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Almost five years ago, 2K Games and Starbreeze Studios released one of my favorite games of this console generation, "The Darkness." The game's gritty, gory world, mixed with just enough of the comic book source material's canon, led to a throughly enjoyable first-person shooter. After a long wait – too long, really – Jackie Estacado is back in "The Darkness II," available today.

If you're a member of the first game's cult following, there's a good chance you've followed the sequel's production. But just in case you somehow remained unaware of "Darkness II," or maybe you're new to the franchise, here's a quick rundown of what to expect.

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"The Amazing Spider-Man" movie tie-in game is actually looking pretty decent – based on the little bit Beenox and Activision have shown so far. We've previously seen concept art and a brief trailer, but now there's an in-game screenshot. A single, solitary, in-game screenshot.

A wealth of info it's not, but I suppose you can stare longingly at it, making up what the rest of the game looks like.

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Avengers

The "Avengers" hype train is pulling out of the station, and while production photos are slowly making their way out every week, Marvel is hoping to put the superhero vibe in your social network. If you're tired of cultivating turnips, or writing your name with corn, or whatever it is one does with "FarmVille," an "Avengers" themed game just might be the answer.

Marvel has teamed up with social game developer Playdom to release "Marvel: Avengers Alliance," a casual action/role-playing game that features "dozens" of Marvel characters.

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"Lego Batman" is really popular; as in, sold over 11 million copies since releasing back in 2008, popular. While other Lego videogames have performed well – the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" adaptations immediately come to mind – the Dark Knight's turn with virtual plastic blocks has outpaced them all.

So, it should come as no surprise that Warner Bros. and Traveller's Tales have decided to create a follow-up game. The fact that the sequel adds more superheroes into the mix – DC heroes, natch – actually sounds pretty great.

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Hulk

Zen Studios and Marvel have collaborated previously on successful pinball titles, adding superhero-themed tables to existing products like "Pinball FX 2" for Xbox 360, or "Marvel Pinball" for PlayStation Network. The Marvel tables are really great – and they're addictive, so addictive – so it's nice to hear that the two companies are interested in continuing their work together.

Sometime later this year, we'll see a new "Incredible Hulk" table. Well, at least we know he's going to be involved in a table -- it's still not immediately clear whether or not that table is actually an "Avengers" tie-in.

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Marvel

When it comes to videogame-related news, there's two times a year when things slow to an absolute crawl. The first being the middle of summer, and the second being – well, this whole week. Of course, after the New Year arrives, we're sure to get inundated with the hubbub of things to come, but in the meantime news about avatar clothes will have to suffice.

Just before the holiday, Marvel announced the release of some superhero-themed shirts, props, and other paraphernalia for the Xbox Live avatar marketplace. The good news? You can finally adorn your digital doppelganger with giant Hulk hands.

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Arkham City

"Batman: Arkham City" has performed exceptionally well; that's the four VGAs, nearly unanimous critical praise, and millions in sales variety of "exceptionally well." Rocksteady Studios and Warner Bros. would like to thank you for filling their coffers and award shelves – companies have those, right? – by throwing a couple freebies your way.

Today, those who have purchased one of the game's many unlockable Batman skins no longer have to finish the game completely to access their outfits. What's more, everyone is getting a free downloadable Bat-suit tomorrow, in the style of Grant Morrison's "Batman Incorporated."

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Arkham City

Superhero games don't have the most illustrious history. Sure, there have been exceptions to the rule, but prior to Rocksteady Studio's groundbreaking "Batman: Arkham Asylum," the majority of comic book adaptations were absolute garbage. That sounds like a cruel comment, but have you looked at older Batman games, for instance? I would rather stab myself in the eye with a pencil.

So, it was no small task when the developer decided to follow up "Asylum" with a sequel. Though the team had managed to create a Batman title that treated the property with respect, could they make a game that was actually better than its predecessor? Thankfully, "Arkham City" did precisely that, and in doing so, is arguably the best superhero game ever created.

Here's just five ways "Arkham City" changed the comic-book videogame landscape forever.

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Spider-Man

Last week, we showed you the teaser trailer for Activision and Beenox's upcoming "Amazing Spider-Man" game. As is custom among teasers, the video didn't reveal a whole lot, but Saturday night during the Spike Video Game Awards, a full-length trailer for the movie tie-in game premiered. There's robots, Oscorp, and of course a web-slinging Spidey, so be sure to check the trailer out below.

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Saturday night, industry luminaries gathered in Los Angeles to celebrate the best that videogames had to offer for 2011. Whether you love or loathe the somewhat campy Spike Video Game Awards, the show does provide a chance to honor some of the year's best titles, as well as revealing new games via world premiere trailers.

"Batman: Arkham City" held its own within the crowd of nominees, taking home four awards across multiple categories.

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Cover Artist

Splash Page welcomes Ed Tadem to our cover artist family (our custom-designed theme up top). Currently working on the forthcoming "Avengers" animated series, Tadem's work can also be seen in the "Jackie Karma" issues of Image's "'76," and in "Pop Gun, Volume 1." Ed Tadem can be found online at EdTadem.com.
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