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Posts tagged “Reviews

Review DC TV shows 2016-2017 seasons

It’s time to review DC Comics’ Television properties, and how they fared this season.  I’ll keep it fairly simple this time around, but will take an overall look at the following: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow season 2, The Flash season 3, Arrow season 5, Supergirl season 2, Powerless season 1, and Gotham season 3.  I’ll also mention the crossover episode “Invasion” as a separate entity.

First up is Legends of Tomorrow Season 2:

dctvWhile the first season was subpar, the concept improved for the second season.  The good: The characters were all done well.  They were really the focus of what made this year work.  Finally seeing a version of the Legion of Doom was a much better antagonist than Vandal Savage the year before.  The cliff hanger at the end of the finale was also really great segue into making me want to come back for at least the premier of ssn 3.  The Bad: The writers of this show have no idea what they are doing with time travel.  They talk about time aberrations and how they are supposed to stop them from happening, but the characters have no problem sleeping with other people from different timelines or killing them.  Then they worry about one mistake that Stein made by talking to his younger self which created a daughter he never had.  I call B.S. that this would be their worst problem.  Overall: This show is just painful to watch.  I keep watching because the comic book nerd in me desires to see these great characters.  There are moments that make me smile, but overall it’s not something a regular audience of non-comic book fans would want to see.  If they could understand a little more about the potential of traveling through time, then it’d have potential, but otherwise it’s just sloppy writing.  I give season 2 a sCrypt rating of 2.5/5.

Supergirl Season 2:

Where to begin… hmmm… The transition of this show to the CW really hurt it, but I can’t just blame the station move.  The Good: Martian Manhunter, Superman, Mon-El, The Guardian and Teri Hatcher were the best things about the season.  Their stories were good, and though I had reservations about the Guardian, he turned out to be quite enjoyable.  The Bad:  Oh where to begin.  Fire all the writers.  It’s the only thing that will save this show because it’s downright hard to watch.  First off is the Alex and Maggie relationship.  I get it.  They are an item.  I have no problem with a lesbian couple in the show, but this was so forced and hard to watch it made me cringe.  They spent more time focusing on this unnatural progression into a gay relationship that it often overshadowed the main narrative.  I knew we’d have Maggie in some sort of relationship with a woman too, but it could have been anyone else.  They changed Alex (who showed that she had an attraction to men in the first season) to being an item with Maggie.  The two characters on their own could be great, but the way this was forced was so bad the writers seemed like amateurs.  And before anyone claims that I’m bashing the LGBTQRSTUV community, that is not the case at all.  I’ve got friends and family who fall into that category.  I would have the exact same issues if they did this with straight characters because it was so badly done and took center stage over the rest of the plot.  Then they cut Cat Grant out of the picture… then they had Supergirl beat Superman in a really lame fighting scene that went on way too long for its lack of showmanship, then they changed Cat from one political standing to another without explanation and tried to force a message, then they had Lynda Carter as an alien president without much explanation as to why they would not feel threatened by a president who had the biggest lie of any president (and that’s saying a lot nowadays), then there’s that weird ending which I can only assume means we are getting Doomsday on a TV budget when they couldn’t even do it right in the movies.  WTF writers?  Did anyone watch this heaping bag of horse manure before they decided to air it on television?  Ugh I’m done my rant.  Overall: When a hero like Supergirl with some major characters is worse than watching a show with bad time travel in its writing, there is something amiss.  I can barely give this second season a 1 out of 5 sCrypt Ratings.

Arrow Season 5:

Thank goodness this got better.  While last season was subpar, this season was my favorite by far.  The Good: Everything in the latter half of the season was great.  I was upset at first that they were going to do ANOTHER Black Canary instead of reforming Laurel of Earth 2, but when it turned out her name was Dinah Drake, I accepted it.  Hopefully we see her and Oliver as an item and keep that Arrow / Black Canary love story.  Deathstroke’s return and the whole final episode was very emotional.  Season 6 could quite literally be a reboot to the whole series with just Oliver and his son, but I’m assuming one or two people will escape the island.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Diggle, Dinah, Speedy, and Slade to have survived.  The Bad: In the beginning of the season it was very rushed.  They jam packed all these new recruits onto the team, and it took away from story.  Wild Dog was annoying at first, but I grew to really like the character.  Other than the expansion of “Team Arrow”, I didn’t find much wrong here.  Overall: There’s a lot they can do for the next season now that the flashbacks are all caught up.  I have no idea where they will go with it, but if they continue this approach it’d be more than welcome.  I give season 5 of arrow a 4.5 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.

Invasion Crossover episode:

I didn’t think they’d be able to pull off crossing over Supergirl, Arrow, Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow, but they managed… sort of.  Obviously their budget had limitations, but the story worked and each character was utilized well.  If I had one complaint it would be that it really wasn’t a 4 part episode, because it began as a stinger at the end of the Supergirl episode, which was rehashed in Flash.  Despite this false advertisement in my mind, it was enjoyable.  I give it a 3 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.

The Flash Season 3:

This season had its ups and downs.  The Good: Jay Garrick and Wally West were very welcome in this season.  The Flashpoint approach was done well, and Killer Frost’s story really hit the mark; even if I wanted to see her become a full fledged villain at the end.  Who knows where that’ll go.  They hit an emotional level with the viewers too that won’t be forgotten.  The Bad: Savitar, while not all that horrible of a villain just looked really stupid.  I hated the costume, and wasn’t really sold on the true reveal of his identity.  The story felt drawn out with some great filler episodes to break it up, but that detracted from the continual plot.  There was a point during the Grodd storyline (which I loved, so it’s not all bad), that I almost forgot about Savitar’s threat.  Overall: They managed to clear up some of the cluster-F that was last season, and created a pretty decent flow.  The twists and shocking reveals really held it high on the standards chart.  If there is any season finale that sets up the premier of next season it would be this one.  I hope we see more of Jay Garrick and even Wally suiting up as the Flash would be great.  As long as there isn’t another speedster as the main villain I think Flash can do a whole lot more.  I give it 3.5 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.

Powerless-S01E04-1080p-HDTVPowerless Season 1:

I’ll get straight to it.  The Good: If you enjoy the Office, and it’s type of humor, then this show is for you.  It’s funny and creative.  I loved the characters, and the fact that they are a little over the top.  It sounds like a dumb idea, but the show really worked for me.  It was a break from all the other comic book shows on television right now.  The Bad: Aside from very horrible budget effects and cosplay looking costumes, the only other bad thing I can say is that it was cancelled.  Overall: If I had to say that there was one show that paid homage to the comics, while feeling refreshing it was this one.  I only got to see the first 9 episodes, as the final 3 were pulled when the show was cancelled.  If more people gave it a chance, I think it’d have been a hit.  I give it a 4 out of 5 sCrypt ratings, which would have gotten a whole other point if not for the costumes and effects.

gotham-season-3Gotham Season 3:

The latter half of the season renewed my faith in the show, but it’s still got a lot of work to do.  The Good: The way the villains were handled, and Bruce’s evolution were great.  I feel like the creators are starting to get that Batman feel without the Bat.  I can’t emphasize more that The Riddler and Jerome/The Joker were the best thing all season.  The Bad: Penguin being gay isn’t the issue, but the way they made him during that story arc was flat out pathetic.  He didn’t even seem like the Penguin during that batch of episodes.  It makes sense to make him gay if they were going to because he’s one character that never really had a love interest in the comics.  I just wish they could have made him as good a character as he was before this season, and after Ivy saved him.  Gordon still seems flat to me as well.  Every scene with him and Lee made me cringe.  There are also inconsistencies in the writing.  Why did Freeze’s gun not kill his last victim, when it did so to everyone else?  There was also an opportunity to use the same casting for Ra’s Al Ghul as with Arrow to connect the shows in some way, but they failed to do that.  Overall: It’s starting to really feel like it fits in with the rest of the shows, even to the point where I wouldn’t mind having a crossover if it made sense to do so.  There’s a lot of things set up that make it convoluted, but can be handled well.  At this point I’m not sure how they can keep with the current path without a Batman in there, and though we saw Bruce suit up as some vigilante he’s still way too young and immature with his thinking to become the full fledged Bat.  Time will tell.  I give the season 2.5 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.

What did you think of these shows?  What were the high and low moments for you and where do you see them going?  Comment below, and let’s discuss.  P.S. I realize I didn’t put Izombie in here.  The reason is because I just can’t watch it.  It’s appalling.  Maybe you disagree.


Day 22 #authorlifemonth – reader/fan love

I received this email back in September, and it makes my day every time I read it.  I’ve received some kind words from readers over the past couple of years, but this was the most recent full letter to me.  I had to repost it because it is fan love day of #authorlifemonth.  Thanks again, Jared.

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Day 10 #authorlifemonth – Reviews

I’m always in awe at some of the amazing emails I get from readers.  This one popped up recently, so I figured I’d share it for #authorlifemonth.  I am a little behind in posting from the weekend.  Oops.  🙂

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Day 11 of #authorlifemonth : Fave Review

Day 11 of #authorlifemonth . One of my favorite reviews. This was for DEVIL’S DESSERT. The feedback alone makes the effort worth it. Authors love feedback, so make sure to review what you read.  We are thankful.
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Review and discussion: Guardians Of The Galaxy

GOTG-posterIf you don’t want to be spoiled as to certain plot points, then I recommend skipping to the last paragraph to get my overall spoilerfree review.  Otherwise, from here on out the discussion will be about major points in the movie, and I invite those who have seen it to comment below and add to the discussion.

I was always aware of the Guardians of the Galaxy in the comics, but never followed the characters or plots until the relaunch last year, where I picked up trade paperback to catch up and familiarize myself with them.  One of the taglines for this movie has been “The Star Wars for the current generation”.  I have to agree, but at the same time this movie is something that is very new and hasn’t been done before as a whole.  Sure, there are elements rehashed here and there, but if you want something fresh and unique, then stop reading now and go see it if you haven’t.  All happiness aside, I do have a few complaints about elements in the movie, so I’ll do a breakdown of the good and not so good (notice I didn’t say bad), and speculate on a few things to come.

The Plot was intelligently written, with plenty of action, humor and suspense.  The effects were visually stunning (though I can’t imagine seeing this in 3D.)  In regular format this was breathtaking but the fights (especially with Drax involved) were shaky camera at times, and the spinning spacecrafts in the aerial battles were dizzying at times.  I’m not saying this was bad, because it made you feel as if you were a part of it, but the problem with this is that for some people it is a turn off.  Myself included if I’m trying to follow whats going on screen.  In 2D it is great, but I think I’d puke in 3D.

The soundtrack was just plain awesome.  I loved all the songs in there (I’m partially biased because I grew up listening to a lot of those), and it worked, also setting up a new similar soundtrack for the next movie.  The Easter Eggs and tying into the existing Marvel Comics movie universe were fanboy/girlgasmic.  I’ll get into that in my character breakdown, which begins now:

Peter Quill/Starlord: Chris Pratt plays the sarcastic, egotistical Quill very well.  He brings the perfect amalgamation of Captain James T Kirk, Indiana Jones & in his own words “Marty McFly” together.  The movie shows his evolution from a shy kid to what will become a decent leader.  I personally could have done without the over the top cheesy dance sequence in the beginning.  After Spiderman 3 I could do nothing but put my head in my hands when I saw this happening at the beginning.  Somehow, I didn’t mind it as much during the final faceoff with Ronan.

Gamora: Even with prosthetic facial enhancements and green skin, Zoe Saldana is still appealing to the eye.  Aside from her beauty though, she kicked some major ass, just as you would expect from the adopted daughter of Thanos.  I even enjoyed the little bit of tension between her and Starlord.  I just hope they don’t give into it too much in the future.  It’s nice to have that unresolved extra angle in there.

Drax The Destroyer: I’ll admit that when I heard Dave Bautista was going to be Drax, I shivered.  I didn’t want to see a wrestler whom I felt had little to no acting ability taking on a character like Drax (who has little to no personality).  Yeah, you see my problem there?  I was wrong.  Bautista nailed the part.  I actually wanted him to have more screen time.  My only problem with Drax in this movie was some of his lines in the beginning.  They seemed a bit too forced but this was a writing issue.  I know Drax speaks strangely, but the first few lines he delivered were sub par in dialogue.

Groot: While I held out hope that Vin Diesel would play a big baddie for Marvel at some point, his delivery of “I Am GROOT” was awesome each time it happened.  It wasn’t overdone, and Groot’s special effects looked amazing.  I am left wondering though if some of his abilities in the movie were indeed in the comics as well.  I’m not too familiar with the character other than I knew he could be planted to grow again once destroyed.  Speaking of which, the end of the movie, while unnecessary made me smile.  I really enjoyed watching baby Groot swinging to the music.

Rocket Raccoon: I wish we’d have had a little more background on Rocket himself, but his presence was welcome for every second.  I forgot Bradley Cooper was doing his voice because he seemed like his own little furry personality.  A little bit selfish, a little bit of a dick, and just all around rabid feistiness made his part of the team the highlight.

Ronan The Accuser: I remember this villain from many Fantastic Four comics, and knew how menacing and deadly he could be.  My problem in this movie wasn’t the portrayal of him.  I think Lee Pace did an excellent job.  The problem for me is that they are building up Thanos to be a massive badass (which he is), and the guardians plus an entire planet of Nova corps could barely beat Ronan.  So then how the hell will the universe be able to battle Thanos at this point?  I can’t imagine a movie big enough to do that.  With my faith in Marvel I will have to wait and see.  His presence proves that the body in Agents of SHIELD tv show was a Kree alien, so now with that cleared up we will have to wait.  I loved his look in GOG and the wise use of his hammer and abilities.  Even Drax couldn’t stand up to him and that was before Ronan used the infinity stone (gem).

Yondu and Nebula: Both of these characters played by Michael Rooker and Karen Gillan respecitvely added to the whole plot, and I’m glad that they will both be most likely playing a role in the sequel.  I really loved the space pirate feel that Yondu gave off, and Nebula’s battle with Gamora was something I could watch over and over just for the tactics alone.

The Nova Corps:  While I cannot stand John C Reilly, he surprisingly didn’t irritate the hell out of me in this movie.  I thought his presence would have dumbed it down, especially with his delivery in the trailers, but again I was proven wrong.  He was used well, and while I didn’t see him as a serious Nova Corps member, he was a welcome addition.  There was plenty of setup here with Glenn Close’s Nova Prime and the destruction of most of the city that a path has been paved to have the main Nova (Richard Rider) become a defender of earth in the sequel.  Especially with Yondu and Quill’s dad probably wanting to destroy the planet in the sequel.

The Collector: Benicio Del Toro’s role was smaller than I anticipated, but it was more than a glorified cameo.  In fact, his entire base of operations was full of cameos including: Slither, Howard The Duck, and Cosmo the Spacedog.  Oh yes and one of multiple references to Celestials.  I can’t wait til the dvd to pause and see what else is in there.  I understand that Adam Warlock’s coccoon (first seen in Thor 2 ending) was now open, leaving his presence open for the future.  The infinity stones (gems) were finally explained here.  I’ll touch on that in a few minutes.

Thanos: I’m not sold on the whole CGI thing, but Josh Brolin’s delivery and the life he brought to Thanos is downright frightening.  The fact that this could end up being the most powerful villain we’ve ever seen on screen is a scary thought, but one I’m anticipating greatly.

That being touched upon, what do we know and where can it go?  The infinity Gems.  Let’s see.  The Tesseract from Captain America and the Avengers movies was the Space Gem (now in the hands of Loki who also has the gauntlet used to contain the gems).  We know that now.  We also know that Malekith The Dark Elf was using the Aether to change the universe in his image and liking.  Hence the Reality Gem (In the hands of the Collector).  Ronan used the Power Gem in Guardians of the Galaxy to give him enhanced powers (in the Nova Corps safe).  Loki’s Staff in the Avengers had the Mind Gem in it.  This was not confirmed by Marvel, however they said that it could be.  It only makes sense, AND I can argue this with anyone and prove it if they want to debate it.  I’d invite the discussion actually.  Anyway, the Mind Gem is in the presence of Baron Von Strucker (we see this at the end of CAptain America 2.)  Now with there being six gems in all, that leaves the Soul Gem and the Time Gem.

I think one of these (most likely the soul Gem) will be used in the Doctor Strange movie.  It’s been confirmed for 2016 this movie will be an “acid trip” unlike any other movie.  Delving into magic and the soul will make this movie completely unique and it only makes sense to tie in this gem with whoever else will be a part of it.

As far as the Time Gem, I don’t want to speculate too much about Avengers Age Of Ultron, but if they do anything similar to the comic storyline of Age of Ultron, then Time Travel could be involved.  Did earth somehow get a hold of the Time gem to use?  Why do I say this?  In the little footage we have seen of this movie, there is a scene where everyone but Tony Stark is dead.  That’s what it appears to be.  Could he reverse time and change that or maybe Scarlet Witch will alter the probability that this is what happens.  Who knows.  The Antman movie is supposed to happen around the same time as well, so maybe Hank Pym will have had it in his lab and is studying it.  Only TIME will tell.  🙂

There are also 5 unannounced films coming before 2019 by Marvel, and that is in addition to Captain America 3 and Guardians of The Galaxy 2.  One of these will obviously be Avengers 3.  Another I think would HAVE to be Black Panther.  Thor 3 is also in there as most likely.  So what about the last 2?  I’d like to see a female Ms. Marvel movie in there.  All of that should come before the last 2019 movie, which could be called “THE THANOS IMPERATIVE”.  It’d be a great long buildup to a part one movie.  This could literally be centered around Thanos gathering the gems.  It would be a part one and then for 2020 they could bring in part 2 “THE INFINITY WAR”.  Now…. the ONLY way that this can happen and even be thinkable as a way to defeat Thanos with his gems is to have everyone in existence team up.  No, we don’t need people like Hawkeye or even Captain America.  What we need is Thor, Hulk, Adam Warlock and Nova, Ms. Marvel, Doctor Strange, and a few others to go against Thanos.  Maybe even Loki who will want the power for himself will join in the attack against the Mad Titan (after all, Thanos will have to steal from him to get what he wants).  I even hold out hope that some of the rights to other characters will revert to Marvel, but who knows.

So what do you think?  After this long winded review and speculation, I have to give it a rating.  Originally I was going to give this movie a point lower, but BECAUSE of it’s originality and the ballsy move that Marvel made taking the chance on such a masterpiece, I’m going to give it 8 out of 10 sCrypt coffins.  Please, comment and feel free to discuss your own speculations and feelings toward the movie.

 

 


Five reviews in five minutes

I’ve fallen behind in my blogging duties, so I figured I’d play catch up by doing a quick set of reviews, and then get back to working on the other projects at hand.  Warning, there will be some spoilers ahead.

Kick Ass 2Kick Ass 2: While I thoroughly enjoyed the first Kick Ass movie, I was torn with this installment.  Half of the movie, in my opinion, was atrocious, while the other half was exactly what the title says “Kick Ass.”  I almost lost interest a few times, but then was surprised by a lot of what the first one had going for it.  Acting wise, I think the cast was overall decent.  I just think at this point that I’d rather see a Hit Girl movie, as she was really the focus of my interest.  The character is so messed up and conflicted, but it works well.  Don’t get me wrong, the other characters are great, but the whole thing with Kick Ass joining a group of wannabe heroes seemed too far fetched for me.  I realize it is a comic book adaptation, but it seemed like they were stretching.  I enjoyed the consequences of everyone’s actions.  Police chasing down costumed vigilantes made it feel like a real setting, but the end battle with a warehouse of heroes and villains was more a color show of costumes than actually feeling like a realistic battle.  It was very anti-climactic.  Do I want a sequel?  Yes.  The end credit scene made me say “Okay, I want to see what’s next with Hit-Girl, Kick Ass, and the Mother-F$&#er.  All in all not the worst comic book movie, but certainly not the best.  I give it 4 out of 10 sCrypt coffins.

 

Red 2RED 2: A highly underrated film in my mind.  RED 2 was an equivelant follow up to its predecessor.  It actually gave me interest in picking up the graphic novel for which it’s based.  It was campy in spots, but witty campy.  John Malkovich had me laughing every time he was on screen, but it wasn’t just his show.  The rest of the cast really had great screen chemistry with a good story.  Anthony Hopkins stepped into a delusional type of role, which proves that even at his age, he is willing to try something new.  I recommend both this and RED 1 for anyone who enjoys a good action movie, that doesn’t take itself too seriously.  I give it 6 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins.

 

jla-trapped-in-timeJLA Adventures: Trapped In Time:  This is a last minute Target exclusive aimed toward younger comic audiences.  It brought back some nostalgia of when I was a child, as it felt like an updated version of the old Super-Friends cartoons.  (Coincidentally, there are 2 bonus Superfriends episodes with the special features).  For the price, it was worth it if you have children.  If you are a fan of the normal animated DC movies; however, I recommend skipping it.  Here’s why.  The story first of all, is a good concept, but there are too many loop holes opened.  Granted, this is bound to happen with a time travel element, but the loop holes are so big that a lot of the movie doesn’t make sense.  I did like seeing the Legion of Doom battle against the Justice league, as well as the addition of Karate Kid and Dawnstar.  Voice acting was subpar, and the movie ended with a cliffhanger that will anger me if I don’t see what happens.  This should not happen in a movie I don’t find entirely enjoyable.  Maybe I’m being too picky.  The good news is that my son (he is about to turn 4 years old) LOVED it.  He set up his own Justice League vs Legion of Doom scenario afterwards.  Look, the movie was obviously a tribute to the past (pun intended), but unless you are under the age of 12, I don’t think you’ll find it that great (because of the plotholes).  I’ll give it 3 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins.

 

legoLEGO Marvel Superheroes (videogame): LEGO has continued to pump out video games that contain endless hours of amusement.  Getting the rights to use Marvel characters instantly had me thinking…. They did DC, and now Marvel?  Maybe we will get a crossover game (because let’s face it, that’s the only way we will see the two rival companies on screen together).  Anyway, like LEGO Batman 2 DC Heroes, this game has a very open world environment where you travel to each of your mission points.  The story involves SHIELD directing the heroes to stop Loki and Galactus.  Even after the main plot, there are other sub stories around the map.  I’ll tell you this… If you have never played a LEGO game, then it is worth unlocking EVERYTHING in the game.  There are cheats that you can earn by going to Deadpool’s room in the Helicarrier, and while I don’t normally like to cheat in a game, it is the only way to earn money faster, which you need to unlock everything.  Oh, so what do you get for 100% completion?  Well aside from the over 150 selectable characters, you get Stan Lee himself (yes voiced by him too).  He is as entertaining as Deadpool’s commentary, and his powers?  well, it is worth you earning him to see just what he can do.  The DLC for the game wasn’t worth the purchase in my mind, as I got everything I wanted and more.  Now to wait for the sequel.  Until then, it gets 10 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins.

batman_arkham_origins_video_game-wideBatman Arkham Origins: The Arkham games are probably the BEST comic book related games out there.  Origins, while not surpassing the previously released titles, did a good job of keeping the feel.  There is more detective work to be done, and Batman is fairly new to crime fighting, so his combat skills need to be utilized in ways to take down a group.  Like Batman, this game forces you to think before acting.  Running into a room full of guys with machine guns will not help you save the day.  Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill have been replaced as Batman and the Joker’s respective voices, but their replacements nail it spot on.  Voice acting is perfect, the story is outstanding, and the choice of villains is wonderful.  My only complaint is that even after defeating 100% of the game, you never actually capture some of the villains.  Those that get away are obviously to set up the first game, but it leaves you wondering why Batman isn’t good enough of a detective to stop them.  Riddler being my biggest complaint, as his puzzles just ended with not finding him.  My other complaint is the use of Electrocutioner’s gloves.  To me it felt like I was cheating when I used them, though there were times when they were needed.  I have not played the online multiplayer games and honestly I have no desire to, but I did get the Deathstroke and the Bruce Wayne DLC.  With the latter, it takes you even further back into the origin of Batman to when Bruce Wayne was training with Master Kirigi in the mountains.  This DLC was a welcome addition, albeit extremely difficult.  I can only hope the announced Mr. Freeze DLC comes soon.  All in all, I give it 7 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins.

 

So what did you think of any or all of the above?  Do you agree?  Have anything to add?  Disagree?  comment below.


Review: Smallville Season 11 Episode 3 “Haunted”

smallville #9Well, 4 more months have passed, and that means that it is time to review another episode of Smallville’s season 11 prints.  Episode 3 is contained within the pages of Smallville Season 11 #9 – #12.  Major SPOILERS are contained in this review, so turn away now if you don’t want to know.

#9 Part one:

Let’s start with the cover art.  I’m not impressed.  Superman looks like a manga character (which I wouldn’t mind if it was supposed to be that style).  The concept is nice, with him and Impulse zooming at the viewer, but it is the art that I don’t necessarily enjoy.  And what is with Bart Allen (Impulse’s) redesign.  I’m not digging the bleached blonde look, but his new suit on the other hand is not that bad.  Thankfully, the art within this issue is much better than the cover.  The shading and ink is especially nice.

Now on to the story.  There is a brief flashback in Lex’s mind of when Tess was being brought in by Granny Goodness.  For anyone who had seen the final season on TV, Granny ran a foster home for girls.  These girls became her Furies.  This flashback scene was great in the way that it reaffirmed Tess’s presence in Lex’s mind.  The “dream” sequence here shows both an adult Tess and her child self running away from Lex.  Luthor here is telling Tess that he knows she knew things, and he plans on unlocking those memories.  As they run from door to memory door, there are a few sights of season 1 flashbacks as well as others when Clark had saved people.  Remember, Tess knows that Clark is Superman.  Lex finding this out could be disastrous.  Tess finally manages to lock a memory door temporarily, which wakes Lex from his “dream”.

Again, the intro was perfect.  Evenso when he woke to find Otis before him, Lex was obviously irritated.  To top off the failure he just had in his dream, his assistant tells him that Superman is handling a situation outside.  I won’t go into this battle in detail, because it speaks for itself.  DC villain Psimon is duking it out in the streets with the Man of Steel.  Psimon’s design is quite different from the comics, whereas instead of a fully exposed brain, he has holes in his head.  Apparently he was another of Lex’s experiments before Luthor lost his memory.  Threatening to kill Luthor for what he had done, Psimon is thwarted by Superman saving his nemesis.  I like that Psimon could stand toe to toe and do battle with Superman.  One thing I always hated was that minor characters seemed to never be able to hold their ground.  Psimon did so, at least for a little while here.  The best part is that it wasn’t Superman who stopped him.  It was Bart.  Impulse is back for a visit, but we do not yet know why.

In the next scene, we get a great angle from the artist.  They emphasize Lois using her attractiveness to her advantage.  She puts the heat on Otis, and then Luthor.  Lex is witty with this confrontation, but as cliched as it sounds, his right hand doesn’t know what his left hand is doing.  Tess is writing “Help” on a note, and Lois sees this.  She does not yet know what it means, but she knows that something is not right.  The duality continues to be played well here.

After a brief romp around the world, and some catching up, Superman and Impulse have a discussion about how Bart has gotten faster.  Emil Hamilton has told Bart that he worries about him turning into raw energy because of how fast he has become.  Their conversation is interrupted by a call from Watchtower telling them about a break in at an art gallery.

As the heroes race off, Lex pays Psimon a visit.  Locked in a cell, the psychic villain has a bicycle helmet of sorts holding his powers at bay.  Lex wants his help unlocking the secrets of his own amnesiatic mind, but Tess wards the psychic off.  With no cooperation, Luthor leaves.  I’m not sure I like this scene.  Why would Psimon back off, just at the sight of Tess?  I get that he hates Luthor, but it just doesn’t add up.

Next, we get to the art gallery scene, and we find out that Mallah and the Brain are using an army of monkeys to do the dirty work.  Again, I lovedSmallville #10 the cameo villains, but I’m not sure we would have ever seen this in Smallville.  If we did, we would have gotten some kind of origin, which here we didn’t (at least not enought of it) so it was a bit misplaced.  For the last few frames of this issue, we have Superman taking out the army of apes, while Bart is haunted by a mysterious dark figure.  It races towards him wanting his speed.  Can you say, “Black Flash”?  Yes the death racer appears for the first time, but other than a slight demonic silhouette, you don’t get much of a view.  And of course we are left wondering what this means.  Out of 5 stars, I give this issue a 2.5.  To me it didn’t seem like Smallville as much as the others, but let’s see where it goes…

Issue #10 part 2:

And another crummy cover.  Still, the concept was awesome, but the anime style doesn’t fit.  It is not conveying the “realism” that the stories are trying for.  SMH.  It somehow even translates into the first few pages of this issue, and I hope that it doesn’t continue on this path.

Anyway, Chloe is working on her archery accuracy as Oliver is drawing up a blueprint.  After his meeting with Batman in the previous issue, Oliver decides he wants an arrowcar.  Okay, it is cheesy, but a well deserved laugh moment was needed.

We then skip to Superman carrying Bart.  Bart explains that this Black Racer or Speed Demon first arrived when he was locked in a trap by Luthor in one of the previous seasons.  That little room, where he had to run in circles for hours, caused him to hit a new tier of speed, attracting this thing.  We see more flashbacks to the previous seasons here, and it was reinterpreted quite well.  Actually it was accurate to the point of me remembering those scenes the exact same way.

Many more flashbacks continue, and we get to see that the Black Racer is there to steal the speed force.  It is what fuels him.  While Clark takes Impulse to Hamilton, Bart’s speed has affected areas around the world, causing some kind of kinetic disturbance.  The disturbance is beginning to take lives due to the Black Speedster.

The next few pages tell us a little more info, but all in all it becomes very bland.  Then we get to see Bart and Clark racing on treadmills in STAR Labs.  The goal here was to get up to speed so that Clark can see the Black Flash with his own eyes, and that he does.  We finally get a full shot of it, and like I say “it.”  They don’t really explain in this episode WHAT he is.  He is very demonic looking however, and I love the design they did for it.  Black Flash tells CLark that his speed is not “puuuuururrrrrreeee”.  I get the feeling from the text that the dark one speaks like a whisper.  Kinda cool in my opinion.  He clocks Clark across the room and then vanishes.

smallville #11While Clark and Bart head off to the old Justice Society’s headquarters to find Jay Garrick, Chloe is linked to Chloe of Earth two’s mind.  In this way, Hamilton can show her the last few moments of Chloe 2’s life, and what she was trying to warn them of.  All we get to see is a large ship and destruction, and Chloe 1 screaming at the sight.  End of part 2.  My rating?  Still, I can’t go above a 2.5 out of 5.  It was great in spots, but there was a lot of buildup with no real satisfaction.  Don’t worry it gets better.

Issue #11 Part three:

Okay now I’ve given up.  Cover number 3 I have to give credit to only because it sticks with the crappy art theme.  Let me reclarify… I don’t think the art is bad, but WTF is up with the Manga style for this?  It doesn’t make sense.

Then, the highlight of this episode happens… Jay Garrick is shown.  His attire, though is not convincing.  The design is great and perfect, but would we really see him sitting around his house in a red jacket with a lightning bolt on its front?  Not in reality.  The retired hero is not happy to see his visitors and explains a little bit more about being a speedster.  Finally, we get some answers about the speed storms and Bart’s stalker.  The answer though is that Jay says Bart has to die in order for the Black Flash to be gone, and the storms to stop killing innocents.

Chloe begins having more visions of Chloe 2’s memories.  These are more violent.  Here we see Ultraman (Clark of Earth 2) literally killing people.  He is unrelenting and very brutal in his search, but is deterred by Chloe 2’s Kryptonite.  We get some more Earth 2 action with Chloe 2 and Oliver 2 talking about how to kill Ultraman, and then another speed storm occurs, which rips Chloe back to the here and now.

In this world, Lex fires his staff, including Otis, and Clark dons a new Blue suit.  If you look back in DC comics, after Superman died in 1992 Death of Superman, there was a brief period where Superman was a red energy and a blue energy.  This suit is very reminiscent of that Blue suit.  It is explained here that Hamilton says it can collect energy.  In this case, if Superman were to move fast, the energy would build and accelerate him to an even faster pace.  I’ll accept that.  There is a quick cameo by Barbara Gordon (always welcome) and then the battle begins.  Blue Superman and Black Flash collide.

While we don’t know what happens from this collision, we do know that Jay explains a little more to Bart, and mentions the other flashes by name “Max Mercury, Barry Allen, and Wally West.”  I give this issue a 4.5 out of 5 stars.  It was well rounded other than the art in places such as the cover and first few pages, but overall pleasing.  Now for the final part

Issue #12 Part Four:

Although still cartoony, this is the best cover of the 4.  We have a clear image of Black Flash, Superman in his Blue suit, and Impulse in an epic smallville #12battle.  While the depth of the image is not all too perfect, it is nice to see it fully presented.

Beginning on Earth 2, Oliver 2 presents the citizens of Metropolis with Kryptonite rings, but in return, Ultraman snaps Oliver 2’s neck completely backwards.  This was unexpected, but done well, and it was reiterated that here, his Ultraman’s real name is Clark Luthor.

On our Earth, Superman in his Blue attire continues to battle with Black Flash, who is beating the Man of Steel.  No worries, Bart shows up, and grabs Superman to race off.  He uses the speed collected by Superman’s Blue Suit and accelerates himself literally out of existence.  Before he evaporates into the Speed Force, Bart has some flashbacks to when he and Clark first met.  Again, this was reinterpreted well from the early season.  As a result of his speed, Black Flash is gone in the same way.  Now that that threat is over, I want to mention that this was very touching.  The battle was epic for Smallville and Impulse was shown as a true hero.

With that threat over, we are given some answers about Earth 2.  The Crisis is still a mystery to the Smallvilleverse, but the cause is revealed as a race of “Monitors”.  For any DC fan, this reaffirms that they are going to presenting in some way, the Crisis storyline.  With Earth 2 now destroyed, and Chloe 2 dead, the only remnants are in Chloe of Earth 1’s mind.

And we are presented with the end of the issue.  Clark no longer has to fear Lex finding out who he truly is for two reasons… 1: Bart’s acceleration destroyed the radiation tracker in Clark’s bloodstream, and 2: Green Arrow, Lois and Superman confront Lex and Lois knocks him out.  While he is unconscious, they use a device to collect Tess’ consciousness from Lex’s mind.  Tess Mercer is then reborn as a hologram in the watchtower.  With her there to be the oracle figure, Chloe finally announces that she and Oliver are leaving Metropolis for Star City AGAIN.  I would assume that we won’t see any more of Green Arrow and her maybe for the rest of the series.  They were written out in a way that they want to be parents to their soon to be child.  Clark wishes them luck, and the episode is over in a Smallville finale type of way.  I give this issue a full 5 stars.

Summary

Overall I was pleased with how this episode ended and what it opened for future storylines.  It started out rough, but was done well.  Still, I feel it wasn’t the best episode this season, but had some great aspects to it.  All in all, my rating is a 6 out of 10.  I know that doesn’t gel with my other ratings, but I am also factoring in the entirety of the episode here.  I hope you enjoyed this review, and I’ll keep bringing them to you as well.  Chime in with your thoughts.


Review: The Stars #1 & #2 by Earthbound Comics

stars 1Kurt Belcher, writer and an artist from Earthbound Comics, was gracious enough to send me the first two issues of their new “The Stars” comics for review.  I will do my best to keep spoilers to the minimum, but as with any review I have to warn that there are a few ahead.

Let’s begin with issue #1.  There are two covers for this comic.  The first is very colorful and eyecatching, but for me, I prefer the second cover.  It just appeals to my darker tastes.  Those statements alone convey where this comic goes in tones of color and art form.  The vibrant colors within the pages are done tastefully.  The story begins telling a flashback origin of sorts of their main character, John Century.  The flashback is done with old western monochrome tones to show that a flashback is what it is.  This is brilliant in my mind.  I was drawn in to this John Century immediately.  The down side is that when I expected more of his story, I was left hanging on.

As a writer, I understand the need to do this because it is often used to bring people back for more, but as a first time reader of Earthbound lore, I desired a little more.  From there, we are introduced to a colorful team of heroes who are thrown into action against a Middle Eastern terrorist organization.  At first I wondered if the characters were just wearing superhero like costumes or if they really had abilities.  I was more than happy to find out the latter was the case.  It makes the costumes work hand in hand.  By the way… the character designs are for the most part outstanding.  There are a few of them that might stir a bit of “cheap knock off” thoughts in your head, but the writers made sure that the personalities and abilities of those FEW characters distanced themselves enough from better known characters from other companies.

The story then briefly introduces another team who we are left to assume are heroes as well with a different agenda, but that may not be the case, and I am eager to find out what their deal truly is.  From there, we travel to Japan, where a third team is taking down a giant breakdancing robot.  Sound silly?  Even the characters think so, as one of them points it out.  When it is revealed who the person controlling the robot really is, then it all makes sense.  This child who has claimed he is a supervillain gives more originality to the plot.

At the end of the issue, we see a small group of villains attack a hero called “Panzermannen,” in Germany.  I won’t say why they did it, but their reason is evil enough.  The hero is literally torn limb from limb, and inside his armor is a limbless body left to die in an alley.  Being as we never see him perish, I am holding hopes that we get an explanation in a future issue.  Panzermannen seems like a hero with a jock’s mentality, and though that douchiness may be conveyed, his heart is true, from what I can gather.  We are then shown John Century entering a strip club to attempt another recruit for his “Stars” team.

Bring in issue #2.  The cover on this one gives no hints as to what the story inside will be.  Is this a good thing?  Yes and No.  Yes because it is eye catching enough for me to be curious about it.  No because it may not draw in enough readers with the lack of telling designs.  The artwork is very good however.

This volume does a better job of conveying a fluid plot.  The prior issue had jumped around a bit, but that is to be expected in an origin edition. Here we pick up where the end of the previous issue left off, but are also introduced to “The Three.”  These would be earth conquering villains are shown with an origin story that dates back to the 1970s in Russia.  Again, the artists used colors to convey the flashback.  As they The stars 2discuss their plans, it skips around with brief introductions, and in the background it shows that The Stars are being watched.

What is great here is that in the next few pages is content that the reader can relate.  The Stars have disagreement and conflict within their ranks.  They have love and relationships.  They have family.  They are doubtful of their own abilities, but in the end they will do what it takes to be true heroes.  The President of the United States is also featured within the pages, and even though they never claim that it is Barack Obama, the art is a dead on likeness.  Now here is something that is extremely intelligent of the writers.  You might think that a political side might be taken here, but in fact, it is shown that the characters are quite neutral, and that the only reason the President is there is because the heroes work for his country, and he is necessary in such a situation.  Also it is revealed that one of the characters is homosexual.  This shows that the writers are not biased to any particular group, and they can use ALL people equally in their material.

Once the proverbial “$#!+ hits the fan,” all hell breaks loose.  Suddenly the earth is under attack, as well as The Stars live in satellite in space.  My question is where did the funding for this massive and star shaped satellite come from, and how does it stay in orbit at that size?  Another question is what the heroes use to deflect the villainous UFO attack led by The three.  They refer to something called Red Mercury, and one of the heroes looks to be dying from her saving efforts.  The impact of the attack is shown in a few frames from different places in the world, so that the reader can once again relate to the aftermath of the events.  In no way is the story over, but the issue ends here, making me want more.

All in all, my most critical point would be that I really do not like the pages where the frames are turned sideways. I thought this was the case throughout the actual whole issue, but apparently it is an Adobe issue.  The digital reader views the pages this way, but I have been reassured that the print versions are not shown like this.  I read them in a digital file and was forced to turn my head sideways 90 degrees.  It got old fast, but I didn’t want to miss what was there.  Because of this, I recommend it in print over digital.

The Stars is intruiging, action packed, thoughtful, and mysterious all in one.  Earthbound Comics even offers information at the end of their issues on free digital downloads of some of their other works.  I recommend checking them out at www.earthboundcomics.com .  I personally will continue to keep an eye on their releases, and who knows… maybe one day their will be a crossover event between Earthbound and sCrypt.  Here’s to hoping.


Review: Marvel Avengers Alliance Game

Review by Rick Pipito

Marvel Avengers Alliance is a turn based social networking game, and while I frown upon the replayability and redundancy of most social network games, this one has caught me by surprise.  Here is the idea:  You take control of a SHIELD agent who carries out orders from Nick Fury, Tony Stark, and Maria Hill.  While trying to stop the many supervillains running around the world, you are joined by superheroes that you have to recruit along the way.

When you begin, you customize the look of your agent.  I wish this was a little more in depth, as you can’t really make a character look like yourself in detail, but you can kind of fake it.  Then you pick a class.  There are five of them that have strengths and weaknesses depending on the opponent being face, and then a sixth one called “Generalist”.  This sixth one is the one I prefer, as it is a neutral class.  You don’t have any advantages over certain opponents, but you also don’t get disadvantages either.

Each chapter contains six stories for you to complete.  If you continue to beat them and get experience in each one you will earn gold stars.  The more gold stars you earn, the better items you unlock.  Here is where it can be frustrating.  For a social network game, I really don’t want to spend a lot of time playing it.  To get these stars it could take a while, but the rewards are worth it.  There are only a certain amount of moves to do per day anyway.

If you have friends you can recruit them to help as well, and there is a player vs player option that allows you to take on others near your skill set.  The more you play, the more recruitment points you get, which will allow you to bring some of your favorite characters into the battle.  The storylines are fun, and expansions are released to keep the game going.

The best part about this game is that it is FREE.  You can’t really complain about a game’s content if you don’t pay for it.  Of course you CAN buy things with credit card purchases, but it is entirely unnecessary.  Expansions so far have included an extra chapter with a new one on the way, and 3 new recruitable heroes.  I also like the fact that there are a good bit of B list villains in the game, so you aren’t doing the same thing as any other game.

My rating….  I give it a 5 out of 10.  This isn’t an IGN 5 out of 10.  My 5 is a positive 5.  I can’t give it more than that because the game is like I said, a social networking game with limited content.  BUT what I can give it is that it is the only one that stands out from the others as far as options, moves, characters, stories, and addictability.  Yes I said it.  This game is highly addictive, so if you don’t want to get sucked in, don’t try it.  It’s fun, and will keep Marvel fanboys and girls happy.