Outcast: 'A Darkness Surrounds Him' Review

Robert Kirkman's latest show gets off to a flawed start.

Confirmed: John Boyega to Star in 'Pacific Rim 2'

Boyega joins the sequel hot off the success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Box Office: Ninja Turtles 2 Suffers in Anti-Sequel Summer

TMNT 2 is the latest sequel to bring in some disappointing numbers.

Review: Eye in the Sky

Gavin Hood's military drama is an impressive achievement.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Power of Five: Evil Star Review

Anthony Horowitz became my favourite author a few years ago due to his incredible Alex Rider series. A little while ago I picked up Ravens Gate, the first book in another series of his called, The Power of Five. I was pleasantly surprised I must say, and it didn't take me long to find book two, Evil Star. But, can it live up to the previous book's greatness? Not really, but it's still an entertaining read.

For those of you who don't know, this series centres around Matt, a teenage boy who seems to have some form of supernatural power. It is written in prophecies that an evil, ancient race known as the Old Ones will emerge from so-called "gates" and will bring about the end of the world. Matt is what's known as a "gatekeeper" and he is one of "the five."
If you haven't heard of this series before, you really need to read the first book - the aforementioned Ravens Gate - before this one.

Evil Star picks up a short while after the events of Ravens Gate, and opens fantastically with a disturbing, yet exciting few chapters centering around Gwenda Davis, Matt's Aunt, no spoilers but it leads to some awesome events that hooks you in to the story nicely.

The story itself is good, although not quite as strong as Ravens Gate. It still has the imaginative, three-dimensional characters that are expected from one of Horowitz' books, but it suffers from some pacing problems mid-way which is a real shame, and I recommend readers who share my opinion to stick with it as things do pick up again.

However, I have to say the ending to this book isn't quite as good as previous Horowitz work either. But, I believe this to be because this book seems to be laying down groundwork for a bigger story, and any loose ends I'm sure will be tied up in the third entry in this series. However, if your not interested in a third book and just want a stand-alone read, then this book probably isn't for you.

I'm sure those people are the minority though, and if you're looking to keep with this series to its climax, then you'll like this book, and I recommend it. Overall, Evil Star is a flawed, but exciting read.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Daredevil Review

Daredevil (Ben Affleck) is a masked crime fighter who was blinded at a young age, but has had his other senses enhanced. He can hear a pin drop from a mile away. A few years ago Daredevil was brought to the big screen, and the minds of Hollywood tried their best to tell an exciting, action packed origin but this seemed to just include ramming special effects down your throat.

Unfortunately, a mediocre story doesn't help matters. Daredevil is the protector of Hell's Kitchen, a town in America, where crime is everywhere. He finds out that all the crime in the city is linked together by one person, known as the Kingpin, who has hired the assassin, Bullseye to kill an old business partner of his. But Bullseye ends up staying to kill Daredevil too.

Meanwhile, Matt Murdock (Daredevil) meets Elektra, who might as well not even be in this film. For those who don't know, Elektra is a ninja assassin who is supposed to be a total badass. Now, don't get me wrong, in this film she does do a bit of fighting, but is generally made quite weak in comparison to Daredevil, who does some truly ridiculous things in the climax of the story. Had the script accompanied some more space for a Daredevil-Elektra team-up this would have been much better.
The script does however provide some quite funny dialogue between Matt and Foggy, (who is his co-worker).

One of the most annoying things about this film is it tries to be too comic-book-y. I never thought there was such a thing, but the fight scenes are way too over the top-and with the awful special effects it makes them almost unwatchable. There is the odd moment where the effects look quite cool, but this is rare.
And the effects are everywhere - there's no getting away from them. There in the fight scenes, the action scenes, the romantic scenes, they even seem to make up most of Hell's Kitchen! This is intolerable, as even though this movie is now 8 years old, other films released at the time (e.g. Spiderman, X-Men) proved that good effects were possible. So why weren't they used in this film?

I also found the acting to be quite average. Colin Farrell as Bullseye was just very annoying. Bullseye is meant to be a bit crazy, but Farrell just wasn't very well suited in my opinion. I also want to point out my hatred of Bullseye's appearance in this film. The costume department managed to get Daredevil's look, but Bullseye's costume was replaced by a leather jacket/coat. That really sucked. Although they did manage to get his trademark, target shaped scar(?) on his forehead.

Jennifer Garner just wasn't strong enough to fit the aforementioned Elektra's shoes. Elektra is one of the most dangerous women in the Marvel Universe, especially when it comes to one-on-one combat, and I just don't think Garner could pull off such a character.
She and Ben Affleck manage to strike little chemistry in the scenes that are meant to be romantic, but are instead just slightly cringeworthy.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Opinion: Kinect Has Failed Gamers

In less than two months Kinect will have reached it's 1st birthday. Then why is it that there's practically nothing to show for it, except for bucketloads of sales and a load of disappointed gamers that is.

Kinect, then known as Project Natal caused some serious commotion when it was unveiled at E3 2009. It wowed audiences with promises of deep conversations with virtual teenage boys in Milo and Kate, proper, good, racing and fighting games and a load of other amazing features - 90% of which we still don't properly have on Kinect! Just check out the announcement trailer below! Looking back, I was a fool to think that Kinect could have done all this. But during the excitement of E3 it's easy to be gullible!

Flashing forward to E3 2010 where at a Pre-E3 conference Natal is renamed Kinect and we are introduced to a bunch of horribly casual games (Kinectimals, Kinect Sports, Dance Central, Kinect Joy Ride etc.) and for some, the previous years promises begin to look weak and unfulfilled. But some supporters stayed and many small kids and mums flocked over in interest.

But it was the launch line-up in November 2010 where the truth about what Kinect would be, became clear - the majority of games being sports/fitness based (Zumba Fitness, The Biggest Loser, Your Shape etc.) and the rest being mediocre titles that started gathering dust pretty quickly. It was a couple of months after that £130 investment that my dream of owning the Natal from two years ago finally broke.

Now you can't say Microsoft haven't tried. A quick look at their E3 2011 conference that was dominated by Kinect and Kinect integration in games proves that. But it's not enough. Saying stuff in Mass Effect 3, looking at guns and cars in different ways in Ghost Recon and Forza 4 - it's all gimmicks! Not to mention the recently made Kinect Fun Labs, that should probably be renamed Kinect Gimmicky Pointless Overpriced Apps Labs.

Kinect has so much potential and while you do get odd moments of genius every now and then, (Child of Eden, The Gunstringer), mostly the potential is put to waste. We still have some hope left of some imaginative Kinect games in the form of Steel Battalion, Project Draco, Ryse and Kinect Star Wars, but if those games end up disappointing then sadly yes, Kinect will have failed gamers, and instead will have become every four year old's dream gaming platform.

Will Ryse be able to save Kinect?
I can't speak for everyone so if you dislike my opinion then please comment, or do you agree with

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Child of Eden X360 Review

Child of Eden at the very least is something to look at. A spiritual successor to Rez, it's graphics consist of brightly coloured enemies, explosions and environments - some can really take your breath away.

Child of Eden takes place years in the future when our world is the Internet (only now it's called Eden). Lumi (a young woman) was the first person to be born out of the Internet and so she is the Child of Eden. But Eden is under attack by viruses, and it's your job to destroy those viruses! In that sense Child of Eden is a Rhythm-Action-On-Rails-Shooter!
That's about as deep as the story goes! But this game was never going to be about story. It's about fun. And in that sense it succeeds for the most part. It's a fun game that can be played with an X360 Controller or with Kinect. I went with the Kinect option for the most part. It's not particularly superior, but after spending £130 on Kinect I wanted something to use it with! And for the most part it works well. Using your right and left hands to use different guns is a system that works usually, but when things get more manic at the end of each level, problems occur. And the amount of Kinect-related deaths you get can be pretty infuriating. 

But, that's not to say it's bad on Kinect. There is fun to be had through using Microsoft's motion sensor, it's just that maybe the controller is the more accurate way to go.

The main issue people seem to have with this game is its length - and yes it's not the longest game in the world by a long shot. With only 5 levels it is what many would call short. But it's not too unreasonable. The levels each offer a challenge and so can require playing through multiple times, and if you're a fan of high scores then you're in for a treat! Not to mention the different difficulty levels. I thought it lasted long enough to avoid being a rip-off.

One thing I didn't like about this game, and one thing that may put people off is the lack of checkpoints. If you're anything like me you will find yourself getting to the tail-end of a level, dying, and being sent to the very beginning again, this is one of the most annoying things that can happen in gaming - and it will happen here!

There is a mode titled 'Feel-Eden' in which you can play through levels without taking any damage, but having no danger at all ends up making things a little boring.

Although that doesn't stop it from being a good game. At the end of the day this is a fun game, and something that will stop your Kinect from gathering dust for a little while. And due to poor sales, it can be picked up cheap pre-owned and it's even being packaged with new Kinect sensors along with Kinect Adventures, so there has never been a better time to pick it up if you can get past the sometime inaccurate Kinect controls, and an annoying lack of checkpoints. It's by no means perfect, but it is one of the more interesting uses of Kinect on the market.

Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides Review

In my opinion the Pirates films have been going downhill since the first sequel. I believe that the first film was the only truly excellent one. But this fourth film really brings the series to a new low.

Not even Captain Jack can save this train wreck...
At this point in the review I normally give you a brief outline of the story, but this time it's hardly worth bothering. The story is weak, nonsensical stuff surrounding a load of pirates all working for other people, all trying to find the fountain of youth. Throw in a bunch of Mermaids and "Zombies", that really aren't zombies at all, and you get a story that could have been okay, but instead is just boring and turns this film into a two-hour sleeping pill. 

This movie really could have benefited from a bit of effort, but sadly this series has become just another cash cow for the people in Hollywood to milk. Instead then, it's told terribly, with a weak script adding to it's troubles.

Pirates 4 tries to be exciting, it really does. There are explosions, sword-fights, and more - but none of it is exciting, because it's all so overly choreographed and unrealistic. I know the Pirates series isn't about realism but some of this is ridiculous, predictable stuff that even makes the action scenes boring.
And it's Captain Jack himself that adds to this because you know he's going to get himself out of any situation with many witty comments to spare - or at least Hollywood thinks their witty. The truth is that the Captain Jack character is done now. He was funny 5 years ago, now though it's just getting a bit dull.

McShane is just one actor who isn't given a chance to shine...
And Penelope Cruz proves herself to be a pointless addition to the film with a boring character who ends up failing to bring anything to this story - not even a love interest. And you know this from the start due to her character's absence in the later films (this is a prequel - although that's never made very clear!). 
But to be fair, Cruz isn't the only boring character. None of the supporting cast is given anything to interesting which is a great shame because the cast is full of talented actors.

There are no redeeming qualities to this film. The story is weak, the script is poor, the acting is average, and the stunts are boring. Not to mention the weird continuity errors with the rest of the series. I knew this series was going downhill but I was shocked to see by how much. This is a lazy film and one to avoid.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Deus Ex Still at No. 1!

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is at No. 1 in the UK Videogame Top 40 for the second week now, managing to hold off new-entry Driver: San Francisco despite a 50% drop in sales.

Driver: SF does manage a strong entrance at No. 2 though. Other new entries this week include Madden NFL 12 coming in at No. 6 (despite the fact that no one in the UK plays American Football).
The only other new entry this week is Codemaster's disappointing Bodycount which comes in at No. 36.

Here's the Top 10: (UK All-Formats, All-Prices)

1. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
2. Driver: San Francisco
3. Zumba Fitness
4. Rugby World Cup 2011
5. Lego Pirates of the Carribean
6. Madden NFL 12
7. Call of Duty: Black Ops
8. Cars 2
9. FIFA 11
10. The Sims 3

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Alex Rider: Scorpia Rising Review

I'm a real Alex Rider fan - always have been. I've read all of the previous books (which I think is fairly important if your reading this one) and now here we are at the final mission. Was it a worthy end to the series? A resounding yes.

Anthony Horowitz continues his fantastic descriptive, yet action packed writing in Scorpia Rising. We open with Scorpia being hired by a rich old Greek man who wants the Elgin Marbles, (which have been homed at the British Museum for years), returned to Greece. And so Scorpia builds a genius plan circulating around Alex Rider and a twin of his who last made an appearance in Point Blanc (Book two of the Alex Rider series).

It's hard to say any more without spoiling things, but what I can say is that the writing is gripping - not once did I get bored of Horowitz' tremendous techniques! The book is also fast-paced which makes everything feel so relentless on the hero that it becomes hard to put down.

Everything about this last Alex Rider book is well done - the writing is great and so is the story. We see new sides to long-term characters like Jack Starbright, Smithers, Mrs. Jones and Alex himself! And the final few chapters are just as dramatic as you'd expect from one of Horowitz' books.

Scorpia Rising is definitely a fantastic end to a series that has always been entertaining, and one that I will miss. If you're really aching for some more Alex Rider after this, then I've heard that Horowitz is working on a new series based on the adventures of Yassen Gregorovich (Long-term readers will know who that is). If you've read the past Alex Rider books you have to get this one, if not then you should definitely read the previous one's first - but either way, make sure you don't miss this book.

Limitless Review

Limitless is all about a guy who (at least at the beginning of the film), is down on his luck. That guy is Eddie (played by Bradley Cooper).
The film doesn't hesitate in telling us what a loser Eddie is, and in the first few scenes alone we see that he has a book contract that he has fallen behind on, his girlfriend, Lindy, breaks up with him, and we find out he was engaged once - but that never worked out either. On top of all this Eddie's looking pretty rough right now too.

Fresh from being dumped, Eddie bumps into his ex-fiance's brother, Vernon, who comes across as a nice guy. They meet up and it doesn't take long for Eddie to tell him about the book deal going down in flames, and so Vernon tells Ed about this pill. He claims it's government approved, completely safe, but won't be on the market for months. It is the clear pill and it's what this film is about.

Bad looking Eddie, getting some "help" from ex's brother, Vernon
The science goes that we only use a small part of our brain's overall potential. This pill unhinges our entire brain and basically makes you a very clever person. Of course Eddie takes it, and he soon sees the benefits. 
I'm not going to give away much more about the story, but lets just say that this pill isn't as amazing as it looks at first glance. On top of that, Eddie does end up grabbing some attention and soon things go from bad to worse. But that's enough story, I always try to avoid giving out spoilers in these reviews.

I did enjoy Limitless. I thought the acting was strong throughout, and that the film was generally well paced and I never really got bored. There is also a narrative from Eddie which on numerous occasions offered some comic relief, which was welcome in between the more serious moments of the film.

I also enjoyed the camera effects that came into play once the drug was taken by Eddie or anyone else. It put across the type of high that the characters must have been feeling very well.
But unfortunately, at some points in the middle of the film I thought these effects were slightly over-used and made it confusing and hard to figure out what was happening. Fortunately, these times only happened once or twice and didn't ruin the film for me.

However something that did end up tainting this film was the ending. As I said before I don't give out spoilers in these reviews so I'm not going to tell you what happened, but for me it seemed to leave a lot of unanswered questions. This was made worse by the fact that I found the finale to be so exciting, so the ending just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Despite this, Limitless was a good film which I enjoyed a lot, and my criticisms with the ending shouldn't stop you from renting or buying it. Despite the fact that it has some dark underlying themes of drug addiction it still manages to stay entertaining.

The Fighter Review

I was sceptical as I went in to see The Fighter. I didn't think I'd like it purely because I didn't like boxing, but I was wrong. You realise very soon that this film is not about just boxing - far from it.

The film is about two brothers. The older one, Dick (Christian Bale), is a former boxer who keeps telling people he's making a comeback, despite the fact that he has a drug addiction that means he can't help his own brother train like he's meant to. The younger one, Mick (Marl Wahlberg), has been boxing for a few years but has had little to no success.
The film tells the story of these two brothers as they fight, not only other boxers, but their family and their own personal demons to become the best.

This film was incredible. For me it had a slightly slow start but once it got on it's feet it was a real winner, and the rest of the film was very well paced.

The acting was fantastic througout - not only were Bale and Wahlberg great as the two brothers, but also Amy Adams was fantastic as Charlene (Mick's girlfriend), and Melissa Leo was impressive as Alice - the mother who thought she was giving her children the best. This is complimented by a great script full of highs and lows.

Leo and Adams are just as good as the two leads.
Seriously, this film is an emotional rollercoaster. The conflicting emotions of the brothers wanting to be better, not just for them but for their children, and the other family members who start to feel left behind as Mick starts to think big are truly touching. There were points when you could really choke up, which is something I didn't expect from a film like this.

Although you don't have to like boxing to love this film, there are boxing scenes in it. I don't like boxing very much but I found these boxing matches to be brilliantly played out and very exciting. This was magnified in the final match which was absolutely gripping.

At first I thought I would hate this film. I don't like boxing, so why would I like this? WRONG. This film is fantastic, whether you like boxing or not you owe yourself to see this - and it's a true story!

The Walking Dead: Volume 1 - Days Gone Bye Review

The Walking Dead has become an absolute phenomenon as of late, and so I thought that I'd dust off Volume 1 of the comics and give it a review for those who are interested. First of all, I should say whether you watched the first season of The Walking Dead TV show or not - if you want to get into the comics - you still need to start with Volume 1. Simply because there are quite a few changes that the TV Series made - some minor, some quite big - so don't go skipping to future volumes, as you'll miss a great opportunity to get to know these characters deeply.

One thing that the two versions share is how this all begins. Rick Grimes, a police officer working in the USA, gets shot while trying to arrest a generic law-breaker. The consequence of this is that he is sent into a coma for many weeks - and while he's in the coma, this whole zombie thing kicks off.
The events that follow that range from exciting escapes from a zombie horde, to camp-fire chats as Rick gets to know some of his fellow survivors. What I'm really saying is you won't get bored reading this book.

Robert Kirkman's writing I believe is pretty good, however it should be made clear that this comic is for mature readers only. While it begins fairly tame, it gets a lot darker and a lot more explicit as the book goes on. And speaking as someone who has read ten volumes, it only gets worse for there on out with many gruesome scenes in the following volumes.
But, we should really focus on this volume seeming as that's what we're reviewing, and I have to say that while it's an entertaining read, don't expect anything too mind-blowing just yet. After all, this volume is really just setting the scene, introducing the reader to this grim world and the characters in it. Kirkman writes up some interesting character back-stories to keep even the non-action scenes fun to read.

However, one of the main complaints I have with the book is the script. While good for the most part, there are many lines that feel forced and out of place which took me out of the read a little. Add to that the fact that some characters can end up sounding the same and you have a script that needs a little work. Thankfully, its nothing too major at this point, and so the book isn't too affected.

The art in the book is well drawn and interestingly left in black and white. This was most likely a creative move to portray a world so miserable, that it is devoid of colour. Despite the lack of colour it is still easy to differentiate between characters and times of the day due to the use of different shades, meaning this unorthodox art style pays off and doesn't get at all confusing.

To conclude, I think that Volume 1 of the Walking Dead is a good start to a great series, but believe me when I say better stories are yet to come. This doesn't stop it from remaining an entertaining read, but to new fans I advise you stay with it for at least another two volumes. If you're not sucked in by that point, then you've got some serious problems.

Portal 2 Review

The original Portal was an awesome albeit short XBLA/PC/The Orange Box title. It saw you completing many puzzles in an abandoned facility (Aperture Laboratories) with no one but an AI called GLaDOS helping you through. After the promises of cake went unfulfilled and instead you nearly get incinerated - it doesn't take much to realise that GLaDOS is evil so you go into her lair and destroy her.

Portal 2 opens with you back in the facility after many, many years. Stephen Merchant is there to greet you and is suitably hilarious. JK Simmons and Ellen McLain also provide voices and are both excellent. In fact that's the first thing I should praise about this game - the writing is superb from start to finish. This is the funniest game I have ever played - and that is in no way an exaggeration.

You do the first couple of puzzles from the first game at the beginning - although those clean, glossy, white walls you'd expect from a laboratory have been replaced with a filthy building that's completely fallen apart featuring overgrown plants and grime. It's a great way to show the degeneration that can take place without GLaDOS's genius behind the scenes.
I'm not going to spoil any story elements - because the story is incredible - but basically you get your portal device and get back to GLaDos's lair where she is accidentally re-booted. That's when bad things start to happen.

The new overgrown Aperture...
The game consists of some genius puzzles with loads of new elements such as gels, "aerial faith plates", "thermal discouragement beams" and other hilariously named complications. These keep the puzzles feeling fresh and new and never repetitive. Somehow, the brains at Valve manage to make the puzzles challenging, but never too hard to complete which is impressive as it keeps the game fair and fun.
At the same time Valve manage to tell the backstory of the eerie Aperture Science facility. It's an awesome thing to see - going all the way back to the 60's and then back to present day. There's a lot of great character development and big reveals that I won't ruin, but I will say that the story is one hell of a ride.

The most incredible part of the story is how it makes you feel for all the characters. Chell doesn't speak and yet you still appreciate her courage and determination. GLaDOS is an artificial intelligence and a monster and yet here she comes across almost human. And this continues to the ending which is an absolutely beautiful way to finish - it's rare that a game this generation makes you feel emotional but this game totally did.

The graphics aren't anything too breathtaking - Valve are still using the same old Source Engine - but honestly, it doesn't matter. Portal 2 is a game that doesn't need graphics like Crysis 2 - it has far too many other winning elements!

After the Single Player there's the Co-Op - which is just as clever. There is the option to play splitscreen or online as the two robots. Atlas and P-Body. The two robots have a lot of character - it's hard not to love them. The best thing about the Co-Op is that you are so dependent on your partner. The puzzles are cleverly done so that if only one of you is doing the work - you just can't proceed. While the story in this mode isn't as well done or engaging, it's still a lot of fun.
However, because you are so dependent on your partner, you may only be able to enjoy this mode if you have someone reliable to play it with, so that's something to consider.

Taskmaster: Unthinkable Review

Taskmaster. Another C-List Marvel Villain who has now had a graphic novel of his own. Taskmaster's first major appearance was in #196 of The Avengers back in 1980 as a villain who can learn and counter fighting styles and techniques in a matter of minutes, he's popped up from time to time ever since - most notably in this year's Marvel vs Capcom 3.

This book tells the story of Taskmaster, fresh from the Siege of Asgard, currently living in Tokyo, and being confronted with the fact that a rumour is spreading from the Org (a major society that unites all the evil super communities e.g. A.I.M, Hydra etc.) that Taskmaster is now working for Steve Rogers. Not good if your a villain. Thus a bounty is put on his head for $1 Billion.

The problem is Taskmaster can't remember much at all - not even his real name! He has absorbed so many fighting styles over the years that his actual memories are being replaced. Luckily he has a technique called a memory palace that's going to help him remember how he got his powers, who the Org is, and then find out who framed him, and we're with him for the duration.

Then and Now
The story really is excellent. Fred Van Lente does a great job of making this relatively short story mysterious, gripping and absolutely insane! Van Lente is very good at making you feel something for the characters in the book. I hardly knew Taskmaster before reading it, and now I actually feel something for him! Then there's the second main character Mercedes Merced who from the beginning Lente makes a likeable, relatable character. When the story gets particularly crazy, Mercedes is a good way of giving the reader something to relate to in all the madness.
And it does get crazy! Somehow though, Fred Van Lente manages makes a tale involving a town full of Nazis and a ruthless Mexican mob who also play in a rock band surprisingly emotional, while still throwing in some funny pieces of dialogue throughout so to not forget the craziness of the situation.
Plus, the ending is phenomenal. There's a shock reveal near the end of the story that left me picking my jaw up from the floor, meanwhile the ending itself is surprisingly sad and really makes you feel for Taskmaster.

Jefte Palo is just another reason why this series was awesome. His art looks absolutely stunning in many places throughout the book. He draws Taskmaster and co. with great style and it really makes the series a joy to read. His style may not be for everyone, but I know that I really enjoyed it.

MODOK's 11 Review

MODOK is one of my favourite Marvel characters ever, purely because of the way he looks. He's a giant evil head that floats around in a chair/body? The entire idea of MODOK is hard to take seriously - but that's why he's so cool!

Recently MODOK has been popping up a lot with appearances in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, The Super Hero Squad Show and Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, so I thought it would be appropriate to go back and review MODOK's little-known limited series MODOK's 11.

For those of you who have no idea who he is, or if you think you don't know enough about the guy - don't worry. The book tells you pretty much everything you need to know about MODOK's relatively simple origin. How A.I.M turned employee, George Tarleton, into a big head with a brain millions of years more advanced than any human. Originally meant to help A.I.M, MODOK went rogue. There's your origin right there, and the book wastes no time telling it - getting it out the way fast to focus on the real story.

This book sees MODOK recruiting a bunch of other forgotten C-List super villains from the Marvel Universe to pull off a heist of incredible proportion, while all the super-heroes of the universe are preoccupied fighting World War Hulk.
The story was a lot of fun to read and I'd recommend it to any Marvel fan, particularly the ones who like more obscure characters. Using these forgotten characters and viewing the story from the villain's perspective makes this comic feel very fresh, new and somewhat unique. Not only this but the amount of betrayals, double-crossings and twists in this book not only reminds you that these characters are villains, but it also makes it an exciting read full to the brim with surprises.
Plus, the great thing about using unknown characters is that you have a fairly blank canvas, and Fred Van Lente uses that to great effect, setting up some interesting back stories and personalities for many of the characters. It's just a shame this series wasn't slightly longer, to see these stories develop further.

Another flaw about this series is that the story does take a couple of issues to really get going. The first chapter and a half are enjoyable enough however it doesn't really hit its stride until issue three, which is disappointing as the story is only five issues.
I should also say that while this book is a lot of fun, if you want a meaningful, or dark read then this is completely the wrong book for you. MODOK's 11 is really for people who want to have fun reading a comic. This series doesn't have any great life lessons or morals to teach, it just wants to ensure you have a good time reading it and it succeeds.
Lente made the right choice in not taking this book too seriously, it allows itself to poke fun at the characters with a script that genuinely made me laugh on some occasions.

The artwork in this book by Francis Portela is nice and colourful fitting well with the book's light-hearted tone.

Batman: Arkham Asylum Review

Most people know Batman: Arkham Asylum as a game - and a very good one at that - but what some people don't realise is that the game was loosely based on this graphic novel of the same name. Unfortunately, this comic doesn't really hold up against the game in any way, shape or form and while it may have been great in its time, I'd say it's one to avoid.

Arkham Asylum is an odd book. The story goes that the inmates have taken over the Asylum and Batman has to go in there and put things straight, while saving the captive wardens. Meanwhile, the book also tells the story of the founder of Arkham Asylum and what happened to him.

This book calls itself a "hard-hitting psychological horror." But is it really? My answer has to be no. This book isn't scary - disturbing sometimes, yes - but not very scary. Adding to that it wasn't what I'd call hard-hitting either.
It's merely a book with a big ego. It thinks that it's more dramatic then it actually is. To be honest, I just found it boring. I'm sure a lot of hardcore Batman fans will hate me for saying that but it's the truth. I'm sure if you're willing to invest a lot of time into the book you might be able to see deeper into the story - but the book gives you no reason to do that because it just isn't fun to read.

The art in this book is what really attracted me to it. Dave McKean adopts a very unique style for this story, however I'm sad to say the result is disappointing. While there are some panels where the art looks beautiful, most of the time the art is too abstract for its own good, making the story hard to read and understand. This is disappointing as maybe if the art had been toned down just a little bit I could have been able to appreciate more of what this story was trying to say.

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I understand that this book has lasted 15 years and has a following amongst comic fans, but unfortunately, I won't be joining that following any time soon. I just found this book boring. Whatever story it was trying to tell ends up being lost in the hard to understand art.

Marvel Shadowland Review

Shadowland seems to have had some pretty bad press recently. A lot of sites have been calling it one of the worst, if not, the worst Daredevil story ever. I think that's a little unfair and I've got to say, while it's not he best comic I've ever read by a long shot, it isn't that bad.

Shadowland tells the story of how Daredevil gets reborn. He's taken control of The Hand (who have always been one of his greatest enemies) and it has changed him. How it changes him is a bit of a cop out I'll admit, but it's still enough to warrant a solid story.
I thought this whole series was action-packed and somewhat enjoyable and by the end gives you a look into what the future of Daredevil will be. However, it was by no means flawless.

The story isn't as good as some other marvel events - which is saying something as Marvel have done a lot of crappy events. Plus, there are some parts in here that seem to go nowhere which is annoying as there are interesting characters who don't get their stories told fully. These stories may be followed up in Shadowland tie-ins, but I shouldn't have to pay extra to get the full story.

Plus, there were several parts of the script that were clumsy and just sounded incredibly silly. The classic villain who narrates all the moves she's doing as she does them just feels very juvenile, and it crops up a lot. However, outside of these annoying scenes, the writing holds up OK as not all the characters are written as poorly as that. 
The ending of this event was what got most fans annoyed and there's no denying it's a little anti-climatic. I won't spoil it for you, but I will say it's not very original and a little disappointing. However, it doesn't ruin the entire book, merely it taints the experience somewhat. Still, there is fun to be had here. 

The art in this book by Billy Tan is a highlight of the story. His illustrations are good, and although they're not the best you'll ever see, they get the job done and fit well with the story due to some good colouring by Christina Strain.

Osborn: Evil Incarcerated Review

Osborn: Evil Incarcerated is in many ways a prologue to what I hope will be a great story in the next year: The H.A.M.M.E.R War - which will feature Norman Osborn's new plan for the world, a new set of Dark Avengers and the return of H.A.M.M.E.R! But Evil Incarcerated tells a different story...

Osborn has been arrested after the disastrous events of Siege and a small group of politicians are deciding what to do with him as he has not yet (and may never) be sentenced at a proper trial. After a transfer to a top secret prison that almost no one knows about, to put it simply, all hell breaks loose! A "Goblin Cult" who have infiltrated the prison want to help Norman escape, while outside the prison we're treated to a large helping of political backstabbing, fear and panic.

The story is well-written by Kelly Sue DeConnick who writes some great, likeable and interesting characters who I'd like to see return in the future. Plus the pacing is great and there's enough action to keep you interested throughout the story's five issues.
Where this book really succeeds is in building on Osborn's unstable personality. DeConnick does a good job in reminding us that no matter how many times he's defeated, as long as he's alive, he will never give up - a simple truth, but one that makes him all the more intimidating.

Emma Rios' art is an interesting variation on the stuff you usually see in comics - and while I know some people really enjoy her art - I have to be truthful and say it wasn't for me. People looked a little too cartoon-y and scruffy at some points and I just don't think her art style really fitted the theme of the book. But if you know for a fact that you like Rios' art, then this may not be a problem for you.

The biggest problem I had with this book is that it's merely setting up for a bigger story - it's the comic-book equivalent of a support act at a concert. This shouldn't be a problem as the main reason I bought the book was in anticipation for the H.A.M.M.E.R War story taking place in the Avengers/New Avengers titles next year, but I'm afraid it was. By the end of this story all you have is a bunch of open doors for the main event, making it feel a little pointless overall.