Game Review: Diablo 3

Diablo 3 is out. But is it a game? Or is it the most brilliant money making scam in internet history?

Movie Review: The Avengers

Okay, okay, I posted my Avengers review. Get off my back already, geez.

The Most Important Comic Book You've Never Heard Of

Action Comics #1. Detective Comics #27. Why is All-American Men of War #89 as important as these great comics -- and why have you never heard of it?.

Tales From the Vault: Lois Lane #93

If you thought Superman was a total tool before, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Mass Effect 3: The Official Review

Mass Effect 3 isn't the end of the world, it just portrays it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Breaking News: Bob Harras Named DC EiC

DC announced yet another stunning bit of news today, this time taking pretty much everyone off guard with their out-of-nowhere announcement that former Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras has been named DC's new Editor-in-Chief.

Exactly what this means, mind you, is a bit unclear; DC hasn't actually had an Editor-in-Chief for years. But with the recent restructuring of the company, with Dan DiDio and Jim Lee named co-publishers, the elimination of Wildstorm from the face of the Earth and the move of everything non-comics to Los Angeles, it's clear that DC has some sort of game plan they are finally implementing.

The fact that that plan leans heavily on Bob Harras, however, is still a shocker on some levels. For the past several years, after all, Harras (who was once also writer on Avengers) has been toiling in near-obscurity as the editor in charge of DC's collections department -- collections as in trades and reprints, not as in billing. That position is about as far as you could get from Harras's glory days when he presided over Marvel Comics from 1995-2000.

Just how fans are going to react the news is almost as unclear as just what Harras's role will be in relation to DiDio and Lee. Many fans remember Harras as editor most for the whole Heroes Reborn fiasco (and I use the word fiasco in terms of fan reaction, not in terms of sales, as by all accounts the event did what it was intended to do). Harras is also somewhat unfairly held responsible by many fans for the many troubles Marvel had during this time period, when the company went bankrupt. That really stemmed from things way over his head, but the trickle down effect -- and the poor quality of many of the titles he inherited during the whole 90's Image/speculation era -- have led many fans to forget all the highlights of Harras's tenure in favor of the lowlights.

Among those highlights, of course, are not just the Heroes Return relaunches, which led to such fan favorite teams as Kurt Busiek and George Perez on Avengers, but also the greenlighting of Busiek's Thunderbolts series, the creation of the Ultimate universe and the launching of Marvel Knights, which eventually ushered in the era of his successor, Marvel Knights honcho Joe Quesada.

On balance, then, Harras's hits probably outweigh his misses as he helped return Marvel to a firm creative foundation after the near disaster of their bankruptcy. How his style or experience will effect DC, with their increasingly elaborate editorial structure -- in addition to DiDio and Lee, DC also has Geoff Johns on board in the official capacity of Chief Creative Officer, whatever the hell that is -- is a big question mark.

One thing is for sure though: DC is definitely shaking things up. And judging by their sales and the vocal complaints of the internet minority, anyway, that can't be anything but a good thing. Here's hoping Harras can straighten things out.

For more on the promotion of Harras, here's Newsarama with the press release and CBR with industry reaction.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Two Weeks in Geek: September 12-25

Yes, it's a special Double-Sized, 80 Page Giant version of Week in Geek. Unfortunately, last week's geekery was eaten by the technical problems I was having with the website, but now that everything is up and running again I've combined those entries with the all-new batch from last week to bring you a massive data dump of geekdom sure to blow your face off like a pocket atom bomb. Which, in this specific case only, is a good thing.

Here it is, your Two Weeks in Geek:

September 13 -- Noomi Rapace to Play Girl With the Houndstooth Cap in ‘Sherlock Holmes 2′: Yes, the lady from those Swedish thriller movies is going to be in Sherlock Holmes 2. She'll have to be better cast than Rachel McAdams, who was ridiculous.

September 13 -- ‘Resident Evil’ Shows No Signs of Moving Out Any Time Soon: Yes, there is going to be a fifth Resident Evil movie. No, I don't know why.

September 15 -- Ryan Reynolds: Green Lantern Costume Like Wearing Alec Baldwin: A bit of fluff about superhero movies from the man with two trillion abs.

September 16 -- Jon Hamm Tells Kelly Ripa ‘I Could Be Your Man of Steel’: The rumor going around is that Jon Hamm is going to play Superman. He's probably 5-10 years too old, but they might be able to make it work if it's an Earth 2 story. Oh, we could only be so lucky.

September 20 -- Renner Talks ‘Avengers’ Fashion: Is Purple the New Black?: What's wrong with purple, exactly? For some reason Renner doesn't want Hawkeye to wear purple. That's nuts.

September 21 -- True Story: Winona Ryder Joins Tim Burton on ‘Frankenweenie’: Somewhere, The Cure is weeping a single blood tear into their goblet.

September 21 -- Owls, Srsly? Ya, Rly: A 3D animated movie about Nazi owls and the few feathered heroes who oppose them? Say... WTF?

September 21 -- An ‘Inception’ Video Game? We Must Be Dreaming!: I hope to god this is an MMO, because that would just be the tits.

September 22 -- Godzilla’s Climbing in Your City, He’s Snatching Your People Up: The producers of the new Hollywood version of Godzilla swear that they will be faithful to the original. Yeah, sure.

September 22 -- ‘X-Men: First Class’ Threatens to Drain World’s Dwindling Mutant Supply: Unless Caliban is in this, I'm not going to go see it. Or unless I am bored when it comes out.

September 22 -- Scarlett Johansson Spins a Solo Web For ‘Black Widow’: Yes, Marvel is in talks to do a solo Black Widow movie. This could be... okay... maybe. But only if they figure out how to have both Ivan and Winter Soldier in it.

September 24 -- Emma Stone as Black Cat in ‘Spider-Man?’ Sounds Purr-fect: Okay, this Black Cat rumor is mostly one I myself made up, but it sort of fits with what the studio is saying, so I'm going to remain hopeful.

September 24 -- Kate Beckinsale Is Going To Suck in ‘Underworld 4…’ Blood, That Is: No. Just... no.

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Breaking News: DC Shuts Down Wildstorm, Zuda

DC Comics announced in a press release earlier today that they are shutting down Jim Lee's Wildstorm imprint and absorbing the characters into DC. The move was one of several major changes announced, including the end of Zuda Comics as well as the relocation of numerous jobs from DC's New York headquarters to Los Angeles.

Wildstorm, of course, has been one of the premiere imprints in comics since it debuted nearly 20 years ago as part of the Image launch in 1991. Under Lee's guidance, Wildstorm published acclaimed and groundbreaking titles by creators such as Warren Ellis and Alan Moore, including influential series such as Gen13, WildCATS, Planetary, The Authority, Tom Strong, DV8, Ex Machina and Top Ten. For the last few years it has also been the publisher for Kurt Busiek's Astro City.

Considering Lee is now a co-publisher of DC itself, the move isn't necessarily a complete shock, but it's still a bit of a surprise that leaves many questions unanswered, particularly the future of the many Wildstorm characters. Will they now be folded into the DCU itself? Will some of them be DCU characters and others go to Vertigo to maintain their feel? And what will happen to creator owned works like Astro City (Busiek has said on his facebook page that he hasn't heard anything from DC yet)?

The decision to dump Wildstorm came at the same time as DC's decision to dump Zuda Comics, which as you know (thanks to my reviews last year) was a digital comics experiment that for a while provided a unique platform for new creators. That's gone and in it's place is... a nebulous something that DC is working on instead; their press release indicated that Lee will now be heading the new digital initiative, but what form that's going to take is unclear.

Also unclear is how the decision to move a number of jobs from New York to Los Angeles will affect DC. One has to assume that this is a result of last year's move by parent company Time/Warner to consolidate the management of DC under the Warner Bros. entertainment banner.

In short, pretty much nothing is certain as a result of these moves other than the fact that Wildstorm and Zuda no longer exist. It appears on first blush, though, that these moves all are part of a larger plan to focus on and leverage DC's core properties -- which unfortunately may come at the expense of their more innovative and creative smaller branches.

We'll see.

p.s. The DC website where they posted the press release seems to have crashed but I'll try to get a link to it when I can. Here's an interview with DC's head honcho Diane Nelson, though, where she sort of talks about the changes.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

New Comic Cavalcade: Thor, Avengers and More

Hey kids, welcome back to another edition of New Comic Cavalcade. It's been quite a while since I reviewed new issues, so as you can imagine, I now have a metric ton of comics to read. So this time around we're going to go back to the ultra short, two-sentence reviews for all the new comics. Ready? Okay, here we go:

Astro City Special: Silver Agent #2
A surprisingly satisfying ending to the story we've been waiting for for more than a decade. If it is an ending -- I'm not what those final panels mean, exactly, but they sure were interesting. My Grade: A-.

Thor #613 and 614
I was very skeptical of this storyline when it started, but it ended up being a lot better than it had any right to be. I still don't have any idea why this Kelda characters exists, though, despite the writer's attempts to justify her. My Grade: A-.

Thor: For Asgard #1 and 2
At this point Thor is basically appearing in five series at once; this six-issue story may seem limited, but since another limited series or one shot will replace it when it ends, they might as just make a second ongoing called "Tales of Asgard" or "Journey Into Mystery." It's kind of annoying, but this story -- though I can't figure out if it's even in continuity or an imaginary tale -- has some great art, so I'll probably stick with it. My Grades: B+.

Hawkeye and Mockingbird #4
I appreciate the return of the once-heroic Phantom Rider at the end of this issue and I hope the storyline ends with the character finally being redeemed after 20 years in the dead rapist doghouse. But I still find the return of Mockingbird to be both contrived and unnecessary, as is the presence of whoever this new Dominic Fortune is. My Grade: B-.

Avengers: The Children's Crusade #2
Yet again, Alan Heinberg's version of the Young Avengers turns out to be, inexplicably, the best Avengers series Marvel is putting out. I'm actually enjoying the search for Scarlet Witch despite the fact that I hate the character -- and enjoying this series despite things like the totally unnecessary Wolverine cover. My Grade: A.

Avengers #4
Could be worse; the art is good and Bendis is doing a great job of writing the future Avengers kids as a bunch of complete shits, so if they die at the end of this story I'll enjoy that at least. But let's get one thing straight right now: Kang isn't afraid of Hulk in any part, future or alternate reality. Period. My Grade: B-.

Secret Avengers #4
The first arc ends solidly, but overall this story was a little bit of a letdown, particularly Brubaker's somewhat weird version of Valkyrie and the apparently pointless inclusion of Nova. I am very intrigued by the Nick Fury stuff, though, and Brubaker has earned my trust, so I'll be sticking with it. My Grade: B-.

Steve Rogers: Super Soldier #3
Not sure what the point of this series is, really, but for me it's Brubaker's weakest Captain America work ever. The Cap-reverts-to-a-weakling plot didn't help, as it pointed out how much Eaglesham's artwork looks like Al Milgrom's from the dreadful Gruenwald storyline with the same plot, which, by the way, is not a compliment. My Grade: C-.

Captain America #609
Now this is more like it, as Brubaker is still hitting on all cylinders with his return of evil Zemo storyline. I even am kinda/sorta enjoying the Nomad backup. My Grade: A.

Jonah Hex #59
Another solid story, but one of the very few in the series that seems to suffer from being a single issue story instead of an extended or multi-part arc. The big setup introducing the Grey Ghost is interesting but doesn't have any room to develop before it's forced to suddenly end amidst a different, random plot. My Grade: B.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Technical Difficulties

As you can see, the design for the site has changed. This is a temporary fix caused by technical difficulties that completed exploded my old design. Once I can get everything figured out I hope to premiere an all-new, all-awesome design, but this should work for a little bit at least well enough to make the site readable.

Sorry for any difficulties this may have caused.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In-House Ad Showcase

Hey guys. You know, reprints are kind of cool in that they allow you to get access to stories that you may otherwise never be able to find or afford and with today's trade market driving the industry, the time has never been better to pick up collections of material you've been curious about. But there are things lost when you get a collection or a reprint; the lettercolumn, the advertising, really the whole flavor of the comic itself. And maybe the biggest casualty for comics fans is In-House Ads.

These, of course, are the advertisements that companies would put in their comics promoting over titles or characters in their line. Often these are little more than just a small shot of a cover with maybe a few lines of text. But just as frequently companies would whip up promotional art, graphics and other weirdness that in some cases is better or more interesting than the comics themselves. And sadly, few of these house ads have been given nearly as much attention over the years as they deserve, because really, some of these are real gems.

With that in mind, today we kick off another semi-irregular feature here at The Vault, In-House Ad Showcase, where we'll dig up some of the more interesting in-house ads from the last 75+ years of comics so that fans can get another (or often first) look at some of these rarities and gems.

And what better way to start than with the ad that inspired this feature, a beautiful full-page splash from Jack Kirby advertising Avengers #3? I found this gem in the pages of Sgt. Fury #4, and it's a masterpiece. It's also a bit of a historical curiosity due to the fact that it features Iron Man in his all-gold armor, despite the fact that he actually was wearing his new red-and-gold armor in Avengers #3. Obivously the ad was done before the armor was redesigned. Anyway, here it is:

Next up is an early gem from another classic artist, Barry Windsor-Smith, who made a name for himself in the industry with his gorgeously detailed work on Conan the Barbarian and its related titles. Check out this great in-house ad that I found somewhere on the internet (sorry, I forget where, so my apologies to the hapless dupe I stole it from):

And we'll end with a more traditional style in-house ad, this time from DC. It's got the basic in-house ad style of presenting an entire cover along with some hype text, but what's unusual here is, well, just how awesome the cover and overall effect are. This ad is from 1973, but it's so effective that I just had to guy buy this comic as soon as I saw it -- over 35 years later. And I'm betting that you'll be on ebay with five minutes of seeing this ad yourself. Here you go:

Yes, it's a romance comic about a nun! And the guy hitting on her is a tortured Vietnam Vet trying to deal with PTSD. Don't worry, though, if you can't find your own copy (which I strongly recommend getting), some kind soul has uploaded it to the internet so you can read the whole thing here.

Next time: More Kirby! More early Marvel! More of everything you love about comics!

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Week in Geek: September 5-11

I know, I know -- you guys want comics! You want to delve into those longboxes face first and come up smelling like old newsprint. I promise, y'all. Soon, very soon. For now, though, I've still been too swamped with actual work to get much writing done on the Vault side of things.

Still, some of those articles are pretty cool and a couple of them are even comic book related. So here' the latest Week in geek so you can get caught up in everything important in the world. And don't worry, comics are coming shortly.

September 6 -- Queue It Up: ‘A Scanner Darkly’ Blu-ray: Dude, I haven't actually seen this movie for some reason, but if you haven't read the book I highly recommend it. And whatever you do, make sure you see this / read this sober. You've been warned.

September 8 -- What If Clint Eastwood Were Superman?: Shocker of the week: Clint Eastwood was once a comic geek! So what classic Golden Age hero did he obsessively collect? Here's a hint: the answer makes beautiful, perfect sense.

September 9 -- ‘Hobo With a Shotgun:’ Brother, Can You Spare a 20-Gauge?: I think the title pretty much says it all, right? The fact that is stars Rutger Hauer is genius; frankly, I can't see how the movie could live up to this trailer.

September 9 -- Nikita Has Company When It Comes to Butt-Kicking Ladies: A video rundown of some of the asskickingest ladies in film and TV history. I totally should have included Gwen Cooper from Torchwood. Darnit, Hindsight Lad!

September 9 -- ‘Captain America’ Proves He’s an Easy Rider: Photos of the stunt double on Captain America riding a tricked out Army motorcycle. Pretty cool.

September 9 -- Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower:’ Just How Much of This Is There?: This is one of the craziest deals I've ever heard of, as Ron Howard is going to adapt the "Dark Tower" serious into a film trilogy and a TV series simultaneously. Good luck with that bro. Seriously.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Week in Geek: August 29 - September 4

Whew. It's been a long week, but we here at The Vault have finally shaken off our post-DC Cover List doldrums and are back in the metaphorical saddle, ready to rock your socks off with amazing and astonishing new content. But before we do anything crazy like that, we thought we'd re-purpose some of last week's most interesting articles so that we can spend another few minutes in bed.

Get ready for another Week in Geek!

August 29 -- Comic Book Characters Still Available for Movies: The title pretty much says it all here. I was happy that I got to plus some of my favorite, lesser-known titles, though.

August 30 -- Queue It Up: ‘The Evil Dead’ Limited Edition Blu-Ray: If you're looking for straight laughs, I say skip this one and watch Evil Dead 2 instead. But this one certainly has more serious horror in it.

August 30 -- Talkin’ Bout Willis: Sly Wants Bruce As ‘Expendables II’ Villain Yes, there is going to be a sequel to The Expendables. No, you cannot blame me; I voted against it.

September 1 -- 'The Amazing Race' Season 17 Teams Announced: Maybe this doesn't count as geek, I dunno. But it is the best show in the history of television, so that has to count for something, right?

September 1 -- The Rock Rolling Into ‘Center of the Earth 2′: This, on the other hand, is definitely geek even though it's also a complete crap sandwich. Now who would rather watch Amazing Race? Yeah, that's what i thought.

September 3 -- Excellent! 'Bill & Ted 3' Still in the Works: Hard to believe, but it's true: the guy that played Bill is still alive. Good for him!

September 3 -- New ‘THX 1138′ Blu-ray is L33t: That's my headline, ya'll. Pretty awesome, right? This movie, of course, was the last one Lucas did that didn't ruin your childhood by simple fact that he made it before you were born.

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