A Review From Hidai Moya
As a life long Batman fan I was thoroughly impressed with Tell Tale’s interpretation of the character in this game. At first I thought it was just a cliched story I’ve seen before. I’m so glad I was so wrong. There are some astonishing creative choices that went into this story that give a fresh & vivid new take on The Dark Knight. Though I didn’t think it quite stuck the landing in the finale the story is so good it easily bests any of the stories in any of the Arkham games I’ve played & may possibly be the best story of any Batman video game. Yes, the gameplay itself may be more of an interactive movie than a “true” video game but nevertheless, Tell Tale excels at making the player have a sense of agency with decision making. Anyone who considers themselves a Batman fan must absolutely experience this title. Grade B+
Passion In Villainy: The Ballad Of Thaal Sinestro
An Editorial From Rafael Encinas
When it comes to iconic comic book characters, the protagonists themselves must be challenged by captivating and enthralling foils. Superman stops Lex Luthor. Batman incarcerates The Joker. Peter Parker overcomes Doctor Octopus. Ben Reilly tries to combat sabotaging creative & publishing teams. Basically, we need, no, we want great villains. Therefore, we see true acts of villainy from hundreds of different characters in all kinds of different comics. But what makes a villain so interesting? How does a villain stand out in the oversaturation of menacing grins and extravagant mustaches!? That can be hard to define, but it is also very primal and innate in human nature. A lot of the time, the villain has the same conviction as the hero. We see passion, determination, and focus in our villains; all traits we want to see in ourselves. However, though villains may have relatable motivations, the actions they take can be seen as less than ideal; after all, heroes are supposed to take the high road, but it’s more human and intriguing to think: What would we be capable of when we think no one is looking?
Well, Thaal Sinestro is the type of character who not only doesn’t care if someone is looking, but who will bare all with animated theatrics just to showcase his point and/or vision. And this is one of the many reasons that I am deeply captivated by this villain. Sinestro just so happens to be one of those villains that brings so much depth and awe to the DC Universe, specifically, the Green Lantern mythos. The greatest of the Green Lanterns; dictator of Korugar; alien super-villain; leader of the Sinestro Corps; reluctant anti-hero. These are all titles that Sinestro holds, and for good reason. Sinestro is one of the toughest and most terrifying villains in the DC universe.
I say this with clarity because of my background with the character. Green Lantern just so happened to be some of the first superhero comics I ever read, and Sinestro was always that villain who I disliked (I mean Hal Jordan is so cool) but still respected on a subconscious level. Sinestro stood up to the “out of touch” Guardians of The Universe. He put his life on the line to protect his people. He did do atrocious things, but there were layers to his actions. Reading through Geoff Johns magnum opus that was his 2000s era on the Green Lantern book not only revitalized the series but perfectly built on perceptions of heroism, redemption, and rebirth… not just for the titular character, Hal Jordan, but also for the refreshed Sinestro. Sinestro was written as THE villain.
We want menacing and believable villains. We want cool villains, and they don’t get much cooler than this bastard! He is the emissary of fear; his yellow power ring allows him to create any fearful construct his twisted mind can conjure. Afraid of spiders? Sinestro can create some and then have them eat you alive. He is also a being who relishes in the absolute control and order of all aspects of life. He is a villain of cool composure; ruthless and ever plotting. However, he is more than a super villain; albeit he may not even consider himself as the antagonist of his stories. And why should he? He is an enormously complex character, with motivation, depth, and humanistic tragedy. He is much more than the mustache twirling despot he is written to be at times. This is important because Sinestro started as a hero. His eventual fall from grace an be placed in two deeply rooted and relatable human aspects: tragedy and revenge.
First of all, Sinestro is one of my favorite bad guys because I can relate to him to a certain extent; specifically his tragic fall from grace. He’s a guy who values his self-worth, which to him is engulfed in his prestigious title as one of the greatest Green Lanterns of all time. He focuses solely on the ideal of order in a virtuously order-less world. He is strong-willed, and he will do everything that is necessary to protect the citizens of his home world, Korugar. His actions are aimed at Utopia, at control, and at peace. However, he takes a “by all means necessary” approach. This is a great example of the infamous saying, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
He is a man of vision, and he is respected for it, but then things start to unravel. He loses his best friend (Abin Sur); he loses his precious wife and daughter. He therefore only has his title left and his legacy. This is what leads him to such totalitarian madness. He becomes a dictator in order to save his world. He does this while creating a new bond with the new and idealistic Green Lantern, Hal Jordan. Sinestro ultimately reaches out to Hal, which is difficult for him to do, and this leads to Sinestro’s fall from grace. Hal does not side with his mentor but instead betrays him by outing Sinestro’s totalitarian regime in Korugar. Sinestro is therefore stripped of his lantern ring, and he is excommunicated from the Corps, he is banished, and therefore, he loses everything.
This is some powerful, Shakespearean stuff. However, Sinestro is not the kind of man to stay down. This is what leads me to the second reason as to why Sinestro is so captivating and one of my favorite villains, he fully embraces his newfound title as “ the bad guy” and allows his hatred to consume him. He is banished to the anti-matter universe. And you would think that’s the end of him, but no. Sinestro is not a man to be trifled with. He will play the long game to ultimately get the last laugh. He succumbs to revenge, which is a very human emotion. To him, it is all personal, and he unleashes hell. Passively, he unleashes Parallax upon Jordan, which sets off the events of Emerald Twilight (1994) that led to the corruption of Hal and the destruction of the Green Lantern Corps. Sinestro then actively created his own Fear Lanterns and went to actual galactic war with earth and the remaining Green Lanterns.
The Sinestro Corps War (2008) was such an explosive event in where Sinestro systematically almost destroyed those who slighted him all those years before. Sinestro would always remember, and he would never forgive. He almost beat Hal and the Guardians; he almost won. And honestly, on some level, the reader may have wanted to see it. After all, the Guardians of OA were self-righteous pricks. There was blood in the water, and the antagonistic feud between Hal and Sinestro could not possibly get any more raw.
But then apocalyptic events started occurring, the light spectrum was getting new ring slingers, and so the relationship between Sinestro and Jordan would only grew more and more complex. Sinestro fights alongside Jordan against Red Lanterns on Ysmault, he manages to harness the power of the Life entity within the White Lantern during The Blackest Night (2009); and he harnesses Parallax’s power fully to help destroy Volthoom, the First Lantern. And all of this occurs before DC’s current rebirth event. This is all pretty impressive.
Sinestro is the villain that can be seen as a cruel and twisted character (especially in the way he killed so many lanterns during the Sinestro Corps War and enslaved his entire world for peaceful order). After all, he is the quintessential 1984 Big Brother Totalitarian dictator described by George Orwell, but he has a face, a deeper drive, and a deep conviction. He is so cool with his alien demeanor; he can act like such a queen when talking to Hal. (Those are some of my favorite exchanges throughout the DC continuity). What makes Sinestro such a beautiful super villain, but more importantly, a character, is his rich motivations. An individual who loses everything, but keeps trying to get it back from malevolent, outside forces (the Guardians of Oa) and his once so called brothers in arms (the Green Lantern Corps). He might do perceptually evil things; but he never truly gives up on the ideal of the corps: to serve and protect, which is beautifully illustrated in War of The Green Lanterns, where he comes full circle and protects Hal against the crazed Krona.
What truly breaks my heart in Sinestro’s characterization though isn’t his loss of compassion or empathy; it is the evolution of his relationship with Hal Jordan. Once a mentor, then a friend, then a mortal enemy, Jordan is a huge motivator for Sinestro because as much as he does loathe this particular Green Lantern, he will always consider him a brother. They get into so many spats, so many bare-knuckle brawls. One minute they are trying to kill each other; the next they are working together. And that gets me every time. Two friends on opposing sides forever entwined in a dance of death. At the end of the conflict with the First Lantern, Sinestro says it all, “That’s the tragedy of all this Jordan. Hal. We’ll always be friends”.
Geoff Johns does such a good job in that panel. It breaks my heart every time. And that is why I appreciate everything Geoff Johns has done for the DC Universe, especially the Green Lantern story for the past many years. He is a creative mind who creates stories through character growth; and never has it shone as brightly than in the tales of Hal Jordan and Thaal Sinestro.
Sinestro is an amazingly complex super villain, and he is a pretty vindictive and ruthless character; however, that sense of order in a world that keeps trying to introduce chaos that he has is understandable. Sinestro is just trying to make sense of the world. And he will take it by force to save it as he sees fit. And honestly, that is pretty cool.
A Review From Christopher Franey
Here we are at the big issue before the end, and I have to say I’m very happy with this miniseries so far. Get yourself prepared because this issue will definitely tug at the heart strings, Kyle Higgins has managed to create a new character and bond that questions how you feel about the main character’s motivations.
I like how Rod Reis and the colors come together to give that flash back feel while we read Richie Edward Boyle’s file, and Richie turns out to be RJ’s long lost dad. Now in case this series is new to you the big question is, who is RJ? RJ is basically Buck as a kid, but brainwashed early in life and working for Hydra, he wears a costume that is very similar to Bucky’s WWII outfit and is just a cold blooded killer, Buck is helping people find a better life by escaping from a mistake in their past. Buck is kind of a mentor for RJ and the two have started working together, but now Richie is back in RJ’s life.
We pick up early that Richie is a schemer and a con artist which has ended him up in prison…just to conveniently have him see news footage of Buck and RJ in action. Once Richie is out he makes his way to RJ to get back into his life. Both Buck and Sharon feel it is too much of a coincidence, but Sharon has check out all the facts and can rule it out. Buck is spying on RJ and Richie having dinner and we see elements of Richie being the con artist that he is, but there are some mixes of atonement that Richie wants to do right this time.
We see some mobsters come for Richie as he owes them money, so this causes RJ to fight for his dad to not be hurt; RJ does some serious hurting on these guys. Buck steps in as well to scared the guys off and check in on RJ, which causes Richie to explode on Buck and be angry about being spied on.
Richie does finally reveal that he borrowed some big money from these guys at high interest rates. This puts Richie in a bad light, but does help to sway RJ back to wanting to help his dad…worse part is that is strains the bond with Buck and also causes the motivations of Buck’s new life plan to be questioned on is’s sincerity and effectiveness.
Richie and RJ meet up again, this time Richie has another scheme that can work and he wants to let RJ in on it, but RJ reminds his dad about starting over but again Richie reminds RJ that is hard to start over and he can’t pass on the opportunity. We then see Buck and Sharon talking and she puts it out there for Buck to think about how involved he is with RJ’s case.
Now the pieces start to come together, we see Richie meet with other guys so they can get the scheme to work, but the fourth guy is needed…Richie is sure that he will get RJ to be the fourth guy. Evidence comes out to show that the TV clip Richie saw earlier of RJ and Buck in action was actually planted on that TV for Richie to see so he could worm his way back into RJ’s life. Now all that feeling on atonement is gone, so Buck confronts Richie. Buck wants Richie gone from RJ’s life totally. Buck did pay back the mobsters from earlier, so this does give Richie a clean start, but unfortunately RJ just can’t quit running scams, now that both men know this the confrontation gets heated. Richie feels Buck is overstepping in RJ’s life and Buck feels that Richie is bad for RJ. This leads to a fight and a silly death (in my opinion)…we see Richie take a swing at Buck, who of course dodges, which causes him to trip and fall head first into a dumpster and snap his neck. Now this scene doesn’t look good for Buck at all…last person to see Richie alive isn’t someone who likes him, RJ isn’t in the best of mindsets right now…so the conclusion is going to be painful, just like RJ’s life has been.
I’ve been enjoying this series and I like the idea of Buck going around and helping others to find their redemption. Even since Buck became the Winter Soldier back in Brubaker’s run it has been great to see Buck work towards his redemption. I like that Buck has taken it upon himself to help others who have walked down a path that is bad, I think this is great and could work as an ongoing book with arcs like this one. I’m very excited for the conclusion as the set up is gut wrenching, which way with RJ go? The only thing I didn’t care for was the way Richie died, but he isn’t a main character he is just a motivation…in my opinion it would’ve meant more if the death didn’t feel forced. I give this issue 4 out of 5 bullets over all and highly recommend you catch up with this mini. As always read on and Excelsior!
A Review From Hidai Moya
Coming seemingly out of nowhere to upend the Battle Royale genre & shocking everyone by it’s amazing quality, superb gameplay mechanics, & free-to-play price, it’s the most satisfying time I’ve ever had with a BR game. I would’ve happily paid anywhere between $30-40 to play this, it’s that good. It does so much so right, from the re-spawn system, the color coded weapon/ammunition system that takes all the guess work out of ones inventory to the sublimely effortless pings system that lets squads communicate with one another without a mic, it’s absolutely bewildering that no one else did what this has done until now. The idiosyncratic hero abilities are noteworthy as well as the inclusion of heavy verticality in its map. It’s easily the front runner for Best Multiplayer Game of 2019. Grade A-
A Review From Christopher Franey
“We’re together again. Now we need a reason why.” I love how each issue so far has started with a black page and a narration box, it is just so edgy, dig it man. So here we are with issue 13 of Uncanny X-Men which is part 3 of This is Forever. I want to give a shout out to the art team for this arc as they have really created a gritty style that does make it feel like this is dangerous and end times worthy.
So the book starts off and we can see that the remaining X-Men are hiding out at Harry’s Hideaway (longtime bar/hangout for the X-Men) and Havok is reminding them that they have nothing. Cyclops comes up and drops his list of what they should do, and wow what a list:
What is interesting about this list, to me, is that Magneto and the New Mutants are on it…haven’t they been allies? So those should be some interesting confrontations when they happen, hopefully. I do like the depth of this list going back to the O5 Marvel Age villains Factor Three, holy cow True Believer. I also like how the team reacts to this and thinks of it as a Suicide Pact or a Kill List…not giving much credit to their belief in Scott.
What I find funny is how it was Wolverine who suggests that it is a kill list and before Scott’s death, one of Scott’s “sins” was the final solution provided by his X-Force team, which also had Wolvie. Aside from that the moment comes the big question, who will follow Scott? All of them because that is what X-Men do! Luckily Wolverine finds a bag with some old costumes and the team is now ready to look the part.
So the X-Men go to the top of the list for their hunt…Dark Beast. Now I know some eagle eyed readers will wonder wasn’t he killed during Bendis’ Run? Yes, how he has returned? Comics. So now that that is out of the way here is one major showdown that just has that “Terminator” vibe to it that this is serious business, but the sad part is that Jaime, Multiple Man, is once again the character that these evil fractions are choosing to experiment on. This was a hard moment in the book because Jaime knows that this dupe is in major pain and is about to die, so in order to get those memories he will have to suffer that pain and death as well. I will tell you, this was the first time I actually valued Jaime’s sacrifice/death…I mean most of the time it gets played off that it was just a dupe, but Matthew Rosenberg made me care…jerk.
The X-Men with Jaime’s help are finally able to track down and confront Dark Beast (Evil-Hank?) and they just go after him. Dark Beast does his best to hold them off, even showing off all the body modifications that he has done to himself, some Doc Ock looking arms and shields that he can make from his body. Evil Hank has really lost it, but I like that this really puts him up there with Mr. Sinister (who is on the list as well) as one of those villains that can’t be stopped, real deadly stuff.
The new team manages to take him down, and they do really good considering how fast they have come together and have no danger room to practice in. Magik has a great moment on how to take Dark Beast down with her abilities and magic usage as well. Once Dark Beast is down Jaime wants to kill him, but Scott stops him and says, “And we have to be better than him.” This is awesome to hear coming from Scott, looks like the 90’s suit is bringing back the heroic Cyclops. Plus we get to see some savage Wolverine which was nice.
I like the conversation between Alex and Scott as it really shows how acceptable it would be to be a “no prisoners” team but Scott reminds them that it is about hope, which then gets word played as we see the news talking bad about mutants and then showing footage of the MLF (Mutant Liberation Front) breaking in and attacking a facility that is holding the “Anti-Mutant Vaccine.” The art is a little strained on the last panel, in my opinion, but we can see from the captions that Hope and Banshee are helping the MLF…say it isn’t so!?!?!
For the first time in a long time this feels like the X-Men, backs to the wall, but still keeping that “Never Say Die” attitude. I’m not complaining about the state the books have been in the last 15 years (since Astonishing) but this is great to see where they are heading. I’ve enjoyed Cyclops’ Odyssey and I like that since he has returned from death, he is taking what is left of the X-Men and making it count…or as he would say, set it right. Rosenberg and team deliver another fantastic issue and I give it high markings with 5 out of 5 dupes, so as always read on and Excelsior!