Anime 101: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Like the magic system of the series, what you get out of Fullmetal Alchemist is governed by the law of equivalent exchange.

Mild Spoilers

Fullmetal Alchemist came to my attention back in 2009 with the announcement of the English dub of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (FMAB). I remember watching the first episode but, for whatever reason at the time, I just didn’t commit to following its run. Recently, I decided to have another crack at it and I can see why it gets such high praise from both fans and critics…

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Morning BS: Why read Jeff Lemire’s Moon Knight: Lunatic in 250 words or less…

The schizophrenic Moon Knight has always been an interesting hero but in the hands of genius writer Jeff Lemire, it’s a must read series.

If you’re unfamiliar with Moon Knight it’s nothing to be ashamed of, he’s essentially Batman with a multiple personality disorder. This means that sometimes he is the debonair Moon Knight with powers granted to him by the Egyptian god of vengeance and other times he is one of several different personalities, including a New York taxi driver and a Hollywood actor. This has led to many writers experimenting with the form of comics and how it can be used to portray mental illness and uncertainty. A running question throughout the series is whether Moon Knight is actually in contact with the god he claims to draw power from or if that’s part of his illness.

Lemire takes all of this a step further. He places our lead character, Marc Spector, in an insane asylum with the implication that every Moon Knight story to date has all been a delusion and that the background cast of those stories are simply other patients. If that doesn’t sell you Lemire has teamed up with stunning artist Greg Smallwood and together they have experimented with every aspect of comic book writing to create something unique.

I’ve got a few words left so I’ll just say this: Egyptian Mythology meets One Flew Over a The Cuckoos Nest…what more could you want?

You can pick Lunatic up for £9.99 digitally through the Marvel Comics app or in graphic novel form for £13.50 from Amazon

Have you read Lunatic or are planning to? Let me know in the comment section down below, on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Beartrails/ or on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/BearTrails

Also if you want daily BS remember to sign up for emails or follow with your WordPress account.

bearsleuthWritten by: Patrick Lunn

Morning BS: Batman’s Patrol Playlist

When the Caped Crusader is cleaning up the streets of Gotham he needs the perfect backing track and the BearSleuth has some recommendations.

Batman has always been dark and brooding, resigned to fighting a never ending roster of villains that plague his city’s streets. There has to be a point where that gets boring. I’m sure there would come a night where the Dark Knight starts to fight with his Spotify playlist booming out of his cowl. With that in mind I’ve created three playlists for Gotham’s Protector:


Rooftop Workout


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This is essentially to get Batman’s blood up. If this playlist fails to psyche him up then nothing will…

  • Harder Better Faster Strong – Daft Punk
  • Last Resort – Papa Roach
  • Numb – Linkin Park
  • You’re Gonna Go Far, kid – The Offspring
  • Bring Me To Life – Evanescence
  • Spitfire – The Prodigy
  • Welcome To The Jungle – Guns ‘N’ Roses
  • Woman – Wolfmother
  • Icky Thump – White Stripes
  • Lonely Boy – The Black Keys

Give it a listen on Spotify here.


Bat-mobile Drive-time


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The perfect playlist for smashing down walls and completely disregarding all rules of road safety.

  • Born Slippy (Nuxx) – Underworld
  • Banana Brain – Die Antwoord
  • Assassin – Muse
  • Back At The Funny Farm – Motörhead
  • Crazy Train – Ozzy Osborn
  • Kickstart My Heart – Mötley Crüw
  • Rap God – Eminem
  • Shippin’ Out To Boston – The Dropkick Murphys
  • Cochise – Audioslave
  • Cowboys From Hell – Pantera

Give it a listen on Spotify here.


Bat-Cave Wind Down


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After a long night get you butler to message your feet (sorry Alfred) and chill out to these modern classics.

  • Human – Rag ‘n’ Bone Man
  • Redbone – Childish Gambino
  • Icarus Instinct- Mr Key & Greenwood Sharps
  • Hold On We’re Going Home – ASTR
  • The Scientist – Coldplay
  • Old Pine – Ben Howard
  • Colors (Audien Remix) – Halsey
  • Starboy – The Weeknd
  • Controlla – Drake
  • One For The Road – Arctic Monkeys

Give it a listen on Spotify here.

Do you agree?  What tracks would you add or remove for Batman’s playlist? Let me know in the comment section down below, on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Beartrails/ or on Twitter at: @BearTrails

Also if you want daily BS remember to sign up for emails or follow with your WordPress account.

bearsleuth

Written By: The BearSleuth

 

The BearSleuth Week Geek Out – LaMarr And Snyder And Bears…Oh My!

This week I am determined to get this feature up at a reasonable time! Last week was just a trial run but this is absolute prime time professionalism in article form. Unfortunately, to my knowledge their is very little to talk about in the world of television so I’m going to jump across and examine what’s going on over at YouTube. Apart from that all I have to say is that it’s been a damn good week and I hope all you back-to-schoolers are settling in well.

The Week In Comics


 

This week is looking pretty strong in the world of comics, the shelves are pretty densely packed and their is certainly a lot of talent to be found. An underground hit of the week has to be Scarlet Witch #10 which is pretty much a perfect self contained story for the character looking at her role in the magical community. Over with the Team Aqua that is DC we have some awesome titles including All-Star Batman #2 and Suicide Squad #2 showcasing talent from two of the greatest creators in the comic book industry, Snyder and Lee.

Marvel’s Team Magma are looking sound all round with some brilliant tie-in titles but my pick of the week has to go to Amazing Spider-Man Civil War II #4, which has to be one of the most complex titles I have ever written. The finale of the Amazing Spider-Man tie-in is probably going to place the series as the strongest of the Civil War II tie-ins to date as it fully succeeds in an examination of the main themes of the event. If you are only going to pick up one tie-in make it this one…then maybe squeeze your budget for the X-Men tie-in as well!

The Week In Film


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Well this week I actually went to see a film which I can talk about, Don’t Breathe. This film was pretty much schlock of the highest order with a particular scene added in just for shock value and so the film can be ‘the film that went there’. I actually think this is a horror targeted at a more female audience as the shock scene is harder to relate to from a male perspective, which probably goes a long way to spoiling it. The male characters are embarrassingly weak but the female lead, played by Jane Levy, seems to have a good amount of depth to her. The villain is essentially, old and evil Daredevil and I find that the film makes a lot more sense in that light.

Like I said up top, there’s not really much in the way of TV news from me at the moment, just finished Stranger Things which gave me a new appreciation for child actors and small-town sci-fi. Heading over to YouTube, Fatman On Batman just interviewed Phil LaMarr and you have to see it if you are in anyway a geek. My YouTube tastes are fairly vanilla but I recommend Yahtzee19,  KaptainKristian and Vuepoint’s Jack’s World if you are looking for something new.

The Week In Gaming


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Pre are in the ten week countdown for Pokemon!!! Like any good fan I’m attempting a run through of HeartGold, Pearl, Black, White 2, X and finally Omega Ruby before grabbing a copy of Sun. I’m going to be grabbing a bunch of grass starters in the way, the unloved Ringos of Pokemon starters, and basically getting myself back in that ten-year-old mind-set. Apart from that I’m continuing a play through of Dark Souls with Ollie from LoneWolfGaming and playing Until Dawn with Will, the BearSleuth camera man.

In Other News…


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The world is teetering on the brink of disaster from a take over of regional pronunciation starting with a plague of government sponsored academies and there will be more news coming on the new BearSleuth writer later this week. That’s about it for this week folks but be sure to come back next week for more sleuthing!

…That was this week’s BearSleuth Week Geek Out!!! Check back on Friday for a brand new article!!!

OpinionatedDavid: Has Adblock Plus Crossed A Line?

We seem to have something of a theme rotation developing on these columns don’t we? I swear it’s not intentional, but the topics that rear their heads for me to cover seem to go in couplets. We had twin entries about DC getting pie on their face; followed by two weeks of uncomfortable conversations about the nature of free expression;, and now, we’re in our second week of advertising related nonsense online. Any bets about what’s coming next? Reboots? New console hardware? Maybe a double-bill of gushing over Disney announcing a live-action Gargoyles movie?

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Shut up! It could happen, you don’t know!

Time for me to get to the point. Adblock Plus, sellers of the leading browser extension of the same name (the function of which should be self-explanatory) have recently announced a new feature of their service known as the “Acceptable Ads Platform”. In partnership with Google, among others, this platform will allow certain advertisers that meet Adblock’s standards of acceptability to buy their way through the filters of the software, meaning those ads will be seen by end users ever when they have Adblock turned on. Adblock Plus then gets a tidy cut of the revenue from said ads, naturally, with the rest going to the advertisers, with a further division of that sum presumably, at some point (it’s really not very clear) finding their way to creators who host ads on their content as a way of making a living. If that all smells a little funny to you, then it might be because a similar business model in the outside world might be called a protection racket.

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So yes, after years of building a brand on shutting advertisers out of the loop and denying creators revenue, Adblock has decided ads are a-ok by their user base after all… so long as they decide they like you… and so long as you pay up. As you can imagine, this news has not gone down so well with everyone, particularly with content creators who had a dim view of Adblock to begin with. In their view, Adblock Plus has spent years enabling consumers of their content to consume without any money getting back to the person who worked to create it (as well as nurturing what some of them see as a consumer culture that inherently doesn’t value their work and feels entitled to everything for free), and is now proposing to make even more money by cutting in to the creator’s share of what ads are allowed to get through. While we’ll be getting into how I don’t necessarily agree with all of that, I have to admit that if I were them (which I may well be before too long) I’d be pissed off too.

Adblock, for their part, have been quick to marshal a defence against the backlash. Their line is that they’re not just trying to make money off ads, they’re trying to improve them. They site market research that claims only 25% of their user base wouldn’t tolerate any ads on the pages and video’s they view, and that by filtering through ads that meet their standards of legitimacy and unobtrusiveness, they will be allowing the ad-supported model to carry on while still delivering a quality end user experience.

Now, once I’m finished washing the marketing spiel out of my mouth, it would be remiss of me not to concede that they may have a point…

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To uncomfortably confess, I am an Adblock Plus user. I took me a long time to throw in the towel and install the browser extension, but ever since I have I can barely conceive of going back under any circumstances (a testament to just what a difference their filter makes to the end user). The reason I was originally reluctant to jump on board was primarily a huge technophobic streak, if we’re telling the truth, but there was a point of principle in their somewhere too. I cannot agree with the sentiment that using blockers is ‘stealing’ from creators. It’s not. It objectively isn’t. For one thing, ads or no ads, the experience for the end user is free to begin with. You can’t steal something that you weren’t paying for in the first place. However, it does still feel kind of morally grey in its own right. I wanted to see creators who I valued getting paid for honest work, so I stuck it out… until I didn’t anymore.

The more conscientious of creators will publicly admit that ads are can be terrible. Not ‘inconvenient’, not ‘irritating’, a terrible, ruinous experience for the end user. I caved to Adblock the moment I realised I was starting not to enjoy anything I was trying to watch or read anymore, as the advertising grew more and more intrusive and skeevy. If nothing else, a lot of users have come to see blockers as the most effective security measure their browser has. I may have felt guilty doing it, but neither can I say I regret it. At the end of the day, the consumer has a responsibility to get the best possible deal for the consumer, and nobody else. You can’t blame people for acting in their own best interests, and as a consumer, Adblock Plus has been a Godsend to me. That does not mean, however, that I am against adverts wholesale. So long as they stay at the margins where I can easily ignore or skip them when I choose to, I can tolerate their presence, which is the kind of vision Adblock Plus claims to be offering.

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Of course, that’s the theory. I may have said something last week about corporate entities not having a native moral compass of their own, and Adblock Plus is most certainly one of those. I have a hard time just taking their word for it that they will choose what ads they let through with care based on what I want (or rather don’t want) to see. They are out to make as much money as they can, and I have little doubt the ad space beyond their filters will be sold to no more or less than the highest bidder. The only thing that will keep that philosophy in check will be the tolerance of the end-users not to switch to different software if the ads start annoying them.

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I could end the article here, just giving Adblock Plus the middle finger, but in all honesty, I don’t see them as an outright villain here. Oh, I’m sure they don’t care that they make a living screwing other people out of theirs, but hey, welcome to the Free Market. In the end, their service wouldn’t be popular if end users didn’t hate ads; and as I’ve already covered, I can’t blame users for hating ads either. I don’t even blame the advertisers (not the legitimate ones anyway). They’re also just filling a gap in the market. So, does that just leave the content creators at fault for taking the money of underhanded advertisers? Of course not. Besides, it’s a fair assessment that the reason ads got steadily worse and worse over the years, was that the rise of blockers made the advertisers more desperate for our attention, and creators more desperate for money as their content became less profitable, driving them into the arms of advertisers with fewer moral scruples.

It’s the system that’s the real villain. The ad-supported revenue model stinks. It’s always stunk since long before the advent of the internet, and it brings the worst out of everyone involved. In my view, creators need to explore whatever other avenues are possible to free themselves of advertiser money, and consumers who value their work need to support them in that endeavour if they truly want to see the back of shitty ads, as it’s clear now that even ad-blockers aren’t immune to the temptation of ad-money. Paid subscription and merchandising models have been around for a long time, and user-donation models such as Patreon are on the rise. Despite the laws of self-interest, it seems consumers when given the option to decide for themselves what content is worth, actually do want to see creators get a fair deal. I know I do, and whenever I’m able to make up for my use of Adblock Plus by paying out of my own pocket for the things I like, I do so. I think it will be for the mutual benefit of both creators and consumers going forward for this trend to continue. Not so much for the advertisers or the ad-blockers, but hey, we’re all just looking after our own interests.

So long as there exists something in the world to be sold, advertising is probably never going to die, but I for one wouldn’t mind seeing its influence diminished as much as possible in the future.

…That was this week’s OpinionatedDavid!!! Check back tomorrow for a new VuePoint!!!

BearSleuth Week Geek Out

Like I said in my last post, it’s becoming a lot hard to find time for my normal Sleuthing, which is why this new feature is coming to you a little late. I wanted to make sure I gave it my full attention and due to a quick trip to A&E that became borderline impossible, I managed to tear some muscles in a fight with a bird table (don’t ask). Anyway, I have a lot to talk about so I think it’s time to stop faffing about and get stuck in!

The Week In Comics


It’s been a really good week in the world of comics. While the shelves were a little sparse, DC knocked out a few brilliant books with the new Tom King Batman Issue Six probably taking the top spot from the blue corner. Over in the red of Marvel is my top pick for the week, Jeff Lemire’s Moon Knight. This book is complex, intelligent and really shows what the modern industry techniques developed in the independent market can add to the mainstream. I also read Asterios Polyp this week and I can whole heartedly say that it is the only graphic novel to have changed my life. If you are able to get your hands on a copy you 100% should.

The Week In Film (And TV)


The run up to Doctor Strange is gripping a lot of comic book fans now with the inevitable ‘I want to get into Doctor Strange…’ posts slowly creeping onto reddit. For anyone looking for a Doctor Strange recommendation, it’s pretty hard as most of his stuff comes from the silver and bronze age of comics which can feel very dated. Check out ‘The Oath’ and maybe Jason Aaron’s new Doctor Strange series as they present the more modern take on the character.

In other news, Rogue One is struggling, to no one’s surprise (this is what happens when you put a Godzilla director on a Star Wars flick). Also a Dark Tower trailer will be airing next month so keep your peepers peeled. Turning to TV quickly, apparently the Luke Cage series looks good and the new Ghost Rider looks okay enough to get people to notice Agents Of Shield still exists.  Personally, I’ve been getting into Stranger Things and I’m going to surprise no one by saying it’s a great show, likely to become the next massive hit.

The Week In Gaming


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This week saw the world of console gaming reveal its massive throbbing erections for the PC master race as consoles take that one bold step into becoming computers. I don’t really care for 4k optimisation so I can’t say this affects me but if you are one of those graphics snobs then this…probably doesn’t matter to you because you already have a gangster rig (or whatever the cool kids are calling it). Deus Ex is gracing the shelves again, which is cool as we don’t have enough ultra-gritty cyberpunk dystopia running around. This week I’m replaying Dark Souls 3 and Bloodborne because I’m a masochist when it comes to gaming.

And Finally…


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In other news, the world is teetering on the edge of destruction from the imminent threat of a mass custard pie orgy at the top of Trump tower and I am proud to announce that we are adding another writer to the BearSleuth roster. While I’m not ready to say much yet SHE is a perfect fit for the team and I’m sure HER articles are going to be a great hit!

Subtlety was always one of my strong points.

…That’s this week’s BearSleuth Week Geek Out!!! Check back on Friday for something new!!!

BearSleuth Announcement: Life And The Sleuth

I have been sitting at my keyboard for the best part of two hours now. After a lot of internal and external debate with myself I have decide to make a few changes to BearSleuth. I love this website but I am also overjoyed to tell all my loyal readers that I’ve just started a job as a copywriter and so my time is becoming very limited. BearSleuth originally started as a way for my to hone my skills while talking about all the stuff I love like comics and writing. Then it became a family with OpinionatedDavid, VuePoint and the Covert Coot. We have seen a lot of success and a lot of  support of the last years and it has been nothing short of amazing. I am not going to lose that.

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The New Normal


After a talk with the rest of the team I have decided to keep BearSleuth running at a slightly slower pace so this is how your week is going to look on this most awesome of sites:

Monday: BearSleuth Week Geek Out: This is going to be my only article going forward and it will be a quick-fire rundown of all the geeky highlights from the previous week.

Tuesday: Nothing.

Wednesday: Adaptive Panels: OpinionatedDavid’s bi-weekly examination of comic book adaptations of films and other mediums.

 Thursdays: Nada.

Fridays: Occasionally Covert Coot: Your favourite Coot is currently on the road touring with his band so when he has time between rocking out he will attempt to get you your fix of anime and geeky observations.

Saturday: OpinionatedDavid: David’s weekly rant about everything wrong in the world of entertainment.

Sunday: Vuepoint: The jewel in the crown of gaming journalism that is Jack’s weekly observations on the state of gaming and it’s histories.

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I am also assisting the writing team in learning how to use WordPress for themselves, so forgive any rookie mistakes.  This is a new and slightly more relaxed era for BearSleuth but I think it will be a step in the right direction for everyone involved including you folks at home as me and the team will be able to be more focused in our approach and writing. This is your humble BearSleuth signing off on my BearSleuth Opinion Pieces, Comic History 101 and The BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle. I hope you have enjoyed them all and I hope you enjoy this next step.

…That was the BearSleuth Announcement!!! Check back over the weekend for a brand new VuePoint and Opinionated David!!!

Adaptive Panels Presents… Star Wars Vol. 2: Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon

Getting straight to the point, Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon is a lot more interesting than its predecessor, and in many ways is the kind of story I wish Skywalker Strikes had been to begin with. It’s not perfect (there is such a thing as too many bounty hunters Marvel), and in my opinion some of the characters and storylines get a little too spread out before converging. However, I feel like this book is far more creative filling in the cracks of the original story, which is after all what I believe good expanded universe material is supposed to do.

In the end, I define what deserves a good write up from me on whether reading it does or doesn’t feel like work, and I blazed through Showdown mostly in a single afternoon, and at no point felt like I needed a break. In all honesty, as far as consumer advice goes I could stop there. Everything else is just me showing off…

Overview


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Picking up where the Skywalker Strikes left off, Han and Leia have been joined unexpectedly by Sana Solo, a woman claiming to be Han’s wife, on Han’s Incredibly Convenient Invisible Smuggler’s Planet. Misunderstandings and hijinks ensue, as first it seems Sana is only after Han, only to become more concerned with collecting Leia’s Imperial bounty once she discovers the other woman’s identity, only to then reluctantly help both of them escape Imperial forces when she finds out Han is wanted by the Empire too. All the while, Han remains adamant than Sana isn’t really his wife, but naturally, is never given the opportunity to explain himself properly. Much to Han’s chagrin, Leia agrees to give him back to Sana as payment for her help in rescuing Luke, who’s managed to get himself in more than a little trouble.

His return to Tatooine having seemingly borne little fruit, Luke’s last and most desperate idea for learning how to be a true Jedi, involved getting himself smuggled into Coruscant, the galactic capital and heart of Imperial power, in order to locate the old Jedi Temple. In order to find some smugglers, he heads to Nar Shaddaa, the titular smuggler’s moon (not to be confused with Han’s smuggler’s planet from before). Predictably, Luke’s plan soon goes awry, as he is separated from R2D2 and falls right into the clutches of crime lord and collector of Jedi relics Grakkus the Hutt, who plans to enter Luke in a gladiatorial battle as the Last Jedi for the amusement of the rest of the moon.

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Meanwhile, Han, Leia and Sana meet up on Nar Shaddaa with Chewbacca and C3PO, who were in the middle of their own rescue operation gone wrong (I swear this all flows a lot better than I’m making it sound, and from there the race is on, to rescue Luke from Grakkus as well as approaching Imperial troops, and for the prize of dozens of Jedi holocrons locked inside Grakkus’ vault.

Oh, and by the way, all of this is just from chapter 2 onwards. Chapter 1 is its own special story within a story, following Obi-Wan Kenobi during his years in hiding on Tatooine. The aging, but still powerful Jedi master struggles to adjust to his new life as a fugitive and a hermit, protecting Luke as a child while avoiding suspicion. All this, while Tatooine threatens to die of thirst around him, with Jabba the Hutt’s thugs ready to pick its scraps off the bone.

Analysis


I left the first chapter for last in my summary because it was just easier to pick up where the last book left off, but also because I believe it deserves special attention. It works entirely as a standalone story, without having to have read the previous material to follow it. At most, all you really need to understand is a basic overview of Star Wars lore, for which I think you’d have to journey to the far side of Ganymede before you found any lifeforms that have no knowledge of it at all. As a standalone story, it’s one of the best tails I’ve encountered in this universe. Firstly, the art is beautiful, heavily emphasising harsh lines and shadows and with a washed out colour palette that reflects how everything on this world at this point in time is fading away (in more ways than one). The Kenobi presented in this story is a far cry from the unflappable Jedi seen in most other material, yet it makes sense for his predicament. What struck me most was the anger. Not an angst-riddled, overdramatic rage like we’ve seen in some depictions in this franchise before, but below the surface, everything about Obi-Wan’s final duty grates with him, and he desires to lash out against his better judgement. It’s sort of how I imagine a Star Wars story written and directed by Clint Eastwood would feel, and I mean that in the best possible sense.

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As for the rest of it? Yeah, it’s all still pretty good. The galaxy far away was never hurting for crime-riddled slums, so Nar Shaddaa may not be the most original or interesting locale, but the characters inhabiting it make up for that in large part. Grakkus is a very different Hutt from Jabba; more refined, but in many ways far more brutal. While I think in the end the question surrounding Sana and Han’s past to answered a little too neatly, she’s still a fun character to have around, who definitely enhances the banter between Han and Leia rather than feeling like a third wheel.

I’d like also for special attention to be paid to Chewbacca and C3PO, especially seem as theirs is the storyline that really gets short-shrift in this one. Their own rescue mission, perhaps unsurprisingly, doesn’t get very far, and they end up in the most unnecessary and uninteresting diversion on the story. Despite that, the two characters play off each-other really well, and it’s not very often we get to see Chewbacca actually take the lead on anything. The wookie is definitely more than Han’s burly sidekick in this one.

Conclusion


Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon would be worth picking up for the first chapter alone. Fortunately, the rest of it is a damn good read too.

…That was this week’s OpinionatedDavid check back on Friday for a special BearSleuth Announcement!!!

 

BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle Week Fifty

For the first time in recent memory the shelves in my local comic book store looked a little bare. With the exception of a handful of tie-ins, there is now Civil War II has ground to a halt, leaves us to wait another week for a main book. On top of that this week there are no DC Rebirth titles, well to be honest there’s a Suicide Squad mini-series but nothing of any substance. So this week we are looking at the fringes and a few highlights I’ve been wanting to cover for awhile which, for one reason or another, haven’t really shown up on my list. Trust your humble Sleuth, I’ll see you right!

All images are screenshots taken from the Marvel and DC Comics apps [Accessed:02/09/2016]

Civil War II: Choosing Sides Issue Five By A Whole Phalanx Of Artists


 

I love Justin Trudeau! I might not know that much about Canadian politics, and the little I do know has come from a close friend and John Oliver, but it is great to see the Canadian Prime Minister turning up in the pages of a Marvel comic. I can’t say there is much more in this book to write home about but Trudeau’s presence is pretty cool. His section is written by Chip Zdarsky who delivers his usual mixture of tongue-in cheek humour and heart. The book is fairly mediocre from there on out making it hard to recommend but as a piece of political-comic book history it’s a highlight of the year.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Issue Eleven By Brian Michael Bendis And Valerio Schiti


 

The Guardians have just come off a monster arc, a planetary-wide cataclysmic arc that is 100% worth your time and attention. This issue is more of the calm before the storm. A brief reprieve setting up the major players in the next epic arc. There’s a lot of interesting character interactions as well as plenty of nods and winks towards the fans. It’s an issue that build heart and character. There really isn’t much to say past that, Schiti’s art is fairly tight and the set up for the big Civil War II tie-in is nice but if you want a big action set piece this is not the one for you. If you like the Guardians grab this book.

Han Solo Issue Three By Marjorie Liu And Mark Brooks


 

When you think of Han Solo you think of the rogue with the heart of gold and this story is entirely based around this concept. Marjorie Liu has created the perfect boys own adventure storyline in space and it is no small wonder that I am completely wrapped up in it. Han gets the cool lines and the brilliant stunts while the pulse racing action hammers on in a plot that will satisfy any Star Wars fan. The art by Mark Brooks is nice and has a lot of subtle detail for an eagle eyes reader. This is a big winner all round for me and is fully worthy of your time.

Ms. Marvel Issue Ten By G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa And Alphona


 

Most of the time the high school drama of super heroics wears thin with me. I don’t like the whinny emo stuff as I’ve been there and I know how much it makes you want to gouge out your own eyes years later. However, in Ms. Marvel G. Willow Wilson has worked hard to make the high school drama mean something, for it to deeply effect the heroine and her heroics. This book is a big Civil War II tie-in and I feel that it will be known as one of the hidden gems of the event for years to come. I like this book and if you are willing to try something different this is a great choice.

Rocket Raccoon And Groot Issue Eight By Nick Kocher And Michael Walsh


 

Well Skottie Young has left the building…whether he will come back or simply leave us hanging while he pens ‘I hate Fairyland’ is unknown as of writing this but I dare say he will emerge with another great idea soon. What isn’t unknown is that Nick Kocher was the only man who could have stepped into Young’s clownish shoes. His take on the title partnership is fantastic, funny and fierce. The story is a loose Civil War II tie-in with more of the group hijinks bubbling up to the surface. If you like the Guardians and you fancy a laugh this is the place to be.

Spider-Man Issue Seven By Brian Michael Bendis And Nico Leon


 

Can something finally happen in these issues? I love Bendis’ slow approach to character development with a lot of brilliantly handled teenage drama but I’m really getting sick of Spider-Man struggling to be Spider-Man. I feel like this story is just ticking over until Bendis can move off his other nineteen projects and give it full focus. I know that next issue or the one after my thoughts will be completely different again but for now I’m a little bored of Spider-Man. If you are a fan of Bendis or Miles or Spider-Man then stay tuned but this might be one you can miss.

BearSleuth Pick Of The Week: Tokyo Ghost Issue Ten By Rick Remender And Sean Murphy


 

Tokyo Ghost is over. Perhaps one of the greatest comics of the last year and it is finished, with chances if a sequel looking middling at best. So how did it all pan out? Perfectly. I know I’m speaking with a bit of fan boy biased here but, I cannot find a flaw in this finale. It’s a brilliant end to a brilliant book and I want every one of you reading this to go pick up the first trade paperback. This is the quiet riot we need in this digitally swamped age and it’s truly beautiful. If that doesn’t sell you on it I’m not sure what will.

Uncanny Avengers Issue Thirteen By Gerry Duggan And Ryan Stegman


 

Another issue of set up as we ease into a Civil War II tie-in. I don’t have much to say about this issue as it simply runs through a few team members and show us their roles in the coming war. It’s fun and if you wanted a little more depth after the main Civil War II books then I can highly recommend it but past that this is in one ear and out the other. This is the worst sort of book to review as its so on the fence, there is nothing offensively bad or angelically good to talk about so I will leave the recommendation to you. Sleuth. Out.

…That was this week’s BearSleuth Spoiler Free a Comic Book Bundle!!! Check back later today for a new OpinionatedDavid article!!!

Comic History 101: Flashpoint

There will only ever be one Flash. Barry Allen is the scarlet speedster we all love and he will forever be the fastest man alive. Geoff Johns knew that when he asked for Allen to be revived during the DC event ‘Final Crisis’. This brought back the Flash in a big way and brought a lot of attention back onto the series after a waning interest from the readership. Then, for his next trick, Johns wrote Flash Rebirth (in a similar vein to his previous Green Lantern Rebirth series which had been a resounding success) and blew fans away with a great story and origin redesign that is now considered to be the only Flash origin. With a Flash fever gripping readership the corporate higher ups wanted a big Flash event. Johns sat at his desk and then after several minutes began to pen the liquid gold that would be the Flashpoint script.

Alternate Realities


 

Flash had recently discovered an ability called the ‘speed force’ which gave him lots of new abilities and so Johns wanted to dig deep into how the character would react to such power. This lead to Barry using the speed force to time travel back to the past in an attempt to save his mother from her death. Barry managed this feat and then returned to the present to find himself in an alternative dimension. However, unlike many weaker alternative dimension storylines, this DCU was packed full of great characters and ‘what if?’ moments. We were introduced to a Thomas Wayne who had taken up the Bat-mantel I when his son had been killed in front of him and a warring version of Aquaman and Wonder Woman. It was a fun and vibrant universe that then lead to the Flash having to correct himself and allow his mother to die in an emotional climax you could find in few other books. The fallout carved the path for the new 52 and a completely different DC Universe.

A Flash In The Pan


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I searched across a lot of websites in preparation for this article and so I can say with absolutely certainty that Flashpoint has never received a one-star or below rating on Amazon and only 1% of readers from Goodreads gave it one-star or below. That’s better a better record than industry classics such as Watchmen or the Killing Joke. There are a lot of reasons for this of course, less people have read Flashpoint than either of those greats for example, but I think a main reason is that Johns manages to nail the emotional heart of the situation. In the main book we get all the set up and pay off needed for both the Barry Allen and Thomas Wayne arcs which is a sign of great writing. The sales of the time show Flashpoint selling out and topping the charts at release. This was a success in all directions and it didn’t stop there.

The Rise Of The New 52


 Image result for flashpoint dc comics

This book showed that comics can be crazy and play with high concept sci-fi, without resorting to the grim-dark ultra violence of the nineties scene. It heralded a new age over at DC where characters could undergo vast redesigns or backstory shifts, such as Snyder’s Swamp Thing or Azzarello’s Wonder Woman, as long as the plot was tied to great writing. It created a shift in the industry and left ripples that we are still feeling today with events like Secret Wars and Rebirth. This is a modern classic with a brilliant legacy to leave. Join me next time when I will be looking at The Walking Dead and how Image comics used a zombie apocalypse soap opera to rise from the dead.

…That was this week’s Comic History 101!!! Check back on Saturday for a new BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle!!!