Tag Archive: superman


Injustice gets the all-star treatment

When Injustice: Gods Among Us came around for the first time seven months ago, it was hard for me—being the huge DC fanatic that I am—to not immediately fall in love. Not only was it a fantastic fighter that built on developer NetherRealm’s success with the 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot, but it also delivered a story that made perfect sense for the DC Universe, providing plenty of the comic-style moments I’ve always wanted to see in a game like this.

But, looking back, I now realize that first version of Injustice was incomplete. Six new fighters, 60 STAR Labs missions, and a cornucopia of alternate costumes would come later via DLC, but you needed to shell out a few extra dollars for it. Until now.

Injustice: Gods Among Us – Ultimate Edition puts all that extra content on the same disc as the original game. Now, if you’ve already bought the DLC separately, you’re probably kicking yourself—as is often the case when Game of the Year, Ultimate, Ultra, or whatever fancy word you want to slap on a game to signify “the entire package”, finally comes out. Especially since there’s really nothing else on this disc besides the DLC. No new modes or characters, and only a single new costume (Black Adam’s “New 52″, exclusive to the PS4 version). So, I admit that the appeal for original buyers is lacking.

But if you haven’t played Injustice yet, this is also the perfect time to experience what you missed the first time around. Since the game includes several elements from Mortal Kombat, fighting-game fans should quickly pick up on the power meter, the Clash system, and the STAR Labs tribute to MK’s Challenge Tower. The game handles as tightly as it did before, and its unique two-lifebar system is still a fresh addition to a somewhat stale genre. I specifically went out of my way, however, to see if the next-gen version of the game was any different than its current-gen counterpart.

As with most next-gen titles, all the visuals look slightly better than on the current-gen incarnation. In story mode, though, it seems that High Voltage’s scaling/remastering for the PS4 version was a little sloppy. Longer cutscenes—specifically the ones in between chapters—have clearly noticeable lag and screen tearing.

Story mode also takes advantage of the PS4’s touchpad. While it’s optional—you can use button presses just like in the current-gen versions—the touchpad can be utilized in the various minigames that crop up during the narrative. Though I personally still prefer button presses, I found the touchpad to be surprisingly responsive and accurate while adding a degree of freshness and challenge to something familiar.

Not surprising—but very welcome—is the huge cutdown on load times. You could go make a sandwich while bouts loaded on current-gen, but on the PS4, the process is far faster, which is great if you can’t wait to get back into the action.

Something that did shock me a little was how unbalanced some of the DLC characters still felt. It’s not atypical for a DLC character in a fighting game to be a bit off-kilter when they’re first released into the wild, but patches usually fix what couldn’t have been anticipated during testing. Several of the six newcomers felt just a bit off, and I’d either have extra trouble fighting against these foes or an easier time fighting with them—at this point, I’d figured this would’ve been corrected already.

Despite these minor issues, at its core, Injustice: Gods Among Us is still one of the best fighting games you’re likely to get your hands on. Ultimate Edition simply makes whole what we should’ve gotten in the first place. There’s not much here for original Season Pass holders, but newcomers and folks dying to play something on their PS4s won’t be disappointed.

Developer: NetherRealm Studis/High Voltage Software • Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 11.15.13
9.5
All the DLC of the original—including costumes and more STAR Labs missions—plus a little nex-gen shine makes a great fighting game even better.
The Good All the DLC of the original game on one disc.
The Bad Could use a bit more balancing.
The Ugly It’s still Solomon Grundy.
Injustice: Gods Among Us – Ultimate Edition is available on Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for PS4.

Stop reading my mind, Ed Boon!

I am, admittedly, a creature of habit. I spend 6.8 percent of my day thinking of friends and loved ones, 9.4 percent of my day thinking about what I’m going to eat for lunch and dinner, and the remaining 83.8 percent of my day thinking about comic-book “What Ifs?” Would Bane be able to go toe-to-toe with Solomon Grundy? Could Green Arrow ever stand up to Superman? Could Shazam, Earth’s Mightiest Mortal, strike down Ares? Could Nightwing surpass his teacher and beat down Batman? Now, NetherRealm Studios has provided me with an outlet for my musings that’s so perfect, so tailor-made for geeks like me, that there’s only one possible explanation: Ed Boon is psychic.

Potential clairvoyance aside, Injustice: Gods Among Us looks to answer many of those questions that I ponder daily by taking 24 of the DC Universe’s most infamous heroes and villains and pitting them against each other in a 2.5D fighter. Building off the foundation of NetherRealm’s last outing, the 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot, Injustice offers a bevy of modes that provide more depth than most other fighters in both its single player and multiplayer menus.

Being the massive comic-book fan that I am, I was initially drawn to the single-player story mode. We open with the revelation that the Joker has committed the unthinkable—he’s detonated a nuke in Metropolis, annihilating the entire populace, including everyone that Superman knows and loves. We then follow the fallout from this horrendous incident as Superman is pushed past a line he never knew existed.

The story unfolds across nearly 50 fights and a handful of minigames—ranging from button-prompt challenges and “Test Your Might”-style button-mashing marathons—through a dozen chapters, each marked by the player taking the helm of a new hero or villain. These are linked together then by gorgeous cutscenes that set the stage for a conflict of the most epic proportions, all as Injustice’s story hits notes reminiscent of some of DC’s most thrilling comic arcs from days gone by. And it even finds an interesting way to explain how the likes of the Joker and Batman can so easily go against Superman and Green Lantern.

But the story mode barely even scratches the surface of the depth this game offers. If you’re more an old-school arcade ladder fan, then Battles mode offers you plenty of options. Not only is there a classic mode where you get a short cutscene tailored to each character after you best 10 different enemies, but there are dozens of stipulations you can select from to add to your challenge. Want to face off against the whole roster? How about doing it with a single lifebar? Or maybe you want a series of mirror matches? These are just a few of the plethora of other challenges available in Battles mode and that’ll keep this disc warm in your system for hours.

But wait! There’s even more! Continuing to build off that Mortal Kombat foundation I mentioned earlier, Injustice also includes S.T.A.R. Labs, a spandexed twist on Mortal Kombat‘s popular Challenge Tower mode that provides each individual character with 10 unique missions that offer a variety of gameplay situations that deviate from the standard fighter formula—all while still providing a fun and interesting set of challenge parameters.

And if that weren’t enough, you’ve got the local and online multiplayer, with the online offering not only your standard ranked 1-on-1 scenarios, but also King of the Hill, where you can enter a queue in a room of fighters and watch other matches take place, or Survivor, where your lifebar and character selection carries over in each match.

Now, I know what you’re saying. If you’re a fighting-game fan like me, you know that a game could have a story from the likes of Marv Wolfman or Frank Miller and have 100 modes that are as deep and well thought out as the ones I’ve described in Injustice, but if it doesn’t handle well, it’s all for naught. The gameplay itself has to be there, the combos have to flow smoothly, and the fighting can’t get dull or boring.

This happens to be where Injustice shines like the Brightest Day.

The thing that surprised me the most was the removal of the traditional rounds we see in most other fighters. Taking a page out of the comics Injustice is inspired by, most monumental bouts between superhero and villain heavyweights will just continue non-stop. In order to embody this idea, Injustice gives every fighter two lifebars, with only a small pause in the action signifying someone has lost their first life bar and a new “round” is then starting. I admit, I was skeptical of this gimmick, but after only a few fights, it became a natural part of the conflict for me. The old premise of rounds was almost completely wiped from my memory as new strategies formed to take advantage of this inventive new wrinkle.

After putting several more matches in, I didn’t see, but I felt the combos flowing like Aquaman riding the surf, as it was easier than ever to pull off some ridiculously long hit combinations, especially with quicker characters like Harley Quinn or Nightwing. As anyone who’s been pinned against an invisible arena walls until the match is over knows, though, this isn’t necessarily a good thing. To balance this, there are a couple of new ways to counter or interrupt these combos and give you a chance to deliver your own punishing pounding.

The power meter system, another Mortal Kombat element, returns to allow players to pump up their special attacks. A full meter allows for the amazing, over-the-top specials that decimate opponents when they hit, but it also acts as a currency for moves called Clashes. A Clash is when a player decides to initiate a forced confrontation with his opponent and gambles some of his special meter. Depending on how much you gamble and who initiates the Clash, you can instantly cause huge damage to your opponent or heal a large chunk of your lifebar. These Clashes, when used properly, can very easily turn a match if not careful. Several times, my opponent and I were down to less than half of our last lifebars when one of us hit a Clash, regained a third of our health, and were able to ride this late boost to victory.

The most ingenious additions to the gameplay, though, are the interactive environments. Across 15 different levels—most with multiple transitions to different sections of the world—you can interact with the background and drop surprisingly powerful attacks on your opponents that take advantage of your particular character’s natural abilities. Get backed into a corner as Bane? A quick tap of the right bumper will have him pick up a car and smash it over your opponent. Should you be playing as the Flash, though, you’ll simply jump off the car to then get behind your opponent and put them in the corner. Laser cannons, chandeliers, statues, robots, jet engines, and anything else you come across can be used to turn the tide of battle and I still haven’t found them all after literally pouring nearly 30 hours into the game.

When all is said and done, Injustice: Gods Among Us isn’t just another fighting game. It’s the ultimate in fan service and an unmistakable labor of love. This is the kind of game DC fans have been dreaming of seeing their heroes in for a long time. On top of the stellar gameplay and cornucopia of modes, there’s a treasure trove full of unlockables, amazing graphics, and superb audio, with a voice cast pulled from the annals of DC Animation’s greats—even if not all of them are in their traditional roles (i.e., Phil LaMarr as Aquaman). And the only knocks against this entire experience are minor. The load times are obnoxiously long and frequent between each battle, but even that can be forgiven when you see what you can do in the levels and how smooth every single fight is once it starts. A few character move sets have shades of Mortal Kombat leak through like Batman/Scorpion, Raven/Ermac, and Killer Frost/Sub-Zero, but everyone else seems truly and wholly original. And I wish the mirror match clones were more easily discernible as they look exactly the same as you do. I’m really nitpicking there, though. I can’t stress enough how polished this game is in nearly every facet. This is a satisfying, must-have gaming experience on every level.

Developer: NetherRealm Studios • Publisher: Warner Bros. Int. Ent. • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 04.16.13
9.5
One of the best all-around fighting experiences you’re likely to find—and fans of both DC Comics and Mortal Kombat-style fighters will be blown away by this high-quality brawler of epic proportions.
The Good A story worthy of the comics, near-flawless mechanics, and enough collectibles to make this one of the deepest fighters you’ll ever see.
The Bad Obnoxiously long and frequent load times.
The Ugly Solomon Grundy takes the cake here.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii U. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.

At SDCC 2012, EGM Reviews Editor Ray Carsillo had a chance to catch up with Mortal Kombat co-creator and creative director for the upcoming Warner Bros. game, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Ed Boon.

After finally recovering from a SDCC caused coma, The Pullbox has returned! A busy week this week in terms of comics as we saw an enticing new #1, some crazy things happen in AvX, and a new entrant into our indie space. So without further ado, here is this week’s Pullbox!

DC – Batman Beyond Unlimited #6 – This collection of stories following Terry McGinnis, the Batman of the future, gives us three interesting continuations of tales started in earlier issues. First, Solomon Grundy reveals himself to Superman while Lex’s daughter’s plan comes to fruition. In another story, Batman and the rest of the future Justice League travel to Apokolips to help Orion and a blinded Darkseid fight a giant serpent. The final story follows Batman by himself and the Jokerz from all over the country continue their migration to Gotham and Batman needs to prioritize multiple attacks at once!

Honestly, I love this comic. I don’t mind paying an extra dollar each month to get several stories in an obviously extended book. I just hope that they don’t forget it’s called Batman Beyond as there is a lot of Superman love here. If they were going to do that, they should really give him his own future book as I think fans would snatch up both. Especially considering how epic the fight is between Grundy and Superman and Lex’s illegitimate daughter following in her daddy’s footsteps is priceless. The other two stories were okay in terms of writing and pacing, but the Jokerz story is starting to drag as so little happens month to month and needs a jumpstart again.

DC – Nightwing #11 – Nightwing starts to get to the bottom of this new villain named Paragon and his group called The Republic of Tomorrow. But with him fighting both the police for being framed, the banks for a loan to buy Amusement Mile, and these new bad guys, it’s going to be hard for Nightwing to come out on top!

This book did a good job of setting up the next issue where we will likely see the climax of this story arc where the villain and his connection to everyone in the past few issues will be resolved. Good action early on followed up by a lot of plot to maintain order within the story worked well for my tastes and shows why Kyle Higgins is the perfect guy to be writing Nightwing. My favorite part of the book though may have been Damian actually accidentally assisting Dick in putting the final pieces of this puzzle together and their banter back and forth.

Marvel – Captain Marvel #1 – After what happened on the Kree homeworld, Carol Danvers has donned a new costume and a new outlook on life. While helping Captain America battle The Absorbing Man though, Cap suggests that it’s time Carol changes her superhero name to something that fits her a bit more and pays respect to someone she clearly cared deeply about. This, Carol takes the mantle of the new Captain Marvel.

This was a good start to this new monthly. I’m not really sure how I feel about the new costume and haircut for Carol just yet, and the plain cover might turn some folks off, but once you crack this book open, you’ll be happy you did. The art inside is something special and its rare I’m this blown away more by the art than the writing of a book. Not to say the writing isn’t solid. Starting off with a B-level villain, but coming out of the gates with it, was a good move because Absorbing Man can be quickly dispatched and that allowed for plenty of time to develop Carol and her hesitation at taking the Captain Marvel moniker. Her banter/beating-up of Spider-Man briefly also added some necessary comedy relief to what was otherwise a very serious book. Good pacing, action, humor, and drama, all in the first issue, really shocked me and has made Captain Marvel a book I will at least be picking up a few issues of, if not making a permanent fixture in the Pullbox.

Marvel – Avengers Academy #33 – Emma Frost continues her tirade about why Juston’s Sentinel must be turned into scrap. And the entire Avengers Academy wants to fight her tooth and nail to stop that from happening. Has Emma become mad with power though or does she make a point about the Sentinel being an abomination? Either way, Juston doesn’t care and won’t stand for it!

This was an entertaining story arc from the first issue up to this conclusion. It subtly asks questions about artificial intelligence and what makes us human, while mixing it with a lot of over the top action and fighting between Emma and the Academy, even if the save at the end was a little weak. More importantly, this issue serves as a launching point for what could be the four most important issues in Avengers Academy history as things look to take a turn for the worst as this AvX event continues.

Boom Studios – Extermination #2 – Alien forces have invaded the Earth and its people have been utterly decimated. In order to survive, odd alliances have been made, most notably between a former superhero named Nox and a former supervillain named The Red Reaper. All does not seem lost though as the unlikely pair moves across the wasteland towards Nox’s secret lair for supplies, they are discovered by another band of survivors. Unfortunately, Nox and the leader of this rag tag band have a history and he’s having a tough time letting go of the past. 

The first issue was only $1 and it was an interesting concept that this Batman/Joker like team are forced to pair up in a post-apocalyptic world full of zombies and other monsters that have destroyed everything they know and love. This second issue though was well worth the normal cover price as it completely blew me away. The relationship between Nox and Red Reaper is wonderful to see develop and Nox’s loyalty to his morals is admirable to a fault. The best part of the book so far has been the interspersed flashbacks showing us their world as it once was as they make off the cuff references to things that clearly no longer exist. I can’t wait to see where this book goes from here and being only two issues in, it shouldn’t be hard to find Issue 1 and get on board immediately, which I highly recommend. 

I had the distinct pleasure of joining my old friend Seth Everett to review the latest project from DC Animation: Superman vs The Elite DVD/Blu-Ray. Check out the Spreecast at the link below to see what we thought! (For some reason, WordPress isn’t letting me publish the video embed code.)

http://www.spreecast.com/events/superman-vs-the-elite-official-review

You can call me…JOKER!

In my mind, the major issue holding the Lego videogame franchise back since its 2005 debut has been the strict guidelines to which the games adhere, since they’re all based on established properties. Mind you, they’re all terrific franchises: Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and soon, Lord of the Rings. But one game in the series that bucked that trend was the first Lego Batman. Though the Caped Crusader’s clearly an established property, the story didn’t limit itself to a comic book, cartoon, or movie story arc—and many of us celebrated that fact.

Flash forward four years after the release of the first Lego Batman, and developer Traveller’s Tales has decided to forgo their proven-successful mold once more with Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes. Not only does this entry provide players with an original storyline, but it also marks several significant series firsts. Midlevel checkpoints might be one of the more noticeable changes, as the size and scale of each story level is several times larger than anything else seen to date in the Lego franchise. The game also includes a centralized hub world—in this case, Lego Gotham City—that connects players to many of the major plot points.

But let’s get to the biggest change: talking! For the first time ever, each character in the game actually speaks and doesn’t just mime their intentions or resort to physical humor to get a point across. Now, that’s not to say that the childish Lego slapstick’s been entirely done away with—there’s just a bit less of it. And DC Superheroes’ cast is more or less a Who’s Who of voice actors, with Nolan North, Rob Paulsen, Claudia Black, Tara Strong, Jennifer Hale, and many more—spearheaded by Clancy Brown, who reprises his DC Animated role of Lex Luthor.

But as always, it’s that classic Lego gameplay model of destroying and rebuilding everything in your path—and the kooky plot at the center of it all—that really makes DC Superheroes. And, of course, as our tale unfolds, the Joker’s back up to his old hijinks; he crashes the Gotham “Man of the Year” awards, demanding that he should be the recipient. Bruce Wayne, the actual winner, makes a quick costume change into Batman and proceeds to apprehend his longtime nemesis. But Lex Luthor, also in attendance, decides that working with the Joker to possibly help rig his upcoming presidential run could be just what he needs to change his address to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And so, as soon as the Joker lands back in Arkham Asylum, Lex busts him out. A nefarious duo of such epic proportions might be too much for even Batman to handle, so the entire Justice League comes in to lend their support.

More so than any Lego game to date, this one should strike a chord with audiences of all ages. Older Batfans will appreciate several moments that pay homage to Adam West, Michael Keaton, and essentially every actor who’s worn the cape and cowl over the years, while younger players will love being able to break apart and rebuild an entirely interactive Gotham. And with the expanded roster of the Justice League at your command, exploring the same area with different characters can make DC Superheroes seem like a whole new adventure each time—not to mention that you’ll need to switch often if you want to find every secret red or golden block.

The expanded Gotham does provide some navigational problems, though. Although the game includes a map feature—and you can place markers that create a Fable-like trail in the ground comprised of Lego studs—the markers blend too easily into the background and can be confused with those you pick up as currency to unlock characters. And while there’s also a compass in the upper-left corner of your HUD when in the Gotham hub world, it’s difficult to really tell where you want to go, especially when soaring around in the Batwing or taking hairpin turns in the Batmobile—the compass spins around faster than the Flash on a straightaway!

Despite these occasional navigational issues, though, this is still the most complete experience you’re likely to get in a Lego game. Whether it’s taking to the air as Superman, making constructs as the Green Lantern, or just sticking to the main story as the Dark Knight and rocking out in his iconic vehicles, gamers of all ages should be able to appreciate what Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes brings to the table.

SUMMARY: Easily the best Lego game yet, Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes’ expansive world, original story, and bevy of unlockables should please fans of all ages.  

  • THE GOOD: Massive world, entertaining original story.
  • THE BAD: Easy to get lost in Lego Gotham.
  • THE UGLY: Aquaman. Aquaman is always the answer to this one.

SCORE: 9.5

Lego Batman 2: DC Superheros is available on Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii, DS, 3DS, and PS Vita. Primary version reviewed was for the Xbox 360. 

THE BUZZ: In an interview with Peter Nowak of Canadian Business, Warner Bros.’ new Montreal studio’s head Martin Carrier and VP/Executive Producer Reid Schneider let loose that there are plans for more DC Comics inspired games on the way.

“We’re definitely working closely with DC on different titles, yet to be announced. It’s one of the reasons we talk to Geoff Johns and Jim Lee on a regular basis,” said Carrier. “It’s a good time to be working with DC. There’s so much energy going on there. So yeah, we’re in the triple-A space and the casual online space.”

Schneider and Carrier also alluded to these games not being movie tie-ins due to the success of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City showing that fans want more original stories based in the rich lore of the DCU and not just other media spin-offs.

EGM’S TAKE: Look out EA and Ubisoft, it looks like you’ve got some new gaming neighbors up there in Montreal. It’s no surprise really that Warner Bros. would be looking to devote a large force of employees to working with the DC Comics license considering the potential there and the fact that they’re working with Jim Lee and Geoff Johns, guys who drew and wrote some of the more prolific Batman and Green Lantern stories of the past decade and have moved up the DC management hierarchy, only bodes well for future titles. With plans to double the studio’s 150 employee work force by 2015 as well might mean a lot of work in the near future for these guys, which is good news all around for any and all DC Comics fans.

What games and heroes besides those that are Batman related would you guys like to see? Where does Warner Bros. go with Batman from here? What more for online could they do with the DC brand? Let us know your thoughts with comments below!

Originally Published: August 31, 2011 on EGMNOW.com

August is coming to a close and with it is an incredible run by Greg Pak on The Incredible Hulk that will lead into an all new monthly for “he who likes to smash” over at Marvel and of course the universe altering Flashpoint for DC. With all these changes going on, let’s jump right into this week’s comics and get our hands on my five must haves for the week.

1) DC – Flashpoint #5 (of 5): As mentioned in the open, this is where the entire DCU will be reset from. Although not following Flashpoint as closely as many other events over the past few years, partially due to my disappointment in the ending of Brightest Day by Geoff Johns, who is one of the main guys behind this re-launch, this issue actually left me feeling rather satisfied with how everything has drawn to a close with some tremendously heart-felt moments for many of the DCU’s powerhouses. Even if you haven’t been reading Flashpoint, if you have any interest in the DCU, you should pick this up just to have a solid idea of where things will go from here and so you can have a solid gauge of just what changes are taking place. If for some reason you’ve been staying off the DC bandwagon, then this is the perfect time to get on board with a fresh start and not as much of the weight that comes with some of publisher’s main characters’ 70-plus year histories.

2) DC – Justice League #1: The only other DC comic to be released this week, which not only made it very easy to pick my pair of DC must haves, but also is the starting off point for the new vision of the DC Universe. A part of me really wanted to hate this issue, I admit. The whole idea of a universal re-launch kind of turned my stomach when I first heard about it, and I’m still unsure of how things will turn out, but if everything ends up like this comic, then DC will be just fine and this could mark the beginning of a newly celebrated age in comics. Starting off in a flashback to five years ago before the Justice League had formed (in comics time of course), the issue has a lot of classic crowd pleasing elements like the heroes fighting each other at first until a new threat they can’t handle alone rears its head (which I won’t spoil, but DC fans will be thrilled about what it is). My only problem from this comic comes in the Superman redesign. The all blue-suit and more toned musculature really makes me think I’m looking at Superboy and not Superman. Overall though, aside from possibly being worth something as a new #1, I can see this easily becoming one of my monthly pick up depending on where this opening arc goes.

3) Marvel – The Incredible Hulks #635 – Again, as mentioned above, Greg Pak’s run with Hulk is coming to an end. With it, Marvel will hand over the reigns to a new creative team, with a brand new Hulk monthly, in writer Jason Aaron and legendary artist Marc Silvestri as Marvel will make sure what would otherwise be a monumental gap in their lineup stays occupied. Not surprising to see a new team come in after seeing Hulk’s main comic go through more changes in the past few years than Banner does purple pants, but the idea of ANOTHER re-launch has me shaking my head. Pak’s run was spectacular though and he added as much depth to the character than most any other writer in the Hulk’s history. So if you’re a fan of the big green gamma-irradiated monster known as The Hulk, you should pick this up to see where the character may just be going and who he’ll take with him when his new landmark monthly in October hits as this run draws to a fitting close.

4) Marvel – Herc #6.1 – Mind you, it’s not like Greg Pak will be out of work as he will continue now with the monthly he started a short while ago since he is probably the sole reason as to why this character has seen a renaissance in recent years. Hercules, one time Avenger, now stripped of his powers, must try to find his way in the world and figures what better place than…Brooklyn? Not quite Mount Olympus, Herc decides that this New York borough is in need of a hero and so after raiding Ares’ armory, he uses some godly weapons and his god-sized heart to try to dish out a little justice. Continuing the “.1” series for Marvel, which is really just an excuse to dish out more one-shots and make some more cash, this adventure may not be as epic as the main monthly for Herc, but it does a fine job of catching you up incase you missed the first six issues and are looking for something new and fun as the Herc series has done a great job of mixing humor and action to be one of the more overall entertaining reads to launch this year.

5) IDW – Locke and Key: Clockworks #2 – Continuing Joe Hill’s twisted story of how the Locke family are using mystical keys to keep the demon world at bay, Clockworks #2 mixes humor with some very dark and disturbing imagery that could only come from the mind of Stephen King’s son (Joe Hill is a pen name). The evil demon Dodge, who is trying to unleash his demon brethren into our realm, has possessed the youngest of the Locke children and is using his body to get close to his ultimate prize. Unwittingly, he also releases Kinsey’s tears and fears, emotions that using the Head Key she had locked away in order to do what was necessary in order to protect her family and our world. Mayhem runs abound in this issue as the countdown to the amazing conclusion to the Locke and Key series is in full swing now. If you haven’t been reading Locke and Key, go find collections of the previous story arcs and get on board while you still can with this phenomenally dark series.

Originally Published: May 2, 2011, on Comicvine.com

A lot happened in the final issue of Brightest Day. Characters died, characters came back, and the DC Universe has been shaken up in a lot of ways. So, this got me thinking as to what we can expect in the immediate future from some of these characters and specifically what we might be looking at in the three issue mini-series, Brightest Day: Aftermath, that will chronicle just how big the fallout is from this DC event.

I’m going to start with characters from Brightest Day that I think will play little to no part in Aftermath and then move up in importance of who will influence what I believe will be the DC Universe’s future as a whole. And be forewarned that if you have not ready Brightest Day #24 then, well, what’s wrong with you. Go! Now! Read it! What are you waiting for?! And then immediately come back here because there will be spoilers ahead. You have been warned.

Professor Zoom, Captain Boomerang, Osiris, Maxwell Lord, and Jade were part of the group that was resurrected by the White Lantern. Over the final 31 pages of the extra-sized final issue of Brightest Day, these characters were featured in a single panel (except for Zoom who wasn’t even featured at all after he freed Barry Allen from the Speed Force). One. That’s it. They’re jobs were done in other comics or in the case of Captain Boomerang; he threw his one boomerang in Brightest Day #24 and supposedly slinked back off to the Rogues.

It is safe to assume that because of this, it would be unlikely for these characters to have a major impact of any sort in Aftermath as they go back to their lives that will have their own respective ripples in the DCU. Jade is now a part of the JLA and dealing with Eclipso, Professor Zoom promised to cause trouble for Captain Boomerang in the future who will of course go back to the Rogues, Maxwell Lord will likely have his hands full being hunted by the former members of the JLI after killing Blue Beetle, and Osiris brought back Isis who will likely have more of an impact than her brother in the Aftermath if she is fated to help Swamp Thing as insinuated by the White Lantern.

The next characters that I doubt will have much influence in Aftermath will be Aquaman and Hawkman. Already confirmed to be having their own monthly comics to come out of Brightest Day, they’ll have their own problems to deal with. There is a traitor in Aquaman’s midst as revealed in the Brightest Day prologue pages as well as he’ll have the responsibility of having to train the new Aqualad. Hawkman also seems like he’ll need some time alone, as he’s not too thrilled over the fact that Hawkgirl was dust when Swamp Thing released him and the other element avatars. With these more pressing issues for these characters, I doubt they’ll be too worried about the rest of the DCU and Swamp Thing in particular for the time being.

Now there is no word of a monthly for Firestorm or Martian Manhunter, but I think these other two element avatars are characters who might have tougher times pulling off a monthly and could go right back to business as normal in the JLA. And considering the partial reveal we’ve seen of the first Aftermath cover featuring Batman and Superman, you can figure the heavy hitters of the JLA will be involved with this and they’ll need these two powerhouses who have also had experience with Swamp Thing and the White Lantern to help quell whatever conflict may be the spark for Aftermath. Not to mention Martian Manhunter had no problems in his prologue page of Brightest Day so it makes sense for him to go straight back to the JLA, who are also the most likely people to help Firestorm fix his matrix problems.

This leaves Deadman and Hawk of the 12 resurrected. I don’t see Hawk being of much use, but I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Dove and Deadman considering their relationship and so Hank Hall will have to tag along just for fun. Deadman though will likely be critical in the Aftermath because of his previous working relationship with Swamp Thing and he was also the most crucial of the resurrected over the course of Brightest Day. Deadman is not happy being a ghost again, but he knows he might have to hold Swamp Thing’s hand for a while in Aftermath.

And this brings us to characters that weren’t really featured in Brightest Day but look to have a major role in Aftermath. Aftermath has been described on DC’s The Source blog as “the new protector of Earth has been chosen – but one reluctant hero makes a return to try and convince Batman, Superman, and the rest of the DC Universe’s heroes that this may not be a good thing at all.”

The obvious choice for someone having a problem with this is John Constantine since he was revealed on the last page of Brightest Day after Swamp Thing causes some carnage in a big business meeting room and says “Bollocks.” Either he’s not happy or he doesn’t believe it. Constantine and Swamp Thing have a long and storied history with one another, and this could also serve as a gateway to work in Tefe, Swamp Thing’s daughter, who was created when Swamp Thing possessed Constantine briefly. Of course, Deadman could also logically have the biggest problem with this because he was forced to sacrifice his life in order to bring back Swamp Thing and wants some kind of retribution.

So those are my thoughts on what we can immediately expect in Brightest Day: Aftermath. Aquaman is going to be busy with a war beneath the waves. Hawkman has to deal with his girlfriend being dust. And the rest of the DCU is going to have to deal with Swamp Thing trying to re-acclimate himself to the world. What will Batman, Superman, and the rest of the JLA think of this? What kind of damage can Swamp Thing do and how will our heroes find him considering he can be anywhere in the world there is plant life? Let us know what you think with comments below!

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