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.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

TEN Comic-Book Awards 2014: The Nominees


It's the end of the year and you know what that means; it's a time to reflect, and after the reflection is over decide to give out some awards! That's exactly what I've been doing these past couple of days and this is the result.

2014 was a phenomenal year for comics. They gained more mainstream attention thanks to the smash-hit Guardians of the GalaxyCaptain America, and X-Men movies, and made headlines with some surprising reveals such as a woman taking on the title of Thor. Meanwhile, DC revived their ailing New 52 universe with such quality titles as Grayson, Gotham Academy, and The Multiversity. I haven't even mentioned the continuing rise of independent titles, most notably those from Image Comics!

With this in mind I thought now is as good a time as any to launch the TEN Comic Book Awards! Here we'll be spotlighting the best writers, artists, and series' to come out of the comic-book world in the last year, with our 2014 nominees listed below! But YOU can get involved as well! Just under this paragraph you'll find the reader's choice award for 'Best Series', where you can choose to vote for any series from the past twelve months! There is a good chance that no one will vote, but I'm optimistic nonetheless. The winners to all these awards will be announced in a video to be uploaded to the TEN YouTube channel in January 2015.

Reader's Choice: Best Series

The readers choice award is now closed! We're sorry if you didn't get a chance to vote, but stay tuned to TEN as they'll be more cool stuff to come! You can also check out the winners on our YouTube channel and on this site (probably, if we haven't procrastinated and not updated them yet). Thanks again!

Best Writer

Ales Kot (Secret Avengers)
Greg Rucka (Lazarus)
Tom King/Tim Seeley (Grayson)
Nick Spencer (Superior Foes of Spider-Man)
Rick Remender (Deadly Class)
Robert Venditti (X-O Manowar, Armor Hunters)

Best Artist

Clayton Crain (Rai)
James Stokoe (100th Anniversary: Avengers)
Michael Walsh (Secret Avengers)
Phil Noto (Black Widow)
Steve Lieber (Superior Foes of Spider-Man)
Wes Craig (Deadly Class)

Best Cover Artist

Andrea Sorrentino (Green Arrow)
Darwyn Cooke (Various)
J.H Williams III (Sandman: Overture)
Kevin Wada (She-Hulk)
Marco Rudy (Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier)
Mike Del Mundo (Elektra)

Best Colourist

Jeromy Cox (Grayson)
Lee Loughridge (Deadly Class)
Matthew Wilson (Secret Avengers, The Wicked + The Divine)
Muntsa Vicente (She-Hulk)
Rachelle Rosenberg (Superior Foes of Spider-Man)
Santi Arcas (Lazarus)

Best Break-Out Creator

Benjamin Dewey (The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw)
Brian Ruckley (Rogue Trooper)
Genevieve Valentine (Catwoman)
G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel)
Joe Infurnari (The Bunker)
Karl Kerschl (Gotham Academy)

Best Series

Deadly Class
Grayson
Lazarus
Secret Avengers
Superior Foes of Spider-Man
X-O Manowar

Most Anticipated New Series of 2015

Bloodshot: Reborn (Valiant)
Hit: 1957 (Boom Studios)
Howard the Duck (Marvel)
Ivar, Timewalker (Valiant)
The Fix (Image)
Star Wars (Marvel)

Best Publisher

DC
Image
IDW Publishing
Marvel
ONI Press
Valiant

Best Comic-Book Website

Bleeding Cool
Comic Book Resources
Comic Book Round-Up
IGN
Multiversity Comics
Newsarama

Best Comic-Book Adaptation

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
Arrow
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The Flash
Guardians of the Galaxy
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best Performance in a Comic-Book Property

Bradley Cooper (Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy)
Chloe Bennet (Skye in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity Smoak in Arrow/The Flash)
Ming Na-Wen (Melinda May in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury in Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Scarlett Johannson (Black Widow in Captain America: The Winter Soldier)

Most Anticipated Adaptation of 2015:

Agent Carter
A.K.A Jessica Jones
Ant-Man
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Daredevil
Fantastic Four

TEN Special Award for Outstanding Contribution to Comics

Alan Moore
Jim Shooter
Mark Waid
Stan Lee
Steve Gerber
Terry Moore

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Update: Is This Site Still Active?

Hello everyone, it's me David - the founder and sole writer of The Entertainment Network. I wanted to write this post so that the few people who follow this site will know exactly what's going on, particularly why it's been a while since it was last updated. Recently I was accepted onto the writing team of the fast-growing site Comic Bastards. I'm enjoying writing stuff for them, but it makes my already limited time, even more limited. Unfortunately, I don't have time to write for two sites - I barely have time to write for one - and so until such times as I leave the Comic Bastards team, updates on this site are going to be minimal.

It makes me sad because I love this site a lot, and I'm very proud of how far it's come. You may be reading this and thinking, "Does he know he only has 34 likes on Facebook and most of those are his friends who don't actually read the stuff he posts?" Yes I do. But still, cosmetically the site has come a long way (it now looks super snazzy), and while I still don't have a huge audience, the number of people reading the site has grown a lot in the last few years and considering I've never advertised this site anywhere I think that's quite cool.

Anyway, I'm going to try and update this site whenever I can but sadly I probably won't be writing for it as much as I should be. In the meantime, follow me on Comic Bastards. Click here to see all the posts I've written for that website.

In the meantime, stay frosty everyone.

David Craig
Twitter: @_david_craig

Monday, 8 September 2014

US Box Office Top 10: 8th September 2014

It was quiet at the US box office this week - the quietest it has been for two years in fact - as the only new release was an utter flop, and even Marvel's smash-hit Guardians of the Galaxy only pulled in $10 million. The fact that this relatively small number was enough for the movie to hold the top spot yet again, should tell you just how few people went to the cinema over the weekend. While there's little more to say about Guardians of the Galaxy aside from that it's a huge success, I did find it funny to see that the Marvel Studios flick has now surpassed Man of Steel's box office numbers! I'm no DC hater, but I do find it amusing that an iconic character that has been the face of the comic book industry for around 75 years, can be bested so easily by an obscure gang of misfits. It's a strange world.


The aforementioned new release this week was The Identical, a movie aimed primarily at Christian audiences, following two twins who are separated at birth. One goes on to become a rock 'n' roll superstar, one struggles with a father he worries about disappointing. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the movie received some scathing reviews and this may be part of why it flopped quite so hard. The movie managed to pull in just $1.91 million over the weekend landing it at number eleven, and while it's unlikely to have had a huge budget, that still isn't great. The movie continues what has been a very bad year for actor Ray Liotta in terms of box office numbers. Liotta, who starred in Martin Scorsese's much-acclaimed 'Goodfellas' has also had roles in some of 2014's other flops including Muppets Most Wanted and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. There's always next year, I suppose.

Much of this week's top ten is the same as last week, with many movies holding their spots on the chart. Meanwhile last week's disappointing new entries continue to disappoint this week, as The November Man and As Above/So Below perform poorly once again.

Here's this week's top ten in full:

1. (1) Guardians of the Galaxy - $10.1 million
2. (2) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - $6.5 million
3. (3) If I Stay - $5.7 million
4. (5) Let's Be Cops - $5.4 million
5. (6) The November Man - $4.2 million
6. (4) As Above/So Below - $3.72 million
7. (7) When the Game Stands Tall - $3.7 million
8. (8) The Giver - $3.5 million
9. (9) The Hundred-Foot Journey - $3.2 million
10. (11) Lucy - $1.95 million

Be sure to let us know on our Facebook page, on Twitter or in the comments section below what you think of this week's box office numbers, and come back next Monday for more!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Cast As Black Adam, But Will Shazam Fail?

After years of teasing and hinting, today it was finally announced what role Dwayne Johnson is to have in the developing DC cinematic universe. The actor has talked openly many times about his interest in a Shazam movie, recently telling fans he was struggling to decide which role he would rather play: Shazam or Black Adam. However it seems a decision was made as today Johnson announced from his Twitter account the news that he will be portraying Black Adam in the upcoming Shazam movie, one of many DC projects in the works at the moment.

After all these years of seeing Johnson flirt with the idea of playing this character on-screen, I was sceptical when I first saw Johnson's tweet thinking it may be yet another playful tease and nothing else. But after the news was confirmed by the respectable entertainment news site Variety, I allowed myself to believe that this period of mystery was now finally over. The script to the Shazam movie is being written by screenwriter Darren Lemke, whose resume isn't exactly flawless with his most recent films - Turbo, Jack the Giant Slayer, and Shrek Forever After - all receiving a relatively mixed response. However, the films mentioned do have their fans and are far from terrible so I don't intend on dismissing Lemke just yet.


Black Adam was a DC comics villain who essentially displayed the complete opposite traits of the hero Shazam. Although recently in the comics the character has taken on more of an anti-hero stance, as those kinds of characters continue to be fashionable. No release date has been set for the movie, probably as Warner Bros. try to figure out how Johnson is going to have the time to film Shazam. What with the Fast and Furious and G.I Joe franchises, as well as upcoming disaster flick San Andreas, and HBO TV series Ballers, Johnson is a very busy man. But at least Warner don't have to worry about Hercules becoming a franchise for the star, as the movie disappointed financially this Summer.

This raises the question, is casting the Rock a good decision? While he certainly has a few hits, some of his recent movies including Pain & Gain, Snitch and the aforementioned Hercules have struggled to pull in audiences at the box office. The actor seems more at home in roles where he's surrounded by a group of other actors a la the G.I. Joe and Fast and Furious franchises. If San Andreas, Johnson's next starring vehicle, is another bomb then Warner might just regret their decision to put him in their fragile new universe.

Let us know how you feel about this casting news in the comments section below, on our Facebook page or on Twitter! Also, do you think screenwriter Darren Lemke will be able to turn out a good script for this movie? Or will a rewrite be necessary?

To get a look at how cool Black Adam is in action, check out the cinematic trailer for the videogame DC Universe Online below. It is badass.


For more movie news be sure to keep visiting The Entertainment Network.

Monday, 1 September 2014

US Box Office Top 10: 1st September 2014

It was another quiet week at the box office, where movie-goers once again decided a second (or third) viewing of Guardians of the Galaxy would be more enjoyable than any of the week's new releases. Because of this, Guardians of the Galaxy was able to hold onto the top spot for the second week, with a tiny drop of just 5.2%. It appears that movie theatres have a lot of faith in the movie too, as Guardians of the Galaxy is one of just two movies in the top ten to add screenings to their theatre count. The Marvel movie adds 91 screens to its overall count this week, bringing it to a total of 3,462 theatres despite being five weeks into its run. The film brings in another $16 million this week, securing its place as the most successful film of the year in the USA. The fear experienced by many in the run up to the release of Guardians - that the movie may not strike a chord with mainstream audiences - now seems a distant memory.


The top three remains unchanged this week, with Michael Bay's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles holding the number two spot, and Kick-Ass' Chloe Moretz close behind at number three with If I Stay. Both films are shaping up to be modest success stories for their respective studios, as the Ninja Turtles move forward with a second movie and If I Stay easily makes back its $11 million budget.

The highest new entry this week is the found-footage horror movie As Above/So Below which debuts at number four. The lukewarm box office reception this movie has had - with just $8.3 million made on its opening weekend - may reflect movie-goers increasing resentment towards the found-footage genre which has garnered so many hits in the last decade due to their low-budget nature.
The other top ten new entry this week is Pierce Brosnan's, The November Man, which also kicks off its run quietly entering the top ten at number six with just $7.6 million pulled in over the weekend. Arguably, Pierce Brosnan's ability to draw in audiences left him a long time ago and so this small debut is not particularly surprising.


Still, I would say the week's biggest loser is once again, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. The Robert Rodriguez sequel has the biggest drop this week - a nasty 65.6% - bringing it down to a weekend haul of just $2.2 million. What this means is the that the film's total domestic gross is a pitiful $10.7 million, which is less than the first Sin City made on its first day. While I never expected this movie to be a smash hit, I do continue to be puzzled as to why it bombed quite so badly. What's your thoughts on the movie, or any that we've covered this week? Let us know in the comments section below, on our Facebook page or by tweeting us!

Here's the top ten in full:

1. (1) Guardians of the Galaxy - $16.3 million
2. (2) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - $11.7 million
3. (3) If I Stay - $9.2 million
4. (-) As Above/So Below - $8.3 million
5. (4) Let's Be Cops - $8.2 million
6. (-) The November Man - $7.6 million
7. (5) When the Game Stands Tall - $5.6 million
8. (7) The Giver - $5.2 million
9. (9) The Hundred-Foot Journey - $4.6 million
10. (6) The Expendables 3 - $3.5 million

Be sure to come back next week for more box office news!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Bojack Horseman: Episode One Review

Bojack Horseman starring Will Arnett and Aaron Paul is the latest Netflix original series, and it's the first foray into the genre of adult animation for the streaming service. Therefore it isn't wholly surprising that the show's first episode is far from flawless. But while it has a way to go before it can even think of becoming the next Archer or Family Guy, Bojack Horseman does have some potential which I hope can grow and flourish during the shows twelve episode run.


The premise of Bojack Horseman is quite ingenious. The titular character (Arnett) is a washed up sitcom star who - after the cancellation of his high rated, but critically panned TV show - finds himself sitting around his expensive home all day doing nothing except complain to his stoner house-guest, Todd (Paul). However, this wonderful premise isn't pulled off as well as one would hope. While there are some funny moments in the first episode, it doesn't deliver on laughs in the same way that other, more established series' do. That isn't for lack of trying however, there were many moments in the season premiere where I felt like I should be laughing, but the laughs just weren't coming. I put this down to the show not knowing what it wants to be.

Bojack Horseman has all the elements in place to adopt the kind of absurd comedy typically used in shows created by Seth MacFarlane, however it never makes the most of them. That would be fine if the show adopted the other route for an adult animated series - more mature humour as seen in the FX hit series Archer - but this isn't something Bojack does either. Instead, it decides to linger in between the two comedic styles, ultimately not pulling off either of them to any great effect. This means that the show just isn't as funny as it could or should be, and it's a great shame to see two very talented actors go to waste in this first episode.




Horns by Joe Hill | Book Review

This review is spoiler-free.

Horns was the second novel that Joe "the son of Stephen King" Hill wrote, and is the first of his books to get a big-screen adaptation. After a long wait since its festival premiere last Summer, Horns will finally be getting a cinema release in October. The film interested me with the casting of Daniel Radcliffe - an actor who has been picking his roles carefully since the end of his Harry Potter franchise - and so I picked up the book to get a glimpse of what was heading towards our screens. What I read surprised me. Horns is not a book for the faint hearted, with sexual content throughout, a few murders sprinkled in, and even some satanic preaching to an audience of snakes. Luckily, I have an open mind to weird stories such as this one and so I actually really enjoyed this journey.


Following Ig - the less successful younger brother to late-night TV star Terry Perrish - in the wake of his girlfriend Merrin's brutal murder, Horns is a dark journey into the mind of someone suffering with not just grief, but feelings of loneliness and injustice. Indeed to add more salt in the wound it is Ig who was accused of Merrin's murder, and even a year after he was found not guilty he is shunned in the small town he's lived in all his life. This is where the book begins, with the opening pages seeing Ig waking up to horns growing out of his head - horns that provoke people into telling their deepest, darkest secrets and desires.

The book sees Ig struggling to cope with this latest unfortunate development, as he pieces together last night's events and finds out at last who Merrin's true killer was. However while this is the main storyline of the book, Hill also spends time fleshing out events of years before. This involves flashing back to the first time Ig met Merrin, as well as other supporting characters Lee Tourneau, and Glenna Nicholson. At first this seems like an odd decision when the events of the main story are so thrilling - however, the further into the book you get, the more you discover how crucial these flashbacks are. Some make character motivations clearer, others clarify why some characters are the way they are, inducing a "so THAT'S why that happened" effect.
Another great technique Hill uses is repeating scenes more than once, but from the perspective of other characters. This is an inventive way of revealing some of the book's secrets and mysteries, which proves far more effective than if all the answers were laid out in just one version of a scene.


In Horns, Hill demonstrates that he is a master at developing characters, a skill that's carried through to his latest novel NOS4R2 and his comic book series Locke and Key. Hill really makes you feel for the characters in this story, sympathising for most, and loathing the rest. It's because of this great character development that it's somewhat disappointing the book ends a little ambiguously. This is a spoiler-free review so I won't go into any further details, but the ending did leave some questions unanswered. That's not to say it was an awful ending however, just flawed, and it shouldn't put you off giving this book a read.


Monday, 25 August 2014

US Box Office Top 10: 25th August 2014

It's a bad week to be Robert Rodriguez, as the writer-director continues his series of movies performing poorly at the box office. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is the latest in this run debuting at number eight this week, pulling in just $6.5 million despite showings in nearly 3,000 theatres. This will almost definitely kill any hope for a third Sin City movie, and may make studio executives reluctant to hire Rodriguez in the future after previous films Machete Kills and Spy Kids 4 also underperformed. What could have caused this failure? Unlike last week's bomb, The Expendables 3, Sin City can't use piracy as an excuse.

Perhaps it's something to do with the nine year break between movies - maybe people have moved on from Sin City. If not, maybe it's the poor word of mouth. While the first Sin City movie was treated to generally positive reviews, the second instalment has had a much more mixed reaction. Finally, it may be that the R-rating has struck another victim. With comic-book movies being so universally loved these days, it may be that there's no place for adult ones anymore - see Dredd for further proof of that.


On the whole it was a small week at the box office, with people choosing to watch Guardians of the Galaxy again rather than take a chance on a new movie. Because of this, Guardians was able to jump back to the top of the charts after two weeks of letting TMNT hog the limelight. In the process, it has become the most successful film of the year so far in the USA, beating former title-holder Transformers: Age of Extinction.

The highest new entry this week was Chloe Grace Moretz' If I Stay. The young actress needed this film to be a success after her previous movies Carrie, and Kick-Ass 2 failed to find an audience. Fortunately this debut is solid, if not outstanding. The movie entered the charts at number three, making $16 million over the weekend. With a small budget of just $11 million this should be enough for the movie to turn a profit by the end of its run. However, Warner Bros. may be disappointed that they don't have a hit the size of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars on their hands.


The final new entry this week was When the Game Stands Tall which - like Draft Day and Million Dollar Arm before it - proved that people just aren't interested in sports movies this Summer. It made only $9 million over the weekend, settling for the number five spot.

Of last week's new releases it was Let's Be Cops that showed the most staying power, with a small drop of just 38.2% on last week. The film is now up to $45 million in the USA alone, meaning its affordable $17 million budget should be more than made up by now.
The story is not so bright for last week's losers The Giver and The Expendables 3 which fall to number six and number seven respectively, and look unlikely to turn much of a profit for their studios.

Here's the top ten in full:

1. (2) Guardians of the Galaxy - $17.6 million
2. (1) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - $16.8 million
3. (-) If I Stay - $16.3 million
4. (3) Let's Be Cops - $11 million
5. (-) When the Game Stands Tall - $9 million
6. (5) The Giver - $6.7 million
7. (4) The Expendables 3 - $6.6 million
8. (-) Sin City: A Dame to Kill For - $6.4 million
9. (7) The Hundred-Foot Journey - $5.5 million
10. (6) Into the Storm - $3.8 million

Friday, 22 August 2014

Agents of SHIELD Gets Absorbing Man, Mockingbird

Yesterday Marvel Studios announced that the classic comic-book villain, the Absorbing Man would be making his Marvel cinematic universe debut in the premiere of Agents of Shield Season Two. The character has the ability to adopt - or "absorb" - the properties of any material he touches. For example, if he touches a metal pole, his skin can turn into metal thus making him quite a difficult target to beat up. The character will be played by Brian Patrick Wade (Teen Wolf).
A version of the character has appeared in live-action once before in Ang Lee's ill-fated 2003 movie Hulk. Here's hoping that this version of the character is a better portrayal, although one has to wonder if the ABC show will have the effects budget to portray the Absorbing Man's powers convincingly.


The news comes after the reveal earlier this week that one-time Wonder Woman, Adrianne Palicki, would be appearing as the classic Marvel character Mockingbird in the show's second season. This announcement is more worrying to me. While I'm willing to see Palicki in the role and interested to see what she can do with the character, I fear that this may prevent Mockingbird from joining The Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the comic books Mockingbird had a serious relationship with Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and was a long-time member of The Avengers. However, her appearance in Agents of SHIELD may prevent this plot thread from being adapted onto the big screen.


This is because the TV show is still very much on dodgy ground. Cast your mind back to mid-way through the show's first season and you may remember some people raising questions about whether the show would be renewed for a second run at all. While it's true that in the wake of the game-changing Captain America: The Winter Soldier things did begin looking up for the show - in terms of ratings and reviews - it is still far from a sure bet that the second season will be a success. Therefore, if the show does fall short in the new TV season, it seems unlikely that Marvel Studios would let Palicki reprise her role in any future Marvel films.

So I suppose what I'm saying is if you're a Mockingbird fan, make sure you and all your friends and family are tuned in to the season premiere of Agents of SHIELD. If not, Mockingbird may well end up doomed to obscurity in the general public's eyes, with Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow pulling double-time to fill the Mockingbird-shaped hole in the Marvel Universe.

Mockingbird and the Absorbing Man join the Marvel characters introduced in Season One of the show: Deathlok and Graviton.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Wahlberg For BP Oil Spill Movie: A Bad Idea?

I don't know what's stranger, that Summit is making a movie out of the disastrous BP oil spill of 2010, or that they're eyeing Mark Wahlberg for the lead. The movie, currently titled Deepwater Horizon is in early stages of development with a script by Matthew Michael Carnahan (World War Z) and with J.C. Chandor attached to direct.

What immediately strikes me about this feature is what a strange creative mix is on display. While Chandor's latest release All is Lost starring veteran actor Robert Redford received much acclaim upon release, I worry that he might struggle with a script from the writer of World War Z - a movie that was better than many thought it would be, but that isn't saying very much when everyone's expectations were at rock bottom.

(Left) Wildlife caught in the BP Oil disaster of 2010, (Right) Actor Mark Wahlberg
When you add producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura into the mix, whose most recent movie is the explosive abomination Transformers: Age of Extinction, you can't help but wonder what tone this movie is going to have. While Chandor's sophisticated style could be brought over in a film that serves as a respectful memorial for the workers who died on the rig, while perhaps even commenting on the environmental cost of the leak, Bonaventura's Transformers history may turn it into something far less remarkable. There's a definite risk of this movie being just another generic feature wherein a muscly hero (Wahlberg in this case) does everything he can to stop an impending disaster.

And that brings me to the potential casting of Mark Wahlberg. While the former "musician" - if that's the right term to describe what Marky Mark was - has proven he can act in the outstanding David O. Russell movie, The Fighter, he has also proven himself less capable in such movies as M. Night Shyamalan's abysmal The Happening.

At this point, the movie could really go either way. It is, after all, still in the very early stages of development. But right now, my expectations for the movie are unfortunately low. Let us know how you feel about the movie in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter.

Superior Foes of Spider-Man, New Warriors Cancelled

As another month brings with it a new batch of solicitations, it also brings with it some sad news. This November, two Marvel titles which have been struggling for some time will be laid to rest. Those titles are Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber's Superior Foes of Spider-Man, and Chris Yost and Marcus To's New Warriors. While it isn't as if the news was unexpected - the two books have been lingering at the bottom of sales charts for a few months now - it is a great shame.


While I admit I hadn't been reading Yost's New Warriors, it is a title that I was interested in jumping onto at some point. Additionally, it was one of the books due to be featured in our upcoming, "Marvel NOW!: What Could Be Cancelled Next?" article, and so I can't help but feel partly responsible for not finishing the article sooner.


However, the loss that stings the most is without a doubt Spencer and Lieber's Superior Foes. This was a book that I'd been reading since issue one, and had been consistently impressed by - it told a story that was equal parts exciting and hilarious and will go down in Marvel history as one of the publisher's most under-rated books.

How do you feel about this news? Were you reading either of these titles? Let us know in the comments below, on our Facebook page or by tweeting us!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Taskmaster: Udon Series Review

This review is spoiler-free.

Taskmaster is, I believe, one of the most under-rated characters in the Marvel Universe. A mercenary, frequent enemy of Deadpool and The Avengers alike, the character has taken on a very interesting role in recent years. Taskmaster is no longer a villain, but whatever he needs to be. Most recently this has been seen in his role as a teacher in Avengers: The Initiative, a potential father-figure in Avengers Academy, and even an Avenger himself in Nick Spencer's recent Secret Avengers series.

My interest for the character spiked upon reading Fred Van Lente's excellent mini-series Taskmaster: Unthinkable in 2011, leading me to splash out on eBay and pick-up the four-issue series printed back in 2002 simply titled, Taskmaster. This series was the result of a collaboration between Marvel and Asian-influenced studio Udon, and tells a relatively simple story of Taskmaster being hired, Taskmaster being betrayed, and Taskmaster seeking revenge. It's safe to say that those of you looking for some real development of Taskmaster as a character would be better served in the 2011 series. But while Van Lente's mini-series is far superior to this one, both in terms of writing and information about the character, there is fun to be had in this series too - just so long as you can make it through the first issue.


Why do I say that? Well, the first issue of this series really doesn't deliver a fantastic first impression, mainly due to the abundance of exposition which is really quite tedious to read through. In fact, I would go as far to say that most of issue one is very flawed. Not only is the dialogue shamelessly expository, but the story is very by the numbers and the action feels lifeless. The big finale of the first issue is a fight between Taskmaster and Iron Man - a fight which has potential to be amazing, but in the end is just quite boring. The problem is mainly due to the fact that there's never any sense of struggle. Taskmaster puts Tony Stark in his place very easily, which may have been done as a way to show Taskmaster's skill as a fighter, but ultimately relieves the fight of any sense of tension. Meanwhile, Taskmaster's narration throughout the fight also removes it of any real fluidity.

However, what issue one does manage to do is set up the premise of the rest of the series and I'm happy to say that after issue one ends, things definitely start looking up for the book. Come issue two, the action is far superior to what is found in the first installment, the exposition is much less frequent and the whole book ends up with a more quality feel. While I don't want to delve into any further story details so not to ruin the book for anyone reading, I can say that there is a real rivalry built between Taskmaster and his antagonist, which certainly got me on Taskmaster's side rooting for the character to get his revenge.


Never has a series turned around so quickly for me in terms of quality. While the final three issues are still far from perfect they are a huge improvement on what came before, offering many fun and exciting moments with the series closing out with a real bang. Perhaps another contributing factor to this series improving as it progresses is the artwork which could take a while to grow on you. As I mentioned above, this series is a joint effort between Marvel and Udon, and as Udon are an Asian-influenced group the artwork on display here is very reminiscent of Manga. Reminiscent, but not totally the same. Indeed while the art here is very obviously influenced by Japanese artwork, it is more a fusion of Japanese and American styles than outright Manga art. Still, it is very different to what you see in most Marvel comics and did take a little while for me to get used to. If you're one of those people who loathes the Manga art style - and there are people like that out there - then perhaps you should be warned that elements of that style are on display here.

Taskmaster's classic costume
But however you feel about Manga, there's no denying that the costume design here is to be applauded. The suit incorporates Taskmaster's classic skull mask, sword and shield, but modernizes it into something futuristic and very stylish indeed. Although, personally I did feel that the Udon costume removes his humanity somewhat - as his actual face is never shown, instead the suit produces holograms of other people for him to pretend to be. While this high-tech suit is far better for Taskmaster in terms of stealthily breaking in to places that he shouldn't be, at times it seemed a little too futuristic when you think how Taskmaster's traditional costume is quite a charming medieval suit. Nonetheless, the Udon gear does look cool and has some great features - but I'm just glad Taskmaster was reverted to his old costume once the series finished.

So should you buy this series? The decision is one you should think on before going ahead, especially if you're on a budget as some eBay sellers put the complete series up for much more than you would pay for a standard Marvel trade paperback. Ultimately I think you would be wise to pick up Taskmaster: Unthinkable, the other Taskmaster series, before this one as it is the superior series of the two and also more affordable as it is still in print. After you've read that series, if you're craving some more Taskmaster action, then the 2002 Udon series is a solid second choice. While it does have a rocky start, the series goes on to blossom into something exciting, fun and wholly entertaining which is well worth a look if you can get your hands on an affordable copy.

US Box Office Top 10: 18th August 2014

As industry experts had predicted it would, The Expendables 3 suffered at the box office this week bringing in a little over half of what The Expendables 2 did on its opening weekend, leaving it in fourth place overall. This is at least partly due to a near-perfect pirated copy being released on the Internet to over two million downloads, an unfortunate event that distributor Lionsgate is combating with all its legal might. Currently experts estimate the movie will leave the charts with a domestic haul of around $48 million, and if this is the case it could spell doom for not only a potential Expendables 4, but also the upcoming female-led spin-off the Expendabelles.


It was a brighter story for Michael Bay's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who managed to keep the top spot this week in spite of almost universally negative reviews. The film brought in around $28 million this week, a drop of 56.7% on last week crossing it past the $100 million mark in the US. While fans of the Turtles and Transformers alike may loath Bay's interpretation of the much-loved franchises, there's no denying that he knows how to make a successful blockbuster.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy also had another strong week both domestically and overseas, as it looks likely to beat both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Thor: The Dark World's US haul. The film brought in just under $25 million this week, meaning Kevin Feige can breathe a sigh of relief in the knowledge that his big gamble of the year paid off - now he can only hope for a repeat performance come the release of Marvel's other weirder features Ant-Man and Doctor Strange.


Other releases last week included the Jake Johnson/Damon Wayans Jr. comedy Let's Be Cops which had a solid, if not incredible debut of $17 million over the weekend. That total increases to $26 million when weekday numbers are included. Therefore the movie, which had a relatively low budget of just $17 million, is well on the way to making a profit - good news for both Johnson and Wayans who could both use a few more box office hits to their name.
The final new entry this week was the adaptation of the young adult novel, The Giver, which continued the trend of adaptations like these falling short of the genre giants Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games. With a lackluster debut of just $12 million, you can expect The Giver to join bargain bins alongside Beautiful Creatures, The Host, and The Mortal Instruments when it hits DVD and Blu-Ray in a couple of months time.

Here's the top ten in full:

1. (1) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - $28.4 million
2. (2) Guardians of the Galaxy - $24.7 million
3. (-) Let's Be Cops - $17.7 million
4. (-) The Expendables 3 - $16.2 million
5. (-) The Giver - $12.7 million
6. (3) Into the Storm - $7.7 million
7. (4) The Hundred Foot Journey - $7.1 million
8. (5) Lucy - $5.3 million
9. (6) Step Up All In - $2.7 million
10. (13) Boyhood - $2.1 million

Thank you for reading this week's Box Office Report, be sure to come back next week for more movie news. Stay updated by liking our Facebook page or following us on Twitter using the buttons in the column to the right of this page.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Comic Book Sales: June 2014

Welcome to TEN's coverage of comic-book sales. Every month - starting with this one - TEN will post one lengthy editorial on the month's comic sales figures - followed by smaller, more bitesized analysis straight after. This week's editorial is on cracking the reason why All-New Marvel Now! titles aren't selling. Also, just below the editorial you'll find coverage on DC, the independent publishers, and this month's top ten. Thanks for reading.

All-New Marvel Now: Why it isn't Working

The latest comic book sales figures have been released, and it paints a rather dim picture for All-New Marvel Now. Marvel launched the initiative - a follow up to their original Marvel NOW! line - at the beginning of year, and since then they have seen title after title fall straight to the bottom of the sales charts just a few months after debuting. The new titles that fall foul to this unfortunate fate are numerous: New Warriors, All-New Ultimates, Secret Avengers, Elektra, All-New Invaders, All-New X-Factor and Captain Marvel are the titles suffering most, with other titles like X-Force, She-Hulk and Loki: Agent of Asgard on the brink of following the trend as well. The question is: Why is this happening?


Cast you're mind back to May 2012 and we see a similar trend that may help us answer that question. The New 52 had been launched nine months prior and had succeeded in putting DC Comics back on the map in terms of comic-book sales. With the exception of smaller titles like Men of War, Blackhawks, and OMAC - which had been expected to struggle, and definitely were - business was booming. However, when DC tried to replicate that success, eliminating some of the aforementioned slow-starters in favour of some new titles, they found it more difficult than it had been the first time. Of the six new titles that started that May, three failed miserably (G.I Combat anyone?), and the other three were only moderate successes not capturing the kind of sales numbers that DC must have hoped for considering their strong start.

Things got worse, and by the following year almost every new title DC launched was hitting the bottom of the sales chart just a few months into its run: Vibe, Katana, Green Team, The Movement, The Phantom Stranger, and even Pandora - the mysterious figure that was the centre of so much interest at the beginning of the New 52 - failed to carry a series of her own. As DC has now stopped releasing as many new titles, the haemorrhaging of their sales numbers has slowed somewhat (although a look at the sales of Aquaman and the Others suggests they are still struggling to launch new books).

Nonetheless, it seems that it's mainly now Marvel who is suffering from Wave 2-failure syndrome, as a large amount of All-New Marvel Now titles struggle to find even the smallest of audiences. With books like Ultimate FF and Iron Patriot already cancelled after just five and six issues respectively, and the titles listed at the beginning of this article seemingly not far behind, what could possibly be causing this?

1. Marvel's Prices and Shipping

"Things that DC do better than Marvel" hasn't been a hugely popular list in recent years, however one thing that I always like to credit DC on is their continual support of the $2.99 price point. The publisher still places many of its top-selling titles such as Harley Quinn, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Batgirl and The Flash at the competitive price of just $2.99, while Marvel have been aggressively bumping titles up to a price of $3.99 and recently a ludicrous $4.99 in recent months. If you're reading this, you probably like comics, but I think we can all agree that $5 is too much to pay for a comic that has sometimes less than 30 pages of quality content (damn you, adverts!).

And as if this price point wasn't expensive enough already, Marvel have also started the unsavoury habit of double-shipping with many of their titles too. I find double-shipping frustrating personally as while a story may move along faster, the price of this added pacing is a far more expensive monthly pull-list. As a comic reader on a low salary, I have began making an effort to check which Marvel titles are double-shipped so that I may avoid them. If I'm the only one doing this I'd be extremely surprised. These are not good economic times for many people and the rising expense of comic-books is going to be harmful for the medium as a whole if not capped soon.

The immediate effect double-shipping and a higher price point has on new titles, is it makes people more cautious about trying them. Speaking personally, I have wanted to read Avengers World, All-New Ghost Rider, All-New X-Factor and Elektra since they launched but have had to steer clear due to the books either having a high price point, being double-shipped or both. Were just a couple of these titles released at $2.99 and at a manageable rate of one issue per month I would be reading a lot more of them, and this would also free up some cash to perhaps afford one double-shipped title too. Ultimately, that's the strategy I would recommend to Marvel. If they must double ship some titles at a high price point, then it should only be a couple of books. By making their entire line more expensive they're doing damage to themselves, as in these fragile times people simply can't afford an unlimited number of expensive comics.

Looks awesome but I can't afford it!
I think this is a big part of why there are so many struggling Marvel Now! titles at the moment, and a price drop for many of them would do a world of good.

2. Relaunches Produce Too Many Titles!

While DC's New 52 technique of cancelling frequently in "waves" could be seen as aggressive, recently Marvel's technique of fixing low-selling titles - a relaunch - has been seen as just plain annoying, especially when these books come back at a higher price (see All-New X-Factor and Daredevil among others). Recently it has been speculated that comic readers may be becoming apathetic towards relaunches with many of them seeming unnecessary and just a cheap way for Marvel to grab headlines. What the publisher needs to remember is that relaunches are a great opportunity for readers to jump on, but also a great opportunity for readers to jump off (see Secret Avengers). By relaunching so many titles, Marvel may end up reducing their audience - the opposite of what they're aiming for.

Also, by relaunching many titles that really don't need it Marvel end up taking coverage away from their brand new books that do need help finding readers. A book such as Mark Waid's Daredevil did not need to be relaunched - it has a strong fanbase and more critical acclaim than you can shake a stick at. But by bringing more attention to already established books such as this one, new series' like All-New Ghost Rider and Elektra lost opportunities for coverage. All-New Marvel NOW!'s release schedule has been chaotic for this reason with an abundance of relaunched titles trampling over a large amount of new titles with the winner being no one. Instead, we're left with all of the books being damaged in the mayhem.

I worry that many of these titles are now beyond hope, however if any of the struggling books mentioned in this editorial interest you, I implore you to pick them up now. Before it's too late.
____________________________________________________________

DC Comics

As I mentioned in the editorial above, there was a time shortly after the launch of the New 52 where DC really struggled with launching new books. However, to some extent it seems that difficult period may be finishing for the publisher. Don't get me wrong - DC still have struggling books, and you can read our article here on the DC books on "cancellation watch." Additionally, some of the books DC has recently debuted such as Justice League 3000 and Aquaman and the Others have not been any definition of a hit, with those books now selling just over 24,000 and 23,000 respectively. But, the disaster period of Summer 2013 where books such as Vibe, Katana, Green Team and more died on impact with store shelves seems to be over, with DC's current new books at least putting up more of a fight with their competition.


DC's biggest success continues to be Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman which takes the number one spot once again this week selling 130,000 copies. If you weren't already convinced that Gotham City is the most profitable area in the DC Universe, the publisher's second best-selling title was (surprisingly) Harley Quinn with 93,000 copies sold! This was a book that I expected to die shortly after release, as Larfleeze did before it, but I admit I was wrong on this one. Harley Quinn seems to be DC's big success story of 2014. It not only helps their line-up of female-led titles, but it also keeps the bat-presence high in the New 52, something DC will want to do in the run-up to Batman vs. Superman in 2016. Speaking of Superman, his ongoing series sits comfortably behind Quinn at number five with 89,000 copies sold, receiving a solid boost with the all-star team of Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. now attached.

As for DC's recent endeavour into weekly series' with both Batman: Eternal and New 52: Future's End, it has been a moderate success for the publisher, however sales are continuing to drop. Who will be around to witness the end of these very costly titles? Only time will tell, but for the time-being the books look healthy, with Batman: Eternal the best-selling of the two pretty unsurprisingly. The damage for that title was bearable this month - in May, it's best-selling issue peaked at around 67,000 copies, while this month the best-selling issue of Eternal had sold around 62,000 copies. A drop of 5,000 isn't awful for a weekly book, and the drops should stop soon as it establishes a core readership of die-hard Bat-fans.
The less acclaimed Future's End however may struggle more, with last month's peak of 70,000 falling to a peak of just 48,000 this month. A drop of 22,000 copies in one month is going to be a problem for the weekly book if not stopped soon, and with less popular characters and less favourable reviews than Eternal, Future's End may be on low numbers by the end of its run.

Independents

June was a great month for Image Comics, with one title in the top ten and one just outside - and both of which written by Robert Kirkman, securing him as the most important writer at the publisher. The Walking Dead #128 was their best-selling book ranking at number nine with around 74,000 copies sold. Meanwhile, Kirkman's other title - his new book Outcast - was just outside the top ten at number eleven with 71,000 copies sold.

The Walking Dead continues to thrive! Will the craze ever end?
However, Image isn't just a publisher reliant on Kirkman. Another Image hit in June was Brian K Vaughan's Saga which continues to make waves in the industry selling a healthy 56,000 copies. Other stand-outs include the return of the Phonogram and Young Avengers partnership Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. Their Image Comics title, The Wicked and the Divine debuted in June and sold an impressive 41,000 copies. In this writer's opinion, if you haven't yet bought it, you definitely should as it's one of the most promising debuts of the year so far. Matt Fraction's Sex Criminals and Warren Ellis' Trees also perform well managing to stay in the Top 100.

As for the smaller publishers, Boom Studios biggest title was Big Trouble in Little China. The series - a spin-off from the 1986 movie of the same name - sold over 24,000 copies, a fantastic number for Boom who are yet to reach the heights of their fellow independent publisher Image. However, a movie deal over Boom properties with 20th Century Fox may change that one day soon.
Dark Horse's top two books are also licensed properties, suggesting these kinds of books may play an increasingly important role in the survival of smaller publishers. Dark Horse's top two books were their continuation of Joss Whedon's cult-hit TV show Firefly in Serenity: Leaves on the Wind and Brian Wood's Star Wars series, which continues to perform well - even if it's days have been numbered since the Disney buy-out of Lucasfilm.

Thanks for checking out this month's comic book sales! Be sure to let us know what comics you're reading on our Facebook page, on Twitter or in the comments below!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

US Box Office: 7th July 2014

In a relatively small week in terms of new releases, Transformers: Age of Extinction has been able to hold the number one spot for the second week running - the first movie since Captain America: The Winter Soldier to do so. The movie had a 63% drop, slightly above average for a Summer blockbuster, but still managed to rake in another $37 million. This brings its US total to $175 million which is a fair amount lower than previous Transformers films had at this point in their theatrical runs, however will still leave the movie with a healthy domestic haul of around $245 million.
The less-impressive performance of Transformers seems in-keeping with the theory that this year's Summer movie season will be the lowest-grossing for around a decade.


None of the three new releases of the week were able to challenge Michael Bay's explosion-fest, however it was Melissa McCarthy and her comedy, Tammy, that came the closest. Tammy opened at number two with $21.5 million made over the holiday weekend. With a low budget of just $20 million, this is another solid performance for McCarthy who was catapulted to stardom after her role in Kristen Wiig's Bridesmaids. However with the reviews for Tammy (as well as other recent McCarthy flicks Identity Thief and The Hangover: Part III) being poor at best you cannot help but wonder if people will come back for her next starring vehicle.

The next highest entry this week was another low-budget and poorly received movie, Eric Bana's Deliver Us From Evil which debuted at number four with just under $10 million made. The film is directed by Scott Derrickson, the man who will go on to direct the upcoming Doctor Strange film for Marvel Studios. The decision to choose Derrickson for the movie was a somewhat surprising move from Marvel, and the negative reception both critically and commercially to his latest movie will no doubt strike fear into the hearts of Doctor Strange fans.

The final new entry this week was yet another low-budget movie, Earth to Echo. The movie is a family adventure which has been criticised for having a plot too similar to that of Steven Spielberg's 1980s classic, E.T. The movie fails to make any waves with a low debut just over $8 million, however, with a small budget of about $13 million the film should be able to make a profit in spite of its underwhelming debut.

Here's the top ten in full:

1. (1) Transformers: Age of Extinction - $37 million
2. (-) Tammy - $21.5 million
3. (2) 22 Jump Street - $9.8 million
4. (-) Deliver Us From Evil - $9.7 million
5. (3) How to Train Your Dragon 2 - $8.9 million
6. (-) Earth to Echo - $8.3 million
7. (5) Maleficent - $6.1 million
8. (6) Jersey Boys - $5.1 million
9. (4) Think Like a Man Too - $4.8 million
10. (7) Edge of Tomorrow - $3.6 million

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

US Box Office: 30th June 2014

Despite continuing fan alienation and some fiercely critical reviews, Transformers: Age of Extinction debuted as yet another strong entry into Micheal Bay's explosion-fest franchise. The fourth movie in the franchise made around $98 million over its opening weekend, a strong debut around the same as that of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The film is likely to make around $300 million in the USA over the Summer, while a worldwide total of around $202 million has already been raked in. This suggests that a fifth film in the series may be inevitable.


Transformers' strong entry means that last week's number one, Kevin Hart's Think Like A Man Too is pushed from the top spot, and receives a relatively unhealthy drop of 64.7% sending it down to number four. One comedy which is holding out a lot better is 22 Jump Street which withstands the heat of the competition to keep the number two spot with a 42% drop and another $15.8 million pulled in.The movie has now made more in the US than the first entry ever did, with a running total of $140 million, compared to 21 Jump Street's final total of $138 million.

For the rest of the top ten it was a relatively quiet week with no other new entries making it to the top ten. It seems that the major studios thought it best to stay out of the way of Michael bay's juggernaut franchise. Here's the top ten in full:

1. (-) Transformers: Age of Extinction - $98 million
2. (2) 22 Jump Street - $15.8 million
3. (3) How to Train Your Dragon 2 - $13.2 million
4. (1) Think Like a Man Too - $10.3 million
5. (5) Maleficent - $8.3 million
6. (4) Jersey Boys - $7.7 million
7. (6) Edge of Tomorrow - $5.4 million
8. (7) The Fault in Our Stars - $5.1 million
9. (8) X-Men: Days of Future Past - $3.3 million
10. (10) Chef - $1.6 million

Be sure to send us your thoughts on this week's box office on our Facebook page, on Twitter or in the comments section below!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

DC's New 52: What Will Be Cancelled Next?

Comic books are a wonderful form of entertainment, but unfortunately they are also an increasingly competitive one. DC Comics have been criticised in the years since their New 52 relaunch for being particularly aggressive in cancelling books at the first sign of trouble, most recently cancelling six books: Batwing, All-Star Western, Birds of Prey, Trinity of Sin: Pandora, and Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger. While this large wave of cancellations no doubt gives DC's other struggling books a little more time, there's no doubt that there will be more casualties to come.


This article aims to raise awareness for low-selling books, because each cancelled book reduces the already not great income of a writer and an artist. They need the support of the fans, and so if there are any titles on this list you've been thinking of picking up, why not try them now!

1. Constantine by Ray Fawkes and Juan Ferreyra, $2.99

The cancellation of the long-running (and much-loved) Vertigo series, Hellblazer, was met with controversy from many fans. Therefore, it isn't wholly surprising that the New 52 relaunch is currently struggling - DC alienated their audience before the series even began. The book is currently selling around 17,000 copies per month making it the lowest-selling New 52 title that is yet to be cancelled.

If you want to prepare yourself for the upcoming Constantine TV show, or have an interest in the weirder, magical side of the DC Universe, this may be the perfect book for you. In their review of the latest issue, Comic Book Resources said, "Constantine" #15 is a concise, well-executed example of what modern mystical/horror comic books can be with the right creators in place." They continued to say that, "Now is as good a time as any for readers to check in and jump on John Constantine's bandwagon, especially when the stories are this enjoyably riveting." They went on to give the book a four star rating.


2. Swamp Thing by Charles Soule and Jesus Saiz, $2.99

After Scott Snyder's departure from the title many feared what the future of one of DC's most acclaimed titles would be (despite Rotworld's disappointing conclusion). Thankfully, comic-book producing machine Charles Soule stepped in to try his hand at the cult-favourite character and the reaction from fans has been very warm indeed. However, while critical reaction has been great the series is struggling to find an audience with last month's sales figures placing it with just 18,000 copies sold.

Reviews of the latest issue were almost universally comprised of 8's and 9's from critics who adore this title. IGN's Jesse Schedeen said that Swamp Thing #32, "is just another excellent chapter in an excellent series," giving the issue a 9/10. Once again, Swamp Thing seems like the perfect book for those who are interested in the weirder side of the DC Universe.


3. Batwoman by Marc Andreyko and Jason Masters, $2.99

Batwoman was once one of The New 52's biggest bat-books, however after the high-profile departure of J.H. Williams III and Haden Blackman things started looking down for the series. Some stopped reading in protest of the decision to remove the pair that had been producing the series since it began, while some in response to DC's always-odd editorial decisions. Whichever reason it was, the result was plummeting sales figures for the title - currently around 18,000 copies per month.

However, by most accounts Batwoman is still a quality title in DC's catalogue. In its review of the most recent issue, Comic Vine praised the book saying, "if you've been wondering what's going on in Batwoman's life lately, this is a great time to check it out."


4. Catwoman by Ann Nocenti/Sholly Fisch and Patrick Olliffe, $2.99

Catwoman is a title that hit headlines at the dawn of the New 52 for its sexual content and nudity, however since that explosive beginning it has faded into the background somewhat. While the character of Catwoman remains an ever-present force in the DC Universe (joining a pre-Trinity War JLA), the series' sales figures continue to drop possibly due to the writing of Ann Nocenti.

While Nocenti gained fans for her Daredevil stories, her recent Catwoman arcs have recieved less than stellar reviews. However, Nocenti seems to be leaving the title soon - or at least sharing it - with writer Sholly Fisch. While Fisch's recent issue was not acclaimed, his upcoming "Future's End" issues promise to bring some interesting developments to the title and the character. If you're interested in this series, and want to try and save it, that might be the best place to jump-on.


5. Worlds' Finest by Paul Levitz and Yilidiray Cinar, $2.99

Worlds' Finest featuring the Earth-2 heroes Power Girl and Huntress has been a relatively low-profile title since its launch despite crossovers with other titles on more than one occasion. However, if you are a fan of books led by female characters - a much demanded feature in recent years - then this may be the book for you.
However, newcomers may be better off waiting until the Future's End entry of this book as well, as the current story arc is currently close to finishing.


Monday, 23 June 2014

US Box Office Top 10: 23rd June 2014

This weekend the US box office saw one of its closest match-ups for some time as last week's number one 22 Jump Street went head-to-head with Kevin Hart's Think Like a Man Too. Ultimately, Hart's comedy sequel was the film that came out on top, however it was close with a relatively small gap of around $1 million between the two pictures. Think Like a Man Too pulled in around $30 million - a little less than the first movie's $33.6 million - while 22 Jump Street settled for $29 million and the number two spot. With a budget that didn't break the bank - around $24 million - Hart's sequel should be able to make a reasonable profit for distributor Screen Gems, and a third entry will be on the table if the movie continues to perform over the Summer.


As for last week's number one, 22 Jump Street, it had a second week drop of just under 50% which is fairly healthy for the relatively low-budget comedy. The movie's domestic haul is now at $111 million, and if it continues to perform this way then it too will be on course for a third entry.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 on the other hand may not be so lucky. The animated feature had a budget of $145 million and is yet to cross the $100 million in the US after two weeks in theatres, although admittedly it is very close. Adding in the sequel's overseas haul brings the movie up to $171 million, however it is looking unlikely that Hiccup's latest adventure will be the smash-hit Dreamworks Animation wants after the disappointing performances of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, Turbo, and Rise of the Guardians.

The final wide release this week was Clint Eastwood's biographic of the 1960s rock group, The Four Seasons. The film titled Jersey Boys made a disappointing entrance at number four making just $13.5 million. While it is still very possible for the movie to make back its $40 million budget, it is unlikely that the film will be remembered come the end of the Summer movie season.

On the independent side of things, Guy Pearce's The Rover was released in another 594 theatres to disappointing results. The movie pulled in just $500,000 over the weekend averaging out to around $835 made by each venue.

Here's this week's top ten in full:

1. (-) Think Like a Man Too - $30 million
2. (1) 22 Jump Street - $29 million
3. (2) How to Train Your Dragon 2 - $25.3 million
4. (-) Jersey Boys - $13.5 million
5. (3) Maleficent - $13 million
6. (4) Edge of Tomorrow - $10.3 million
7. (5) The Fault in Our Stars - $8.6 million
8. (6) X-Men: Days of Future Past - $6.2 million
9. (10) Chef - $1.84 million
10. (7) Godzilla - $1.82 million

Be sure to get in touch with your thoughts on the latest box office numbers in the comments, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Agents of SHIELD: Season 1 Review

Agents of SHIELD is finally over, and what a journey it was. This show was so up and down for so long that it's hard to draw an opinion of the overall series, but in the end I would say that I have come round to the show in spite of its flaws. Agents of SHIELD isn’t perfect, but ultimately I’m happy that we’re getting a second season. Does that make Agents of SHIELD a success? Well, kind of. There are going to be some major spoilers for the first season in this review so if you’re planning to watch it, then you have been warned. Now lets get into it.

1. THE CHARACTERS

The characters in Agents of SHIELD started off as the most generic archetypes you could possibly think up. You had the young hotshot who doesn’t want to join the team, the cute “will-they, won’t-they” pair who just can’t believe their luck, the unpredictable wild card with issues, and the serious person of Chinese descent.

These characters are not what anyone would call interesting, but I think it was Skye who got the most hate and that’s because it felt like she was being forced on us - or that's my opinion at least. To me it seemed like Joss Whedon and Kevin Feige were screaming in my face, “Look at her, look at how likeable she is. You like her. You can’t believe how cute she is, you just fucking love her, don’t you?” NO! I fucking don’t! Get her away from me.

However, after 22 hours of exposure to these characters I really do feel more attached to them, to the point where I’d say there’s a nice 70:30 split between characters I like, and characters I’m still not thrilled about. Melinda May, Fitz, Simmons, and Coulson are characters I don’t have a problem with. May is a relatively good TV-level substitute for Black Widow and Fitz-Simmons – while I was originally resistant to their adorableness – won me over in in the end and now I have to admit they’re quite a fun couple. As for Coulson, I actually wouldn’t say he’s the best character on the show, but ultimately it’s hard not to like him after his much-loved role in the MCU movies.

Fitz and Simmons began as an annoyance, but grew on me by the end...
On the flipside, Skye I’m still not totally sold on. She has improved since the pilot, but all those little heart to heart chats she had at the beginning have really tainted her for me. Those chats were even lamer than some of the quote-unquote emotional moments from early Smallville episodes. They were that bad.
Additionally, Ward is still very bland even after turning evil and killing Victoria Hand. My main reaction to that can be summed up by, "Meh, he’s still pretty boring."

Speaking of Victoria Hand though, why would you kill her off? In the comics, Hand was such a cool character, and I was looking forward to watching her flourish. And then Ward shot her two times in the chest and I was like oh. Great. The door is open to bring her back Coulson-style, but they can’t just do that for everyone who dies, especially as it wasn’t really fully explained how they brought Coulson back to life. All that was said was Fury got a robot to fuck about with his brain and some alien guy - it wasn’t a hugely thorough explanation. Also, bringing back characters left right and center would simply end up making death as meaningless in the Marvel movies as it is in the Marvel comics and nobody wants that.

2. THE STORY

Let’s talk about the overarching story of Agents of SHIELD: Season 1. The clairvoyant/Hydra. This is a story that I feel was pulled off relatively well, but still it wasn’t great. The fact that we weren’t introduced to the person who turns out to be the clairvoyant until 14 episodes in I feel is a bit weird. Plus it didn’t really come to a huge shock to me when it turned out Garrett was the Clairvoyant, mainly because we’re not really given many opportunities to get on board with the character and find him likeable. There was something about him from the first episode he appeared in that seemed off and I never thought of him as a trustworthy character.

Why is SHIELD so much cooler in the movies?
However, that being said I did like how heavily the series ended up tying into Captain America: The Winter Soldier, because it really had to given the events of that movie. I was also happy to see they didn't back down at the end of Ward's character arc. I had a terrible feeling that at the end of the series Ward was going to turn good again and it was going to be no hard feelings all round. Thankfully that didn’t happen. Like I’ve already said, Ward is boring. I’m glad he’s gone.

Ultimately, Agents of SHIELD’s story was passable, a solid C Grade, however now that the foundation has been laid – and the characters aren’t as bad as they were when the show began – I’m hoping for something a little more fulfilling come Season 2.

SEASON 2

So it was announced a little while ago that we will be getting a second series of Agents of SHIELD, maybe just as a way for Marvel to save face but even so! The question is: What can we expect from the second season?

WELL HERE’S SOME PREDICTIONS:

1.     Fitz will have some kind of brain damage that prevents him and Simmons from hooking up. Hollywood loves to drag out "will they won’t they" scenarios. Everyone knows this. Just look at Friends: How long did it take for Ross and Rachel to finally get back together? Too long. But the pair will probably finally kiss in the season 2 finale.

2.     Skye is going to have some kind of low-grade super power. It’s been hinted at throughout this series that there is something special about her, so there’s got to be some kind of pay off there I would imagine. When it comes to Skye’s ominous looking parent, I would say that it probably won’t be a character from the comics, but if it is it will be a really low-profile one that no one gives two shits about.

3.     Ward will come back at some point, either as a villain or while trying to redeem himself.

4.     May and Coulson are going to hook up because they’re the only two people on the team over the age of 30.


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

What Culture! What Happened?!

As I write this it has been one day less than a year since What Culture - the entertainment website about movies, games etc. - approved me as a contributor to their website. That contributor status was today revoked in, I can only assume, another attempt at the site remaking its image. In the e-mail informing me of my removal from the site, the What Culture editorial explain that they are looking to use a "smaller, more dedicated" team of writers going forward. This I feel is a mistake that is the latest in a long line of changes that I feel may be damaging to the site.


To anyone from the What Culture editorial who may be reading this I say please do not see this as an attack from a disgruntled former contributor, but instead some sincere words of advice about the future of your great site from an outsider's opinion. There were many frustrating events in the last few months of my What Culture career and now it seems unlikely I will be a part of the site going forward, I simply want to voice some concerns and opinions on the site and its recent changes.

"a smaller, more dedicated team"

First, I want to address the biggest change in What Culture's management yet: the reduction of its writing staff. That is, after all, why I'm able to write this letter. When I was accepted into the What Culture community of writers, one of the best things about it - aside from the larger audience than that of this blog - was that it was there whenever I wanted it. Currently I am in full-time education studying to do my AS Levels next month, and as a result I don't have huge amounts of time to write articles. However, on school holidays I would almost always take the time to write an article for the site because I did enjoy it, and I'm hoping to pursue a career in Journalism post-A-Levels.

I am sure that I'm not the only aspiring Journalist on the What Culture team, and I am equally sure I'm not the only writer who is still in education be that school, sixth form, college or university. To bar entry for people in my position who are unable to write frequently for the site due to unfavourable circumstances, I believe is highly unfair. Dismissing a writer from your team should be done if that writer is not writing well, not if the writer cannot post regularly. The saying "quality over quantity" comes to mind.

I feel that it is a great shame to remove these less active, but still passionate, contributors as it not only limits them in terms of what audience they can reach, but it also damages the site's image. One of the best things about the site is that it is run by volunteers predominantly, people who write articles for the site because they love to write with no financial motives whatsoever. While there will still be unpaid volunteers I'm sure, the fact that there will be far fewer is disheartening. It doesn't make What Culture look more professional (I assume that was the idea behind the reduction?), but it does make them seem like they do not care about their writers. And having written a couple of e-mails to the editorial team (who ensure you in their e-mails that if you have any questions, "don't hesitate to ask"), only to have been ignored, I'm not entirely surprised.

Shifting Focus

Another cause for concern in the new era of What Culture has been the website's shifting focus particularly towards what the site is calling "Offbeat" articles. While the website itself still manages to strike a delicate balance between most sections of the site, the What Culture Facebook page has been devoting a lot of its time lately to these offbeat articles. Take a glance at the What Culture Facebook posts of the last few weeks (March 20th to April 10th) and you'll see 2 posts linking to music articles, 3 to TV articles, 9 to film articles, and 21 to "offbeat" articles. This strange emphasis on the "offbeat" section of the site is puzzling. 

I can only assume that this section of the site is being spotlighted as it allows for more mainstream articles, possibly bringing more visitors who do not have an interest in the somewhat niche genre of movies, games and comics. While I don't have a problem with the site expanding its subject matter, it should not be to the detriment of other parts of the site - parts that have given the site the popularity it has today.

Case in point: the comic book section of the site. In my time as a contributor the section I posted to most was the comic-book one, and in the short time I was there I saw it be harshly tossed aside. While a contributor I requested to write many comic reviews, almost all of which were denied to me due to the reviews apparently getting a low amount of views. The frustrating thing about this is that while the section has never been the most popular part of the site, it certainly had its fans and those fans I'm sure would grow had the editorial made an attempt to revitalise the section. Instead they seem to have given up on it. The site currently only posts comic-book articles that are lists, with editor of the comic-book section Noel Thorne the only one with the ability to publish comic reviews, and being only one man the reviews are small in number.

Had the What Culture editorial encouraged comic reviews, they could have been able to grow a comic section the size and popularity of IGN's, or Newsarama's. However, it almost feels like they have a vendetta against the comic book section going so far as to remove it from the list of sections on their homepage. To wrap-up this section of the letter, what I am saying is don't neglect a loyal audience who have long been a staple of the What Culture website, in order to pursue a new audience that frankly seem a little out of place in a website about entertainment.

This time, it's impersonal

An interesting frustration I had with What Culture in my last few months there, was there strong reluctance to include any personal touches to their articles. Using "I" or "I'm" in a review is apparently forbidden and it puzzles me as to why. To put this in context, one of the only comic reviews I was able to write before What Culture's decision to end them was of New Avengers #14. One of my opening sentences in the post I sent to editorial was the following:

"The book went through a short phase where it lacked direction, a phase which I'm happy to say, is coming to an end."

Upon viewing the published article, this had been changed to a more grammatically incorrect, but infinitely less personal sentence:

"The book went through a short phase where it lacked direction, a phase which happily to is coming to an end."

This I bring up only because it is yet another bizarre decision by the What Culture editorial. Reviews are after all the opinion of one person and the use of "I" is common in reviews from many outlets because of this. I could perhaps understand the desire to change the "I'm" to "I am" in order to come across as a little more formal, but to remove "I" completely replacing it with a sentence that makes no grammatical sense is just odd.

5 Great Things About Lists (and a hundred annoying things)

My final and perhaps most significant frustration with What Culture comes from their over-reliance on lists. Aside from a few reviews, and occasionally a news story (if the news is big enough), What Culture is comprised entirely of lists. But why? Lists certainly have their place in a website, and I'm not saying they shouldn't post lists, but it does confuse me as to why they confine themselves so strictly to lists. Why not editorials? Why not more news articles? These would give the site a lot more variety, and would stand it up against more established entertainment news outlets more fairly.

Additionally, some of the lists thought of by What Culture staff for their Unclaimed Assignments page, are so ridiculously esoteric that a writer would need huge amounts of time to research the information necessary for one entry, let alone five, ten or however many they are asking for. This again bars entry to anyone who has other commitments outside of writing for the site, whether that is education, work, children or any other time-consuming things.

I really think that What Culture are doing themselves a disservice by relying so heavily on these lists, and would ask them to consider injecting some more variety into their website sooner rather than later.

To conclude

I once again would like to stress that I have no bad blood with What Culture. They gave me an opportunity to produce writing for a much larger audience than this blog will likely ever give. However, I needed to get the points in this letter off my chest, as I had been bottling my frustrations with the site for a long time. I feel it is likely - particularly after this post - that I may not have the opportunity to write for What Culture again, so I would like to say thank you for the opportunity.

David Craig, Editor of TEN