Tuesday, November 05, 2013

This is Bizarre

Ben at 8 weeks:

Sebastian at 8 weeks:

Evidently I only make one kind of human.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Guitar for sale!

Hate to do it but I'm selling this guitar. It's a 1999 Rickenbacker 360 modified and customized by Rickenbacker genius Mark Arnquist. The finish on the rosewood fingerboard has been sanded down so it feels like a Gibson 360 with single coils. Plays like a dream. A good dream. Not a zombie vampire dream.

So why not keep it? It's been a slow work year and the mortgage keeps coming. With a second child on the way, this would do more good paying a bill than sitting in the corner in its case unplayed.

So why not play it? Because I have too many guitars. And my band plays music that works better for a Fenders and Gibsons which I currently play the hell out of. I also own a 12 string Rickenbacker with vintage toaster pickups. That's the sound I really love. You can't have that one. 

Want it? Go to Stonegrove Guitars and make them an offer!

Monday, April 01, 2013

New Caffeinated Comics

Doctor Who is back! we get giddy and discuss all thing British Then Dave gets angry and it all goes wrong somehow. Plus Bill Monroe is back in a non emergency role. He discusses the conflict of being a life long Star Trek fan and a new Doctor Who fan. It all happens in little more than an hour!

Listen here 


Subscribe on itunes.

Friday, March 22, 2013

New "Caffeinated Comics"

Our iTunes issues are solved and now we're also available on stitcher! This week comedian Mike Lawrence comes in to talk about the worst of the best comics in history!

Tuesday, March 05, 2013


Yes, Robin is dead. Jon, Steve and Dave Redfield react to the news and think about death in comics in general. Then Bill Monroe checks in to tell us about his meeting two Star Trek Legends at Emerald City Comicon and four great nerd bands at Krackle Fest!

iTunes is running late this week but you can still:

Listen here 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

New Caffeinated Comics!

The animated version of "The Dark Knight Returns" is so good we have to wonder why Frank Miller isn't. Steven Brown and Dave Gonzales are back to talk about the rise and fall of comic geniuses. Plus, Mike Drucker checks in on Skype to offer his opinion.

Listen here 


Subscribe on itunes.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

KnightFall DC Animated film idea

Now that "The Dark Knight Returns" has finally been animated in to two films, the next logical choice for Batman is Knightfall. This 90's mega series was DC's Bat answer to the Death of Superman. And like that story it was extremely popular and ran too long.

A single animated film like "Superman/Doomsday" would truncate the story too much losing key elements of the saga. Jamal Igle thinks it should be done as 3 films and is currently running a Facebook thread on that hypothesis. here's how it can be done in 2:

Knightfall 1:
Cold open. Batman fights Biis in the snowcapped mountains and is aided by Azreal. They defeat him but Azreal demonstrates his power and mental instability. He collapses in Batman's arms.

Bane breaks open Arkham Asylum (with Dark Knight Rises Bane is an "A" lister known to the general public and doesn't need a long Vengeance of Bane setup). Batman gets the call in the Batcave and tells Azreal to stay behind. He and Robin got out into the madness of Gotham.

The second act is pure fights. Mad Hatter. Killer Croc, two-Face and finally Joker and Scarecrow.  Batman arrives alone to the Batcave and is beaten by Bane. (in a deviation Jean Paul could be in the cave and unable to help. This gives him the motivation for revenge). Bane tosses Bruce's body into the center of town.

The city gets worse. Robin, knowing that the city needs a Batman, convinces Azreal to put on the suit. He's only supposed to show his face but his conditioning leads him right to Bane. This fight is more brutal and ends in Azreal's victory. The hero won but it leaves with an unsettling tone.

Knightfall 2:
It's three months later. Azreal is now an armored batman, working alone. Robin is blocked from the Batcave.

Bruce is slowly healing, relearning martial arts. No magical healing properties, just a slow recovery like in Dark Knight Rises.

Azreal fights Joker. He kills one of Joker's henchmen. (rather than the 'd' lister Abattoir)

Bruce meets Azreal on the rooftops and asks for the return of the mantle (no reason to have two confrontations in the Batcave). Azreal, still with blood on his hands, refuses and batman chases him acrossthe city. We have teh bridge sequence, Azreal losing more and more of his mind to St. Dumas.

We end in the Batcave. Bruce beats Azreal by his wits and his connection to the darkness. There is only one Batman.

This version loses Bane's henchmen, Shondra Kinsloving and even Nightwing but keeps the overall story intact. A good guide for this cleaner version is Denny O'Neil's prose novelization of Knightfall.

Make sense?

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Adventures of Cryman

Introducing Ben's first superhero; Cryman.

His origin: "He gets made fun of by bad guys and he cries and the water washes them away so no one wants to make fun of him anymore."

Original powers, a tragic origin and a positive message about bullying. Not bad for a 5 year old. Now let's work on the costume design.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Caffeinated Comics 2

This should prove we're serious.

The second podcast of "Caffeinated Comics" is up now! This episode, steven Brown, and Jon Clarke welcome Dave Gonzales to the studio to talk batman. We'll discuss where he's going now that Nolan has finished his films and Grant Morrison is wrapping up his six year comic run. Then we'll get very sidetracked talking Tim Burton. Plus, a visit from the host of "The Bat Signal" podcast, Jeff Sussman! All in one hour and all for free.

Listen here 


Subscribe on itunes.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Friday, January 04, 2013

Caffeinated Comics 1

Here is the first podcast I've done in three years. In that time I got better equipment, moved four states and started hanging out at my local comic store. The store that sponsors this show. If you're a regular reader of this blog (which in the last couple of years has become impossible) you'll find the exact same opinions, jokes and self doubt that's been a signature of this blog, now in audio form.

Listen above or subscribe on itunes. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Avengers Review

Of course I wrote one. And I gave it to Chimera's Comics.

They have it here.

It was crazy good.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Fantastic Four: Season One Review

I love Chimera's Comics. So much that when they asked me to write a review of the new Fantastic Four hardcover, I sent it right to them without linking it here. That mistake is now corrected.

Here it is.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas is a Time For Trailers

Dark Knight Rises. here it is. Have no idea what it's about.. Except football. And awesome.

The Hobbit don't care it's coming out six months a later. It's putting out a trailer today and making you love it.

There you go. Two trailers at Christmas that make you hate the fact that it's Christmas. And not next summer. Or next Christmas.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Good lineup this year, including:

Guns n' Roses
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Beastie Boys

Somehow I care less than years past. Maybe it's Eddie Trunks' tirades against the place. Maybe it's the fact that my second trip there was so underwhelming. Or maybe it's the fact that the bands I grew up with are now being entered proves that I am so very old.

Full article.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Muppets

The Muppets is seeing the person you loved with all your heart doing the exact thing that made you fall in love with them in the first place.

Jason Segal managed to tap into the core insight of his generation. One that said, "I love the Muppets and I wish they would do something good." As the film rolls out that generation smiles in the realization that their dreams have come true precisely the way they dreamed.

It doesn't matter that the Muppets weren't actually forgotten. Their viral videos have hits in the millions and NBC aired a new Christmas special in 2009. Because the message of this film isn't, "the Muppets haven't done anything in a long time". It's "the Muppets haven't been BIG in a long time". And this movie corrects that injustice.

It also doesn't matter that the plot basically recycles the one in 2002's A Very Muppet Christmas. Or that Walter, the new Muppet is slightly bland. This movie is about the small moments, the characters and the tone. And the tone is spot on. It's hilarious, touching, poignant, manic, everything that made "The Muppet Show" one of the greatest series ever.

It's not the same as "The Muppet Show". It never will be now that the main creators, not just Henson but Frank Oz, Richard Hunt and to a lesser extent Jerry Nelson, have all moved on. But it can still be every good. Take a look at Cartoon Network's new "Looney Tunes" series. They'll never capture the magic of that era again, but they can do something modern, sharp and true to the characters. In short, something worth watching.

The movie's already done very well, coming in only behind the new Twilight. This puts the franchise back in Disney's focus, one distracted by PIXAR and Marvel. But I don't know what they'll do with it. This movie is all about bringing the Muppets back but doesn't give us any clue what to do with them next. At the very least Disney should finally release the long delayed season 4 and 5 dvds and the original Muppet films on Blu-Ray.

Whatever they do, I want more 80's Robot.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Beavis and Butthead

I spent approximately 38% of my college years staying up all night drinking warm 40s of Budweiser and watching Beavis and Butthead with Howie Weingarten. And I didn't realize how much I missed it.

Mike Judge brought the show back last night after a 14 haitus. In that time he created King of The Hill and made three great cult films. Now he brings everything he learned from his other projects.

I watched some of the old episodes in preparation. They're still as funny as they were in the 90's but crude, choppy and with jokes that only work on one level. Judge has made this run even better. The two short episodes last night were painful, hilarious and true. The animation is clean and slick, the satire working more subtly but still filled with the two biggest idiots in the world slowly killing themselves (which explains why MTV picked up Jackass right after B&B ended).

And thankfully, the commentary segments are back, long discarded from Netflix and dvds. The best jokes are once again saved for videos no one has ever seen and, because that's the network MTV is now, reality shows get a central focus. They couldn't be more deserving.

When I first saw this show, I had no job, lived in my parents basement, and had one friend near my house. Now I have my own house, my own family, no job and all my friends on Facebook. I am no less into this show. And yes, after all these years I like Butthead but I love Beavis.

One complaint for the record; putting it on against It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (and a great one at that)? Way to fight over the same demographic, MTV.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Zombies Vs. Vampires

Halloween is right around the corner (Monday but if you doing anything about it, it's Saturday) and that means lots of monster movies on AMC, centered around new episodes of The Walking Dead. It's as good as season one and considering the shape of our economy, just as well timed.

Zombie movies always do well in terrible economies. The backdrop of the collapse of society resonates with people at their core. The modern zombie era began with George Romero's Night of the Living Dead in 1968, a year of complete unrest. Even the Beatles didn't get along. But in 1978 was his sequel, Dawn of the Dead. That film, still considered the high watermark of the genre came out amongst gas lines, inflation and a weakening Jimmy Carter.

Conversely, vampire movies do well in good economies. When people don't have to worry about the world turning against them, they worry about the outcast; a sinister creature who will lure you alone to your death. Despite Bela Lugosi's turn during the Depression, Christopher Lee enjoyed a run as Dracula in the post war bliss of the 1950's, Fright Night and the Lost Boys found success in the Reagan era, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer ran under Clinton.

What's happening right now is we're seeing a resurgence of both at once. Yes, things are that fucked up. The zombies are easy to explain; this country has been in a sorry state since the tech bubble burst in 2000 and has been slowly sinking ever since. Everyone I know has at least a plan in their head of what to do when they'll lose their jobs, an inevitability these days. The end of their world is only a "come into my office" away.

Yet vampires have survived thanks solely to demographics; they're all aimed at teenagers. The Lost Boys pioneered the idea of sexy teenage vampires. Buffy carried it over into a post 911 world and Twilight since has owned the entire genre, getting skinnier and more topless with each installment. Teenagers don't care about the economy; they care only about themselves as turbulent hormones and emotional states cloud everything else (which also explains my terrible high school grades).

People have said zombies are about gore, vampires are about sex. But I believe it goes deeper than that. Zombies are about the world, vampires are about the self. Which are you afraid of?

Cracked.com of all places corroborates with most of these theories, albeit for different reasons. So I can still be original.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thoughts on the Star Wars Blu-Ray

The worst thing that could have happened to The Phantom Menace was The Matrix coming out one month earlier.

The worst thing that could have happened to Attack of the Clones was Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring coming out six months earlier.

The worst thing that could have happened to Revenge of the Sith was George Lucas coming out with more movies.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Batman: Year One Blu-Ray

In my sophomore year of high school I rediscovered Batman. I spent December of 1987 in bed with pneumonia and a copy of The Dark Knight Returns. When I got out I found the final issue of Year One in a comic store. Batman, ten years after Adam West reruns after kindergarten, became my favorite character again. It's a story I haven't gone a year without reading.

And now Bruce Timm has made a movie of it. Not simply using inspiration the way Nolan made Batman Begins but a full-on shot for shot, line for line adaptation. And it works exceptionally well. Where many adaptations have simply captured the moments of the book (Watchmen, the early Harry Potter films) Timm captures the spirit of the book.

In many ways, Year One is the peak of Frank Miller's work. It's a crime noir, a genre Miller would rarely leave. But where Daredevil showed broad sketches and archetypes and Sin City would devolve into outlandish characatures, Year One is balanced, down to earth yet exciting. The movie captures that balance eloquently.

Using the comic as storyboards, it's initially disconcerting in motion. David Mazzuchelli is a genius in finding the right moment for each panel, usually the result of action rather than action itself. Seeing this much violence felt wrong but looking back at the book, every single moment in the movie is a a direct adaptation. It's both faithful and heightens the excitement.

Part of what made Year One so revolutionary is that it spends as much time on Jim Gordon as batman. The film spends even more, removing most of Batman's interior monologue while keeping Gordon's intact. And performing him is the perfectly cast Bryan Cranston.

I'm a huge fan of Cranston and Breaking Bad because I am human. According to Comic Book Resources, Cranston initially passed on Year One, claiming he didn't want to do animation. It was only after recognizing the quality of the writing that he signed on. And he brings every bit of commitment and intensity from his series onto the movie. You can't believe this is the performance of of an actor not used to voice work. In every way, this is Cranston's show.

I've seen criticism online of Ben McKenzie's performance of Batman but I like it. This is not Batman at the peak of powers with a full utility belt, Batcave and teen sidekick. This is a young man trying to find out who he is without the confidence or gravitas Kevin Conroy brings to the part. It;s just right.

With each direct to video movie Bruce Timm releases (usually 3 a year) it's getting harder and harder to rank them. But no matter how many films the DC team will produce, Batman: Year One will always stand out.

And the Catwoman short is pretty awesome.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tele Project

Anyone who knew me in the 90's remembers this guitar:

It was the only electric guitar I owned until 2002. It was beautiful, it sounded amazing and it weighed 11 pounds. Every guitarist that picked up exhaled quickly. In retrospect I was so hyper in my youth I needed a heavy guitar to keep me on the stage. But over the years it was way too much. Once I got a Les Paul (a freaking Les Paul) I put it down for the lighter guitar (the lighter guitar being a freaking Les Paul!).

I did love the Tele though and with this being such a strong guitar I couldn't justify another. On 2007 I added a Strat (first shown here):

But it wasn't quite the same. I kept dreaming about a blond, banged up, snarly sounding Tele, like Keith Richards or Bruce Springsteen. Then early this summer, I saw a listing for a Tele on thegearpage.net. Blonde, light, with an American body and Mexican neck for $500. I pulled the trigger and after a frustrating two weeks where the guitar went to Astoria and reshipped to Chicago, I received it. And it wasn't right. The neck was chunky and sat high, the strings buzzed and the neck pickup was thuddy. A pro setup and new strings helped a little but gigging with it didn't get me to love it. So I went to work.

After a fret polish at the shop, the old neck went on. It felt great; a new body with a vintage neck that was broken in by my own hand. But it still sat too high. I measured the neck pocket. It was 1/2 an inch when it should have been 5/8". I don't know why I was feeling so adventurous but I went to Home Depot and bought a router. After a morning practicing on spare wood, I slowly and methodically erased 1/8" of wood from the neck pocket. The neck went back in and felt more natural. I put the non locking tuners from my Strat on the headstock (light and simple is the key to this guitar) and the whole thing felt great. But didn't sound so great.

Many players hate the lipstick tube neck pickup. Now I know why. While I always loved the look, the sound is dead and thuddy. It had to go. I researched a ton aftermarket lipstick tubes but a couple of recommendations put me straight. I needed a humbucker in there.

The PAF clones were an early idea but I eventually settled on a used TV Jones. And it was the right call. The neck setting just glistened and in the middle position; magic.

I ordered a humbucker pickguard but it didn't fit the smaller TV Jones. So I went back to the single coil guard and routed. And routed. And routed. It's not the prettiest cut but this guitar wasn't designed to be pretty. It was designed to be badass. I don't know what the bridge pickup is but it sounds great so it stays.

I'm slowly relicing the body by keeping it out of its case and near the cement foundation of the house. I'd like to minimize that 20 year gap between the neck and body.

After all that work, I now own this:

Ii sounds amazing. Strong, alive, bold and comfortable. Everything I want a guitar to be. I always wanted to build my own Tele. And this is as close as I could without carving the wood myself. I couldn't sell it if I wanted to. But I'll never want to.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

iPad pedalboard

Last year I bought a Line 6 Pod HD500. I was playing in a band 30 miles away and sick of hauling a Marshall stack every week. It worked well but I couldn't get past the fact that I was playing a digital simulator. I also felt trapped in the presets as I had to sync it to a desktop to make any real changes.

That Christmas Renee got me Amplitube for IPad. It was a good practice tool but again limiting. I also lost the adapter somewhere in NY and never used the app again.

Digitech has taken this idea a step further and integrated the iPad right into a pedalboard.

This concept, while cool, doesn't seem to have a huge benefit. The board is still huge and needs an adapter to run but now it contains an expensive iPad. At a gig I'd rather have the iPad on a music stand to look up lyrics or, better yet, at home where it can't get damaged or swiped. If the it was much smaller and lighter and could be powered by the iPad's internal battery you'd really have something. As it is, it looks like Digitech made this board not because of any need for guitarists, but because they could.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Netflix is Netflix Again

Kudos to Reed Hastings for not following through on a stupid plan.

Dear Jonathan,

It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.

This means no change: one website, one account, one password…in other words, no Qwikster.

While the July price change was necessary, we are now done with price changes.

We're constantly improving our streaming selection. We've recently added hundreds of movies from Paramount, Sony, Universal, Fox, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, MGM and Miramax. Plus, in the last couple of weeks alone, we've added over 3,500 TV episodes from ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, USA, E!, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Discovery Channel, TLC, SyFy, A&E, History, and PBS.

We value you as a member, and we are committed to making Netflix the best place to get your movies & TV shows.


The Netflix Team

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs

Every morning I get up and walk twenty feet to work at an office 800 miles away.

I walk my son to day care while checking my work email.

I carry a phone with the complete Beatles, Black Sabbath and Star Wars trilogy inside it.

I make a living creating games, websites, jokes and sci fi ideas for a category invented four years ago.

I buy action figures on ebay in the middle of the street.

I show my son cg animated movies based on story and character, not technology.

I talk to my friends all day while not seeing any for a year.

I keep trying when I'm down in the belief that the future will be better than right now.

I owe it all to Steve Jobs.

I owe my life to Steve Jobs.

I will miss Steve Jobs.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

New 52: Final Thoughts

It's the first Wednesday in October and I've got my first batch of DC #2 issues. What were bold experiments last month are now the new status quo.

It was a unique experience; at least 17 years since I knew everything that was going on the the DC books. Never have I read them all. It's a unique look into the publishing philosophy of a a company. What kind of range do they put out? Like anything it's a wide range of quality. Some books were the best they've been in years, some soldiered on with the same level of mediocrity and some were just bad. I'm sure the batting average across the board was the same last year.

The "soft reboot" approach was confusing. basically, they rebooted anything that needed it. the Batman and Green Lantern franchises were left alone. The #1 issues could easily have been the next following. Because these titles were doing well. Some like Swamp Thing and Aquaman followed the new direction set in last year's Brightest Day. Others like Wonder Woman just got new creative teams starting new stories. Still others like Fury of Firestorm, Blue Beetle and Flash were so new they ignore everything that's happened before. All of this is immaterial if you're planning on reading one book. But when these titles cross over, be prepared for some major headaches.

More confusing were the Wildstorm titles now in the DC Universe. Not one established themeselves in the preexisting universe (other than shoving Martian Manhunter into Stormwatch) of DC Comics. And that's the problem. I don't know what the DC Universe is. This is 52 books with almost nothing in common between them. When I first started reading DC Comics after Crisis I knew how they all fit together and seeing characters meet one another was exciting. Now with some rebooting and others staying teh same I don't know if these charcaters will recognize one another.

More disturbing was the IMAGE style creeping into the DCnU. Whether it's 90's nostalgia or creators playing to their old strengths, books like Supergirl, Teen Titans were pretty splash pages with no story. And let's not get started on the sexism of Catwoman and Red Hood. Beware the bad girl comeback.

And Justice League is late. Nothing says IMAGE more than Jim Lee blowing a deadline.

Was it a success? Definitely more than the "One Year Later" reboot of 2006 which lasted as long as its initial stories. And it got me hooked again. This morning when I picked up my books, I thought, "that can't be all there is". I went back and grabbed two more DC titles I thought were okay. If the new DC can get me to buy casual titles a decade after I've trimmed down to my favorites, how many more readers are doing the same? Then again, who knows how long it will last?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

When they said the revolution will not be televised, what they meant to say was the revolution will be marginalized on mass media and sneak out online.

I thought Occupying Wall Street was a great idea. This economy is falling apart as the government does its best to protect the richest. The media is attacking the protesters for not having clear goals. I don't think this is about goals. This is about unrest. This country has become very comfortable with a silent majority. While nothing may change after this protest, the top 1% need to know the other 99% are as deserving of respect as their checking accounts. I wish I could be there.

Here's Tim Warner and Jon Savoy in the center of the action:

Ed Murray covers it better than I can and he is farther away.

And I love this guy. The FOX News correspondent tells him this is moment to give whatever message he wants, and then doesn't air it.

Don't quit, guys.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New 52: Week 4

The final 13 books; the final week of DC's relaunch. It's here and I'm tired. It's been an interesting experiment but I've actually never read this many new books in one month. Even back in 1994, when DC tried its "Zero Month", a very similar tactic with less change of creative teams, I read maybe half the books. And I was working in a comic store then.

The highs have been high (Batman, batman and Robin, Action Comics) but the lows have been even lower (Catwoman, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Legion LOST). DC is saying is going back to press on several of these issues, with some of them going close to 200,000 copies, a rarity in today's market. And I'll be adding six or so more titles to my subscription. So DC considers the experiment incredibly successful. But how successful are this week's titles?

Voodoo #1: She's a stripper. And the whole thing takes place inside the strip club After last week, that's a huge red flag. Voodoo poles dances and gives a lap dance. The only other action is a federal agent fighting off a gang rape. What is it with DC's push into soft core porn? One book maybe, but three in a week?

Buy #2?: Absolutely not. And I used to like Ron Marz.

Superman #1:Where Grant Morrison took a bold, radical step with Action Comics, George Perez goes for a more traditional take with a story right out of 12 years ago.The Daily Planet selling out to a major communications company is one thing but no one would build a new skyscraper to a print newspaper in this day and age. The DC Universe is clearly not our own. I wish George Perez was drawing this. at times the art and copy were battling each other, like the news report of the battle running over the battle itself.

There's a lot of reboot here as well with a total erasure of the Clark/ Lois romance (much less marriage). Like Peter and Mary jane this is bound to cause problems down the road asa n accepted continuity for the entire line is established. There's also the new costume. Now that it's clearly shown in action, it doesn't work. It's too armored and inflexible, taking away from the streamlined man in flight that the audience identifies with Superman. The high collar and cape also don't work together. I expect to see this streamlined pretty quickly.

Buy #2?: DC is lucky they got me reading one Superman title again. Two is asking too much.

Dark Knight #1: David Finch's first five issues of dark Knight was by his own admission, kind of a disaster. It personified the worst of the IMAGE era; a pretty book that was constantly late and told us nothing. Now it relaunches with Paul Jenkins hand,ing the writing, placing Finch back on art.The result is a book that raises my expectations and dashes them. Gone are the wall to wall action scenes replaced by a very long exposition and a cliche Bruce Wayne fundraiser. Once Batman gets to an Arkham Asylum breakout, it's handled seriously until the dumbest twist I've seen in a Batman comic in a long time.

Buy #2?: Luckily there are two great Batman books running. I don't need this one.

Teen Titans #1:Comic writers usually get about ten good years. After that they used to become editors. Now they move on to other media or stay and get stale. Scott Lobdell is proving to be the latter as both Titans books feel like leftovers from the 90s. We get a forgettable story with IMAGE style artwork. I know it's been twenty years but do readers really want a classic IMAGE comeback? DC seems to think so. I'd like to think we've evolved.

Buy #2?: I like Red Robin's new costume. And hadn't they cancelled that book, I would have finally picked it up. But not this.

Savage Hawkman #1: Hawkman may look like a guy with wings but his real superpower is rebooting. Seriously, the guy gets a new origin every three years. I've long since given up on ever understanding the character since he's been so many. This doesn't help. DC has enough faith in Tony Daniel as a writer they've given him a second title. I don't have that same faith as this effort is as flawed as his Detective Comics three weeks ago. When you have a convoluted character as Hawkman, it's a bad idea to do the whole "who am I" plot. Which is exactly what I got. Carter Hall, I don't know who you are. And I don't care.

Buy #2?: I amy never buy another Hawkman comic again.

Aquaman #1: This book, written by Geoff Johns, has been getting the biggest push of all 13 titles. And it lives up to the push. You can see a real effort on the part of Johns here, more so than his other 2 launches this month. It's got a fantastic fight scene and the horror type villain Johns has amde a signature of his work. There is also a lot of work put into wiping out all the Aquaman jokes that have been built up over the last thirty years. Arthur comes across and strong, confident and not embarrassed to be Aquaman. Which is saying a lot.

Buy #2?: Sure. Maybe the first arc as well.

Justice League Dark #1: DC has learned that Justice League is more than a collective of their most powerful brands. It's a brand all its own. So they're leveraging it to cover a combination of many of their magical characters. But will this succeed where Shadowpact failed? Well, it's a solid first start. peter Milligan has been missed and he brings a lot of strength here. When the book opened with a female character I got nervous we'd see more misogynistic crap the likes of Catwoman. But the female characters are handled as string, smart individuals, no lesser than say john Constantine. However, I still wonder if this was the right book for the DCU. It feels like Vertigo with the brakes on. I wonder how far this could have gone under that imprint and without the Justice League name.

Buy #2?: Like it. Will flip through the next one for sure.

Blackhawks #1:: I give DC credit. Even in this desperate sales grab of a reboot, they're not afraid to try new genres. I doubt Marvel would ever throw out a western, vampires, modern military and this, a sci-fi black ops book in the same month. And most of worked including this. It's a world away from the Sgt. Rock reboot with a G.I. Joe type team, hardware and base. There's a makeout scene and some sexual content but guess what? This time it's within a relationship and actually adds to the story! Finally.

Buy #2?: Just to see where this arc goes.

I, Vampire #1:Oh, Twilight. The bigger you get, the more you make me miss Buffy. This book is the most blatant cash-in since Chris Claremont created the Brood after a midnight showing of Alien. It's moody, goth and utterly cryptic. I can't tell which is the the flashback and which is the present day. Why is there two characters called Mary? One is four hundred years old and one just got turned into a vampire. And trying to set this in the DC Universe with a couple of superhero references just makes it more confusing. Vampires have eaten a city. Not only would the Justice League notice, they would have prevented it.

Buy #2?: I don't know who this book is for but it ain't me.

Green Lantern: New Guardians #1: The cancellation of the third Green Lantern title has led to a fourth. And it's in lockstep with the other three. Kyle Rayner's the star of this book and looks to move in close contact with the other Corps. It does everything I've come to expect from the franchise with just enough surprises to keep the story moving. No rebooting here, aside from a slight tweak of Ky;e's origin which suits his character better. And the cliffhanger is enough to bring me back.

Buy #2?: Looks like I'll be buying all four Green Lantern titles for a while.

Flash #1:While fans pleaded for the return of Hal Jordan for more than a decade, no one seemed to mind Barry Allen was dead. No one but Geoff Johns who tried to make lightning strike twice with Flash: Rebirth. Fans came and didn't notice they had already left. the relaunch didn't work, leaving the artist Francis Manapul, to write it himself. And he mostly writes things he likes to draw. The action is shot from dizzying angles with the kind of kinetic energy that he brought to last year's reboot. But the story's nothing. There's a new love interest with Iris still in the wings, an "old college buddy" that's thinly drawn and a sci-fi twist that comes out of nowhere.

Buy #2?: Last year's reboot didn't work. This one works even less.

The Fury of Firestorm #1: Now this is a reboot. Taking character cues from Brightest Day, Gail Simone restarts the whole thing, putting Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch in the same high school. I'm into it but it ends too soon with half a fight scene. We also get one twist on top of another with no way to figure out the status quo yet. Ethan Van Sciver is listed as co-plotter but other than the cover, his art is nowhere to be seen, proving that DC is onto two ideas this relaunch; giving artists writer credit and t&a.

Buy #2?:Yes, but only until i figure out what's going on.

All Star Western #1:Now this is how you kick off a series. A great story that introduces a strong character to new readers and gives long time fans something they haven't seen before. Now that the movie has bombed and forgotten, Jonah Hex feels revitalized with a trip to Gotham alongside the founder of Arkham Asylum. My only complaint is the story moves a little too slowly with repetitive interrogation scenes and Arkham's profile of Hex. I would have loved a done-in-one but that would leave me free to skip the next issue.

Buy #2?: I'll flip through it. If they can wrap up this story in one more issue, I'll bite.