Superman/Batman: Apocalypse

Although Apocalypse has been out for years and is the sequel to this film, I finally have watched it, not that you need to have seen "part one" to enjoy this movie where Batman, Superman, and a few other heroes team up to rescue a kidnaped victim of the evil Darkseid. I'm obviously leaving out details to lessen the spoiler effects, although I will point out that cartoons produce the hottest women--both in terms of looks and attitude. As a random aside, the film begins with a throw away point of unmanned drones watching the streets of Gotham, something that is very much in our own future/present. For the most part, I felt the art and plot were better in this sequel and the movie was bloodier too (which might turn some people off), but did go on a little longer than it should have.

Superman: Brainiac – Geoff Johns

Superman hunts down the genocidal Brainiac in order to rescue the Kryptonian city he stole prior to destroying the planet. It’s an OK story, but too much back and forth of Superman punching Brainiac and then getting incapacitated, breaking free and starting the cycle again, all the while the two lecture each other.

JLA vol. 3: Injustice League - Dwayne McDuffie and Alan Burnett

How I loved those crappy Superfriends cartoons as a kid, mainly for the Injustice League. Finally someone decided to update the image and pit a bunch of nasty villains against the Justice League in a smart and violent way. I had just been talking to Cej about how the villains never seem to pull jobs like this and gang up against the good-guys. Well, job well done. Injustice_league

JLA: Kid Amazo - Peter Milligan

What little I knew about Amazo just annoyed me. He's a robot with all the powers of the Justice League's superheroes such as Batman and Superman (sure, I have no problem with the Flash and tapping into the "speed force" so he can travel at impossible speeds, but with robots I draw the line). Yet I thought Milligan's addition of yet another Amazo--his "son", which should have annoyed me even more--was pretty good. He merges the philosophy of  Friedrich Nietzsche and the struggle to overcome pedestrian notions of good/evil with Kid Amazo coming to terms with his being created as nothing more than a weapon along with the JLA's own trouble with being a cohesive, moral team. There's an added romance element that I don't think work, but overall an enjoyable read. kid_amazo

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

It's not a bad story about the two superheroes who are framed for murder, but, as Cory pointed out, there are far too many Brokeback Mountain moments. Especially apparent when Superman's girlfriend shows up and Batman leaves in a huff: "Oh, Clark, I wish I could quit you." Update: Watched it again years later and still it was ok with nice cameos of various heroes and the sadly still realistic plot of a mad, evil rich man becoming president, but this time felt the art was a little off and maybe wasn't as sold on the story. Had to update the picture here too as the link was broken, sorry.

Superman: What Ever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? - Alan Moore

Krypto Kym gave me this as a birthday present and I'm just getting to posting about it now?! Moore rescues old Superman stories featuring Krypto the wonder dog and characters/plots that we "sophisticated" readers love to disparage by showing how they can still be part of great storytelling through a tale of deception that forces the Man of Steel and his friends to flee to the Fortress of Solitude. It's easy to mock the past, less so to recognize how it led to what we have today.

52 (Don't) Pick Up: A Comics Review of 52 Aftermath: The Four Horsemen

52 Aftermath: The Four Horsemen (DC Comics) This seems like filler and sells only on the merits of the goodness that was 52 itself by throwing a giant "52 Aftermath" logo on the cover. The main characters, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman did not feel well-written and I did not care about anyone in this story. It felt disjointed at times and I think even a bit directionless, so even when I enjoyed moments, that enjoyment quickly vanished, as should this story.

I don't know what the later implications were, especially of Dr. Whatshername becoming ruler of Egg Foo's island. Or is it Egg Fu? Does anything that happened in this story matter later on? Some of the Checkmate stuff was cool, such as Snapper Carr now being someone who watches the Wat...I mean JLA, but I haven't faithfully followed Checkmate or Wonder Woman, which is there I'd imagine some of the results of this mini-series are shown.

Normally I enjoy Giffen's writing, but not here. I enjoy VanSciver's art, though I already cannot recall if there was a fill-in artist on some later issues. That's how memorable the overall package is.

It seems like since the four horsemen are supposed to be adapting to Earth, not Apokalips, they might look different than their previous forms. It's been a few years since 52 ended, almost two years to the week, I think, and I'm pretty sure the horsemen looked the same: some still creepy, other aspects are just stupid.

I've already added this book to my Sequential Swap list for trade...

Collects issues 1-6 of the DC Comics mini-series by writer Kieth Giffen and penciler Ethan Van Sciver. Hmmm. $2.99 per issue, times six issues equals $19.99?

Countdown: Arena - A Comic Series Review

This is me angry that I even spent $5.00 on the whole series which retails for $13.00 at cover price. Countdown: Arena was crap. A story that never need been told. Shit! Shit! Nice Kubert covers is all. It would have been nice (maybe I missed this,) if there was a guide to the different universes so readers could look up basically which universe was which. What a lame fuck around. Though this universe glossary would not have made the story itself any better. I feel like I need to read Zero Hour again. Right now. If memory serves, that story was just as good...

What is this series about? The Monarch is gathering an army of armies to stop the Monitors, aliens who have made it their job to make sure there are no interuniversal crossings. So The Monarch has taken our favorite heroes in various incarnations from their respective universes (apparently there are 52-Thanks Infinite Crisis). So there are three Superman, three Batmen, three Blue Beetles, etc, and each group of three must battle within the group to show who is the best fighter.

This worked about as well as most of the fights in DC versus Marvel. Originally it seems this was to be an 8-issue series, but it turned into 4-issues, the fourth extra-sized. ...Even with the extra space, I doubt this would have been a good story. It should have been left as minor exposition into how Monarch gathered his army.

Obviously I'm behind on my reading, so I'm off to finish the last 20 issues of Countdown, but only after I finish volumes 3 and 4 of Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus.

My understanding is that Countdown: Arena will soon be available in TPB with some additional content. Hopefully this additional content will be so good that it makes up for the lack in the titular story. You can pre-order the collection here, on Amazon, or through your friendly local comic book shop, which is preferred if you want to keep that place in business.

Six Flags over the Great State of New Jersey - The Dark Knight Coaster Review

Wednesday 9 July was a good day to visit Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. I was prompted to go, because of the buy-one-get-one-free promotion via coupons at McDonalds. Luckily I did not have to eat that food in order to get this coupon.

The Dark Knight Coaster

My friend Steve and I entered the park at eleven in the morning, half an hour past opening. We opted to head straight to The Dark Knight Coaster, the newest ride at the park, which coincides with the opening of Christopher Nolan’s Batman sequel. The wait was about 35 minutes. Upon admittance we entered the monorail ticket lobby where TV screens play a five-minute press conference with Gotham’s latest district attorney, Harvey Dent, while he answers reporters’ questions about his stance on organized crime and the Batman. The video then begins to skip and repeat, distorting the image of Dent, while also distorting his words. Then Joker henchmen spray a crude smiley face onto the lens. Then we are let into the next segment of the building. As we walk up the ramp, some riders’ faces become Joker henchman faces on the screen where the ramp does a 180. Next we enter the four-person, two in the front and two in the back “subway” car. We turn and the car climbs and makes a bunch of sharp turns that jerk us uncomfortably. We pass through walls painted in neon Jokerisms and then make more jerky turns, with some quick, short, uneventful drops that again jerk us around, sans fun. The ride essentially continues like this, with but a few Joker henchman mannequins that appear to be up to mischief. Of course, if one is sitting on the right side, they’re likely to miss this essentially single attempt to add any Batmanesque decorum to an otherwise bland ride. I was only able to see these goons on the second go around, which only happened because there was no line when we returned to the ride at night. Steve and I basically shrugged and commented on how anti-climactic the ride was, since the commercials have been hyping this ride. Utterly disappointing. Think about Disney’s Space Mountain, but take away any sense of fun as this is not a smooth ride, and the visual aspect is severely lacking. My suggestion, aside from changing the course of the ride and the type of drops and turns on this indoor coaster, would be to add a lot more detail and perhaps make it somewhat of a haunted houses, Arkham Asylum perhaps, and have Batman’s rogues gallery up to no good. Hell, the Joker and the Riddler are roaming the park, so why not have them roam this ride. Too bad.

Jumping ahead in the day, the second time we only decided to go on the ride again because there was no line. As soon as we got through the maze of metal, the chain was put across our path. After waiting about eight minutes, we were let in and had to watch the video again, which is lame the second time around, so Steve and I looked around the room some to check out the details, like fake rats. Not very exciting. We figured we were waiting for the people ahead of us to board the ride, but once we were let into the loading room, we saw no one ahead of us and the employees rushing us to get on the ride, as if they were anxious to actually have something to do. The ride was no more fun the second time around, even when I could see those Joker henchmen.

“Perhaps today is a good day to ride” – Lt. Cmdr. Worf (sort of)

An advantage of going to Six Flags on an overcast Wednesday with ridiculous fuel prices and predictions of evening rain is the fact the there were so few people in the park. The 35-minute wait for The Dark Knight Coaster was one of the longest, if not the longest. For a majority of the rides we were able to go immediately to the boarding platform. El Toro had maybe a 15-minute wait (two years ago this was my first big roller coaster and it got me hooked, after a wait of nearly two hours). Nitro—almost no wait. Batman the Ride had one short wait, then subsequent rides had a less than five minute wait if the first row could be passed up, which it often couldn’t. On the JLA theme, Superman: The Ultimate Flight had a bit of a wait, so it seems to still be thrilling riders years after its opening.

We made our way to Kingda Ka (I think this is the stupidest name and it makes me think of The Karate Kid movie), which still holds the record for the tallest and fastest coaster at 45 stories and 128 mph. Unfortunately the ride was then down for some issues it was having.

In the meantime we went to ride the Superman coaster. While waiting on line for that we saw riders trapped on the initial incline for The Great American Scream Machine, which we were told would likely be up and running again shortly. I wasn’t too sure I’d want to go on a ride that just had such a problem, as it really would have been a scream machine what with my acrophobia (thank you for that word Batman: The Animated Series). We saw Kingda Ka up and running again and headed over to it.

I was incredibly nervous as Steve and I waited for the first row. We slowly got closer to the front of the line for the first row of this coaster, with two sets of thrill seekers to go ahead of us when it began raining and the ride was shut down. We waited about fifteen minutes as the announcement made no guarantees that the ride would be running again, due to the weather. The people ahead of us left, because many other coasters were still running despite the rain. The Great American Scream Machine was repeatedly moving on course sans passengers. After a few more minutes we left and headed towards the working rides.

We rode Batman the Ride and Nitro again, in the rain. There was a few minute delay as the rain picked up and some of the coasters were sent on test runs and some riders complained about the wait. It makes me wonder about the mental capacities of some of my fellow Americans. They care more about some thrilling ride without any regard to safety. Are these the people that could care less if the plane they boarded had loose bolts on the engine and the airline would want to sent the plane on a short flight around the airport so 200 people might not die half way to the next amusement park? Yikes. She probably hates seatbelts and airbags too.

Conclusion

We really didn’t need Flash Passes this day, as they did not seem very helpful. Besides the fact that it seemed as though Flash Passes do not allow users access to the first row of many of these awesome coasters, but double check that if you consider purchasing one as I may be wrong. So if you plan on going this summer and don’t want to wait, consider how quickly Steve and I got on rides without this expensive extra. Wait for short lines on Dark Knight and have a little patience for everything else. Drink plenty of water and remember that the bathrooms are clean.

Signing off, HTH