Blackest Night: Teen Titans #78

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  Teen Titans: Blackest Night #78 picks up directly where issue number 77 left off, with the Wilson Family "Battle Royal" in full swing. Beginning with a small, yet surprisingly detailed recap of Jericho's journey thus far. Personally I've never been a fan of this character and sadly, this issue does little to change that. Having said that, there are some interesting developments that occur do to Jericho's ability to transfer himself into another person's mind. An ability that was previously thought lost when deadly mercenary known as Vigilante, gruesomely removed his eyes. ( Vigilante #6: Deathtrap Conclusion)

In one of the flashback panels we see that Jerhico is no longer as helpless as previously believed, and survives an initial attack perpetrated by his dead brother, Grant Wilson (now a Black Lantern). Fast forwarding the story continues with Deathstroke, Ravager (Rose Wilson), and Jericho, locked in an epic confrontation with several former family members including Jerhico's mother Adeline Kane, and Deathstroke's former mentor Wintergreen. Rose and Jericho battle the two former Ravager's ( Wade DeFarge, and Grant Wilson) and appear to be losing. Rose is filled with fear until her father, Deathstroke, drops down through a hole in the floor to save the day. To be honest this was one of my favorite panels. Instantly Rose is filled with love, which is strange seeing as how in the last issue she was there to kill him. Seems no matter what Slade does Rose cannot help but to love him.
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As you might expect Deathstroke is not filled with love, at least not yet. He's filled with "will" and "rage" and is not playing around. Creating enough space and opportunity to usher his kids into his "panic room" which is stocked full of weapons and monitors. It is in this room that Rose makes a comment about Deathstroke having another "hitlist" to which he responds, "Its not what you think." Could this be a subtle hint pertaining to Deathstroke's new " Teen Titans?" Could the list of names be possible candidates for his new and improved team? Keep an eye out.
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I am not going to spoil the whole issue but there is a "holy sh!t" moment towards the end. One that I am sure will have Deathstroke fans wanting more. All in all I'd give this issue around a 3 out of 5. It wasn't the greatest comic but it did leave you with a cliff hanger and some deep character development. Expect to see a new side of the DCU's most methodical mercenary.
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Character's to Watch

 With the New Year just around the corner, I decided to take a quick moment to speculate on the future(s) of a couple characters who I believe are posed for major changes in 2010.

 Norman Osborn
 Norman Osborn
First up, Norman Osborn. How much longer can he sustain this illusion of sanity? It is only a matter of time before he completely snaps, and now it appears as if he is spreading himself (and his team) to thin. Emma Frost and Namor are gone, Doctor Doom has launched a preemptive strike, and as if he didn't already have enough on his plate, Osborn has set his sights on Asgard. We all know that it is not a matter of "if" Norman falls, but "when."

2010 is going to change the Worlds of quite a few characters in the DCU, and perhaps no one more so then Dick Grayson. The current Batman. But with Bruce Wayne set to make his return, what will the road hold for Dick? It took some deep soul searching for the former Nightwing to even take up the mantle in the first place, but now that he has, and kept Gotham from completely devouring itself, will he simply step aside?
 Batman?
 Batman?


 Gambit, or Death?
 Gambit, or Death?
My final pick I admit is somewhat bias. Gambit, has recently returned to the black skinned white haired look he made famous as the Horsemen, Death. Its been over a year since Gambit returned in X-Men #200, apparently cleansed of the process that altered his appearance as well as his abilities. However as fans flipped through the pages of X-Men: Legacy #229, it did not take long to see that all is not well with the silver tongued Cajun. With his transformation never fully explained, and his sudden reversal back to the Black Side, will Gambit once again become a villain in 2010? And if so, will it be the final straw? Would the X-Men ever be able to welcome him back if he were to turn to the Dark Side yet again?

Who are some characters you expect to have big stories, or impacts in 2010? Feel free to speculate on the uncertain futures of those characters you feel will make a major splash in 2010.
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The Return of Cassandra Cain?

Looks like Christmas has come early for Batman fans, as news of his April 10th, 2010 return spreads like wildfire. Must be nice when you know your favorite character will eventually return no matter what. Captain America, Superman, Hal Jordan, Thor, we all knew they wouldn't stay dead, and or missing, forever. But what happens when your favorite character isn't a mainstream iconic symbol? News and speculation of their return is practically non-existent and even if they do return, how long will it last, and will they even be the same character? With the announcement that Bruce Wayne will in fact becoming back to us, I decided to track down any and all information regarding the return of MY favorite character, Batgirl. Oh my bad, Cassandra Cain. Who apparently no longer had any desire to carry on the Bat-Mantle after her "adoptive" father disappeared.


The last time we saw Cass she was helping her best, and pretty much only, friend, Stephine Brown. When all of the sudden she decided to up and quit. Stating that she was loyal to the man, not the symbol (which seems to be a contradiction from her previous position).

News of Cassandra's return has been limited, but I did manage to track down several encouraging pieces of information. Lets start with the "Note to the Editor" which appeared at the end of Batgirl #2.


A very "big" way? 2010? Could the DCU have plans to involve Cassandra Cain in Bruce Wayne's return? Let the speculation begin. Although I found this snippet encouraging, I wanted more. Sadly I have yet to track down any recent developments, however I did come across a couple other interesting quotes. During an August 20, 2009 interview with current Batgirl writer, Brian Q. Miller, Newsarama asked the question: 
 

One of the scenes was Cassandra handing over the Batgirl costume. What does that scene mean?

To which Miller responded - 
 

We'll get into what Cassandra has been doing at a later point. But we also didn't want to immediately start with the very muddy waters of several Batgirls right away in the first issue. But we'll get into what Cassandra did when she left.

But you've got Cassandra who, in the previous Batgirl run, it's her redemption. By the end of the run, she was on the slate to be adopted by Bruce Wayne. So finally, she's put her issues with her bad dad to bed and she's on the road to recovery through Bruce Wayne. And what happens when that rug comes out from under her? What happens when you've finally found your place and your perfect father figure, and you're accepted, and then the person responsible for that is gone? That's obviously going to send you into a little bit of a tailspin. It's a curve ball.

   
It appears as if Miller does in fact intend to reveal what Cassandra Cain was doing during her absence.
 
(I can not verify the authenticity of the following)
 I also came across the blog of Funnybook Babylon, which had posted a Q&A session with Dan Didio,  Senior Vice President — Executive Editor of DC Comics, taken during the DC Nation Toronto Fan Expo, August 29th, 2009.   

Final updates - Batgirl moving into the old Batcave with Babs Gordon, big Cass Cain storyline in 2010 where she will not be a villain

Wow, really? Batgirl ( Stephanie Brown) moving into the old Batcave with Barbara Gordon? Why not, nobody else is using it. Cassandra coming back, and not as a villain? It seems as if Cassandra Cain is posed to make a big return in 2010, the same year Bruce Wayne returns. Coincidence? What are your thoughts? Do you think fans have warmed up to the new Batgirl? Are you interested in how Cassandra will return? Will she once again take up the mantle of Batgirl?
 We'll be Back
 We'll be Back
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Teen Titans: Blackest Night #77 review

 

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So by now I am sure that the Blackest Night tie-ins have caused the fans of the series to have a collective headache. Well do not give up hope just yet cause Teen Titans Blackest Night #77 actually delivers. Of course it doesn't have anything to do with the main story arc, or seem to have any continuity with issue # 76 and reads more like a One-Shot then anything else, but it does deliver. "How?" you may be asking, with a big helping of Deathstroke the Terminator, that is how. That is right fans, the entire issue has been centered around Slade Wilson. What better character to throw into the undying mix then one who has a never ending stream of corpses in his wake? And just in case that is not enough to wet the taste buds, Ravager shows up for so much needed family time.

And when I say family time, I mean a reunion that would make the Mason Family Christmas look like an after school special. The issue starts off by catching the reader up to speed on the basic origin of Slade as seen through the eyes of his one time mentor and confidant, Wintergreen.
 The real
 The real "Super Soldier"
We see Slade progress from simple soldier, to experiment, to family man. At which point we begin to see just how much Slade has actually lost over the years starting with the abduction of his son Joesph Wilson, aka Jericho, who was seriously injured during the event. Which in turn caused Slade's wife Adeline Kane Wilson to shoot him in the face before her own death, resulting in the loss of Slade's eye. As the story continues we witness the fall of Deathstroke's other son, Grant Wilson also known as Ravager. Who's codename would later be adopted by Wade Defarge, Slade's half brother and person responsible for the slaying of Rose Wilson's mother, Lillian Worth. The flashblack scenes conclude with the death of Wintergreen himself at the hands of Deathstroke himself. Who its was later reveled to be possessed by his son Jericho at the time. 
 
For some, the flashback scenes may seem like common Deathstroke knowledge but I thoroughly enjoyed the trip down memory lane. It not only helps the reader understand the characters involved in the issue, but also gives you a glimpse at a side of Deathstroke that I am not sure many comicbook readers have seen. He may be the most ruthless gun for hire in the DCU but at one time he was also a family man.
 Like father like son?
 Like father like son?
A side that Rose has no interest in seeing as she finally catches up with her father during his moment of reflection. Father and daughter square off in a fight that surprisingly offers both high octane action as well as subtle drama. As Deathstroke tries to reason with Rose and explain to her that the dead are rising, they are interrupted by what eventually amounts to two former Ravagers, Wintergreen, and Andeline Wilson.

In my opinion this tie-in offers some of the best returns the series has produced thus far. Almost every member of Slade's family shows up in this issue and the majority of them are dead. I especially enjoyed the scene in which we see Rose through the eyes of her half brother Wade and see the multitude of colors running through her. Rage, Willpower, and Fear. Only to see Deathstroke later on through the eyes of Wintergreen and find out he is pure Willpower. No fear or rage, just willpower. To be honest I have not been keeping up with all the Blackest Night titles but from what I have read so far, Deathstroke and Rose put up one of the best fights against the Black Lanterns in terms of hand to hand combat.

I highly recommend Teen Titans: Blackest Night #77 for any Ravager or Deathstroke fans out there. If you are looking for this issue to make any sense when compared to the main title, or even Teen Titans #76, then you are going to be disappointed. I'd give this issue a 3.5 out of 5.
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Dexter: Early Cuts


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Fans of the Showtime Original Series: "Dexter," have always wondered about his early years. Through the shows first three seasons (currently on its fourth) we catch glimpses of the serial killers awkward childhood, mostly through random flashback scenes during various stages of his youth. Now thanks to the creative genius of writer/producer, Lauren Gussis, fans will finally get to see exactly how Dexter evolved. "Dexter: Early Cuts" was announced at this years San Diego Comic Con as an animated 12 episode web series. Each weekly episode will run about one to two minutes and can be viewed for free at Showtime.com. Bringing Dexter to the animated World will be three separate artists including eight time Eisner Award winner, Kyle Baker. Joining him will be Andres Vera Martinez and Ty Templeton.

Micheal C. Hall will continue to voice the methodical killer of killers. And the shows creators promise to bring an even darker atmosphere to this already grim series. Are you a fan of Dexter? Will you be checking out the webisodes? I mean, they are free after all. It is rated M for Mature so make sure you get your parents permission.
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Black Panther #8 & 9 What you're missing

When  Black Panther Dark Reign first came out I was blown away. It was truly my favorite read. But after the big reveal that Shuri would now carry the mantle I started to lose interest. My mistake. The series has regained its momentum and turned Shuri into a complete badass. The similarities between her and Batman are obvious.

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But what I didn'expect was her similarity to Iron Man. Shuri is a far cry from T'Challa in the sense that she utilizes the superior technology that Wakanda is famous for. Beyond the crazy gadgets Shuri has the luxury of a character named Flea. Flea is Shuri's eye in the sky so to speak. And when I say sky, I actually mean space. That's right, Flea isn't even on Earth. He orbits the planet while remaining in constant contact with Shuri. Scrambling alarms, detecting enemy movements, unlocking security systems, and pretty much anything else the Black Panther needs. Sometimes before she needs it. This series really focuses on the fact that the new Black Panther has state of the art equipment and technology and she uses ever bit of it.
 Meet Flea
 Meet Flea

As for the former Black Panther, T'Challa, he continues to struggle with not only his defeat at the hands of D oom, but the fact that he no longer carries the extra abilities given to him by the Panther God. Which leads him to seek alternative measures to not only regain his former statues, but beyond. 
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No one other then a single member of his loyal Dora Milaje know Doom attempted to assassinate T'Challa. To make matters worse Shuri follows a trail that leads her into an ambush. After the fight it is discovered that her attackers were armed with not only stolen Wakandian tech, but Atlantian tech as well. Could Namor be behind the plot to kill T'Challa? Or has someone manipulated the situation in hopes the young reckless Shuri will rush head long into a confrontaion with Namor which would surely kill her?
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With Wakanda on the brink of collapse, T'Challa lost in his quest for revenge, and a shadowy group pulling the strings, can Shuri put it all together before its to late? Pick up this series and find out :)
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Is Race Important?

 Wonder Woman can now drop it like its hot
 Wonder Woman can now drop it like its hot
After the Beyonce/Wonder Woman scare, I started thinking about comicbook characters and their perspective races and whether or not it was important. The answer I came up with was yes, HELL YES. Hollywood has tried to sell us a line that its not important what color the actress/actor is portraying the character, but whether or not they can capture the essence of the character. But isn't part of a characters essence the way they look? In comicbooks image is everything. The way a character looks, appeals/captures the reader just as much if not more then the dialog. We all know and have accepted that when Hollywood makes the movie adaption of a comicbook that it will inevitably have some changes. Gambit not having an accent, Deadpool........well, we all know about Deadpool.
 What the......
 What the......

 
But to completely change a characters race is something that's always bothered me. I'll go one step further and say it bothers me when a director sticks a token character in any movie. Morgan Freeman in Robin Hood? Seriously? I remember watching as well as reading all sorts of Robin Hood stories, I remember Big Jon, I remember Fryer Tuck, but I don't remember Morgan Freeman. It seems to me like an attempt to appear progressive or something. Like hey look, we've righted the wrong that was no ethnicity  in (insert movie name here). So when we remaid it we decided to add a new ethnic character. It feels forced and out of place. But is that simply because of the attachment to the history of the material? For example, Disney is releasing a new animated film based loosely of the "Frog Prince." Most of us have heard the story of the Princess who kisses a frog and he turns into a Prince. But in the latest version the title has been renamed to the "The Princess and the Frog" and the story is set in New Orleans. Tiana (changed from Maddy) is now black, and the change doesn't bother me one bit. The Princess from the original story has an established history as a white character and yet here she is, changed for the sake of change and it doesn't bother me. Yet had it been say......the Black Panther, and Hollywood decided to change T'Challa to Trevor I would be pissed.  
 
 The new Black Panther
 The new Black Panther

 Which leads me to my next question. Why does it seem like its only white characters who find themselves replaced? Did they audition Matt Damon for the role of "Blade?" What about Jet Li as "Luke Cage?" I'm not being racist I'm simply questioning the thought process behind what appears, to me anyway, to be pointless Hollywood meddling. When they decided to make a Catwoman movie what in the hell happened between the time that they read Catwoman, liked it, and then decided to completely $#@! it up? Sure Halle Barry is a huge movie star, but so is Danial Day Lewis, it doesn't mean he should play Bruce Lee in a remake of "Enter the Dragon." And what really cracks me up is their attempt to explain the obvious race reversal. "Oh, well, its not Selena Kyle, in fact its got nothing to do with the original Catwoman at all. Basically we're just taking the name and the idea of a woman who fights crime and steals sh!t and turning it into a epic motion picture." FAIL.
 
 
 I don't understand how the powers that be go through a comic and love it so much that they want to make it into a motion pictures, and then stop and say, "You know what, this comic is great but how bout we take Wolverine and, are you ready? We make him Jewish. Its brilliant."
 
 Mazel Tov
 Mazel Tov
 
 So what are your feelings? Does it bother you when a character's race has been switched for what appears to be no reason at all? Is there something untouchable about a comicbook characters appearance?
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Lady Shiva Jason Todd's Mother?

I finally got around to reading, "Death in the Family." The famous Batman arc in which fans were able to call in and vote on the fate of Jason Todd (Robin at the time). To no ones surprise he got the thumbs down and thus the Joker's most famous kill became legend. However, as cool as that was, there was another small yet interesting storyline that had me acting like a fanboy. The search for Jason Todd's biological mother. Which had been narrowed down to three women, one of them being my favorite character, Lady Shiva. Say what? Could it be? I mean Jason Todd is pretty badass right? And in my opinion being the son of Sandra Woosan would add another dimension to his character. Sadly, as those of you who have read the arc know, it was not to be. She toys with Batman and Robin for a bit before she's defeated and injected with truth serum. She admits to having no children. Oh but wait, no children? What about Cassandra Cain? Is it possible that Shiva beat the truth serum and played Batman and Robin? It would be cool but more likely the DCU overlooked this fact when they created Cassandra Cain. So here's my question to you, the fans. Would you like to see the DCU flip the script and announce that Shiva is in fact Jason Todd's mother? Think of the possibilities. David Cain, Lady Shiva, Cassanda Cain, and Jason Todd vs Nightwing, Batman (bruce wayne), Damian, and Tim Drake. They would be the most serious characters in Batman's rogue gallery, they even have ties to Ras and his League of Assassin. I'd rather read something like that then Spoiler becoming Batgirl.

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Aces over 8's

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Finally got around to reading "X-Men: Gambit Origins" and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Now if your looking for some major revelations in this one-shot then let me save you the trouble, there are none. But that's not to say there aren't any tiny revelations of reveals. Like Gambit meeting and falling in love with Bella Donna at the age of 8 in his usual "save the day" fashion.
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Which his adoptive father later addresses as we flash forward to Gambit's wedding. Now I actually loved this flashback cause its something that had been talked about but never illustrated. We get a nice scene between Jean Luc LeBeau and his son (Remy) in which he cautions Gambit on his romantic nature and the importance of the wedding. That with their union (Bella and Remy) the feud between the Assassins Guild and Thieves Guild will be ended. Yet surprisingly we learn that Gambit isn't really interested in that, its simply an added bonus. He really cares for and loves Bella. But not everyone is happy with this arrangement. Julian, Bella's brother and next in line to lead the Assassins Guild objects to the marriage and challenges Gambit to a fight to the death. Which leads to the real reason that Gambit leaves Bella (which is kind of a contradiction to earlier explanations but its all good).
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The next chapter delves into Gambit's role in the Morlock Massacre. Its revealed exactly why he helped Mr. Sinister, not only assemble the Marauders, but lead them as well. Any fan of Gambit already knows about his involvement, but its never been drawn or explained in such detail. We see that he was more or less tricked into helping out and by the time he gets his head out of his ass, its to late. After a brief throwdown with the Marauders he all but gets emptied out by Sabretooth in one of the coolest panels in the book. Injured, Gambit is now helpless to do anything about the massacre. Minus one thing that happens to ecplain the deep connection he has with Marrow.
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Rounding out this trilogy of flashbacks is none other then the infamous meeting between Gambit and Storm. Which is actually pretty short yet in some strange way ties the story up nicely. All in all I loved this story. I wasnt crazy about the art at first but eventually it started to grow on me. Yardin and Roberson's style may not be for everyone but its better then some of the artists I've seen draw Gambit. I only wish it was an ongoing ;)
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