Friday, June 24

Please Let it be so...

Is FFVII indeed coming to PS3?

Now I want this. I really, really want this. According to EGM's (Electronic Gaming Monthly) Rumor Corner, a PS3 version of the classic Final Fantasy VII is being worked on, a conversion that will include graphical enhancements to bring it up to par visually with the upcoming CG movie, Advent Children. Now, would anyone be interested in a PSOne RPG spruced up with some fancy CG and graphics?

HELL YES. I'd buy it in a second. Just streamline the gameplay and transitions, make the in-game character models the equal of the cinema models, have seamless interweaving into the cinematics and insert the FFVII Advent Children as an extra IN the disc (or unlockable for playing after you beat the game, as a sequel to the FFVII ending), and I am sold. I am still a firm believer that FFVII is, bar none, the best FF out there. Arguably FFVI comes close in terms of sheer gameplay fun, great cast of characters and story, but FFVII revs up everything with probably the most involving story, graphics and gameplay of the tiime. Everything else afterwards just doesn't measure up. Not the sugary-sweet Final Fantasy 90210 (FF8) that tries very hard to equal the magic but fails miserably to even tell a cohesive story. Not the totally forgettable Final Fantasy IX. Final Fantasy X has a pulse, a great story and ups the ante with voice acting and great eye candy, but still falls short. FFXII? I'm not even excited over it, really.

FFVII on the PS3. Darn... let it be true. Let it be true.

Thursday, June 23



Sorry if I've been remiss in updating the ol' blog lately. Work at The Salt Mines has been particularly hellish in the last couple of weeks. We've had to pull double duty twice as often and I've been hopping here and there like a headless kangaroo. Anyway, suffice to say that if I just get through this week in one piece, I'll be darn happy. Heh.

So I'll just go the E-mail Digest route and sum up odds and ends that have been happening recently...

Andrew Drilon just released two ashcans in Comic Quest recently, The Germinator and Subwhere. Check out the offbeat art and storytelling from this young upstart in the comic bin at Vin's. Still on Buddha Boy and the Big Little Boy- Vin and Andrew are going on the air at Monster Radio RX 93.1 tonight at 9pm to talk about- what else- comics. And other stuff, I imagine...

Got a new anime-themed fighter for the PS2. Inu Yasha Ougi Ranbu is a 3-d fighting game with shades of the classic Power Stone. Choose one or two from the popular cast of anime characters and fight it out in single or two-character team combat in various stages. The graphics and sounds are true to the anime, though the fighting is a bit on the shallow side. Still, Inu Yasha fans should grab this one up for the sheer pleasure of kicking Naraku's poisonous butt.

Livewires 5 just hit shelves at CQ and as I expected, the characters are dropping faster than flies in a gas chamber. I can only hope that a hunch that I have- that one character in particular will survive at story's end- proves to be true. Stilll, the art's still great and the story interesting enough for me to read it to the bitter end.

On another front, Frank Cho's Shanna the She-Devil still delivers in terms of art... DAMN Shanna is one sexy babe... but the story's pretty blah and it's all just one long, slightly boring trek and I find myself not caring whether or not Shanna nad the Doc get back in time to save their faceless friends. All I want is... MORE scenes with Shanna doing stuff. Any stuff. Anyway, with just two issues left, I am not looking for a big plot twists to suddenly pop up. I just wanna see more skin before this is over. Then let's have the regular Shanna series announced, please?

Ben Dunn's back in the saddle of his flagship Ninja High School series, and I just have to get back into it. I can't explain it... the guy's storytelling is often off and he uses religious figures too blatantly and his art isn't that great... but I just have to watch how he does things. Perhaps I see something of myself in him. Perhaps I wish I had as great an audience as him. Or maybe it's just that he's always stuck to his guns, done things his own way, no matter what. Or maybe it's just that I just can't resist a ninja title. Oh well.

Been watching more Basilisk and it's still as brutal as ever, with the body count of super-powered ninja growing with each episode. Will the Kouga or Iga come out on top? This series just may keep us all guessing up to the last episode.

Bah. Back to work. Gotta finish this all so's I can get even a bit of sleep tonight. Whatever.

Tuesday, June 21


The NEW Fallen Angel, art by J.K. Woodward.

Thanks to El, I found out about this SMASHING bit of news. It's already been confirmed that my favorite and recently-cancelled DC Comics title Fallen Angel would be continued under IDW Publishing. Well, more concrete proof of Lee's resurrection has been revealed with the first artwork from the comic coming this December. The new artist for the upcoming Fallen Angel comic is J.K. Woodward, whose work includes Digital Webbings' Crazy Mary. I've never heard of this guy or seen his stuff before... but DAMN, I like it!

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, the quality of the art above won't be limited to cover images- according to writer/creator Peter David, readers can expect the same quality with interior pages as well. DAMN! My only hope is that Mr. Woodward can keep to the comic's supposed monthly schedule, churning out great art like that (he pencils, inks and colors everything himself, apparently).

WOOHOO!!! This is the best news I've heard so far in comics all month. I can't wait to get my hands on the New Fallen Angel later this year.

Fallen Angel is the story of Lee, a mysterious super-powered vigilante/enforcer/bounty hunter/avenger for hire in the shadowy, crime-infested city of Bete Noir. At times fighting against underworld figures, at times sleeping with them, the only thing sure about the Fallen Angel is that you don't want to be on her bad side. Written and created by Peter David, art by J.K. Woodward, coming this December from IDW Publishing.

Still on the topic of Angels though, there have been some developments in my own personal comic book angel, Angel Ace. My good friend and comics compatriot Dean has already more or less pre-empted a new AA book (heh), and this is true. And then some. But the circumstances, plot and magnitude of the next AA book will be totally unexpected and may bowl some people over. Details in a future post when I gather my thoughts about it.

Monday, June 20

The Dark Knight Returns

The last time cinema goers saw Batman, it was in the Joel Schumaecher-directed Batman and Robin, a film infamous for cooky sound effects, Ah-nuld's horrid Mr. Freeze, an overabundance of plotlines, garish designs and sets laced with neon, a pudgy and totally unnecessary and obnoxious Batgirl and... rubber nipples. Well, thankfully despite all that, arguably the most cinema-prolific and popular comic book hero gets a new lease on life in Batman Begins. Written by David Goyer and megged by Christopher Nolan, this is a totally different take on the caped crusader that does away the baggage of the previous movies. In many ways, Batman Begins is a pseudo adaptation of the popular Batman: Year One comic book, which showed a fledgeling Batman getting used to his new digs and starting his legend in Gotham City. The movie also takes a great risk by doing something most, if not all, of the previous films did- focus entirely on Batman and NOT on the bat-villains.

Spoilers Ahead
Batman Begins is the story of Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), son of billionaire developer, humanitarian and model father Thomas Wayne (Linus Roache). Unlike previous Batman flicks, we are shown in detail stuff that shaped Bruce's psyche- what kind of man his father was, and a more in-depth role of the young Wayne in the tragic death of his parents. This goes quite a bit into explaining more of why the young heir turns into a caped, black-suited crimefighter. It walks a fine line though... impatient, jaded watchers may find it all boring. Fortunately, I got into the flick and it was fine. There is, however, quite some time before Batman even dons the black suit. Fortunately, the amount and substance of the stuff we see is not terminally depressing and pointless baggage such as was in the crappy Hulk film. In all, it makes Bruce Wayne a fuller, more understandable character, and that's not bad.

While the focus on Batman himself is plain to be seen, the supporting cast is in fine form. Of note are Michael Caine, as the new Alfred. While the previous Alfred of the past Batman films, Michael Gough, certainly looked the part more, Caine does well by not trying to imitate his predecessor. Caine injects more humor and a bit of old English spunk into the faithful butler and Wayne's second father, and it's refreshing to see, along with some welcome points of humor. Another surprising new entry is Gary Oldman as the new Comissioner James Gordon (though he's still a lieutenant at the time of Batman Begins). This is probably one of Oldman's most 'normal' roles, and one of his rare non-villain ones. Once again he proves himself a cinematic chameleon, portraying the slightly bookish but unmistakeably stalwart cop perfectly.

Of the villains, Cillian Murphy makes a good showing as Dr. Jonathan Crane AKA The Scarecrow. He may look a bit young, but those weird eyes and his creepy deliveries make for a very disturbing Master of Fear. The character's design itself, while understated compared to previous bat villains, is memorable and effective. And then there's Liam Neeson's Ducard- I certainly hope that he comes back in some form in the future, but we'll see.

Katie Holmes was fine- a bit young for a district attorney, but she has a strength and some good parts which at least keep her from being just wallpaper or eye candy. Luckily I never watched Dawson's Creek so I don't see her TV character nudging into her movie performance. Finally, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, a sort of 'Q' for Batman, makes the most of the short scenes he appears in with some of the film's funniest lines.

But then of course, the whole film hinges on Christian Bale. How does he do? In my opinion, he's the best Bruce Wayne so far in my opinion- edging slightly over Keaton, far and away better than Kilmer or Clooney. As for Batman, he fills in the suit well, though that raspy delivery just has to be toned down. As a start though, he makes it with flying colors.

Batman Begins look, feel and action are exceptional- I love the new Batmobile, the tank-like "Tumbler" which replaces the sleek design of previous Bat-Cars. The new, modernized look of Gotham City is different- I'm still deciding if I like it over the older, more Gothic look of the previous films. The action and fight scenes, which some reviews found too shaky and unclear- work just fine for me. Batman isn't about graceful martial arts... he's about fear and brutal takedowns. The new emphasis on the dark, scary Batman and how he appears to the superstitious criminal element is perfect, especially in moments such as when Batman takes out the Falcone mob in a darkened warehouse. In these moments, Batman is never seen in full. He attacks in a blur and vanishes. He's scary and it's awesome.

I recognize though that the movie isn't perfect. There are tons of explanations of why Batman is Batman- lots of How's and Why's that fans of the comic may or may not take well. The final, overall scheme and doomsday plot was a bit too complicated for me, and there's a fair bit of expository dialogue that could have been handled better. There are some corny lines of dialogue mixed in with the cool quips. And of course, there's the bit that this film does takes it's time to get Wayne into the costume.

Still, it's a wonderful and refreshing new direction for this popular character. Taken all in all, I pretty much love Batman Begins, and am looking forward to the inevitable sequel (the direction of which is given not so subtly at the end). With the groundwork of a great regular cast and a new world of new possibilties, the future looks bright (heh) for the dark knight.