Category Archives: Featured

Things Are Getting DARK as DC Comics METAL Continues

As METAL continues to heat things up the DARK NIGHTS stake their claim in the DC Comics Universe!

First a little backstory! The Dark Universe is descending across the DC Comics multiverse! The latest major crossover event Metal continues to reshape the course of the mainstream continuity, all part of a major push to reignite the legacy initiative inspired by the “Rebirth” rebrand. A consequence of the less-popular “The New 52” relaunch of 2011 that rebooted the major characters and completely eradicated others from, the imprint is now juggling a series of epic events to realign, retcon and return things to what they were!

Metal is a story set within the Earth-0 (or “Prime” Earth) continuity which is considered the first-earth of the multiverse, or the plane on which the DC Comics primary pantheon of characters exist, although most of those characters backstories and origins have been a little wonky ever since the “Flashpoint” event. In that story Barry Allen, the hero known as The Flash attempted to rewrite his own history and went back in time to prevent the murder of his mother Nora. Altering that bit of his storyline had a dramatic impact on the entire timeline!

With no other choice but the fix the mistake of that particular incursion, The Flash returns to the scene of the crime and attempts to set things right, but the universe — in its infinite wisdom — has other plans for him and intervenes! The result was a bolder, younger, braver world — “The New 52” continuity along with the reemergence of the multiverse. Since then the universe appears to have taken matters into its own hands and is presently struggling to set things right. The “Rebirth” event is helping to put things back, but there is more danger on the horizon…

A Dark Universe

Batman scribe Scott Snyder insists that the makings of the Metal arc have been hinted at ever since he began his infamous run dictating the story of the fabled Caped Crusader. In the now legendary The Return of Bruce Wayne story arc written by Grant Morrison, that details the adventures of a time-displaced Batman, Snyder began to introduce elements of a dangerous figure that has always had a direct influence in shaping the existence of The Batman. When The Batman was most recently confronted by his arch-nemesis The Joker, it cost him a great deal — Bruce Wayne was literally reborn!

As is often the case, resurrections come at a great price. Something is stirring in the heart of Gotham City! A huge mountain appears out of nowhere in the heart of the city and inside is a mystery millennia in the making, and it’s all connected to the metallurgical discovery of a metal — a new element — one not unfamiliar to longtime DC Comics readers. 9th metal is often associated with one of the imprint’s classic heroes, the archeologist Carter Hall also known as the winged Hawkman and his paramour Hawkgirl. Both characters have resurfaced within the pages of Metal and will have a significant affect as the story continues to progress.

It would appear that The Batman though has the most crucial part to play in this earth-shattering event that has revealed the existence of a “Dark Universe” — and evil alternate, alternate universe that is a sinister contrast to the multiverse we’ve all become more familiar with. In fact the negative realm appears to function in a very obvious and start contrast to our own mainstream multiversity. It’s been well established that Superman the Man of Steel, is essentially at the core and a constant within the multiverse, an infinite influence throughout many of the known worlds.

The Kryptonian refugee stands as a primary force, almost always alongside a version of Batman and Wonder Woman — the heroic trinity. But in this Dark Universe it’s becoming obvious that The Batman is the primary template, and is in most cases catering to his base instincts, running afoul of his own heroic instincts and preferring to connect with his darker side. Regardless of the consequences, The Batman appears to be of service to only his own devices be they selfish or determinate.

And it would appear now that these evil counterparts are working together and seeking to claim the DC multiverse for their own! The Dark Universe it appears does not exist as an infinite element to its counterpart, the multiverse — it was never meant to exist. Each of its worlds eventually fall to their own cataclysm, and it seems that this crisis is inevitable! Seeking to change the circumstances of their predicament, the Batmen of the Dark Universe have arrived!

And no one is safe!

“Dark Nights” part of the current Metal story arc is currently playing out as part of the DC Comics crossover event of the season.

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iReview :: MADONNA’S Rebel Heart Tour Live!

Just in time to wrap up the summer season the undisputed Queen of Pop: Madonna releases the REBEL HEART TOUR Live on CD (as well as Blu-ray and DVD)!

Masterfully Madonna has demonstrated that in order to succeed in entertainment today, an entertainer must entertain! Record sales (or Digital Downloads) as they are most commonly referred of in today’s market, are only an introduction to what the artist is “thinking”. Tracks are longer referenced to relegated to success by how much radio play they get — (Does anyone even have a radio anymore?) it’s just not the way that musicians really remain relevant anymore.

The live concert stage has evolved into the new and more immediate medium by which an artist can truly rate just what their standing in popular culture is. Appearing on the scene more than 35 years ago and significantly synching her place on MTV proving that indeed “video had killed the radio star”, Madonna thumbed her nose in the face of her critics and revealed her naysayers for the hacks they were. Anyone that perceived her as a pop-tart, one-hit wonder, has eaten their words.

Madonna excelled at reinvention without really jumping onto the scene as such a manipulative commodity; this was an artist that existed for the provocative and edged on the titillating euphoria of grabbing attention! Her talent was always in pushing people’s buttons, and Madonna chose a platform by which she would always be guaranteed a spotlight in. Popular music gave her an audience and MTV a platform, and when that platform no longer was viable, Madonna evolved.

Rebel Heart

By the late 1990 it was evident that Madonna was not going anywhere! She’d just released her most well-reviewed album and critical success Like a Prayer, divorced her first husband and embarked on the most complex endeavor of her career The Blond Ambition Tour and revolutionized the way that pop artists performed live! Nearly three decades later, she continues to push the limits of her stage and arena tours and her most recent endeavor is no exception!

Available now as a digital download audio recording (also on a 2-disc CD) Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour (Live) is a fantastic example of her dominance as a live artist and unrelenting force in popular culture. The recording lifts from the more than 80 stops on this landmark world tour that promoted her most recent studio album of the same name. Rebel Heart may have only appeared a nominal success on the charts, but its accompanying spectacle perfectly played to Madonna’s audience.

Madonna carefully orchestrates her live performances, preferring to refer to them as installations than a concert, and the Rebel Heart Tour is elaborate in its detail. The opening of the show introduces Madonna as a “warrior goddess” — a medieval figure — surrounding by heavily armed guards who fall inline just as she begins with a rendition of the song “Iconic” before entering into the party track “Bitch I’m Madonna”.

It’s a beautifully crafty way of opening up her show in very heavy garb that evolves into a more Byzantine crafted look. Madonna learned during one of her previous forays on the stage that although the new songs beg to be performed, it’s significantly better branding to lace some of the classics throughout the setlist. Early on in the show, she performs “Burning Up” a classic from her very early days, and a pumped up rock guitar arrangement.

The rest of the setlist ranges back and forth from more contemporary hits to the clear nostalgia of “Holiday” which rounds out the end of the blockbuster performance. Among the standouts are of course the club anthem “Living For Love” and the title track “Rebel Heart”, but among the most endearing numbers is the ironically funny “Unapologetic Bitch”. During the show Madonna pulled up a who’s who of celebrities whom she had her way with — unapologetically.

Live Indeed

Anyone who has ever attended one of Madonna’s live shows understands the unrelentingly overwhelming feeling of good will and enchantment that falls over the audience. It’s an experience you wish you could bottle and keep stacked on your shelf like an exotic sweetener you would like to add every morning to your coffee. There’s plenty of that unabashed joy and frivolity all over the Rebel Heart Tour (Live) that many will want to revisit.

There’s an elation that comes over you brought upon by an intoxicating overload of your senses from the music, dancing and the visuals, and especially the feeling that if you reached out you could touch Madonna — you see her smile and you know that she feels the same way!

Rebel Heart Tour (Live) by Madonna is available now for download on iTunes.

DC Comics Reveals a “REBIRTH” Mystery in “The OZ Effect”

After months of speculation a mysterious adversary of the Man of Steel’s steps into the light and prepares to throw asunder everything that Superman has ever believed!

When DC Comics promised that it’s “Rebirth” rebranding would return many of its long-standing titles to a more proper state of familiarity, reestablishing years of legacy and working to retcon much of the unfavorable reaction that it received for “The New 52” era or reboots, many dedicated readers felt that perhaps the imprint had heard their cries! The “Rebirth” rebrand introduced an even more dense conundrum that was initiated with the return of Wally West!

The one-time Teen Titan, turned Flash had seemingly been eradicated from current continuity, along with much of the Golden Age heroes, and Superman had died — only to be replaced by his “pre-Flashpoint” counterpart; the “post-Crisis” Man of Steel that was apparently saved during the “Convergence” crossover event. Another additionally confounding mystery has also presented itself and that’s the fact that a decade of time has apparently been stolen!

Someone has been watching from the shadows, and we’re getting closer to learning the identity of the being that was powerful enough to steal time from our heroes, although most fans have already gathered there’s only one being capable of moving so fluidly between time and have such an adverse affect on the multiverse, but another shrouded agent who calls himself “Mr. OZ” has been exerted his own influence especially over the life of the Man of Steel.

The lenticular cover to ACTION COMICS #987 on sale now from DC Comics!

Who’s Watching?

It’s been theorized that the “someone” responsible for affecting the continuity is none other than the omnipotent Dr. Manhattan from the classic Watchmen series. There have been many clues to have lead us in that direction, but as for that other mystery man — Mr. OZ — who has been manipulating elements mostly connected to the world of Superman, that character’s identity has finally been revealed — and big surprise — it’s not exactly who you thought it might have been.

In the latest issue of Action Comics #987 feat. Superman the Man of Steel finally confronts Mr. OZ and after month’s of speculation it’s none other than (SPOILER ALERT) — Jor-El! That’s right! Mr. OZ is Superman, Kal-El’s Kryptonian father who so many years ago sent his son rocketing to Earth in order to survive the destruction of their home planet. Jor-El sent his infant son to Earth knowing that under our yellow sun, he would grow invincible and be gifted with unique abilities.

After some reflection though Jor-El is now regretting his decision, and has instead been plotting from the sidelines, setting in motion events to reveal humanity for the monsters that they truly are, convinced that his son — now Earth’s greatest hero, Superman — is not worthy of their protection. As the shrouded Mr. OZ, Jor-El manipulated the events that lead to the “resurrection” of Superman on Earth in a battle of wills against the mischievous Mister Mxyzptlk.

That event was chronicled in the recent “Superman Reborn” story arc that also cemented Clark Kent and Lois Lane’s marriage and place within the present continuity and firmed the legitimacy of their super-son Jon.

The OZ Effect

With the reveal of Mr. OZ’s identity marking the first part of this story event, and after the recent investigation by The Flash and Batman in “The Button” narrative that brought those characters back to the world of “Flashpoint” and back again, this latest part of the “Rebirth” chronicle is bringing everything closer to the upcoming “Doomsday Clock” limited series that is promising a final show down between the DC Comics heroes and those of the Watchmen continuity.

In the meantime, readers will have to digest and come to terms with this latest twist — one that places Jor-El not-necessarily on the side of the angels. If this is truly the Man of Steel’s long-thought dead father, how did he survive all these years and why has he been keeping his identity a secret? Why did Jor-El keep and capture some other heroes including Tim Drake, Red Robin a partner of the Caped Crusader?

What could Jor-El have in store for Superman, and does he indeed play an overall part in the entire “Rebirth” storyline, what role does he play in the scheme of things. What does this mean for Superman and his wife Lois, not to mention their son Jon?

“The OZ Effect” Part 1 is written by Dan Jurgens with art provided by Viktor Bogdanovic and is featured in Action Comics #987.

DRAGON CON :: Day 1

Still one of the nation’s biggest gatherings for genre-fans, sci-fi aficionados and cosplayers galore DRAGON CON boasts one of the largest crowds taking over downtown Atlanta!

Arriving into the Atlanta Airport almost immediately you get the sense that something special is going on. The foot traffic leading to the baggage claim area is often decorated with hanging banners featuring colorfully crafted cosplayers as their favorite comic book characters. The dragon inspired logo reminiscent of one of the more popular houses on Game of Thrones can be seen emblemized across many of the most popular brands indicative of sponsorship opportunities, increasing the credibility of Dragon Con now in its 30th year.

Every year around this time, the last week of August into Labor Day Weekend, Atlanta’s sprawling downtown area (often the backdrop for the first season of AMC’s The Walking Dead) is turned into the region’s largest mecca for sci-fi fans and genre enthusiasts looking to meet the likeminded and cozy up to their favorite television and movie stars! Dragon Con easily shapes up as one of the country’s most popular gatherings and its grown to a spectacular degree since it was initialized in the fall of 1987.

Something for Everyone

While Comic-Cons were springing up all over the country, the progenitors of the latest fan-gathering felt that there existed a vacuum among convention experiences. While most specifically targeted comic book fans and/or science-fiction enthusiasts like trekkers, their was a lack in the market of conventions that nurtured all appetites, including fantasy followers and gamers. Soon cosplayers would emerge on the scene and this uniquely eccentric audience was also in search of an audience.

Dragon Con blended the best of all worlds and was the first to put front-and-center the many creatives that launched the success of life-long brands like Dungeons & Dragons as well as role-playing copycats, while including sci-fi celebrity writers and comic book artists. It wouldn’t be long before celebrities began to gravitate to the con, and before long the convention itself became a hub for unique interactions like when it was selected to be the home of the Origins Games Fair in 1990.

3 Decades Later

Cut to today as the crosswalks across the downtown city streets become lined with the various and colorful interpretations of gaming favorites like the forces of Halo or Gears of War and the latest Hollywood blockbusters inspire incredibly accurate recreations of the heroes from the upcoming Justice League or Marvel Film’s Infinity War and you can’t have too many Wonder Women now can you? All will be on parade Saturday morning and covered by the local news which will also feature some of the con’s celebrity guests including The Flash John Wesley Shipp.

The guest-list of featured celebrities attending Dragon Con has expanded to one of the circuit’s most varied and abundant and include current favorites from The CW DC Comics adaptations including Danielle Panabaker who stars on The Flash as “Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost” and Michelle Harrison joining Shipp as the other half of the Allen Family. They will also be joined by Arrow favorites Katie Cassidy, John Barrowman and Willa Holland as well as DC’s Legends of Tomorrow own “Rip Hunter” and Doctor Who alum Athur Darvill.

The con will also bring together the stars of Star Trek The Next Generation including Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis and Brent Spiner who will also be joined by the legendary William Shatner. With the Star Trek franchise preparing to embark on a new discovery, this gathering of some of its biggest stars will no doubt excite the dedicated to support the new venture. And that’s only a few off the top! A galaxy of guests really will be on hand to meet with their biggest fans, as well as interact in many of the star-studded panels scheduled throughout the weekend.

Thought Dragon Con is only beginning it’s already generating a lot of energy as hundreds descend upon downtown Atlanta hopeful that this time the zombie apocalypse is only a cosplay fantasy and not an inevitability, but with so many superheroes also on hand, guests can rest assured — justice will prevail!

Dragon Con schedule of events and ticket information are available at www.dragoncon.org.

iReview ◦ BATMAN: Mask of the Phantasm in Hi-Def!

Available now on Blu-ray the very first full-length animated theatrical adventure starring the Caped Crusader! Batman – Mask of the Phantasm may be a classic, but it stands the test of time especially in Hi-Def!

 

Though there have been many cartoon interpretations of the Batman. From his Saturday morning days, to his time as a member of the Super Friends. The Dynamic Duo have even on several occasions teamed-up with Scooby Doo and the gang to solve a ghoulish mystery or two, but after his blockbuster makeover by Tim Burton in the 1989 big screen Batman, the next time audiences got a whim of the Dark Knight detective Batman – The Animated Series had reimagined the hero in a stunning new way!

Using the film as a template, the Batman’s new animated adventures would more broadly appeal to a new audience. Gotham City was modeled in an art deco darkness and decadence that translated beautifully, it’s arched spires reaching into a limitless sky and providing the caped wonder with endless avenues to impose his brand of justice. Produced by Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett and Eric Radomski the Animated Series would be awarded for its originality and groundbreaking storytelling!

Behind the Mask

Riding on the success of the Batman on the big screen, the DC Comics hero was enjoying a new wave of popularity, and The Animated Series was a hit in syndication! In 1993, the show’s producers readied themselves for the most ambitious story yet, but in order to tell it, they would require a larger canvas. Batman – Mask of the Phantasm (The Animated Movie) was released in theaters at Christmas time and it provided the necessary canvas to tell a story of this scope and scale.

So much of the Dark Knight’s origin story has itself become the stuff of legends. The publishing imprint, after its best-selling prestige release of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns in 1986 reignited an interest in Batman that was nearly unprecedented in the genre. After the 12-issue maxi series Crisis on Infinite Earths rebooted much of the DC Comics continuity, creatives had great license to explore and reinvent many of the classic characters backgrounds. Batman and his menagerie of villains proved a fertile garden in which to play.

With Tim Burton’s feature film drawing from so many of these sources and the syndicated animated cartoon expanding the mythos even further, the creators brilliantly decided to add an entire new layer elaborating on the Batman’s earliest days as a crimefighter and mixing in a potentially new adversary that is as merciless as any he’s ever faced. Largely adapted from Batman: Year Two a multi-issue narrative that appeared in the comics and was written by Mike W. Barr, Mask of the Phantasm carves a very special place in the lengthy animated storyline.

Presented In Hi-Definition

Now in its latest hi-definition release Batman – Mask of the Phantasm the film proves the test of time and surpasses any expectations. It is still one of the most dramatically provocative tales in the legend of the Dark Knight, and is expertly directed by Eric Radomski. The feature’s screenwriters have created a genuinely captivating villain in Phantasm (similar styled after the comic book character Barr introduced named The Reaper), a vigilante on a vendetta to destroy Gotham City’s underworld.

There’s a deeply seeded connection to the Batman himself as well as one to his arch-nemesis, the maniacal Joker. Both are voiced by veteran actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill who became infamously known for his portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime, with Dana Delany voicing a love interest from Bruce Wayne’s past before she took on the role of Lois Lane in the spin-off series Superman: The Animated Series.

If you’ve been missing the classic feel of the Animated Series fear not, we’ll all be nostalgically walking back down that road when the new full-length feature Batman and Harley Quinn is released later this month. The new film reunites many of the creatives behind the animated series, but in the meantime, go hi-def and get reacquainted with Mask of the Phantasm — get a glimpse of how it all began, including our fandom for the Dark Knight’s animated adventures.

Batman – Mask of the Phantasm (The Animated Movie) directed by Eric Radomski and starring the voice talents of Kevin Conroy, Dana Delany, Hart Bochner and Mark Hamill and is now available on Blu-ray and Digital HD in its full widescreen presentation as well as the original “made for TV” format with bonus features.

Unboxing :: STAR TREK Starships Collection – DAEDALUS CLASS

Eaglemoss Collections marks a milestone with the release of a class starship design for its 100th issue! The USS Horizon comes to life in this die-cast model with full details about the Daedalus Class ship often featured in The Original Series.

For the ardent Star Trek collector there is nothing more fascinating than the various ships in the fleet that provide an unwavering optimism that leads to fanciful expectations about the future of space travel and man’s potential to traverse the final frontiers beyond our own milky way. Gene Roddenberry imagined a 22nd Century and beyond with Star Trek and built upon the imaginations of many to world build a Federation that included many intrepid explorers before and after the legendary voyages of the famous first five-year mission of the Starship Enterprise.

Its captain James T. Kirk was only one of the many explorers to take those first steps into the unknown, and although we know of the adventures of Capt. Jonathan Archer that predated Kirk’s own mission, and captains Picard, Sisko and Janeway that would make their own contributions further into the 24th Century, there is still so many more missions that we’ve yet to mine. With each release in Eaglemoss Collections Star Trek Starships Collection we get a greater scope of the mythology of space travel within the realm of Star Trek.

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A (Daedalus) Class All Of Its Own!

Launched in the latter half of the 22nd Century, the Daedalus Class (Issue #100) is an explorer vessel that would replace the more compact and sportier-corvette look of the NX class ships that pioneered Earth’s ventures into uncharted territory. By 2161 the Federation of Planets was constituted and this brought the planet Earth closer to its space-faring neighbors. In accordance with Starfleet’s aspiring directives to seek out new life and civilizations, ships like the USS Horizon (a Daedalus Class explorer) were commissioned.

Approximately 140 meters in length, the Daedalus Class was right fitted to carry a crew compliment of about 230 individuals, and could achieve a speed of warp 7, far superseding the NX class which was limited to warp 5. Configured similarly to other Starfleet vessels, the design featured a primary hull connected to a secondary engineering section, with two nacelles placed in close proximity to the ship’s midsection. The Daedalus Class was uniquely identified by its spherically shaped primary hull, which at the time was felt a shape that would best withstand the vacuum of space.

An Original Concept

The Daedalus Class was based on an initial design by Original Series designer Matt Jefferies who when charged with realizing Roddenberry’s vision for the Enterprise avoided using a saucer because it might have felt cliche, so the artist chose a sphere for the ship’s main characteristic. A lot of the concepts first explored by Jefferies were also based in functional reality and physics, and the idea of a spherical primary hull made perfect sense. On the model it makes for a very dramatic appearance and very utilitarian approach.

The die-cast model is based on a model that was commissioned by Michael Okuda and built by Greg Jein. The Daedalus Class would become a popular design within the Star Trek mythology, and definitely does suggest the evolution of space travel between Archer’s NX ship and Kirk’s own Constitution-class that would become legendary. Eaglemoss’ approximately 5.5 inch replica may be the first time that collectors have had a chance to hold this classic ship and examine it from every perspective.

Eaglemoss Collections Star Trek Starships Collection Issue #100 DAEDALUS CLASS is available now at most retail collector stores or through the website at www.startrek-starships.com.