Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Comic Book ABC's: B is for BATMAN: HUSH

I'm a die hard Spider-Man fan. Peter Parker will always be my favorite in the world of comic books. Yes, I read MARVEL and people get surprised that I read DC. The only DC book I read is BATMAN. When I went back to reading comics in 2002, I read a lot of Wizard Magazine. In a particular issue of Wizard, I saw that Batman had been topping the charts. Batman? Really? I found out that it was because of this particular storyline called HUSH which is written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by none other than Jim Lee!

I still remember going to the mall and getting an issue but it was in Filbar's Katipunan where I got the volume 1 hardcover which you can see below.

BATMAN: HUSH is a story from Batman issues 608-619 and starts with Batman saving a kidnapped child by Killer Croc and then Catwoman steals the ransom money. As Batman chases Catwoman, his line gets cut and falls with  a fractured skull. This now triggers a secret message to Alfred with instructions to summon Bruce's childhood friend and surgeon Dr. Thomas Elliot. Of course, Batman gets well and hunts down Catwoman only to find out that Poison Ivy was the one who stole the money. 

The story goes on and he even confronts a possessed Superman! A lot of important Batman Rogues appear like The Riddler, Harley Quinn, Joker, and Ra's Al Ghul along the way and Batman then finds out that there seems to be a mastermind with all that's happening. A man with a wrapped face also joins in the fun and fights Batman. This is the guy called "Hush". Other than that, you also get to see the famous members of the Bat family like Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, and Jim Gordon. 

What really got me into the story was the mystery of who the hell was messing with Batman. Jeph Loeb presented members of Batman's famous Rogues Gallery and I have to admit that he has the best set of Rogues. (Spider-Man's rogues comes in a very very close second). It may have been a "villain of the month" thing but Loeb wrote this story so well. What contributed to its success was the gorgeous art of Jim Lee. It's just a damn good Batman design. Jim Lee knocked it out of the ballpark. He draws the Dark Knight so well that fans really bought the comics.

The story gets better and better with every chapter and all you'd want to know is who the mastermind is. 

My only concern in the story was that I did not read this particular Batman story called "No Man's  Land" and it's a famous story. There's one reference in the story and had I read "No Man's Land", I would have appreciated it more.

But don't get me wrong, HUSH is an awesome Batman story and to add to the whole Hush success, DC released a book uncolored with just JIM LEE's pencils! It's BATMAN HUSH: UNWRAPPED. Check out the sample interior.

All in all, if you want to start a Batman book. I suggest you start with this. It's a fun read and it has all the twists and turns that's essential in a good Batman story. This is probably one of Loeb's best stories and you can't go wrong with Jim Lee!

You can get BATMAN: HUSH and the UNWRAPPED version in National Book Store (Power Plant, Glorietta 5, Megamall)., Power Books, or Best Sellers Galleria. I got my UNWRAPPED in Galleria. They still have one or two left there. Better get it now because National Book Store has a nationwide sale going on. It's 20% off! You really can't go wrong!

Monday, August 13, 2012


I was a LEGO kid. I remember getting them at Gift Gate. It was my Dad who'd help me build the sets. I remember having the Pirate Ships and Castles. I'd fix the minifigures and leave the rest to him. As time passed, I'd get the generic sets. It was just bricks. That's when I got to really imagine new things. LEGO taught me creativity and I think no other toy can do that for you.

What's cool about LEGO is that it's a way for parents and children to bond and play together too. Besides board games and catch, I don't think any other toy is as emotional as LEGO.

I got inspired to write about LEGO because of a video I watched. It's all about the LEGO story and it's really inspiring to learn how the company started. 

Today, LEGO has been diversifying their range with products like NINJAGO. But what really interests me now are the STAR WARS line, LORD OF THE RINGS line, and most especially the MARVEL and DC Super Heroes line. Collectors of all ages are still buying and playing with LEGO. Believe it or not, some Dads give it as an excuse to the Moms that the sets are for the kids, but in reality, it's for them!

I've been collecting the minifigures and I have a few sets now and I've built a couple. It's nostalgic. What I appreciate now is that the sets are divided into numbered bags. Now, you can first start with Bag #1 which contains the foundation of the set. I remember that it sucked finding the little pieces and you end up not finding it and then it appears for some strange reason. The numbered bags was a great consumer insight! Good job LEGO!

Now, I'm really into the superhero line. I got this hard to find Spider-Man keychain online and a Batman at the LEGO booth from Comic-Con. Where can you find these? For the Spidey, sorry, they're super difficult to find. I talked to a die hard LEGO Collector and he said that Spidey is a diamond in the rough!

But talking about exclusivity, the awesome CB Cebulski of MARVEL gave this to me at Comic-Con. This is extremely limited to 1000 pieces. No way I'm selling it! But it's crazy really, this bad boy is going for $150 on eBay! Can you imagine? For a minifigure? But I'm holding on to it since I'm a Spidey fan plus CB gave it to me. 

On a more serious note, I'm thankful I have like a 5 moms who read my blog. :) So if you want your child to get more creative and be more imaginative, give them LEGO. You won't regret it. You'll make your child super happy. Just be prepared to build it with them.

If you like to buy LEGO here in the Philippines, you can easily get them in Build City (I know they have branches in Power Plant, Shangri-La, and Greenbelt 5) or in Hobbes and Landes.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The best Trilogy since Lord of The Rings

Star Wars episodes IV-VI and the Lord of The Rings Trilogy were great 3's. It's hard to achieve that feat. Back to The Future III was just ok and can't be part of the awesome trilogies. We all know what happened with X-Men and Spider-Man. (Damn that Spider-Man 3...)

In 2005, we got a taste of Nolan's take on the Caped Crusader with Batman Begins and I still think that it was the best among the movies. It had a lot of cool lines also plus it was a great origin story. I'm a sucker for origin stories. 2008 brought The Dark Knight and it was not a superhero movie. It was a serious film! It just so happened that the characters in it were comic book characters. 

Fast forward to 2012, we have the final chapter of The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. Now I wasn't so happy with the choice of villain in Bane since I really wanted to see what Nolan would do for The Riddler. I came into the cinema with great expectations. Mind you that I had just arrived from my trip and was still jet lagged. I took a 30 minute nap and in that theater, not once did I feel sleepy. 

I was at the edge of my seat. The film happens 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight and it was said in the latest movie that it was the last recorded appearance of Batman. Gordon has to live out this lie but feels that he needs to tell the truth. A new threat comes to Gotham in Bane and we see Bruce Wayne having to come out of retirement and wear the cowl and cape again. 

The part where Batman comes back was my favorite part of the movie. The Hans Zimmer music plays and it's just fantastic! I was cheering inside my head! "HELL YEAH! BATMAN IS BACK!" 

Now if you still haven't seen this, that's just such a disappointment. The Dark Knight Rises is such an awesome movie. It sums up the best trilogy since Lord of The Rings and I don't think another superhero movie trilogy can beat it. The Amazing Spider-Man was a downer and Iron Man 2 was just ok. 

Seriously, if this movie doesn't get nominated for Best Picture then there really is no hope for superhero movies to win the Oscar for Best Picture. It's just a shame what happened in Colorado. I think it slowed down the sales of this movie. My thoughts are with the families who got affected. 

As a parting shot, here's the ensemble of the trilogy. It's a great cast. All of them were in character. Props to Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, JGL and of course, Christian Bale. Marion Cotillard was beautiful in this movie. She still scares me because of Inception. But she was still pretty!

Thank you so much to Christopher Nolan for giving us such a wonderful Trilogy! It's just one of the best! I don't think anyone can top this. Seriously...

Toys for the Big Boys

A couple of weeks ago, I watched the Ateneo-La Salle game in the MOA Arena and I was able to talk to current Alaska Point Guard and Blue Eagle Legend, LA Tenorio. I had just come from Comic-Con and he was telling me he was the biggest Iron Man fan. I had seen his posts on Instagram and he does have this awesome Iron Man collection. For his birthday, he recently got the Hot Toys Iron Man Mark V figure and he was raving about it. But what he asked me was if I saw the Mark VII Avengers edition displayed. I actually saw it! See the picture below.

I asked LA what was so special about the whole Hot Toys craze and he said in 2 words, "Astig siya..." The toys are highly detailed and they can't get any more detailed. They're not the 6 inch figures we normally see. These are the 12 inch doll types but very detailed. 

A couple of days later, I saw an announcement of the Mark VII pre-orders and here were the pictures Hot Toys released.

Robert Downey Jr. in Hot Toys form - can this be any more detailed?

This bad boy was selling for around $240 and it comes out next year during the 1st Quarter. I told LA immediately that the toy was up for pre-order. Should I get into this Hot Toys thing? :/ I think I'll stick to comics for now.

Hot Toys Limited is a Hong Kong based production house for designing and manufacturing super detailed toys. Almost all of their toys are in the 1:6 scale. Hot Toys sell for a lot money and there are just so many collectors here in the Philippines hungry to get these items.

For more info, you can visit the Hot Toys website and see what other cool stuff they sell. You have to see the Batman Line! They have a Batmobile and it is AWESOME! They were selling the Tumbler at ToyCon last year for 80,000 Pesos!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Comic Book ABC's: A is for Astonishing X-Men

In order for me to come up with more material for this blog, I've decided to give out my recommendations on what comics to read. From A-Z. Hopefully I've read something with a Q in the beginning. 

Anyway, let's start with A. 

I'm HIGHLY recommending ASTONISHING X-MEN by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday. The run is 24 issues with one Giant-Size Issue in the end. 

The Astonishing X-Men

Astonishing X-Men is probably the definitive run in the new millenium and Whedon selects a unique group of mutants for this specific team. Composed of Cyclops, Wolverine, Beast, Emma Frost aka The White Queen and Kitty Pryde aka Shadowcat. 

I've read the omnibus in a span of 3 days and it was just a joy to read. When I read them monthly, of course it was exciting with all the cliffhangers but I got to appreciate the whole run in a short span of time. I really got to appreciate the whole story. Whedon puts a lot of geek moments, very funny moments, and of course, plenty of holy sh*t moments. The run has 4 arcs, GIFTED, DANGEROUS, TORN, and UNSTOPPABLE. 

Scott Summers / Cyclops

I really can't dwell on the arcs after "Gifted" not to spoil those who haven't read it but basically it starts with the setting that they have found to eliminate the X-GENE. Cyclops then forms a new team to deal with this Mutant Threat. A new villain is introduced in the mix with Ord of the Breakworld giving stress and problems to the X-Men.

Ord of the Breakworld

That's where it all starts. Ord plays a key role throughout the whole run of Whedon and Cassaday. But what's really great about this book is that it will make you love the X-Men. You know how Cyclops is annoying? He's actually pretty bad ass! There's tension between Kitty and Emma since Emma was a former villain and now she's Cyclops' lover. Kitty spent her first day as an X-Man fighting Emma Frost and that's something she will never forget.  

The roster is a unique one but their chemistry is what made me really enjoy the book. Wolverine is an awesome support role in the book and he's doing what he does best. Kitty with her phasing powers/ walking through walls bit may seem lame but Whedon defines Kitty Pryde in the story. She's one tough chick you wouldn't want to mess with. Dr. Hank McCoy aka BEAST is troubled since he feels he's "devolving". He still wants that cure somehow. Emma on the other hand is the mystery character. Is she a good person or not? Of course there are lots of twists and turns in the book but to sum up the arcs, GIFTED brings a key character from the past and it's an awesome return! Jean Grey? Hmm... DANGEROUS reveals a secret from the history of the X-Men. TORN is all about Emma Frost and UNSTOPPABLE rounds up the whole story.

Whedon couldn't have done this without the brilliant John Cassaday. When I read Astonishing X-Men back in 2004, I've never seen comic book art like Cassaday's before. Everything's just gorgeous. He drew the best X-Men costumes for me and the covers are just so damn awesome. 

If you'll read Astonishing X-Men, I suggest you get the Omnibus since you can read it in one go. 

You thought that the Avengers movie was cool? Wait til you read this!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Doing things different in Comic-Con

This year in San Diego, I decided to make my trip a little different. I wanted to attend some panels but also maximize each day. You see, San Diego will make your feet hurt so bad. But if it doesn't hurt, it means you're not having fun. At times, 3 hours before the convention day ends, you'd want to rest as much as possible. But year, I woke up earlier. Last year I was at the 9th-11th lines in the Sails Pavillion in the morning. This time, I was in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. It wasn't bad at all. I got all the stuff I wanted because of the early bird mentality.

So probably the highlight of the different things I did were attending the panels. I wasn't able to attend the Marvel's Cup 'O Joe panel last year because the premiere of "The Legend of Korra" was right after that panel. The non-comic fans were in Cup 'O Joe which sucked.

My goal was to attend that Marvel Panel! So I had to be there 2 hours earlier. I saw a TV pilot of the scary Park Avenue show and the Gears of War panel. Luckily the Gears of War panel wasn't so bad since Morgan Webb hosted that panel. OK, so I was able to get in Cup 'O Joe and it was well attended. CCO Joe Quesada was there, MARVEL TV Head Jeph Loeb, SVP for Creative and Content Development CB Cebulski, and EIC Axel Alonso.


Asks the crowd who the Cup O Joe virgins are

 Jeph Loeb

 CB Cebulski

Axel Alonso

The panel was all about MARVEL NOW! The relaunch will happen in October and I'm excited for it. I think the writer-artist roster shake up is healthy. Uncanny Avengers should be interesting. The memorable part of the panel was the question if Scott Summers aka Cyclops should die in AVX. There was this group of Cyclops haters and the room went wild. But it was explained that Axel Alonso's favorite character is Cyclops so Scott dying maybe out of the question.

Sunday had an interesting panel. I went to mass at 730 to catch the 12nn panel of Image. It was Image's 20th Anniversary Panel and I wanted to witness that occasion. 

In attendance were 5 of the 7 Co-Founders. Rob Liefeld, Erik Larsen, Jim Valentino, Marc Silvestri, and Whilce Portacio. They were also joined by Mr. Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman. Not in attendance were Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane.

They were 7 superstar artists who left MARVEL to form their own. Image Comics still stands today being a venue for creators to share their voice and express their creativity.

The comics under Image can be anything! Now, you have The Walking Dead, SAGA, Chew, Manhattan Projects, and Invincible just making wonders.

It was an interesting panel with the guys telling their stories. But the surprise was Comic-Con International was they gave the panel the Inkpot award! They all got 1!

The Panel

Old School 

My take is that you attend the panels you really want. You can't do everything in Comic-Con. Panels are a good way to rest your feet and have fun. At the end of the day, the exhibit hall is the place to be!