a certified badass and Tyreese’s skilsl with hammer are up there with Thor.

2. The people at Sanctuary offered meat to new arrivals and Glenn’s group got there first.  My question is, did Glenn’s group eat human flesh?

See you in October…

Front page image from screencrush.com. Image 1 from amctv.com. Image 2 from tv.yahoo.com. Image 3 from comicbookmovie.com.

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A Batman/Superman: Cross World Review – Turn the Lights On!

TITLE: Batman/Superman: Cross World
AUTHOR: Greg Pak
PENCILLERS: Jae Lee, Ben Oliver, Yildiray Cinar, Paulo Siqueira
COLLECTS: 
Batman/Superman #1-4, Justice League #23.1
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER:
 DC Comics
PRICE: $22.99
RELEASE DATE: April 30, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This book did not need to be as complicated as they made it. As a DC Comics fan, what I was looking for in Batman/Superman: Cross World was a simple “When Clark Met Bruce” story. In the New 52 canon, the Superman/Batman dynamic isn’t nearly as frosty as it could be in the old continuity. The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel are downright chummy these days. They not only talk superheroics, but Bruce is giving Clark relationship advice. Their friendship seems to be much more personal than it was in the pre-New 52 universe.

This begs the question: How do two people who are so different get to be so close? That sounds like a heck of a question to answer in the first arc of a new Batman/Superman series. And ultimately, that question does get answered. Unfortunately, Greg Pak, Jae Lee and their cohorts answered it for the WRONG SUPERMAN AND BATMAN!!!!

Set some time before “five years ago” (i.e. Justice League: Origin), a young Batman butts heads with a jeans and t-shirt-wearing Superman. But moments later, they’re transported to Earth 2 by Kaiyo, a trickster from Apokolips who takes it upon herself to “borrow” our heroes. Our heroes soon come into contact with their Earth 2 counterparts, none of whom have any idea about Kaiyo’s connection to Darkseid, or how she may impact their future.

The decision to bring this book’s first story to Earth 2 is a curious one, especially when you consider that with the Superman/Batman movie coming up in 2016, this would ideally be a book Warner Bros. and DC could point new fans to, so they can get a preemptive taste of the standard Superman/Batman chemistry. But this book is NOT friendly to new readers at all. The first few pages do give us a nice look at Bruce and Clark’s respective outlooks, as they watch a boy getting beat up by his classmates, but from there we move into a convoluted story involving an alternate universe, featuring alternate and older versions of characters we’re already familiar with, and ties into Justice League: OriginSuperman and Batman DO end up teaming up at the end, but ultimately we learn more about the Clark and Bruce of Earth 2 than we do about the characters we read about in the ongoing books every month. Thus, Cross World fails to be an adequate jumping-on point for both new readers, and fans who want to learn more about the Superman and Batman of the New 52.

But even if one is of the mindset that Greg Pak isn’t obligated to be inviting to new readers, this book still has a crippling drawback: Jae Lee.

I say that with with the utmost respect, because Jae Lee is a star, and I typically enjoy his work (most recently, Before Watchmen: Ozymandias). But the God-honest truth is that he’s terribly miscast as the artist for a Superman/Batman story. He’s perfectly suited for Batman, but he’s a fish out of water with Superman.

As we see in our opening scene, Lee and colorist June Chung present a very dreary and shadowy Gotham City, complete with bare tree branches that almost give it a Tim Burton-esque feel. In contrast, his Smallville and Metropolis renderings have lovely colored skies, but are frustratingly shadowy and dark beyond that.

For instance, there’s a page where “regular” Superman meets the Jonathan and Martha Kent of Earth 2. As our Clark lost his adopted parents in a car crash, this is a very emotional moment for him. And Pak gives us some decent dialogue to go with this emotional moment. The problem? Aside from Chung’s skies, the entire page takes place in total darkness. How much more powerful would this moment have been if we’d been able to see Clark’s eyes as he looks up and sees his mother’s face again? How much more meaningful would that embrace in the last panel have looked if the friggin’ lights had been on?

Clark and Ma Kent aren’t the only victims of the Jae Lee blackout, either. When Batman and Earth 2 Catwoman duke it out in the Batcave, their shrouded in near total darkness. When Earth 2 Superman bursts on to the scene to interrupt his counterpart’s initial meeting with his parents, his face is completely cloaked in shadow, save for his glowing red eyes. Throw in the fact that everyone’s skin is needlessly pale, and this simply becomes a case of a book that caters to its artist’s needs, as opposed to an artist catering to the story’s needs. Yanick Paquette takes the pencil during a flashback in issue #3, and it’s such a breath of fresh air because we can finally see things. Faces, colors, and settings that effect the mood and tone of what we’re seeing. But of course, then we’re plunged back into semi-darkness.

What’s more, Cross World sees the debut of the Mangubots (pictured on the cover), i.e. giant robots developed by Waynetech to do…something. They have  a role on Earth 2 that’s never fleshed out. On “regular” Earth, we see Batman use them against Superman in issue #1. Why Batman, a silent avenger of the night, would have giant, structure crumbling robots at his beckon call is beyond me. There goes his whole Dark Knight modus operandi right out the window. Batman and giant robots don’t go together. Please don’t make me say it again.

I’ll never say Jae Lee’s art isn’t great on its own merits, but the decision to put him on this book comes off ill-conceived, and not thought out. That’s consistent with a lot of DC’s decisions over the last few years. Sadly, they’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole with Jae Lee and Batman/Superman to this day.

In addition to our main story (which lasts four issues), Cross World also contains Justice League #23.1, which was part of DC’s month of villain spotlights. We get some cool info on Darkseid, and how he became who and what he is. We also learn about his connection to Kaiyo, and how she has lured him from world to world on an endless path of destruction. This naturally sets us up for Cross World, and Justice League: Origin. Paulo Siqueira also seems very comfortable in a sci-fi setting, and the issue is actually one of the better Villains Month stories I’ve read.

Another Villains Month inclusion in this book is Batman/Superman #3.1, which Brett Booth drops in for. The issue focuses on Doomsday, who has no bearing on anything else in the book…but what the hell? I’m not the world’s biggest Brett Booth fan, but he draws a pretty good Doomsday. Not as good as Tony Daniel’s on the cover, but still pretty good. In the issue, a young Supergirl’s father tells her some sort of prophecy in which Doomsday defeats the “Last Knight of the House of El.” It’s essentially The Death of Superman, only not really…I guess. The most intriguing aspect of the issue involves young Kara Zor El talking to a projection of General Zod from the Phantom Zone, whom she has apparently been in contact with for some time. I like the notion that Zod is haunting the House of El, and a vulnerable young girl no less. It makes him that much more slimey and evil.

The Darkseid and Doomsday spotlights indicate Greg Pak is obviously capable of telling good stories in the DC Universe. So how he ended up giving us this convoluted mess as the kick off to a Batman/Superman series is beyond me. All we needed was the equivalent of a basic turkey sandwich, and this creative team gave us some bizarre tofurky casserole from some crazy lady’s Pinterest account.

RATING: 5/10

Front page image from comicbookmovie.com. Image 1 from cosmicteams.com. Image 2 from dreamwidth.org. Image 3 from gregpak.com. 

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