January 2008

The folks at Marvel.com got together recently to name the 10 Greatest Cosmic Characters in Marvel Comics history.  The list is made up of heroes and villains alike and includes an artificial life form, a head in a jar, a world devourer, a X-Man, the Seninel of the Spaceways, a New Mutant, and a Titan (but sadly no Guardians of the Galaxy – where’s the love!).  We have more on the man topping the list in the latest issue of our Comic Spotlight (check it out).  Check out the Full Diagnosis for the full list.

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Marvel’s Greatest Cosmic Characters

10. The Supreme Intelligence
9. Warlock
8. The Imperial Guard
7. Adam Warlock
6. Galactus
5. Captain Marvel
4. Phoenix
3. Nova
2. The Silver Surfer
1. Thanos

Hellsing

by Sarah on January 30, 2008

in Anime Reviews 

Vampires, guns and ghouls plague this series.  This particular series is rather entertaining.  You meet a series of weaker villains like the Valentine Brothers until you finally get to Incognito.  Incognito is supposed to be Alucards equal, the only one that should be a difficult match.

Alucard faithfully serves his master Sir Integra Wingates Hellsing after she discovered him years ago.  The story does not start out immediately telling you the details of Alucard and Integra’s past, but halfway through the series you learn about Integra’s childhood. 

Herushingu
4 & 1/2 Stars

Vampires, guns and ghouls plague this series.  This particular series is rather entertaining.  You meet a series of weaker villains like the Valentine Brothers until you finally get to Incognito.  Incognito is supposed to be Alucards equal, the only one that should be a difficult match.

Alucard faithfully serves his master Sir Integra Wingates Hellsing after she discovered him years ago.  The story does not start out immediately telling you the details of Alucard and Integra’s past, but halfway through the series you learn about Integra’s childhood.  In the first episode, you meet Seras Victoria, a military girl who became the only survivor of her squad after a vampire turned them all into ghouls.

Ghouls are what the artifical vampires, also known as freaks, create.  The freaks drain all of the blood from the body of their victim, creating a zombie-like minion.

Seras Victoria is nearly killed by the horde of ghouls that was once her comrades.  Alucard shows up just in the nick of time and asks if she would like to become a vampire and she agrees to being bitten by her master Alucard, but once she becomes a vampire, she instantly begins to regret it.

Seras Victoria refuses to drink the medical blood given to her each night; the lack of blood makes her weak.  Alucard advises her to drink to regain strength, even offers his blood from a cut he received from Paladin Alexander Anderson.  She refused, knowing that if she drank his blood Alucard would no longer be her master, she would be alone.  Soon after that decision, she gives in to needs and drinks the blood on the table.  I thought it was strange how they gave her the blood though; they gave it to her with a bowl and spoon.  Sort of looked like tomato soup and here I was questioning why they did not give it to her in a goblet, it would have looked more classy.  Either way she gains strength and is able to wield her enormous guns, like the Halconnen.

The story starts a little weak, with switching villains every episode, but when the story starts to be centered on the defeat of Incognito it becomes less weak.  Switching the villains every episode makes it semi-difficult to stay focused.  The final battle scene between Alucard and Incognito is played out well, little speech, little action and ends in a bloody mess.

I had very little time to watch this anime, but I am a big fan of vampire stories and when a good friend of mine recommended this to me, I figured it was worth watching.  I have to say that I enjoyed it; things here and there were a little strange, but over all a decent series.  The series opener was a real catchy tune, I do not normally focus on that, but I rather enjoyed the song.  “World Without Logos by Yasushi Ishii” I believe is the song, also the opener includes a wandering dog, which was strange to me at first, but it turns out that is Alucard’s other form.  I definitely would recommend this to anyone seeking vampires, blood and mayhem!

The Death of Captain America

by Alan Rapp on January 30, 2008

in Comics

For a limited time Marvel Comics is offering you the chance to read issue #25 of Captain America online for FREE!  Just follow this link to head over to the free preview presented by Marvle Digital Comics Unlimited and catch the final fateful moments of one of Marvel Universe’s most beloved heroes.  After reading you can head to your local comic shop to check out the latest issue of the title which introduces the world to the new Captain America.  For more on that check out the latest issue of our Comic Rack.

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click to read issue #25 online

Comic Rack

by Alan Rapp on January 30, 2008

in Comics

Hmm, we’re about to talk about comics so it must be Wednesday!  Welcome to the RazorFine Comic Rack boys and girls.  Pull up a bean bag and take a seat at feet of the master as we look at the new comics set to hit comic shops and bookstores today from DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, WildStorm, Vertigo, Dynamite Entertainment, IDW Publishing, Devil’s Due Publishing, and Image Comics.

This week includes Batman, Captain America, Crossing Midnight, Green Lantern, The Spirit, Star Wars: Legacy, Ultimate X-Men, the first issues of Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters, Doctor Who, Speed Racer: Chronicles of the Racer, Spider-Man: With Great Power… and Xombie, and the final issues of Sheena and Y: The Last Man.  Also don’t forget the truckload of new graphic novels including BtVS Omnibus Vol. 3, El Diablo, Manhunter Vol. 4: Unleashed, New Avengers: Illuminati, X-Men: Endangered Species, and much, much more.

Enjoy issue #57

[click to continue…]

Lois & Clark

by Alan Rapp on January 29, 2008

in Home Video

Superman was dead, and not just the movie franchise.  The Death of Superman (which itself only existed because of this series – but that’s another story) would throw the DCU for a loop, but on the small screen the Big Blue Boyscout would fly higher than ever before.  Casting relative unknowns Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher the show, created by Deborah Joy Levine, took the characters out of the comics page and stuck them in a screwball dramedy centered not around Superman’s ability to save the day but the relationship between Daily Planet reporters Clark Kent and Lois Lane.

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
Custom Rating

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman was a different type of super-hero show.  Keeping a balance of seriousness while always willing to plant a tongue firmly in cheek when appropriate, this show centered not only around the hero saving the day, but what he did and how he lived outside of the tights as well.  The reporter took center stage over the hero.

The series followed the example of John Byrne’s relaunch of the hero post-Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Although Superman would appear in every episode to save the day (and usually Lois), the character of Clark Kent and his relationship with Lois, Jimmy, Perry, and his parents is what drove the show.  The series was more about Clark than Superman, and, to tell the truth, more about Lois than Clark.

In its short time on the air L&C would put its own stamp on the the characters.  Perry White (Lane Smith) became an Elvis aficionado (and “Great Caesar’s Ghost” became “Great Shades of Elvis”), both of Clark’s parents would still be living (K Callan, Eddie Jones), Lex Luthor (John Shea) would have hair, Jimmy would be played by two different actors (Michael Landes, Justin Whalin), but Superman would still stand for truth, justice and the American way, and always show up just in time to save the day.  The series ran for four seasons and managed to marry the pair to coincide with the marriage of Lois and Clark on the comic page as well.  After 88 episodes Superman hung up his cape, but lucky for us all four seasons are available on DVD.


Season One
“Don’t fall for me farm boy. I don’t have time for it.”

Clark Kent (Dean Cain) moves to Metropolis and starts a job at the Daily Planet alongside seasoned investigative reporter Lois Lane (Teri Hatcher).  Perry, Jimmy, Kat (Tracy Scroggins), and Lex Luthor will all play roles in Clark’s, and his new alter-ego Superman’s, life for years to come.

In the Pilot Ma Kent makes his famous costume in what would become a trademark moment for the series and capture a tone to find an ability to honor the the legend of Superman, but still be able to find the humor in those moments as well.  It was this humor which led to several inside jokes such as Lex Luthor’s musings while testing Superman in “Neverending Battle” over whether Superman can, in fact, “leap tall buildings in a single bound” or if “he is more powerful than a locomotive.”  Many similar moments throughout the series run would help give the show its unique charm.

Memorable episodes include Agent Trask (Terrence Knox) and his mission to destroy the alien invader named Superman in “Strange Visitor From Another Planet” and “The Green, Green Glow of Home,” Lois’ sultry rendition as a nightclub singer in “I’ve Got a Crush On You,” the time period flashbacks in “Fly Hard,” and the death of Lex Luthor and the Daily Planet (both of which would rise again) in the season finale “House of Luthor.”

Teri Hatcher shines as the lovable career-manic with a talent for physical humor, and Dean Cain fits well into the Superman suit, and even better into the shoes, and glasses, of Clark Kent.  The show takes flight early on, and although you may get a bit tired of the number of Luthor stories and lack of other villains, there’s much here to recommend.


 

Season Two
“Superman, let me ask you something…why tights?  Why a cape?  You’re a grown man; don’t you feel ridiculous?”

With the “death” of Lex Luthor the show moved to a varied cast of guest-starring villains in the second, and in opinion the best, season including Bronson Pinchot as the Prankster in “The Prankster” and “Return of the Prankster,” a clever take on the Toyman in “Season’s Greetings,” and the first appearance of the series best original character Tempus (Lane Davies) in “Tempus Fugitive,” a perfectly over the top villain who asks the important questions no villain should including why Superman wears tights, and just how galactically stupid is Lois Lane for not seeing Clark and Superman are the same guy?  The season also wouldn’t be complete without the return of Luthor himself in “The Phoenix.”  Some episodes however failed to hit their mark including “Lucky Leon,” “Chi of Steel”, the extremely underwhelming version of “Metallo,” and the reincarnated Al Capone and his merry men in “That Old Gang of Mine.”  I guess they can’t all be winners.

This season is also notable for the first appearance of Red Kryptonite in “Individual Responsibility,” introducing the recurring threat of Intergang, having Superman be sued for saving a man’s life in “Whine, Whine, Whine,” the many women of Lex Luthor who include Emma Samms and Denise Crosby, the first (and only) appearance of Resplendent Man (Leslie Jordan), and including Clark and Lois’ first kiss, first date, and a proposal to end the season on a cliff-hanger in “And the Answer Is….”

The show is hitting on all cylinders here and even with drastic changes to the concept – the change from a main villain to a guest-villain of the week, and the odd recasting of Jimmy Olsen, the show takes it all in stride and soars to new heights.


 

Season Three
“Who’s asking, Clark or Superman?”

Lois finally figures it out, Lex Luthor returns, and the pair deal with all kinds of obstacles to their impending wedding including Clarks’ fears, Irish Druids, Nazis, frog eating clones, Lex Luthor’s illegitimate son, a deformed Hugh Hefner knock-off, amnesia, a super-kid, and the arrival of Superman’s Kryptonian wife!

This third season is a bit of a mixed bag, partly due to the limbo of the characters forced on the writing staff by the studio and DC Comics which needed another year to get the pair together on the printed page.  Yes, Clark and Lois finally get together, but the writers keep finding more and more bizarre ways to keep the pair apart.  Some work better than others.  The class of the season begins with Clark’s proposal and Lois admission she knows his secret in “…We Have a Lot to Talk About.”  And my favorite L&C villain Tempus returns to drag Lois to an alternative dimension in “Tempus Anyone.”

Also worth mentioning are real husband and wife Jonathan Frakes and Genie Francis showing up as a sociopathic couple in “Don’t Tug on Superman’s Cape,” Lois gets all spandexed-up as “Ultra-Woman,” and Lois is confronted with what appears to be Superman’s illegitimate super-son in “Chip Off the Old Clark.”  The season ends with Superman leaving Earth to lead the new colony of New Krypton along with his betrothed Zara (Justine Bateman) and a new black_suit.


 

Season Four
“For a spaceman you are the most romantic person I know.”

The final season starts out with a two episode conclusion involving the New Kryptonians arrival on Earth in “Lord of the Flys” and Superman’s battle with Lord Nor (Simon Templeman) for leadership of the race of Supermen in “Battleground Earth.”  The pair finally tie the not in the almost too cute “Swear to God, This Time We’re Not Kidding,” and Jack Larson (who played Jimmy Olson on Adventures of Superman” guest-stars as an older version of Jimmy in “Brutal Youth. “

Lois is framed for murder in “The People vs. Lois Lane” and sentenced to death in “Dead Lois Walking,” a reporter (Terminator 3‘s Kristanna Loken) mistakes Jimmy for Superman in “AKA Superman,” Deathstroke (Antonio Sabato Jr.) comes to town in “Bob and Carol and Lois and Clark,” and Mr. Mxyzptlk (Howie Mandel) shows up for “Twas the Night Before Mxymas” (one of the best shows of the series) to remove hope from the world.

 

The third season also returns Tempus for one last two-part arc in “Meet John Doe” and “Lois and Clarks,” another son of Lex Luthor shows up (how many are there?), and the series ends with a bundle of surprise in “The Family Hour.”  Although the series doesn’t quite go off with a bang, in this final season it gets back better stories (forgetting that awful Drew Carey episode and the well-meaning but rather lame “Soul Mates”).

I’d recommend the first two seasons to everyone.  The stories and writing struggle in Season 3, but even at its worst it still manages to put out some quality episodes.  The final season bounced most of the way back and is also worth a look.  If you’ve forgotten about it, or never seen it, why not give Lois and Clark a chance on DVD?