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Title: Cowboys & Aliens

Format: Blu-ray + DVD +Digital Copy

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Directed by: Jon Favreau

Written by: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby

Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach, Paul Dano, Noah Ringer

Studio: Universal

Film Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Blu-ray Rating: ★★★★☆

Review by: Bill Jones

The Film

The premise of Cowboys & Aliens is infinitely appealing. It’s a merging of two huge movie genres. It’s a battle between old gunfights and space-age weaponry. It’s James Bond and Indiana Jones. It’s got the potential to be played as a B-movie or the summer blockbuster that it was. It can be funny and it can be serious. And it’s got Jon Favreau at the helm. Unfortunately, it’s a little less Iron Man and a little more Iron Man 2.

That is to say, Cowboys & Aliens has a lot of spectacular things flashing on the screen and big name actors, but it lacks any real substance, a good story and characters that actually engage us. Instead, it’s another mess of a summer blockbuster that had too many cooks in the kitchen, leaving audiences with a half-baked cacophony of filmmaking. It aims for serious, but fails to make us care about either the cowboys or the aliens, and in the end we’re left with flashy lights that fail to engage us. (more…)

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12 Things to be Excited About in 2012

By Matt Peters

This year is scheduled to be one of the biggest of note in the world of comics, video games, and all-around geekiness. We here at Pads & Panels would like to give you twelve reasons that 2012 will be awesome. Let’s hope our Mayan overlords don’t return from outer space until we get to experience most of it. Take a look below for some of the highlights:



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The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Warriors Vols. 1 & 2 DVD

By Bill Jones

Marvel and Walt Disney Studios couldn’t have timed the release of an Avengers animated television show much better than they did with The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Season 1 aired last year, and hits DVD just in time for the release of Thor in theaters. With Captain America coming this summer and The Avengers’ big-screen debut planned for 2012, the animated version offers viewers a nice primer into the world of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

The first two volumes of the show comprises 13 episodes over two, individually released discs, each in shiny slipcase covers. The first volume features seven episodes, using the first five to introduce the characters one at a time – Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America and Ant-Man – followed by the two-part “Breakout” story. The second volume introduces a few more characters over six episodes, and features battles with Klaw, Baron Zemo, The Enchantress and some Gamma-Mutated Monsters, ending with the two part “Gamma World” story.

Both volumes offer a sneak peak at Season 2 of the series, which has yet to air on Disney XD. The first volume also contains the bonus feature, “New Looks, New Heroes,” with the show’s creators taking a look at the evolving characters and storylines of Season 2. The second volume offers a companion featurette in “New Stories, New Threats,” with a look from the same creative team at what makes the Marvel heroes and villains unique.

Frankly, I’m not a huge fan of the volume releases, as opposed to full seasons. I’d rather have one box with several discs than smaller installments. But for what it’s worth, I like the direction of the show thus far. The individual character introductions work well, and the whole thing has the vibe of the X-Men animated cartoon we all grew up loving. The first two discs are a nice introduction to the series, and a great look into the background of The Avengers for noobs looking to get caught up before summer’s other big comic-movie event hits.

For more info,

Pads & Panels received copies of the DVDs courtesy of the studio for review purposes.

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Title: Thor

Directed By: Kenneth Branagh

Written by: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins

Studio: Marvel, Paramount

Rating: ★★★★☆

Written By: Thomas Braaksma

Marvel’s Thor has never quite seen the popularity or had such a creative force behind him since the Golden Age of comics with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby at the helm. Though it is safe to say after this year’s theatrical release of Thor, the Norse god might work his way into the hearts of a large number of new and rejuvenated fans. Thor starts off a summer blockbuster season with a bang, and leaves a pretty hard act to follow. (more…)

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Fear Itself

Interview with Writer Matt Fraction

Interview by: Bill Jones, Matt Peters, Archie Easter

Introduction and Transcription by: Bill Jones

There is nothing comics publishers and fans seem to love quite as much as a big summer event. And this year, Marvel’s camp has tapped Matt Fraction to take the lead writing duties on Fear Itself. Issue #1 of the mini-series hits shelves today, Wednesday, April 6, promising plenty of Marvel favorites, an epic storyline and plenty of spin-offs. We caught up with Fraction Sunday, March 20, at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo in Chicago, and figured there’s no point in us telling readers all about the series when we can have the writer himself do it. Fraction also discusses the Iron Man films, his involvement with the second video game, what it’s like to be chosen for a comics event, going from the comic shop to the con floor and a Spider-Man “thing” he’s had in mind. (more…)

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I’ve been thinking about this for a while, pondering even. Over the past few years, we’ve been given an increasing amount of movies based on comics. Is this necessarily a good thing? You may be thinking to yourself, “Definitely! I need my Marvel fix on the big screen!” The thing is (besides Michael Chiklis), we’re being told the same story a minimum of three times!

Take the 1989 Batman, for example. When the movie was released and shown to be a cash cow prime for the milking, DC began releasing more comics, more cartoons and more video games based on the character. Some of these turn out good like Spider-Man for PS2. Most of them turn out bad…Iron Man bad. (more…)

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Title: Iron Man 2

Platform: 360 (PS3, Wii, PSP)


Publisher: Sega

Developer: Sega Studios San Francisco

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Review By: Eric Stuckart

Games like Iron Man 2 only reinforce the stereotype that movie franchise games tend to allow for the quality to be completely thrown out the window in favor of getting it on shelves by the time the movie premieres. It also shows that the best of intentions don’t always pan out. (more…)

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Title: Secret Identity Crisis: Comic Books and the Unmasking of Cold War America

Publisher: Continuum

Writer: Matthew J. Costello

Review by: Jason King

Secret Identity Crisis, written by a professor of political science from St. Xavier University on Chicago’s South Side, contextualizes the development of Marvel Comics – though nearly all of this discussion focuses on a very small number of superheroes – through the Cold War. This book’s academic roots are ever-present, and as such the book may prove too lofty for some. This is clear early in the book when one is given a fairly thorough chronology of Cold War America social and intellectual history, with large sections dedicated to less exciting topics. Indeed, comic books and superheroes are so sparse in the first chapter that it is doubtless some readers, more interested in histories of superheroes than in anti-Communist consensus, will find this book very disappointing. (more…)

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Title: Iron Man 2

Directed by: Jon Favreau

Written by: Justin Theroux

Produced by: Paramount, Marvel

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Review by: Bill Jones

The 2008 comic-to-movie Iron Man was a bit of a surprise hit. Not necessarily an out-of-left field kind of surprise, but Iron Man up until that point didn’t have the prominence of the likes of Spider-Man and the X-Men. In fact, other producers deemed Fantastic Four, The Hulk and The Punisher more worthy titles to adapt first. And despite being in the apt hands of Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, the script throughout the entire movie felt like something that was teetering, and could just as easily have fallen from the greatness it achieved to the kind of movie one might watch hung-over on a Saturday morning during a marathon of action flicks on TNT, alongside wonders by Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris.

But Iron Man instead found wide critical acclaim, thanks in part to the fan service-guided direction of Jon Favreau. And of course, even more of the success is arguably owed to Robert Downey Jr., who played the characters of Tony Stark and Iron Man to perfection, turning what could have come across as simply arrogant and smug dialogue into something charming in the way of a playboy James Bond. The film still suffered from the lack of a true villain, and it wasn’t high art. It didn’t quite touch the likes of Spider-Man, X2 and The Dark Knight, but it was a hell of a lot of fun. It’s hard to say the same about Iron Man 2. (more…)

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Chicago Comic-Con Part 1 – Marvel: Ultimate Marvel Panel

By John Gustafson

The official first day of Chicago Comic-Con began with Marvel’s Ultimate Panel moderated by Jim McCann, with panelists Editor Mark Paniccia, Assistant Editor Lauren Sankovich and returning writer Mark Millar. This was Marvel’s first opportunity to publicly reveal new details for the line’s reboot after the major Ultimatum wave, and their excitement rang true. (more…)