Comics Bundle: 03.25.09 Pt. 2

This is part 2 of my comics bundle for this week (part 1 can be found here). This bundle consist of all comics that are not from Marvel.

DMZ #40
9.0 of 10
In the past couple of issues, we've seen Parco, the new Governor of Manhattan, acquire gold and even a nuclear weapon. Since we've seen him acquire all these things in Matty's point of view, we're also left out not knowing Parco's true intention. This issue, however, clarifies all that and it really makes sense. DMZ is in the shitter, trapped between two major warring factions. Then there are the unscrupulous corporations, small militias and even street gangs. How are you going to fend all these without money and a nuclear weapon?

Justice League of America #31
8.8 of 10
I know that the JLA have been slipping on and off from their game. But I love them nonetheless for the star-spanning action they give me. But this issue is one of the best I've read because they deal with an adversary that comes from within. Not like a traitor, or anything, though. But in the wake of Final Crisis, they reassessed their value as a team and came up with one word: Useless. So, now, Hal Jordan is leaving to form his own JLA, and with some of its members dead (Batman) or have other priorities to their people (Superman, Wonder Woman), Black Canary (chairwoman of the JLA) is left with an empty Hall of Justice.

The Walking Dead #59
8.4 of 10
There are so much to love about this title, and one of those things are the characters. All of them here are just a wreck. They're scarred not just physically but also emotionally and mentally. In this issue, they've picked up yet another crazy dude named Morgan, who had recently lost his son. The character is actually one of the first to be introduced in the comics but parted ways with Rick early in the series. So far, this issue was slow during the first half. Just the standard "stocking up" and building up Morgan's character. Nothing really exciting until the last few pages when they bump into a herd of Zombies.

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1
8.0 of 10
"Who will be the next Batman?" is on everybody's mind right now, and this 3 issue mini-series will determine that. Following Bruce Wayne's death in Final Crisis, chaos ensues in Gotham as the villains take the city back. Meanwhile, Batman's friends team-up to stabilize the situation. The riot crazy atmosphere of the book is really great. It reminds me a bit of No Man's Land with all its chaos. The book's plot, however, is not as thick as I expected it to be. At least, not as thick as Morrison's run with the Batman series. It's a good thing that the action is plenty in here and will keep you entertained.

Fables #82
7.5 of 10
Wow, I've never thought I'd give Fables a mark below 8. But this issue is really weak. The only thing worth noting about it is the ending, where Bigby Wolf and The Beast is about to go and beat each other to a pulp. So who do you think will win? The Big Bad Wolf, from Little Red Riding Hood and Three Little Pigs, or the Beast, from Beauty and the Beast?

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Comics Bundle: 03.25.09 Pt. 1

By now, you guys probably know that I'm always late with my comic reviews. So I'm not gonna apologize for my tardiness anymore. Anyways, I kinda of noticed that there were a lot of Avengers and Deadpool appreances in this bundle. That's fine by me though. Because more Deadpool means more fun.

Secret Warriors #2
9.0 of 10
The first issue of Secret Warriors hit me like Mjolnir. So far, I think it's an audacious series with the most audacious plot that Marvel has put into play. Like the kind of audacity that will shake the foundations of the Marvel Universe. Unfortunately, I won't reveal any of the plot details in issue #1 and #2, they're just too precious. Let's just say that the issue #1 was followed up nicely in issue #2 by introducing what Nick Fury and his kids will be facing, a revisioned and reinvigorated Hydra.

Deadpool: Games of Death #1
8.7 of 10
This one-shot issue is definitely the funniest, most violent Deadpool comics I've read since he came back. Hired by a man -known as Mr. Kilgore- to track down his only son, The Merc with the Mouth ends up disguising as an old martial arts master and participating in an illegal reality-TV show that pits its contestants to a game of death. The whole deathmatch setting is a playground to Deadpool's insanity. There's a lot of slapstick humor, blood and decapitation that will keep you entertained.

Thunderbolts #130
8.4 of 10
Deadpool, like Wolverine, is almost everywhere these days. He have an ongoing series, an upcoming mini-series, an appreance in the Messiah War and a crossover with the Thunderbolts. So far, the first issue of Thunderbolts/Deadpool crossover is an enjoyable one. I really liked it because it has lots of humor and action, it actually feels more like Deadpool book than a Thunderbolts. Plus, Deadpool owns Thunderbolts' face too. The only thing I didn't like about it is perhaps the art.

The New Avengers #51
8.0 of 10
A few months ago, when Marvel announced that Dr. Strange will select a new Sorcerer Supreme in The New Avengers #51, I've been dying to get my hands on this issue. However, now that I've actually read the issue, everything was just a hype. The only saving grace in this issue is the part where Spider-Man revealed his alter ego to the rest of the New Avengers. Albeit short, it was a fun moment to read.

Runaways #8
8.0 of 10
Runaways is probably one of my favorite comic book series. It's just a fun title to read because it lets teenagers act like teenagers, even though they have superhuman abilities. I must admit, however, without Brian K. Vauhgn in its helm, the series is not what it's used to be. Fortunately, this issue (and also the last) have been an enjoyable read. The kids are acting like their kids again and they also face a new enemy: Van Rhymin, the shock-jock who's been turning the silicone enhanced residents of LA into zombies. Now what's more fun than that?

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My sister asked me to accompany her to downtown Chicago, again. Like the last time, she needed to go to one of the museums for her art project. This time, however, instead of going to the Campus Museums, she decided to visit The Arts Institute of Chicago.

I've never been inside the Arts Institute of Chicago before. In fact, I tried to stay away from it because its high brow art seems intimidating to me. But my sister insisted (and I was also craving for some of Chicago's deep dish pizza). So I came with her. To my surprise, the place was actually a lot of fun and not that high brow as I thought it was.

Most of the displayed items inside were different types of artifacts from different cultures. Which was a relief to me because I thought that the place was filled with boring paintings. There were a lot of cool artifacts that came from all over the world, ranging from Japan to South America. My favorite would have to be the African sculptures because they were oddly unique. To me, they seemed like action figures -really priceless ones- from the olden days. That's probably why I enjoyed it a lot.

Anyways, you can check out the photos of my favorite artifacts from the museum here. I really enjoyed myself taking these pictures.

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OnLive: Future of Gaming

Is this the new face of gaming?

One thing I hate about being a gamer is that you'll constantly have the need to upgrade your rig, whether you're a console gamer, portable gamer, or computer gamer. It's inevitable that your platform and game developers will find ways to up-man the competition by improving their technology. Hence, you always end up throwing your $2000 or $400 rig into the can and replace it with another $2000 or $400 rig that you'll eventually throw in the can. Hopefully, however, OnLive will put an end to that.

OnLive is perhaps the latest craze amongst gamers right now, and with good reason too. Straight from the presses of Game Developers Conference '09 (or GDC 09), OnLive is a Games on Demand service that delivers rented or purchased games to your PC, Mac or TV via high-speed internet. In short, OnLive are for games as YouTube are for video. You're actually streaming games instead of installing them into your PC (kinda like playing flash games except you're playing games like Crysis or BioShock). Which means you won't need high-end video cards or having to deal with Vista to play your game.

Right now, I'm pretty much sold. I like the idea of not having to deal with system requirements anymore. Also, the fact that big name publishers like EA Games, Ubisoft and Atari are supporting it could also mean more games. The only downside to it is that the graphics quality will be really poor. But I don't really care about the graphics. So I'll be watching this thing real close.

Anyways, if you're interested about OnLive, and live in the US, you can participate in their beta testing program. You can sign in here. I already did.

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What's in a Name?

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other nam
e would smell as sweet."

-William Shakespeare

Romantics aside, I think this -already over used- quote has been rendered obsolete by the internet. Because on this day and age, a name can mean access to a person's digitized identity (e.g. Facebook or MySpace profiles). Which means all you need to do is get a whiff of your crush's name, hope she had her identity digitized somewhere on the net, and you'll have access to her pictures.

Snorg Girl, I know your real name.

Yes, that's what a name is worth nowadays -a treasure trove of pictures, and maybe a little bit of info too. That's why, for more than a year, with the use of this blog, I've been trying so hard to find the real name of the Snorg girl that models the shirt "With A Shirt Like This Who Needs Pants?".

For months, nobody came forward and share with me the name of this next door beauty. But, yesterday, to my surpirse, a guy named Calaca Tico wrote a comment on my blog and told me that the beauty's name is Megan Miller, a 21 year old model from Florida. This comment is probably the best comment in my blog, and it also made me happy that I blog.

So now, armed with but a name, I have access to this Snorg Girl's treasure trove of pictures over at ModelMayhem. Wow.

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Something in the Sea

One of the best games that came out during the latter half of this decade is definitely BioShock. While it only ranked #2 on my Best 7 Games of 2007 (it was trumped by The Witcher), the game's art direction is still unparalleled. The story, which revolves around Ayn Rand's (one of my favorite authors) philosophy of Objectivism, is also top notch.

Two years after it rocked the gaming world, the BioShock franchise is ready to resurface again. News have been bubbling up lately. Most of them, however, were just rumors. But a few days ago something solid came out: a viral site -entitiled There's Something in the Sea- and a BioShock 2 art (pictured above) on the cover of Game Informer's April 2009 issue.

The viral site, a bulletin board plastered with news clips of sightings of an unknown maritime object (UMO), did its job well in making me excited about the game. But what really pushed me past over excitement is the news that you'll be actually playing as a Big Daddy. Yes, Big Daddy, the same dive suit machinations you were trying to outlive in the first game.

Man, I couldn't wait for this game to come out. If there's one game I've missed on my anticipated games in 2009, it's BioShock 2.

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First Impressions: Empire

After a week of skirmishing with randomly generated AI opponents, I'm giving up Dawn of War II. I know, after my spectacular losing streak, I left the game's ranked multiplayer arena with a bad name. But I don't really care because I can't go on and play this game any longer. Especially if a marvelous game like Empire: Total War is installed in my PC.

American Militiamen defending against the Iroquois skirmishers.

True to the Total War franchise, Empire is a very sublime historical game. Even more so now because, with the game set in the 18th century, the world map is larger than the previous games -due to the inclusion of the Americas. As for its complex battle system, it still plays out the same as before. Except that the use of gunpowder and cannon fire brings the experience to a new level. The only new feature in this series is the addition of naval battle. I actually find naval battles boring. Unlike Sid Meier's Pirates, naval battles in Empire is just way too slow.

Overall, Empire: Total War is a pretty enjoyable game. It's not as engaging like Dawn of War II or as addictive as Civilization IV. But I'm definitely going to lose some sleep over it.

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Stoner Rock 101

I had some spare time, and an ounce of diligence, to finally rummage through my piled junk down in our basement. I tried to do this last month but got distracted when I stumbled upon my collection of Natalie Portman films. Anyways, I was able to retrieve some things, such as unused kitchen utensils, that we might need later on. I also dug up a box full of CDs that I haven't digitized and listened to for a long time. These CDs, in particular, were my collection of stoner rock albums.

For those of you who aren't familiar with it, Stoner rock is a sub-genre of rock that surfaced around early to mid 90's. It's probably my favorite type of rock music. I even influenced my band to play stoner rock (or at least we tried to) and cover songs from stoner rock bands. I just love listening to its lazy, heavy and groovy sounds -a marriage of heavy blues and psychedelic rock elements- because it's the perfect music to listen to when you're drinking beer or smoking pot (that's why it's called stoner rock).

Anyways, for your listening pleasure, I made a list of stoner rock songs and albums that I love. So if you haven't heard of stoner rock before, then you beter listen to these bands.

Welcome to Sky Valley
by Kyuss

Many fans will probably hang me for recommending Welcome to Sky Valley instead of Blues for the Red Sun. While the latter album put Kyuss' name out in the open air, it was the former that cemented their place in the annals of rock. It's the ultimate stoner rock album and one listent to it, with its bass groves and chill out guitar riffs, will definitely disable your neural functions even without the weed.

Dopes to Infinity by Monster Magnet

Dopes of Infinity is probably the most psyched-out and spaced-out stoner rock album. Loaded with swirling flanged guitars and crisp acidic vocals, its sounds will flung you off from this world and into the cosmos. Unlike most stoner bands, who never left the underground scene, this album's single also gave Monster Magnet a little bit of mainstream recognition.

Deliverance by Corrosion of Conformity

If I made a list of all my overplayed albums, Deliverance will be on that list. I just couldn't stop listening to this album with all its straight up groovy Black Sabbath-esque guitar riffs and Pepper Keenan's lazy vocals. If I was given the chance back then, I'd probably had my band cover all the songs in this album.

California Crossing by Fu Manchu

In all honesty, and in my opinion, California Crossing isn't Fu Manchu's best album. But I love it nonetheless. Because, while it's not tricked out with the fuzz, the groove and the sludgy quality of their older albums like King of the Road, it is their most refined and well polished work that anyone can easily appreciate and chill out to.

Coping with the Urban Coyote by Unida

After the disbandment of Kyuss, vocalist John Garcia got busy putting up other stoner rock bands. One of those bands is Unida. I haven't heard any other albums by Unida except Coping with the Urban Coyote. Unlike Kyuss, however, this band is much less artsier and a bit more aggressive. But the whole stoner rock groove isn't lost within this album.

There are many more bands that I want to list down in here, like Queens of the Stone Age. But I didn't want to continue on because the post will get too long and boring. Besides, listening to -and writing about- stoner rock makes me lazy.

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fYou: Macs and Pods

Alright, before we proceed any further, and before you guys dismiss me as an anti-Apple guy, I just want to say I don't have anything against Apple and their products. But, for some unfortunate reason, I always get into an argument with devout Apple users, who are always trying to convert me into using a Mac or an iPod. While those Apple products are awesome and sleek looking, I just don't have the need for them. To me, Mac or Pc is like choosing between a Gibson or Fender, Coke or Pepsi, Blue or Black. It's all about personal preferences.

PC vs. Mac
"You should've gotten a Mac and a PS3 instead of a Dell Gaming PC."

I admit that Macs are much more sexier and sleeker than a PC, and that Windows Vista is a slug compared to the Mac OS X. But here are the reasons why I use a PC instead of a Mac:

  • Gaming is the main reason I use a PC. I know Apple announced that they will focus more on entertainment a few years ago -and they did- but they still have to catch up with gaming.
  • PC is much cheaper. A lot of Mac users have told me that Macs are as cheap as PC nowadays. But when I checked out the Mac equivalent of my PC (hardware wise), which is the Mac 24": 3.06GHz, it costs $700 more. Oh, and I don't need to buy a $300 PS3 for gaming as well.
  • I'm already familiar with Windows and know how to maintain it. I've never had a crash since XP came out. So if you're telling me about your bad experiences with Windows, then it was also your fault and not just the software/hardware.
What it takes to convert me into a Mac user:
  • Gaming. If Apple becomes more gamer friendly, and maybe run older games that Vista can't, I'll definitely jump right in without looking back.
  • Make it more cheaper, of course.
iPod vs. other Mp3 Players
"You should've gotten an iPod because it has more accessories than a Creative ZEN."

iPods are probably the prettiest gadgets I've seen. But here are the reasons why I use a Creative ZEN and a Sansa Clip:
  • Back then, when 30 GB was the largest capacity of mp3 players, I bought a Creative ZEN because it can play wmv. files, small size but wit decent sound quality. Which means I can store a lot of my music.
  • I bought 2 GB Sansa Clip because, during that time, it was so cheap ($35)
  • Everybody has an iPod, and I always try to be a non-conformist.
What it takes to convert me into an iPod user:
  • If Apple releases a 128 GB iPod Touch, or even a 64 GB, then I'm there.
Well, there, I said my piece. I hope you Mac users will stop heckling me into getting a Mac or an iPod. Because I will never convert to Apple products unless they accommodate my needs.

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Owned! Pawned!

For two days in a row, I spent my time playing the multiplayer mode of Dawn of War II. Within those two whole days, I've also suffered a losing streak. I've been pawned and owned many times over by the players I've encountered, even the most green. A lot of them were fast and systematic. They knew when to recruit, where to start and how to strike. Although some players were just lucky. But luck still favors the prepared. So, as of right now, Skron80 (my Steam ID and Games for Windows LIVE ID) is probably the ultimate noob in multiplayer Dawn of War II.

It doesn't surprise me though. Since I lean more towards single player role-playing games, I was always bad with online player vs. player (PvP) games. First-person shooter, real-time strategies, you name any sort of PvP and I suck at it. True, I was decent with Counter-Strike and Rogue Spear. But I never really stood out amongst my peers. Starcraft? I only play 4 vs. 4 because, while I'm a fast Zerg player, I had no strategy or micro-managing skills. I was only the cannon fodder, good at delaying opponents while my three team members hatch the big plan. The same can be said about me with Warcraft III. I can't even beat my 13 year-old nephew in this game.

So now comes Dawn of War II, and other RTS made by Relic, which requires a lot of management. Even my friends, who were ardent RTS gamers, were put off by Company of Heroes' tactical and micro management. Although Dawn of War II looks simple on the map (no buildings, less upgrades, fewer units) its complexity lies in strategies, in which I lack. I've seen players with two units beat three of mine because they have the right wargear, tactical position and execution of abilities. During combat, I also noticed that these players pay attention to their units, directing them and moving them constantly out of harm's way.

As for me, I'm trying to come up with some strategies of my my own (I can't find one on the net) and polish my skills by playing against a computer opponent. My goal is to defeat two opponents in hard difficulty before I play online again. But, right now, I can't even defeat one AI on normal difficulty. Looks like I still have a long way to go. Knowing myself, I'll probably quit before I reach my goal. So to any Dawn of War strategist reading this blog: Please take me under your wing and share with my your ultimate stratagems.

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Album Review: Dark Was The Night

Dark Was The Night by Various Artists
8.5 of 10
Buy album from Amazon
Download album from Amazon

During the time when I got interested in music, all I've ever listened to were recycled from my parents' and older cousins' record collection. Their music were mostly classic rock and hair metal. I had no access to new music back then. So when I heard No Alternative, a compilation album of alternative rock songs produced for RHO, it opened floodgates and introduced me to the music of bands like Soundgarden and Urge Overkill, new bands for my generation.

Now, more than 15 years since No Alternative, Dark Was The Night is breaking grounds and creating divisions, once again separating the new generation from the old. Like No Alternative, Dark Was The Night is also a compilation album of alternative rock songs produced for RHO. This time, however, instead of grungers, the album features a sterling line up of new breed of alternative rock bands and independent artists, ranging from Arcade Fire to The Nationals.

The two-disc album contains 31 songs, most of which are hits rather than a miss. One of my favorite tracks in this album is the opener "Knotty Pine", by the Dirty Projectors/David Byrne team up, a poppy and folky song that you can easily sway into. Bon Iver's contribution in this compilation, "Bracket, WI", is also a wondrous croon that I enjoyed by ear and heart. Then there's "So Far Round The Bend", a sublime acoustic-folk rock song by The Nationals.

Dark Was The Night is an excellent compilation album. It will definitely serve as a focus point to those who are just starting to explore the landscape of indie music. As No Alternative once did to me, I don't doubt if this album have already freed some kid from his older brother's rock music, and is currently downloading (legally, I hope) all the albums of either The Nationals or Sufjan Stevens. I highly recommend this album to indie music fans, or people how are inquisitive in regards to finding new music.

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Comics-to-Film Wishlist Pt. 2

The first part of this series, which can be found here, I made a list of five superhero comic books that I want to see in film. This time, I'm going to list five comic books that aren't about superheroes. Because comic books aren't just about superheroes, you know. If you don't believe me then you better check out 300, History of Violence and Road to Perdition.

Anyways, without further ado, my list:

5. DMZ

The story of DMZ is about the second American Civil War between the United States and the Free States (militia groups that started a revolt in protestation to all the wars the US is involved with). Set in near future New York City, specifically Manhattan, which is now almost empty and a demilitarized zone between the two warring parties. I really like this book because of its political and anti-war tones, and its atmosphere reminds me of the movie Escape from New York.

4. Transmetropolitan

I want this book to be made into a film because I'd love to see and hear the main character, Spider Jerusalem, insult and assault people. Spider is a gonzo journalist and he's one of the most interesting character in known fiction. The series is set in a dystopian future and it tackles various political and social issues that mirrors ours today but is only taken to the extreme. Spider's mission, armed with a bowel disruptor and drug enhancers, is to scratch at these issues and reveal the truth.

3. Ronin

I'm a big fan of Frank Miller but I didn't like 300 and Sin City, both the films and graphic novels. But now that those two are out of the way I could only think of one graphic novel from Miller's oeuvre that could be next in line for a film adaptation, Ronin. It is an excellent graphic novel and my favorite work by Miller, next to The Dark Knight Returns. What I like about this comics is that it was able to incorporate feudal Japan into a dystopian cyberpunk setting, giving way to cybernetically enhanced samurai warriors.

2. Fables

Unlike other comics I've listed, I think Fables will do well in the movies because even the non-comics community are familiar with its characters, like Snow White and Big Bad Wolf (both got married in the comics), which we've seen and heard from the stories and Disney movies when we were kids. The only difference is that they were revisioned to live together in a magical community in contemporary New York. I know there's already talks about a Fables TV series. But Fables is too epic for the TV screen.

1. Scalped

Honestly, I'm not a big fan of Scalped. But the main character, Dashiell Bad Horse, is a real bad-ass. But my reason of why I want this title to be made into a film is to shock people out of apathy. I know the U.S. have lots of issues right now, and you can't help but hear people whine about it (including me). But before we whine, let's try and remember about the neglected state of the Native Americans. They've been murdered, land grabbed and thrown into reservation camps. After many years, they're still stuck in their own third world country inside the U.S.

That's my list. If you haven't noticed it, all comics (except Ronin) are from DC's Vertigo line. What can I say? I love their comics.

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I'm a Marvel...and I'm a DC

I was laughing my ass off when I saw this video, which is also a parody of "I'm a Mac...and I'm a PC" TV ad. I stumbled upon it while I was browsing the net for some comic news. You can also find more videos here. All videos share the same theme, comparing the differences between Marvel and DC superhero films.

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Comics-to-Film Wishlist Pt. 1

The Watchmen is out and finally over with. But there are lot of comics-to-film coming out on the horizon -Wolverine: Origins being the next- and even more under production that make me excited. However, what's coming out and what's under production are only a fraction of the stories the comic industry have. Of course, not all of it are good enough to be film worthy and some just won't work in movies. But, if you ask me which comic book series I want to be made into films, then here are some of my suggestions:

Note: Anyways, to make it easier for me, I've divided this post into two parts. The first part, this post, will focus on the superhero category. Meaning, I'll list 5 superhero comic books that I want to see in movies.

5. Justice League of America

Who deserves a movie more than the JLA? Adapting this title into a film is going to be hard, however. Especially in keeping up with DC's film continuity, now that the Batman franchise opted a realistic approach. But the film is still doable if they decide not to use DC's big three (Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman) and settle with less popular characters. An adaptable JLA graphic novel that comes to mind is JLA: Year One. It has a good plot and a solid roster of characters with clashing personalities like Black Canary, Green Lantern and The Flash. This will be a fun team-up on the silver screen.

4. New X-Men

Imagine the X-Men and then imagine they're in high school learning how to control their powers, coping with acne problems and losing their virginity. Yes, that's what the New X-Men are like and I definitely want this series to be made into a film and pick up where "The Last Stand" had left the franchise, which I don't think is going to be hard. I mean, they still have a school full of mutants, some experienced mutants to become faculty members, and they have Worthington Industries to fund the school. As for villains, there's always The Purifiers -man, I love these fanatics.

3. Invincible

This comic book series tells a very familiar superhero story but with an interesting twist to it. Invincible is Mark Grayson, a regular half-alien boy next door with super strength, flight and invulnerability, who fights crime with his alien and Superman-esque dad named Omni-man. The comics started out as a nice family oriented superhero team, kinda like Disney's The Invincibles. But then, Mark's dad tells him about the true nature of his race: that he's actually a scout for an alien invasion force that will dominate Earth. And I thought Luke's dad was evil.

2. Ex Machina

I'm not exactly sure if this series is under the superhero category. Ex Machina, written by Brian K. Vaughn (also of Lost), is the story of Mitchell Hundred, a civil engineer who turned to a life of crime-fighting when he found a device that gave him the ability to talk to machines. Later, however, when he realized that he did more damage as a hero, he became Mayor of New York City. This is a great comic book that mixes city politics with the superhero genre. I'm pretty sure a lot of people will dig this when it comes out on film. Especially if Brain K. Vaughn writes the screenplay.

1. Black Summer

With the United States as it is right now. I'm pretty sure a lot of people are still pissed with George W. Bush for leaving this country so financially damaged. So now is the perfect time to adapt Black Summer into film. Black Summer is a mini-series, written by Warren Ellis, where a superhero assassinates The President of the United States (unnamed in the comics but shares a lot of similarities with Bush) and became an enemy of the state, facing the entire might of the US Military. I'm pretty sure that this film won't get made though. It's too controversial. But if it does get made, a lot of people will enjoy this.

So these are the five superhero comic books that I want to see in films. Some of them might see the silver screen (I know there's talk of reviving the X-Men film franchise) but most will never be adapted into films due to lack of popularity. Anyways, watch out for part two. I'll list down books that are not about superheroes.

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Compare & Contrast: Watchmen

Watchmen (Comics) | Watchmen (Film)
9.8 of 10 | 9.0 of 10
Writer: Alan Moore | Director: Zack Snyder
Artist: David Gibbons | Screenplay: David Hayter

4 years ago, when I started earning an income, the first things I spent my money on were graphic novels. At first, I just bought trade paperbacks of popular superhero comics. But I grew tired of the superheroes. So I started digging around for something different. During that time, Time magazine had just published their list of "Top 100 novels", and Watchmen was the only graphic novel on that list. The book made a lot of commotion back then. So I thought, even though its pages were still rife with costumed heroes, I'd give it shot. After reading it, my outlook on the mainstream comics industry has forever changed. It has matured.

Watchmen, the graphic novel, just blew my guts and mind away. I've never read a superhero book that displays plenty of realism. The setting, especially, an alternate reality that resembles much of the 80's, with all its political issues intact (mainly the Nuclear Arms Race), is very realistic. Only the existence of masked heroes and their technologies have altered real-world events, like the Vietnam War and the utilization of electric cars. The characters are also real and -with the exception of Dr. Manhattan- powerless. The superheroes have flaws and issues. They're not your typical role models for 10 year-old kids. Their morality are neither black nor white but different shades of gray. In short, their superhero image was deconstructed, and that's what I really love about the graphic novel.

The Comedian, drinking cheap bourbon and killing women in Vietnam.

For the most part, I'm happy to say that the things I like about the graphic novel was faithfully adapted into the film. The setting, the themes and the works I've mentioned came to life on the big screen. Almost every panel in the graphic novel (especially the sex scene) was put to motion in the film. Even the dialogue was pretty much lifted from the word bubbles and made audible. But what I really loved about the movie are the cast. All of them did an exemplary job of bringing each Watchman to life. Jackie Earle Harley, especially, did a bad-ass job playing Rorschach. Jeffrey Dean Morgan's performance also made me love The Comedian (he's my least favorite character in the graphic novel). As for Malin Akerman, I couldn't think of any actress that can play a much sexier Silk Spectre than her.

Dr. Manhattan and Silk Spectre making out during while on a patrol duty.

But changes and tweaks there were in the film, however. But most were necessary changes and insignificant enough (unless you're a purist amongst purists) to affect the main plot and theme of the film. The biggest tweak was probably the vehicle of doomsday in the plot (which I won't spoil). But I think it was a good move because it made the movie less pulpy by eliminating the mad science aspect that was present in the graphic novel. The book's histories, the advent of costumed heroes and political events, were also reduced and refitted into the opening scene. So the details that made the atmosphere so dense in the graphic novel is diluted in the movie. The Tales of the Black Freighter, a sub story in the comics, was also entirely removed from the film.

Overall, as a fan of the graphic novel, I was very pleased with the Watchmen. It is a good example of a comics-to-film adaptation because it stayed true to the comics. Even the cast worked hard to accurately portray the characters in the movie. So that means a lot to me. True, there were tweaks. But they were too minor to alter the film's main plot and theme -which is the deconstruction of the superhero image (a nice theme in the thick of superhero flicks). The only thing bad I can think about it is that the film was too loyal to the graphic novel. Which means that the film can become too convoluted to those who haven't read the comic version. Also, it probably won't draw crowds that don't like comics in the first place.

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Silence and Deserts

For two years now, ever since I bought a guitar amp, I've been diligently practicing and re-learning my guitar skills. Almost every day and night, before I go to bed or get off from it, I'd put at least two hours of playing various licks and techniques I got from the internet. So far, I've been successful of shaking off the rusts -accumulated during a 7 year hiatus- that almost drove my guitar skills into atrophy. Furthermore, as a guitarist, I've also improved a little bit (I'm much better at alternate picking and string skipping now).

These past months, however, I've been putting less and less time into practicing. Partly because I spend more time reading books and playing PC games, and partly because I haven't heard or seen anything inspiring -since The Chronicles of Israfel- that could send me into frenzied practice sessions. So, in order to fix the latter half of the problem, I just got myself a couple of guitar instrumental albums: Silence Followed By A Deafening Roar by Paul Gilbert and Carving Desert Canyons by Scale The Summit. These aforementioned albums are kick-ass, and if they can't inspire me I don't think anything will.

Paul Gilbert

I'm not into hair metal. But Mr. Big is an exception. Mainly because the band members are such great musicians. Paul Gilbert, especially, who is hailed by many to be a guitar hero. I know that he have already released a lot of solo albums as a guitarist but, regrettably, I haven't heard any of it. So I was left mesmerized when I listened to his solo work, his latest album. I'm not sure if Silence... is Gilbert's best album but it's loaded with epic and face-melting string craft that will leave guitarists with glee in their hearts.

Scale The Summit

Scale The Summit is an instrumental/progressive metal band I discovered two weeks ago. Unlike Paul Gilbert, they're not really that indulgent with guitar solos. But, it's needless to say, they're also a pretty talented band. What I really like about them is how their music flows. Their transition from a heavy musical mode to a softer one can be very seamless. One moment, it can be really brutal with thundering drums and assaulting guitars. But, abruptly, they'll shift and slow down to a mellow jazzy sound.

These guys, with their level of skill and technicality, have really inspired me to become a better musician. Scale The Summit, especially. A young band like them usually manages to come up with only a so-so music. But they created a heavy music, a pleasant type of metal, that even regular folks might enjoy. As for my guitar practicing, well both these albums have certainly gave me an itch. The only problem is that I still have two books and a game to finish.

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Demo Monday: Empire

The release date of Empire: Total War is just right around the corner. Because of its strategical depth, combining the elements of turn-based and real-time strategy games, I've been a big fan of the Total War series ever since Shogun. Unfortunately, because of financial reasons, I missed out on Medieval II. So I haven't played this excellent strategy game series since Rome: Total War. That's why I'm so excited about getting this game. It's like I'm going to be reunited with an old playmate.

But before I made the commitment on pre-purchasing the game (so I could get Rome: Total War for free on Steam), I downloaded and played the demo first. I know that the demo is unnecessary because the game will be more than awesome. But I thought a little demonstration wouldn't hurt.

In Empire's naval combat, you can board and capture an enemy ship.

There are two modes available in the demo, the tutorial and the battle. Compared to other demos, the tutorial in Empire's demo is short and sweet. It only covers the combat aspect of the game, both ground and naval. As for the battle mode, it whets your appetite by showing you how ground and naval combat works in game. I didn't really play the ground battle because I assume it wont be as different as it was in other Total War games. The naval battle, however, is a lot of fun. Although, at first, it starts out really slow. But it gets engaging once you and the opposing fleet are locked in combat. It's like Sid Meier's Pirates except that you have to control and manage a whole fleet.

The only thing that bothered me about the demo was the loading times because it takes a while. I hope this won't be a problem with the full game. Other than that, I think this game will be a lot of fun. I'll probably lose some sleep over it too. If you haven't played any Total War games, I urge you to try the demo.

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First Impressions: Dawn of War II

I've almost left this blog inactive for a week. That's because I've been playing Dawn of War II, non-stop, ever since I downloaded it from Steam last Saturday. Every time I'm near my computer, I just want to start this game, don my Terminator armor and direct my squads to kill some Eldars, Orks and Tyranids. Yes, it is very addictive and it's hard putting it down. However, for a brief time, I've managed to gather enough willpower to pull myself away from this game and write my initial thoughts about it.

"For the Emperor!"

Since I'm more into single-player games, the first feature I checked was the game's official campaign. Surprisingly, and much to my delight, the campaign's gameplay in Dawn of War II is actually more of a tactical RPG (like Freedom Force) than a real-time strategy. You don't gather resources, construct buildings and raise an army in the campaign. Instead, in each mission, you get a squad of four Space Marines to complete your objectives. These Space Marines, however, can earn experience, gain levels and equip war gears that are randomly dropped in the span of the campaign.

So, yeah, I'm pretty impressed with this game's official campaign. I was just expecting a real-time strategy game but I got more than that, better than that. So that's a good thing. Now, would you excuse me? I need to get back to the game and quell a Tyranid incursion.

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