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Andrew "Radaar" RSS Feed (Chicago, IL, USA)

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The Departed (Two-Disc Special Edition)
The Departed (Two-Disc Special Edition)
DVD ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Offered by arrow-media
Price: $4.94
42 used & new from $0.01

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Difference Between Cops and Criminals, February 23, 2007
I haven't seen a lot of Martin Scorsese films (there are a lot of crime films I need to go see), so I can't say whether or not this compares to his earlier works. But I can say that The Departed is a great movie that is a must-see.

Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) is an Irish mob boss working in Boston. He has been active for decades, and yet, the FBI and police can't seem to build a sufficient case against him to arrest him. However, that hasn't stopped them from trying numerous times. To keep himself safe and have an advantage over the cops, Costello takes one of his young proteges, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), and has him enroll in the Massachussetts State Police Academy. Meanwhile, Billy Costigan (Leonardi DiCaprio), a man whose entire family has been linked to crime in one way or another, also enrolls in the Academy so as to separate himself from his family and make a name for himself as a good man. However, his background makes him perfect for an undercover assignment to infiltrate Costello's organization.

The two men each keep their loyalties to their actual employers at great cost to themselves. It immediately becomes apparent that Costello has a mole within the agency, and when Sullivan is asked to head the investigation into finding out the mole, he has to find the balance between showing progress and not revealing too much about himself. Meanwhile, Costigan is in danger every day; if he were ever discovered by Costello, he would be killed, but he is also forced to participate in the criminal activities, and if he were arrested, the only two people who know he is actually a cop are his captain (Martin Sheen) and sergent (Mark Whalberg). His handlers would bail him out, but his cover would be blown.

One of the main themes of the film has to do with the duality of Costigan and Sullivan; each are posing as something they are not, and it is interesting to see how they handle their situations. Sullivan is respected and is paid pretty well, though he is truly a criminal. Meanwhile, Costigan is viewed as a criminal lowlife, even though he is really a good man sacrificing his life for the cause. Costigan's situation takes its toll on him mentally, driving him to seek council from Marilyn Madden (Vera Farmiga), a psychologist who is dating Sullivan.

Every cylinder is firing in this film; the actors all do a great job, the writing is superb, and the music is great (I love the use of the Dropkick Murphys). The film deserves all the awards it has received and is nominated for, and hopefully, Scorsese will finally win the Best Director Oscar.


Iron Man, Vol. 2: Execute Program (v. 2)
Iron Man, Vol. 2: Execute Program (v. 2)
by Daniel Knauf
Edition: Paperback
24 used & new from $15.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story With Relevance to Civil War, February 23, 2007
In the first Iron Man arc by the Knauf brothers, Tony Stark's decision from the Extremis storyline is coming back to haunt him. His teammates on the Avengers are losing their trust in him due to his decision to inject himself with the Extremis serum to make Iron Man even more powerful. However, the trust issue becomes the least of Stark's worries when people connected to origin of Iron Man begin to die, and the prime suspect is Iron Man. Even worse, now that Stark used Extremis, he is the only person who can pilot the Iron Man armor, so he cannot claim that someone else stole his armor.

The Execute Program story is great, but the story serves as a great lead-in to Civil War, giving Stark an epiphany about the position he will come to head in the upcoming war...


Pan's Labyrinth (New Line Two-Disc Platinum Series)
Pan's Labyrinth (New Line Two-Disc Platinum Series)
DVD ~ Sergi López
Offered by Big_Box_Bargains
Price: $9.17
35 used & new from $0.01

5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the Best Film of the Year, February 1, 2007
Where do I start with this movie? Pan's Labyrinth is a marvel of modern filmmaking. From the enchanting story to the beautiful visuals, Guillermo del Toro's latest film is a modern masterpiece. Set against the backdrop of post-civil war Spain, a fascist regime has come to power. Those who don't obey the law are subjected to terrible punishment.

Young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) is a girl who likes to get wrapped up in fairy tales. They serve not only as a form of entertainment, but more and more, she uses them as an escape from the harsh realities of what has become of her home. The film begins as Ofelia and her pregnant mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil) travel to the Spanish countryside to reunite with Carmen's second husband and Ofelia's step-father Captain Vidal (Sergi López). Vidal is a firm believer in the fascist government; he follows orders without question and expects those below him to obey him. When Ofelia arrives, she finds a rock with a design of a king carved into it. When she examines it, a large dragonfly emerges. Later, Mercedes (Maribel Verdú), one of the house-maids at Vidal's cottage, points out an old labyrinth on the edges of the estate.

After settling in, Ofelia sees the dragonfly again, and learns that it is in fact a shape-shifting fairy. The fairy leads her through the labyrinth where she meets the Faun (Doug Jones), who tells her that she is a reincarnated princess of the Underworld. The Faun gives Ofelia a magic book that will reveal three tasks she must complete in order to return to her kingdom.

As she goes about trying to accomplish her tasks, Vidal and his soldiers attempt to stamp out the local resistance movement, which is the reason they are stationed in the cottage. His preoccupation with erradicating his enemies overshadows Carmen, who is getting sick from the pregnancy. In a moment of sheer vileness, he calmly tells the doctor attending to her to save the baby if he must choose between the two. Vidal's cruelty is sickening; he brutally killed a father and son he believed were part of the resistance, only to find out moments after they were dead that their stories explaining why they had guns was in fact true. During a torture sequence with a stuttering guerrilla, he mockingly told the man that he would be set free if he could count to three without stuttering.

Meanwhile, Ofelia's tasks take her to fantastic places filled with dangerous and terryifying beasts including the Pale Man (Doug Jones), a cannibalistic humanoid with eyes in his hands. Her interactions with the Faun are both beautiful and creepy; the Faun is terrifying yet gentle and Ofelia's lack of fear around him is interesting in that she is petrified of her step-father, Captain Vidal. As the movie continues, the real world and the Labyrinth begin to come together, ending with a wonderful climax.

In addition to the great story, the visuals and sound are phenominal. The creature effects, especially regarding the Faun and the Pale Man, are incredible, and the costumes and set designs are beautiful. The sound usage is incredible. Most sounds are accentuated, from the squeeking of the leather in Vidal's uniform to the opening of umbrellas, seemingly trivial sounds break the silence of the times without any dialogue, of which there are many. However, the scenes without dialogue add just as much to the story as even the most verbose sections of the film. The characters' varoius motions and mannerisms speak volumes about them. But possibly the most essential use of sound in the film is the haunting lullaby Mercedes hums to Ofelia. There are no words to it, and the melody, which is supposed to help people sleep, is beautiful and haunting.

If there is anything I would change about the film, I would add more scenes in the Labyrinth. Every scene in the film is essential, thus no scene can go. I would gladly sit through another 30 minutes of film to see more gorgeous scenes of the fantasy world. If a film's only problem is that it wasn't long enough, that is an amazing compliment.

This is one of the best films of 2006 (it was released in the US in 2007, but will be counted for the 2006 Oscars), and deserves every Oscar it is nominated for. This film is a modern classic and a perfect fairly tale for adults.


The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Offered by Atomic Gaming
Price: $49.95
116 used & new from $15.00

49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars See The Light of Zelda, January 24, 2007
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Once again, Nintendo is able to give a stellar addition to the popular Legend of Zelda series. Despite the fact that the games usually contain the same three core characters (Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf), the games continue to be original. More importantly, though, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is engaging, challenging, and fun.

A few centuries after the events of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the descendents of Link and Zelda, who themselves are also named Link and Zelda (the various games in the series take place across various time periods, with the main characters being represented by ancestors and descendents, all of whom strangely share the same names). Link is a farmer in a southern province of Hyrule while Zelda is, as always, the princess of Hyrule. In an interesting move, the people that link lives with may not exactly be Hylians; Hylians, including Link and Zelda, have always been characterized by their pointed elf-like ears, but Link's fellow villagers have rounded ears that we have.

The first few tasks of the game have Link dealing with mundane tasks in order to learn the various controls for the game, which, for the Wii version, is extremely important. However, after being asked to bring a gift to the royal family, mysterious and shadowy beasts show up and enshroud the land in a mysterious twilight. Link is turned into a wolf while trying to fight the monsters, and is subsequently knocked out and jailed. While in jail, he meets Midna, who helps free Wolf-Link in exchange for help with a yet-to-be-revealed task.

From there, Link and Midna work as a team to rid the land of Hyrule of the strange twilight. The quest takes Link and Midna to previously seen locales of Hyrule such as Death Mountain (where Gorons live), Lake Hylia, Zora's River (home of the Zoras), and Gerudo Desert. New places include Snowpeak (home to one of the strangest dungeons I've encountered in a Zelda game) and Link's home of Ordon.

As the game goes on, Link's quest takes new turns and has events that are some of the most epic actions I've ever seen in a Zelda game. While Ocarina of Time was an epic tale overall of how Link, Ganondorf, and Zelda first crossed paths, there are moments in Twilight Princess that seem to be taken directly from The Lord of the Rings. The final battle of the game is also very well constructed and fun to engage in.

The Wii gameplay is amazing. Swinging the Wii Remote to swing Link's sword, pointing the Remote at the screen to aim the bow, and using it as a fishing rod truly bring the player into the game in ways the traditional control system could never attempt. It also allows for a much smoother form of horseback combat than that present in the N64 versions (though it was still difficult). If you have a Wii, I definitely reccomend this version over the Gamecube one (the only downside is a loss of continuity; since Link is usually left-handed, the programmers were afraid that right-handed people, who are the majority, would have trouble using the sword, so they flipped the game around; what this means is that Gerudo Desert is now in the East and Kakariko Village and Death Mountain are now in the West, though in the Hyrule in Ocarina of time, the desert was in the West and Kakariko and Death Mountain were in the East).

I have to say that the only thing that I would change about this game is the inclusion (or lack thereof) of magic. For some reason, even though magic exists, Link does not have a magic meter. Therefore, there are no spells or magic arrows (or green potions), and the Magic Armor, which makes Link invulnerable while wearing it) is powered by rupees, which can be very annoying. Still, aside from the complaint, this is an amazing game. The story is fantastic, the gameplay is top-notch, and the graphics are amazing. This game may not be as good as Ocarina of Time, but it is very, very close.


The Venture Bros. - Season Two
The Venture Bros. - Season Two
DVD ~ Various
Offered by Phase 3, LLC
Price: $20.75
23 used & new from $9.99

85 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Venture Bros. Are Back! From the Dead!!, January 23, 2007
The second season of Adult Swim's The Venture Bros. surpasses its first in nearly every way. The first season introduced us to the Venture universe, which is occupied by hilarious characters who never cease to reach new levels of incompetance. Many of the episodes were laugh-out-loud hilarious that remained so throughout the entire half hour. So if season 1 was taht good, yet this year is so much better, that really says something to the quality of season 2.

The precredits sequence of the season premiere, "Powerless in the Face of Death", is amazing to watch, though some of its power may be lost on DVD. There was a 2-year gap between seasons 1 and 2, and season 1 ended with the deaths of Hank and Dean Venture, the title characters. In the hiatus period, there was a lot of speculation of how the show would go on (Dr. Thaddeus Venture and his brother Jonas Venture, Jr. would be the new Venture Bros., Dr. Orpheus would ressurect them, Dr. Venture would clone them, Dr. Venture would use the Grover Cleveland time machine to save them), and it would be an understatement to say that fans were eagerly awaiting to see what happened next. Set to the tune of the song Everybody's Free, the opening sequence is a montage of the various major characters, reminding us where they were left and how they are dealing with their various situations. Dr. Orpheus is still upset about the boys' deaths, for which he blames himself, the Monarch is still in prison while Dr. Girlfriend appears happy, if somewhat bored, living with Phantom Limb, and the Mondarch's henchmen have nowhere else to go after blowing up the Coccoon lair. Pete White and Master Billy Quizboy have fitted Jonas with a robotic hand replacing his deformed chicken-wing-like appendage. Meanwhile, it appears that Dr. Venture hasn't been coping well with his sons deaths. He steals the X-1 jet, forcing his bodyguard Brock Samson to go on a global hunt for the good doc.

By the end of the first episode, we find out the creepy truth about the Venture Bros, which was heavily hinted at in the first season. From there the 13 episodes of the season, with possibly one exception, are superb. One thing I liked this year was that there was a little more of an overarching story to the season. The first year had episodes that were pretty much all stand-alone stories, which work with a show like the Venture Bros., but I'm a huge fan of serialized story-telling, and when I started to see developing stories at the end of season 1, I was really excited. The season's arc actually has to do with the villains, though. It is about the Monarch's quest to get Dr. Girlfriend back from Phantom Limb. The first two episodes of the season show how he escapes from prison and begins to rebuild his influence. Throughout the season, episodes like "Victor. Echo. November." and "I Know Why The Caged Bird Kills" show the hilarious journey that the Monarch takes to win back his love from a vastly superior villain.

Still, there are plenty of stand-alone episodes. In my opinion, no other Venture episode embodies that idea so well than "Escape From the House of Mummies, Part II". The episode satirizes multi-episode stories, as there is no Part I, but it also pulls a huge trick by switching around the A and B stories. While the story of Hank, Dean, and Brock's journey through a cursed temple accompanied by various historical figures would normally be the focus of the episode, it is merely the backup story that supplements the story of a silly bet between Dr. Orpheus and Dr. Venture over whether magic or science is superior. "Twenty Years to Midnight" is a great example of parody of adventure tales, with the Venture family trying to track down various pieces of a machine built by Hank and Dean's grandfather. The Impossible family, a wonderfully twisted parody of the Fantastic Four, show up to make things more difficult for the Ventures, and a cameo by Johnny Quest (the main influence of the show) make for an amazing episode. Nearly every episode was phenominal (with the exception of "Guess Who's Coming to State Dinner?", which even the creators kind of agree with), from "Fallen Arches", which introduces Dr. Orpheus' old team to "Hate Floats", which features a team-up of Phantom Limb and Brock.

The season ends with the 2-part extravaganza "Showdown at Cremation Creek", which completely changes the status quo for the next season. There is a wedding, a huge battle led by Brock and soldiered by the Monarch's henchmen, a bizarre fantasy sequence involving Dean filling in the role of the lead in The Neverending Story, and David Bowie! It ends with a great cliffhanger, though after having the title characters die, it would be hard to match the season 1 cliffhanger.

While there are plenty of crazy situations, the show wouldn't be half of what it is without the amazing characters. With few exceptions, everyone in the Venture universe is somehow a failure. Dr. Venture is utterly incompetant as a "super-scientist" despite what he believes, his sons are oblivious to nearly everything in life (Dean and Hank think that an erection is caused by evil spirits), and Brock, though a great bodyguard, has no self-control. The Monarch and his henchmen can barely do their "jobs"; the Monarch is jealous, weak, and unable to understand why people can't get anything done, while his henchmen are out of shape nerds who quiver at the words "Brock Samson". Though Dr. Orpheus is a competant necromancer, he is a know-it-all workaholic who drives away the people he cares about.

Most guest stars from season 1 returned, including the Pirate Captain, the Impossibles, Peter White and Billy Quizboy, Baron Underbheit, and the Impossibles. All of these characters were loved by fans, and were effectively used this year as well. But there were plenty of new characters this year that quickly became fan favorites as welll. Personally, I really want to see more of Jefferson Twighlight and The Alchemist, the two other members of Dr. Orpheus' group the Order of the Triad. Twilight is a parody of Blade and the Alchemist is a gay monk who can't really decided what to do with his life (voiced by Dana Snyder of Aqua Teen Hunger Force). Dr. Henry Killinger is a hilarious "consultant" whose true purpose is better left to be found out while watching. Finally, there was the strange Observor from "Twenty Years to Midnight", whose catchphrase "IGNORE ME!" was incredibly funny every time it was spoken.

Despite one misstep, this is a great season of animated television. Many shows on Adult Swim's lineup (that were created for AS) look awful; the animation and/or plot appear to be worth almost nothing, but the Venture Bros. is at the other end of the spectrum. Despite being underrated, it is one of the funniest cartoons I've ever seen, ranking up there with South Park and The Simpsons.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 18, 2008 9:21 PM PDT


Strange Girl, Vol. 2: Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now
Strange Girl, Vol. 2: Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now
by Rick Remender
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.89
31 used & new from $3.97

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Characters Are Miserable, But The Story Is Great, January 17, 2007
After a delayed release, we finally get to see what happens next to Bethanny Black in her adventures in the literally post-apocalyptic world that she is now living in. If you don't know, the Rapture has come and gone. The worth ascended to Heaven while the rest of the human population was left on Earth. God has forsaken the planet, and now Satan and his hordes of demons call it their home. Those who aren't killed by the demons are subject to Hell on Earth as slaves. Bethanny, a sort-of concubine of a powerful demon lord named Belial, recently escaped captivity when her friend Bloato, a diminuitive demon who doesn't see things the way most of his species does, informed her that if she can make it to Vatican City, there is a chance that she can make it to Heaven via a special gateway. The trouble is that Bethanny lives in San Francisco, and with demons and giant insects in her way, along with a lack of organized transportation, she has a long journey ahead of her.

Before departing, Bethanny and Bloato ran into Tim, a kid who took shelter with Bethanny when the Rapture hit 10 years prior to the beginning of the story. They were soon separated, but they have now reunited, and Tim tells Bethanny and Bloato about a colony run by US soldiers nearby. Thinking that they have a better chance getting to Dead Western, as the colony is known, than the Vatican, the trio is last seen making their way there.

This volume begins with Bethanny, Bloato, and Tim being captured by some of the soldiers. However, due to Bethanny's ability to use magic, she is able to convince most of the soldiers that she is an angel with a mission to escort them to Heaven. She is put under the protection of Mouse, the one soldier who doesn't believe her story. He is, however, sympathetic to her and her friends, and agrees to keep her secret. The circumstances Mouse found himself in during the Rapture have had a profound effect on him, which contribute to his treatment of Bethanny.

Of course, Dead Western turns out to be anything but the Utopia our heroes were looking for, but the soldiers are the least of their worries, as Belial has sent a raiding party looking for Bethanny. By the end, we will learn something horrible about one of Bethanny's travel companions and, well, let's just say that things don't turn out so well.

There is also a one-shot issue that shows how Bethanny and Bloato first met. It is a sweet tale about the lengths she was willing to go to in order to have something good happen while she had to live in a demon-infested world as well as a beacon of hope for the goodness of the demon race (though I'm not sure Bloato's feelings for humans will ever be replicated).


The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster
The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster
by Bobby Henderson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.66
130 used & new from $4.44

105 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RAmen, January 1, 2007
The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is one of the funniest things I have come across in a while. Bobby Henderson, a physics grad student, has ingeniously crafted a mock religion that effectively parodies the fundamentalist aspects of western religions (especially Christianity) that mainstream Christians and non-Christians find groan-worthy.

Henderson created the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, also known as Pastafarianism, in response to the recent trials over Intelligent Design and whether or not it belongs in a school's curriculum (or whether evolution has no place there). FSM claims that the world was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster, that pirates are His chosen people, and that Earthly problems, such as global warming are a direct result of the shrinking numbers of (actual) pirates in the world (Henderson has a graph that shows there is a direct correlation between the number of pirates and average global temperatures).

Using "facts" and "science", Henderson shows how evolution is wrong and that life can only have been created by the FSM, who obviously has a sense of humor due to certain things that happen in life. He also talks about how FSM heaven is so much better than Christian heaven due to the presence of a beer volcano and a stripper factory.

Other great aspects are the twists on biblical stories and places (such as why the great flood occurred or the Olive Garden of Eden) as well as the 8 Commandments (or is it Condiments) or FSM, commonly known as the "8 I'd Really Rather You Didn'ts", due to the fact that each one starts off with, "I'd really rather you didn't...".

Obviously, this book requires a sense of humor to be enjoyed, because it pokes fun at religion. But if you can see this book for what it is, a great parody of some of the stranger aspects of religion, you will definitely enjoy it.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 19, 2012 2:30 PM PDT


Powers Vol. 4: Supergroup
Powers Vol. 4: Supergroup
by Michael Avon Oeming
Edition: Paperback
71 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Super Powers, January 1, 2007
Supergroup, the fourth trade paperback volume of Brian Michael Bendis' series Powers, continues to entertain and may be the best collection yet. Though the first story arc, Who Killed Retro Girl, remains, in my mind, the most powerful, due to its personal connection to Det. Christian Walker, one of the two leads, this one is full of great action, suspense, and personal drama.

In this collection, we are introduced to the team LG-3, a trio of powers who are apparently very popular in the world of Powers. They make millions off of marketing and they recently had a movie released that quickly rose to the top of the box office charts. However, the arc starts out with one of the members "leaving" the team. It isn't clear whether he left on his own or if he was asked to, but it is clear that he was very

unhappy with the two people who are supposed to be his lifelong friends. Soon after, one of the other member of LG-3 is violently killed; it seems as if a bomb were placed within him, as he pretty much exploded.

Walker and his partner Deena Pilgrim, two detectives who specialize in powers-related homicides, are put on the case. As they begin questioning Boogie Girl, the third member of LG-3, they begin to see that something is a little off about this group of friends and heroes, and when Boogie Girl completely loses her mind and unleashes her powers on Walker, Pilgrim, and the other people attending the questioning (including her seedy lawyer), they are forced to reevaluate the accepted opinions of the origins and

personalities of LG-3.

As the story plays out, Walker and Pilgrim learn of a strange conspiracy that details the origins of the group. But in order to get to the bottom of things, Walker is forced to delve into his past as Diamond, his powers identity that he used before he was robbed of his abilities.

Supergroup is a superb story. However, it does have a few flaws. First and foremost, this collection continues the tradition of the Powers trades losing some dialogue and art in the binding. Obviously, this is a problem with the format, not the story. I find it very annoying that Image can't seem to find a way to bind the book so that we don't lose anything important. Strangely, the only other book I've read that this is an issue with is Alias, which is another Bendis book (I have the omnibus, and on one page, some stuff gets lost). Another problem is the pacing. While the story is great overall, I've noticed that this, along with the previous Powers story arcs, start off a tad boring, then get over-the-top amazing towards the end. Obviously, Bendis saves the best stuff for the end, but the beginning of the stories shouldn't be so hard to get through. A friend of mine told me that Bendis tends to write for trades, making arcs 5 or 6 issues long and reserving the exposition for the first 1 or 2 issues and the action and final twists for the last issues. I am beginning to see that he was right, and this can act as both a blessing and curse for Bendis.

Still, Powers is a great read and is an interesting look at superheroes. It is a book that any superhero fan should read.


Fables Vol. 8: Wolves
Fables Vol. 8: Wolves
by Bill Willingham
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.21
127 used & new from $7.98

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leader of the Wolf Pack, December 26, 2006
This review is from: Fables Vol. 8: Wolves (Paperback)
If you aren't reading Fables, you have no idea what you're missing. The eighth volume of the series, taking us from issue 48 through 51, is still great. The series only gets better with age; it started off well, improved, and is able to continually find new ways to entertain instead of relying on old plot devices to keep audiences coming back.

The 2-party Wolves storline is the culmination of a story that started all the way back in the third trade paperback, when Bigby Wolf learned that he had impregnated Snow White. She eventually gave birth to his cubs, who were forced to live at the Farm due to their inhuman appearance. The Farm is an annex of Fabletown, a refugee colony for Fables in our mundane world. Fables that cannot pass for human are relegated to the Farm so that no "mundy" finds out about the existence of Fables. Bigby is not allowed to go to the farm due to the things that he has done to certain non-human Fables back in the Homelands, so he left Fabletown for good after Beast replaced him as sheriff. However, the new mayor, Prince Charming, realized that he would need Bigby's help for something important, and he employed Mowgli, of the Jungle Book, to get Bigby back. Wolves finally shows Mowgli's hunt for Bigby, showing two master hunters/trackers/wilderness survivors doing what they do best. The double-sized Issue 50 reveals why Charming needed Bigby, and brings together 2 Fables in marriage. Finally, the stand-alone story Big and small is a continuation of a story from the previous issue and showcases another one of Cinderella's missions. Cinderella may be perceived as a bratty store clerk by most other Fables, but in reality, she is a spy employed by the Sheriff's office who undertakes missions for the safety of Fabletown. Her latest mission is a diplomatic trip to the Cloud Kingdoms, which is where Jack had visited when he planted his magic beans.

Bill Willingham is a master of storytelling. He takes the characters from fairy tales we read growing up and twists them into new and compelling characters. Fables is a must read for any comics fan.


No Title Available

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Venture Bros. Are Back! From the Dead!!, December 9, 2006
The second season of Adult Swim's The Venture Bros. surpasses its first in nearly every way. The first season introduced us to the Venture universe, which is occupied by hilarious characters who never cease to reach new levels of incompetance. Many of the episodes were laugh-out-loud hilarious that remained so throughout the entire half hour. So if season 1 was taht good, yet this year is so much better, that really says something to the quality of season 2.

The precredits sequence of the season premiere, "Powerless in the Face of Death", is amazing to watch, though some of its power may be lost on DVD. There was a 2-year gap between seasons 1 and 2, and season 1 ended with the deaths of Hank and Dean Venture, the title characters. In the hiatus period, there was a lot of speculation of how the show would go on (Dr. Thaddeus Venture and his brother Jonas Venture, Jr. would be the new Venture Bros., Dr. Orpheus would ressurect them, Dr. Venture would clone them, Dr. Venture would use the Grover Cleveland time machine to save them), and it would be an understatement to say that fans were eagerly awaiting to see what happened next. Set to the tune of the song Everybody's Free, the opening sequence is a montage of the various major characters, reminding us where they were left and how they are dealing with their various situations. Dr. Orpheus is still upset about the boys' deaths, for which he blames himself, the Monarch is still in prison while Dr. Girlfriend appears happy, if somewhat bored, living with Phantom Limb, and the Mondarch's henchmen have nowhere else to go after blowing up the Coccoon lair. Pete White and Master Billy Quizboy have fitted Jonas with a robotic hand replacing his deformed chicken-wing-like appendage. Meanwhile, it appears that Dr. Venture hasn't been coping well with his sons deaths. He steals the X-1 jet, forcing his bodyguard Brock Samson to go on a global hunt for the good doc.

By the end of the first episode, we find out the creepy truth about the Venture Bros, which was heavily hinted at in the first season. From there the 13 episodes of the season, with possibly one exception, are superb. One thing I liked this year was that there was a little more of an overarching story to the season. The first year had episodes that were pretty much all stand-alone stories, which work with a show like the Venture Bros., but I'm a huge fan of serialized story-telling, and when I started to see developing stories at the end of season 1, I was really excited. The season's arc actually has to do with the villains, though. It is about the Monarch's quest to get Dr. Girlfriend back from Phantom Limb. The first two episodes of the season show how he escapes from prison and begins to rebuild his influence. Throughout the season, episodes like "Victor. Echo. November." and "I Know Why The Caged Bird Kills" show the hilarious journey that the Monarch takes to win back his love from a vastly superior villain.

Still, there are plenty of stand-alone episodes. In my opinion, no other Venture episode embodies that idea so well than "Escape From the House of Mummies, Part II". The episode satirizes multi-episode stories, as there is no Part I, but it also pulls a huge trick by switching around the A and B stories. While the story of Hank, Dean, and Brock's journey through a cursed temple accompanied by various historical figures would normally be the focus of the episode, it is merely the backup story that supplements the story of a silly bet between Dr. Orpheus and Dr. Venture over whether magic or science is superior. "Twenty Years to Midnight" is a great example of parody of adventure tales, with the Venture family trying to track down various pieces of a machine built by Hank and Dean's grandfather. The Impossible family, a wonderfully twisted parody of the Fantastic Four, show up to make things more difficult for the Ventures, and a cameo by Johnny Quest (the main influence of the show) make for an amazing episode. Nearly every episode was phenominal (with the exception of "Guess Who's Coming to State Dinner?", which even the creators kind of agree with), from "Fallen Arches", which introduces Dr. Orpheus' old team to "Hate Floats", which features a team-up of Phantom Limb and Brock.

The season ends with the 2-part extravaganza "Showdown at Cremation Creek", which completely changes the status quo for the next season. There is a wedding, a huge battle led by Brock and soldiered by the Monarch's henchmen, a bizarre fantasy sequence involving Dean filling in the role of the lead in The Neverending Story, and David Bowie! It ends with a great cliffhanger, though after having the title characters die, it would be hard to match the season 1 cliffhanger.

While there are plenty of crazy situations, the show wouldn't be half of what it is without the amazing characters. With few exceptions, everyone in the Venture universe is somehow a failure. Dr. Venture is utterly incompetant as a "super-scientist" despite what he believes, his sons are oblivious to nearly everything in life (Dean and Hank think that an erection is caused by evil spirits), and Brock, though a great bodyguard, has no self-control. The Monarch and his henchmen can barely do their "jobs"; the Monarch is jealous, weak, and unable to understand why people can't get anything done, while his henchmen are out of shape nerds who quiver at the words "Brock Samson". Though Dr. Orpheus is a competant necromancer, he is a know-it-all workaholic who drives away the people he cares about.

Most guest stars from season 1 returned, including the Pirate Captain, the Impossibles, Peter White and Billy Quizboy, Baron Underbheit, and the Impossibles. All of these characters were loved by fans, and were effectively used this year as well. But there were plenty of new characters this year that quickly became fan favorites as welll. Personally, I really want to see more of Jefferson Twighlight and The Alchemist, the two other members of Dr. Orpheus' group the Order of the Triad. Twilight is a parody of Blade and the Alchemist is a gay monk who can't really decided what to do with his life (voiced by Dana Snyder of Aqua Teen Hunger Force). Dr. Henry Killinger is a hilarious "consultant" whose true purpose is better left to be found out while watching. Finally, there was the strange Observor from "Twenty Years to Midnight", whose catchphrase "IGNORE ME!" was incredibly funny every time it was spoken.

Despite one misstep, this is a great season of animated television. Many shows on Adult Swim's lineup (that were created for AS) look awful; the animation and/or plot appear to be worth almost nothing, but the Venture Bros. is at the other end of the spectrum. Despite being underrated, it is one of the funniest cartoons I've ever seen, ranking up there with South Park and The Simpsons.


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