Robin: Son of Batman #1 review

Robin: Son of Batman #1
DC's the New 52 had several memorable story arcs. Stuff like Geoff Johns' time with Aquaman and Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino's Green Arrow run immediately come to mind. A number of titles earned a huge amount of praise and understandably so, but one that I believe was underrated is Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's Batman and Robin. Sure, the quality jumped around a bit in the middle, but the opening story, Born to Kill, is amazing, and there are several other highlights, like Damian attempting to prove he's the best Robin or even Batman's ridiculously dangerous mission to resurrect his son. Now the title is moving forward without Tomasi and Batman. Gleason is taking over writing and the rest of the visual team (inker Mick Gray and colorist John Kalisz) are sticking around. This is obviously great news for anyone who enjoyed the previous run because it'll welcome them back with familiar visuals and even if the story takes some missteps, at least we know our eyes are going to receive some lively artwork.

This first issue proves Gleason can handle writing and providing pencils. The story isn't off to the most original start around - it certainly jumps around a bit - but what's important here is the handling of Damian Wayne. Many of us like the character because of his personality and for the most part, Gleason has a good handle on it. A few moments made me smirk and Damian's blunt desire to call everything upsetting him "stupid" was amusing and felt in character for the little dude. This first issue clearly focuses on showing Damian's confident and won't back down from anything or anyone, but behind that arrogance, there's a lot of emotional weight and he's finally going to deal with the twisted things he's done. Now, he's already proven he can be a great hero, but given the events in Batman and Robin and how closely connected he is to his grandfather and mother's work, it's understandable his past would once again feel like a huge weight on his shoulders. Speaking of huge, part of me is left wondering why Damian's Man-Bat, Goliath, looks different than the others. I guess we can just chalk that up to his love for eating and possibly even some of the al Ghuls' experimenting? It's not like the DC universe has weirder things than a muscular and red Man-Bat, after all.

As a reader of the previous run, I'm beyond thrilled to see plot points from Born to Kill are moving forward. There's an amusing play on words ("there appears to be nobody on board") and the villain's opening draws parallels to the previous story. There's a lot of potential here, but this is mostly setup - it's just enough to leave me wanting more. Then again, Born to Kill is also one of my favorite Damian stories, so I'm obviously a little biased here. Aside from that, we pretty much have to wait and see how the rest will be handled. It really is a pretty standard teaser/beginning that happens to be loaded with fan service for longtime readers. Here's hoping the "return" of Nobody will be every bit as emotional and exciting as it should be. There's another arc in here, but once again, it's basically one big teaser. This issue really is all about giving the reader a proper look into Damian's head - who he is and why he must do something about his past - and loosely setting up the bigger picture. To me, the most important element is making sure this feels like Damian, my favorite Robin, and luckily, it does. I love how the opening builds up this mythos with a new villain and then Damian just walks all over the guy with no problem whatsoever. The first splash page managed to put a huge smile on my face - it was great seeing Robin back in the spotlight and acting how he should.

Whether it's bright moments that are filled with fantasy elements or darker displays of horror, Gleason, Gray, and Kalisz deliver visuals that are animated, full of appropriate shades, and do a more than thorough job telling the story with their angles and use of expressions. My only criticism is things get a little too hectic when Goliath leaps into action, but the splash page which follows it is excellent; I love the contrast of the bold Man-Bat and the sky.

Question: What's up with the title jumping from Batman and Robin's $2.99 price tag to $3.99? It's odd the series removes DC's most popular hero (he's out of the picture for now, at least) and raises the price, too. I'm obviously willing to pay the extra dollar for this series, but I figured the price increase is worth bringing up.

Fans of Batman and Robin and/or Damian Wayne will want to pick this up. Thanks to consistently energetic visuals and a clear understanding of who Damian is, Robin: Son of Batman is off to a solid start. It has just enough action, personality, and intrigue to hook you. Now it's just a matter of seeing whether these plot threads will turn into something compelling and thrilling. Thankfully, this Damian Wayne fan is feeling pretty optimistic.


Old Man Logan #2 review

Old Man Logan #2

By now it should come as no surprise that any comic with visuals by artist Andrea Sorrentino and colorist Marcelo Maiolo is going to amaze your eyes. So, you can bet the duo once again delivers some gorgeous and stunning work in the second issue of writer Brian Michael Bendis' Old Man Logan. The page layouts and angles in the panels capture each moment brilliantly, making these feel delightfully cinematic and the pages breathe so much life into the various heroes and villains. Whether it's a lush jungle or a vivid bolt of lightning, these two make all of the characters, locations, and effects look terrific. Seeing their take on some of my favorite alternate universe characters is a real treat and the visual ride never fails to impress, but it's the last page that'll really drop your jaw.

The first issue was paced well and it did a nice job catching up new readers while also offering something original, but this second chapter feels a little too fast-paced. Before we really have time to appreciate all that's going on or let it sink in just how emotional this must be for Logan, we're quickly thrown into more and more chaos, and a bit of the buildup felt like unnecessary exposition since much of it is covered in the recap. I also have some small criticisms/questions about the wall (how is climbing it impossible with so many powered people?) and why AoA Sabretooth is now evil (I guess I missed/forgot about him becoming a villain?), but those are minor and don't change the score. Despite that, Bendis' script is still thoroughly entertaining and one or two lines gave me a good laugh. The idea of seeing Old Man Logan interact with other alternate Marvel heroes and villains is promising and has plenty of potential, but I hope the book never loses sight of making sure it remains character-driven and keeps us emotionally connected to this older, grumpier version of Wolverine. Millar and McNiven's Old Man Logan isn't just great because of the interesting alternate universe it creates; it's also great because of Wolverine's emotionally compelling journey

So far, Bendis is doing a pretty good job making sure we continue to get a nice amount of insight into Logan and there hasn't been a dull moment yet; I just hope things slow down a wee bit so we can get a better handle on the bigger picture as well. Whether the story gets better, stays the same, or takes a downward spiral, at least we know the artwork is going to continue to be awesome. Thankfully for us, it looks like Old Man Logan's second adventure is in good hands.


Legends of Tomorrow Podcast

Hey internet,

How's it going? Thought I'd make a really quick post to let everyone know I'm going to be part of the DC TV's latest podcast! Twice a month, I'll join Comic Uno and Tony B. Kim to discuss the CW's upcoming comic book series Legends of Tomorrow. Seeing as the show won't debut until next year, many of the upcoming episodes will highlight the heroes and villains on the roster - what makes them interesting, what to read/watch to prepare for the show, etc. - and several other topics.

The first episode - which consists of quick introductions and then thoughts on the trailer, as well as The Flash and Arrow's latest season finales - should be posted as soon as Thursday night. If you're awesome and would like to follow along, below are links to several of the podcast's pages.


Take care, everyone!

Totally off-topic: Who else is beyond excited that Batman: Arkham Knight drops next week?!

3 Temples in One Afternoon

A couple of weeks ago I had a free Saturday afternoon, did not fancy staying home, and was feeling in the mood for a temple .. this used to happen a lot. Phuket has many Buddhist temples and also plenty of Chinese shrines and mosques and even a Sikh Gurdwara. When I started the blog in 2006, I would regularly blog about different temples although (yes I know) most people and readers of this blog don't really care much for temples! So temple-related blog posts are quite rare now. Well, anyway, I had this afternoon free. Daughter was busy with school homework, my wife stayed with her and my boy bravely decided to come with Dad on a temple visiting afternoon :) We headed towards Thalang, in the center of Phuket island, which used to be the main population area before the tin mining boom of the 19th century led to the growth of Phuket Town and Kathu. There are quite a lot of temples around Thalang and I wanted to revisit several to get new photos and update the pages on the blog.

We started at Wat Sri Sunthorn which is a little south of Thalang and north of the Heroines Monument. Sri Sunthorn was one of 2 sisters known as the Heroines of Thalang who led the people of Phuket against a Burmese invasion in 1785. The temple used to be hard to spot from the road, but the entrance has been widened recently. There are multiple buildings, but the main attraction is a pretty darn big reclining Buddha which sits on the roof.

Reclining Buddha

(above) My boy and the Buddha. He's about 5 feet tall, so you can see that's a Big Buddha :)

We are both born on Tuesday. There is a different Buddha image for each day of the week. For Tuesday - it's the reclining Buddha :) Outside the temple are donation boxes, one for each day. So we made a donation in the Tuesday box ...

Making a Donation at Wat Sri Sunthorn

A few kilometers further North you enter Thalang town. On the left side if heading North (west side of the road) there's a big temple called Wat Phra Nang Sang which seems to have had constant building work in progress for years. It is said to be the oldest temple in Phuket (or at least is built on the location of the oldest temple) and is apparently where the people of Phuket gathered to fight the Burmese 230 years ago. There are some older temple buildings and a whole new section that has been built since I was last there in 2006. The grounds are quite large, so we wandered around for a while. Was a hot day so after this temple we had to stop at a nearby 7-eleven for drinks :)

Buddha and disciples

Photography Boy

If you turn west at the traffic lights near Wat Phra Nang Sang you soon reach Wat Thep Kassatri, named after the other of the 2 heroines. We did not visit on this day and indeed, Wat Thep Kassatri is one temple I have not blogged yet! Instead we headed a little further North and then u-turned back south to find Wat Phra Tong (the road is 4 lane here and the entrance is on the southbound side of the road). Wat Phra Tong's main attraction is a "half Buddha" image which has a mysterious history and each time I have visited there have always been a few people there saying prayers.

Prayers at Wat Phra Tong

Wat Pratong (Wat Phra Thong)

A nice little afternoon with my boy. Maybe 3 temples was a bit too much for him :) I am told that when I was a young boy, having been dragged around many churches and cathedrals I said "seen one stained glass window, seen them all!" Hopefully a few visitors to Phuket disagree with that and might enjoy a little temple tour. More info on the blog : Phuket Temples.


Yoders of New Holland, PA Has A New Look

Yoders Restaurant in Lancaster County, PA is one of several supermarket located buffet restaurants in this area. The restaurant has always had a coffee shop appearance with long rows of wooden booths filling the room. In 2014 the restaurant renovated its dining room and removed all of the booths and replaced them with tables for four with the walls surrounding these with booths. The restaurant has taken on a completely new look and it is very much for the benefit. The walls are still being decorated with mural sized photographs of the farm that is Yoder's dairy. These photos are being taken by season and the Spring photo is missing at this point because with the odd weather here this year, photographic Spring has not really begun yet even though I am writing this a week from June.  It is all very nice and very pleasing.

Unbelievable 30 Facts about Google you didn't know - Google Facts

( Tam Ga ) Khong the tin noi 30 Facts ve Google ma ban chua biet. Unbelievable 30 Facts about Google you didn't know - Google Facts

Unbelievable 30 Facts about Google you didn't know - Google Facts

Diving with my Family at Racha Yai Island

So, in case you don't know .. I am manager at Sunrise Divers in Phuket, and have been doing this almost non stop since 2001. It's my job, it pays the bills, pays the kids school, puts food on the table etc. Blogging is just a fun hobby. I came to Phuket in 1999 as a dive instructor looking for work. Found some work. No real plans to stay forever, but then I met my wife who was working in the same dive shop and, well, here we are! You can find a little more on the About Jamie page on this blog! I don't dive much these days, but have logged about 1,500 dives over the years. My wife is a certified diver too and is a very relaxed diver. My daughter has done some little scuba try outs in the pool. My son just turned 10 this year and officially you should not allow kids under 10 to scuba dive, so we were waiting ... And at the end of April we found a free day, the weather looked good, and the kids were excited to learn that I'd booked us all for a day trip to Racha Yai Island. We have been there before on a weekend trip (staying in a hotel), and I have dived there maybe 100 times, but now the kids are old enough - it's time to dive!

My Family

(above) On the dive boat and ready to go. Trips depart from Chalong Bay. We met at Chalong pier about 8am and it was about 8:30am when we set off. It takes about 90 minutes on a dive boat to reach Racha Yai Island. The dive boats in this area are quite large, have upper deck seating areas and some have a smaller indoor (aircon) saloon area. So it's pretty comfortable, you are not sitting with the dive gear on a bench! Also, breakfast is provided, along with unlimited coffee, tea, and drinking water. I let the family relax while I set up all our scuba gear (OK, my dear wife helped a bit). Only took about 15 minutes to get 4 sets of gear and 4 weight belts ready, then I could join everyone upstairs for a cup of tea.

Dive Gear Ready

(above) Dive gear, ready to go!

On the Way to Racha Yai Island

(above) Our son takes a seat with a view .. Racha Yai island straight ahead!

When you arrive at Racha Yai, where you dive depends a bit on the conditions. As far as possible, if there is no strong northeast wind, it's best to dive on the east side of the island. It was not at all a windy day, so we started on the east coast with beautiful blue water. Visibility underwater here varies from 15 meters up to 30+ meters year round unless the weather is really bad! Much of the time, even in low season, it looks like this ...

Racha Yai Island

(above) Racha Yai island, east coast. And we were looking forward to getting in the water! We let others get ready first as we were "non paying customers". There were about 20 on the boat including 4 or 5 instructors leading different groups of divers from different countries. I figured we'd take our time getting ready as it would be the kids first dive in the sea. It feels a little odd wearing scuba gear for the first time and even stranger once you start breathing through a regulator underwater!

Kids going Diving

(above) Our kids getting ready to dive

Phuket Dive Boat

(above) We let everyone else get ready first :)

Wet suits on, weight belts on, sit down on the bench, strap into the BCD and then stagger to the dive platform carrying all that weight! Fins are the last thing to put on, as you don't want to be walking around wearing fins. I helped the kids with adjusting their gear. Checked everything was turned on and ready to go ....

Getting fins on

(above) Our daughter getting her fins on with some help from the boat staff

Ready for a Dive

(above) My wife ready to dive!

After a few teething problems ... both kids would go down a couple of meters and then signal to me that they wanted to go up again .. "my ears feel funny" or "my mask is loose" .. After about 5 minutes we all descended to about 7 meters under water, down to the sand, and the kids looked OK, if a little awkward (you normally do look a bit awkward on a first go at anything!), so we started to swim around. I did not take them deeper than about 9 meters. My wife has not logged too many dives but is a natural mermaid :) I did not take an underwater camera, as I knew I'd have to keep both eyes on the kids. Instructors should be using their eyes to care for students, not taking photos! But we saw plenty of marine life ..

Moray Eel

Scorpion Fish

Clown Fish

(above) We saw all of these and more - moray eel, scorpionfish, clownfish, pufferfish, triggerfish, bannerfish, lionfish and more. Always plenty of life at Racha Yai! Many thanks to Simon Ilett (a dive instructor working in Phuket) for the photos. Our first dive was about 35 minutes and I was relieved that it had all gone smoothly! My kids are now divers! These day trips have 2 dives with lunch in between. The boat was moved while we ate lunch, my son had his nose in a fish identification book and both kids were pleased with themselves and ready to dive again. We had our second dive in Siam Bay on the south end of Racha Yai.

Siam Bay, Raya Island

(above) Photo taken from the boat as we entered Siam Bay, Racha Yai Island

There are some underwater elephant statues here, but they are down about 18m deep, and our depth (for first time divers) was a maximum of 12m. We actually did not go deeper than about 7 meters on the second dive, swimming around in the shallows for 45 minutes. Could have stayed quite a lot longer, but it would be rude to delay the boat :) On the second dive the kids were very comfortable, checking out marine life, enjoying life underwater. 45 minutes went by very fast. After we were back on the boat and I got all the gear stowed away, the kids were already asking "when can we go again?" We will certainly go again soon. Diving might not seem like hard work, but I can tell you, combined with a day out on the water, when you breathe compressed air and carry dive gear and swim underwater .. it really is good exercise! Both kids slept in the aircon saloon on the way back to Chalong Bay. A great day out. Anyone wants to dive, contact me at Sunrise Divers! Thanks also to Noon at Local Dive Thailand for letting us go on her boat :)

X-Men '92 Infinite Comic #1 review

*Click here for obvious yet appropriate music*

As someone who was born in 1985, I absolutely loved the X-Men animated series back when I was growing up. It doesn't hold up all that well now, but when it originally aired, it was a total blast and left me feeling in love with the X-Men and their mythos. It was fun, colorful, and embraced the mutant team's world with open arms. In fact, this cartoon - along with the Spider-Man and Batman animated series - is the reason I became interested in comics. So, when it was announced that X-Men '92 would be one of Marvel's Secret Wars titles, I was beyond excited. There's plenty of lighthearted titles out there for readers to enjoy, but nostalgia is such a powerful force and the thought of returning to this universe filled me with joy.

While this first chapter does sort of feel like "X-Men '92 and Secret Wars 101", it does also feel like it's made by people who have a lot of love for the animated series, as well as the comics. I mean, Jubilee says, "Bang. You're dead!" to Wolverine! How awesome is that? (In case you're unaware, that's totally a nod to the time Gambit defeated Wolvie in the Danger Room and said, "Bang. You dead!") This comic is just a mere $1.99, so honestly, how could any fan of the animated series possibly resist?
Seeing as there's no intro/recap page, co-writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers have to assume some readers aren't familiar with the former show and have no idea just how much Secret Wars has changed the Marvel universe. That means there's a lot of details they need to dish out. Each character receives a caption that says who they are and what their powers are - an effective way to educate readers and it utilizes the digital format well - but once Robert Kelly enters the picture, that's when things begin to slow down for a heavy dose of exposition. This is why it would have been great to have this stuff covered in a recap page. So, when the comic does take a turn to blatantly teach us about the world these X-Men live in, it does feel more blunt and informative instead of entertaining and natural. It's not "bad," but it does feel like they're just getting some basic facts out of the way before we can get to the good stuff. There is some fan service with one page and they do attempt to give one character more depth, but the latter doesn't really feel all that compelling because it's tough to swallow that it'll actually happen. But hey, maybe they'll make me eat my words!

The way the co-writers begin the story feels like such a warm welcome to this nostalgic universe. While some may say the dialogue is cheesy and the drama feels forced, I think it's totally fitting considering the show it's based on and that makes this an organic addition to the animated world. It just wouldn't be the animated X-Men without Gambit blatantly hitting on Rogue and getting rejected, Storm loving to monologue as she uses her powers, and Wolverine and Cyclops arguing because they both love Jean. While the second half does slow down a bit too much, the opening is just oozing with happiness and throws you right back into the '90s. Look, I'm not saying you're a coldhearted monster if you don't have fun watching the X-Men play "extreme laser tag," but I do most likely disagree a whole lot with your definition of "fun."With the way these characters are written and the way the scenes play out, I was absolutely hearing the respective voice actors in my heads and all of the sounds the animated series provided for the powers and Sentinels. It's tempting to give this issue an automatic zero out of five stars simply because Cyclops never screams, "JEAN!" but I just have to assume they're saving that for later. That said, Jean Grey does exclaim Scott's first name a few times. Oh yes, I see what you did there, creative team! Oh, and the cliffhanger? That has quite a bit of potential and I was honestly surprised by it. I thought the use of a certain word meant we'd see that villain in the end, but man, I was totally wrong.

Artist Scott Koblish's work has impressed me plenty of times over the past year or so. The way he can change his style to fit any atmosphere is seriously impressive, as is the amount of attention and work he manages to pack into some truly crowded pages. Thanks to the addition of Matt Milla's bright display of colors - which are of course beyond perfect to remind us of the animated series - this is a consistently animated set of visuals that give off the right tone. Part of me hoped it would be a little more similar to the show's style, but their handling of the classic looks and how the characters interact is hugely enjoyable. I really can't get enough of Gambit's dramatic reactions or the body language between Wolverine and Cyclops. And that one page of Jubilee? Priceless. (Trust me, you'll know which one I'm talking about.) The opening sequence is without question the highlight for both the story and visuals. The digital format really thrives in the first half of the book, too. The way characters are eliminated is amusing, as is the way a Sentinel is defeated. Even something simple like Logan putting on his mask is appreciated. This is based on an animated series, so the extra effort to breathe more motion and life into these scenes is definitely appreciated. Any fan of the show is going to adore a specific page of heroes and villains as well. Pure fan service! My only small criticism of the visuals is some of the bigger pages feel like they could have done more with the space. It almost seems like the pages have extra room just so more dialogue can be crammed in there.

It's simple: if you watched the X-Men animated series, you're really going to enjoy this digital comic. The first half is such a fun way to throw us back to the era, and while things do begin to slow down and get a little too focused on exposition and drama, the cliffhanger is really strong and has a great amount of potential. Put on a trench coat and then give this comic a read. (Or just read it. Whatever works for you.) It's a really good time, especially when considering it's only $1.99. Let's hope the creative team does the obvious thing and begins the next issue with a "previously on" recap.


Old Man Logan #1 review

There are many great Wolverine stories and writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven's Old Man Logan is absolutely one of them. Despite this new follow-up having the brilliant art team of Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo, it's easy to go into this one with a bit of skepticism. While McNiven's artwork in the original arc was nothing short of stunning, it just wouldn't be as good without Millar's compelling, emotional, and interesting story. Now, Brian Michael Bendis has the difficult task of writing the next chapter in Old Man Logan's life. No pressure, right? Thankfully, he's off to a terrific start and, as totally expected, artist Sorrentino and colorist Maiolo's pages are absolutely breathtaking.
First and foremost, there's no reason to worry if you're not caught up with all that's going on in the Marvel Universe or if you haven't read Millar and McNiven's story. The very first page has an adequate recap of what Secret Wars is all about, as well as a brief and efficient summary of Old Man Logan's tale. Because of the intro page, Bendis is thankfully able to limit the amount of exposition we encounter in this debut issue, and that's a huge plus because Old Man Logan's world is so vast. In the wrong hands, a writer runs this risk of feeling the need to explain everything the reader witnesses in this striking world. But in this case, Bendis does a solid job throwing us into this setting and makes sure the way we learn about this world feels natural and not like it's just infodump after infodump. Whether you're a new reader or a fan of the previous story arc, you're going to get a proper understanding of just how twisted this place has become. He doesn't explore too much of it, but it's just enough to leave us wanting more. And the cliffhanger? It has a ton of potential. Now we just have to wait and see where the writer goes with it. That said, I really, really hope we're not going to spend a majority of time away from this world Millar and McNiven crafted. I can understand the desire not to do "more of the same," but there's still so much to explore and reveal. This is his chance to be creative and add so much more to this place. Here's hoping he does that instead of mostly focusing on crossing over with another Battleworld location.

In addition to this being a story anyone can jump into and enjoy, the handling of Wolverine is great. You can tell the man he once was is still present - the good guy who will fight against all odds to do the right thing - but you can also see just how much this bleak alternate universe has molded him. He's much more violent, harsh, and at times, appropriately coldhearted. It's clear this is a legitimately good and kind person who has been enduring in a vicious and evil place. You'll still root for him, but you can tell this Logan has become far more inclined to let loose and take down any obstacle with some fatal stabs.

Sorrentino's art and Maiolo's colors are incredible. These pages do an amazing job capturing both the beauty and savagery of Old Man Logan's world. One landscape was legitimately gorgeous and it made me drop my jaw. This may be a bloody and dark book, but these two do exceptional work making sure it's also full of beautiful settings and the characters are full of emotion. As for the action, it's phenomenal stuff. Sorrentino's able to put so much intensity into these pages and there's one panel of a truly engaged Wolverine that left me speechless. I simply had to just stare at it and take in just how insanely well this chaotic moment was brought to life. The several close-ups pull you right into the frenzy and allow you to appreciate the brutal and fast-paced nature of the fight. Also, I won't spoil who the scene involves, but there's an entire page from one character's perspective, and the way they reveal who it is and handle how it plays out is especially creative. 

Once again, Maiolo does tremendous work enhancing Sorrentino's artwork with his colors. His tactic of going heavy with white and shades of red during more dramatic scenes still amazes and it brings the moments to a whole other level. No matter what Bendis puts in the script, these two do an exceptional job giving the scene so much depth and they always find new ways to impress our eyes. My only minor criticism of the artwork is that Wolverine's claws occasionally appear to be a little too long. I've always been under the impression they're a foot, but when he's stabbing some people, they appear to go beyond that length. Still, it's a really minor criticism and that didn't take away from just how excellent these panels were.

Old Man Logan #1 is $4.99 and it's worth every single penny. Sorrentino and Maiolo's work is truly phenomenal - any fan of theirs would expect no less from them at this point - and Bendis made sure this issue is exciting yet also informative. It tells us everything we need to know about what makes this version of Wolverine different, reveals just how twisted the world around him has become, and takes some simple yet promising steps towards building a bigger story. A new Old Man Logan comic has finally arrived and it was most definitely worth the wait. Do the smart thing and add this to your pull list.


Captain America: Civil War - The Best Crossbones Battles

Captain America: The Winter Soldier marked the debut of Brock Rumlow, a.k.a. Crossbones, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Actor Frank Grillo said the sequel was an origin story for his evil character, and recent photos taken from the set of the third Captain America movie, Captain America: Civil War, show the dude is back with a brand new look and he's ready to punch Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, square in the face. The villain's new design puts an emphasis on armor and gives him gauntlets, a decision that makes perfect sense since the MCU's Captain America is a physical beast and it would be tough for any regular human to challenge him without sporting some extra gear. Still, the 616 version of Crossbones, a.k.a. the one existing in the regular Marvel Universe (well, pre-Secret Wars), is just a human who happened to train quite a lot and has an especially high level of pain tolerance. All you really need to know about his back story is that he's a total scumbag who eventually began to follow Red Skull and he even taught people how to fight at Taskmaster's school.

At one point Crossbones inhaled some Terrigan Mist and that temporarily gave him the ability to fire deadly blasts from his face, but aside from that short peroid of time, he's simply a deadly human who happens to be quite tough and very, very good at fighting. It really is a shame he and Punisher never had a big conflict. They did encounter in Punisher's recent run, but Brock was just a small part of a much, much bigger story. Anyway, you're here to see some of Crossbones' best fights, so let's get to it!

vs. Bullseye in Captain America #377
Who would win in a fight between Red Skull's right-hand man and Kingpin's top assassin? Both are badass villains with a love for shooting, punching, and stabbing things, but what happens when the two clash? The Daredevil villain is more accurate, but he has quite an ego. Crossbones is the more brutal one, but he's not as inventive with projectiles. Well, the two finally met in Captain America #377 and it didn't go too well for Bullseye.

Thanks to overestimating his own abilities and underestimating Crossbones' capabilities (Lester figured Brock was slow and unintelligent), the Cap fiend was able to close the gap between the two and put a serious hurting on the accurate assassin. Crossbones' own arrogance plays a bit of a role as well, because when he does get his hands around Lester's throat, Crossbones states it would be easy for him to end things right there. But instead of eliminating Bullseye swiftly, he wants to make his target suffer a slow and painful demise. You know, because he's kind like that. This delay gives Bullseye the chance he needs to spit a fake tooth in Brock's eye, stab him in the bicep, and the make a run for it.

Maybe a second encounter between the two would be more balanced, but thanks to Bullseye's arrogance, Crossbones was able to temporarily humiliate the Man Without Fear's lethal and incredibly dangerous villain.

vs. Captain America (Bucky) in Captain America #36
First and foremost, you need to understand there's some important context here. This match begins with Brock shooting Bucky in the back (he's wearing bulletproof armor, but it still hurts), so the fight starts with Brock having an unfair advantage. From there, we see Bucky give it everything he's got in the harsh melee fight, but unlike their previous encounters, Brock is able to take the hits and send some very painful ones back at the good guy.

In the end, Crossbones winds up throwing the new Captain America out of a window, but thanks to Black Widow and her flying car, Bucky doesn't fall to his death. He actually ends up shoots Crossbones in the chest several times when the enemy takes a look out the widow to see what happened. Crossbones of course lives to see another day, but that defeat has got to hurt his ego.

Even though Brock has given Steve Rogers rough fights, he's had some pretty unlucky encounters against Bucky. From hitting his head against a hard corner to getting knocked out with one hell of a blow, Bucky appears to be Crossbones' kryptonite. This is the one time it wasn't a pretty embarrassing display for him.

vs. Daredevil in Captain America #376
In Captain America's Streets of Poison story, Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil, is having a really terrible time. Firstly, his radar sense isn't even at 100%, so that alone is throwing off his game. Secondly, he's beaten up by a pissed off Captain America. Thirdly, he's forced to fight Crossbones shortly after getting wrecked by Steve -so that means he isn't in top form - and to make matters even worse, Daredevil leaps into action to save his archenemy, Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. Kingpin, from Crossbones.

Wilson Fisk is able to casually stroll away from the scene, but the encounter doesn't go well for the agile hero. It isn't long before Murdock finds himself on the floor and in even more pain. Luckily for him, he's able to escape the situation as Brock attempts to see if he can find Fisk. Brock has no such luck and returns to the room only to find out that Daredevil has fled the scene, too. Crossbones may have not killed either of the people he wanted to, but he certainly gets an A for effort.

vs. Prison facility guards in Captain America #600
Even a terribly despicable man can fall in love and have that passion totally overwhelm his heart. While Crossbones is being held in a H.A.M.M.E.R. facility, the inamtes are allowed to watch television. It just so happens to be the anniversary of the "death" of Captain America, and Brock laughs at just how little the media knows about what truly happened on that day. One especially patriotic guard doesn't take Brock's laughter over the loss of Cap very lightly and proceeds to taser the villain in the back. The guard then threatens to put the bad guy in an infirmary bed "near his girlfriend." Telling Brock that the women he loves is being held in the same facility he's in? Probably not the best idea.

Many of us would do anything for love, and for Brock, that means obliterate every single guard in his way until he finds his lover, Sin, in the infirmary. From snapping necks to simply plowing through enemies, the mercenary is eventually able to find the woman he loves. The two share a kiss before they're both taken out with gas. How romantic, right?

vs. Wolverine in Fear Itself: The Fearless #7
Let's get one thing out of the way: Yes, Brock's violent encounter with Wolverine is downplaying the X-Man's pain tolerance. Logan's known for being able to take a staggering amount of punishment, so having him temporarily out of commission after suffering several shots to the stomach is selling him short. That said, as a Crossbones fan, this is an awesome albeit brief display of Crossbones' own impressive level of pain tolerance and his refusal to throw in the towel, even if he's facing a major uphill struggle.

Wolverine does have the Captain America villain outclassed in terms of skill and physicals. It's a match Crossbones is going to lose unless he has some major prep time on his side, but this short and bloody encounter is memorable because, even after having his stomach sliced open, Crossbones was still able to trash talk and keep attacking. He may only be a human in a world full of super-powered beings, but he has the drive, determination, and skill to give a fair amount of them some trouble or even take them down. Wolverine isn't someone Crossbones is going to drop, but this shows he isn't going to make a run for it, either. Rogers previously referred to Brock as "as rough a customer as any I've ever tangled with!" This showing certainly proves the fiend's no pushover.

vs. Deadpool in Deadpool #25
Brock's big encounter with Wade Wilson, a.k.a. Deadpool, is every bit as savage and hilarious as you'd want it to be. When there was a price on Wade's head, Crossbones attempted to collect the huge sum of money. Unfortunately for the villain, he didn't succeed and the anti-hero left him standard for a little while. While the two are able to have a heart-to-heart in a bar right before fists begin to fly, Crossbones says he just isn't able to forgive Wade for what happened. After the two enjoy a drink, the ridiculously fun slugfest begin!

Wade's heart isn't really in it at first, but as the fight progresses, the two begin to really lash out. Some silly elements are thrown into the mix - this is a Deadpool story, after all - but after a ferocious fight, Wade's able to take the edge and he begins to pummel Captain America's nemesis. Crossbones is turned into a bloody mess, but it's without question an entertaining fight that gives both combatants plenty of love. As for why Brock is in his undies, well, I won't spoil that for you.

vs. Captain America in Captain America #363-364
Last and definitely not least, this is the very first fight between Captain America and Crossbones. The super-soldier's able to restrain Brock after a pretty amusing skirmish, but Crossbones isn't just a villain who relies on direct fights for a victory. The guy had several traps set up - in fact, the battle begins with Cap stepping on a bear trap - and thanks to his tactical mind and dirty tactics, Crossbones is able to escape as Captain America is left to deal with a pressure sensitive explosive trap.

It's not the most intense encounter around, but it sure is a memorable one and it showed us that Crossbones isn't just another generic mercenary who can only throw a decent punch or spam some projectiles. He's not as skilled or as physically powerful as Cap, but his heartless approach to combat makes up for that and allows him to give the Avenger a challenge. Additionally, Brock's vocabulary may not make him seem all that intelligent, but he sure is a cunning foe and that's on display in this classic brawl.

Honorable Mentions:
vs. Captain America (Sam Wilson) in All-New Captain America #2
vs. Young heroes in Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt #2
vs. Werewolves in Captain America and Crossbones #1
vs. Gambit in Gambit #18
vs. Captain America in Thunderbolts #150

Oh, and how could this article be complete without the most brutal, earthshaking blow Crossbones has ever dealt to Captain America? Behold! Crossbones vs. Captain America's foot! Let's hope they have this exact choreography and dialogue in Captain America: Civil War!
Go get 'em, Cappo!

Hill Country Barbecue Market - NY and D.C.

I am always looking for buffets that feature barbecue and I "sought of" found one practically in my own backyard. Right off I am going to tell you that this is NOT a buffet restaurant. This is a menu barbecue restaurant BUT on Monday nights varying by location there is an All You Can Eat barbecue dinner. I will also tell you right off that I have not been there yet but I felt that I should share this with our readers. There are three locations of this restaurant - one in Manhattan, NY, one in Brooklyn, NY, and one in Washington, D.C. . Each one offers the all you can eat barbecue dinner on Monday nights with a variation in prices and an offering variation in the restaurant in Washington, D. C. . In NYC the meal is only available on the First Monday of the Month from 5 pm to 10 pm. In Brooklyn the meal is available EVERY Monday at dinner. In Washington, D.C. the dinner is available EVERY Monday at dinner.