Sunday, September 17, 2017

Tales From the 50 Cent Bin! - The Adventures of Superman #544

Next up for the month is actually an organization this time: Intergang. The Metropolis-based gang was first introduced in Superman’s Pal: Jimmy Olsen #133 (1970). Yes, Jimmy Olsen had his own book and it lasted that long. This was during Jack Kirby’s run with the series and it heavily tied into his Fourth World work. The group was led by Bruno Manheim and they used advanced technology to do their thing. They’d usually get their tech from Apokalips itself. They were a major threat during the post-Crisis run but they did disappear for a time.

Instead of being stuck in the late 80’s/early 90’s, it’s time to go ahead a few years. Today’s issue is The Adventures of Superman #544. It’s right after the wedding and right before Superman gets electric. More on “Superman 2: Electric Boogaloo” later. The issue is written by Karl Kesel. The pencils were handled by Stuart Immonen and the inks were done by Jose Marzan Jr. So, let’s see what happens when you combine a plot from a TV show with the comics.

The Adventures of Superman #544
Writer: Karl Kesel
Pencils: Stuart Immonen
Inks: Jose Marzan Jr.
Colors: Glenn Whitemore
Letters: Albert De Guzman
Seperations: Digital Chameleon
Editors: Joey Cava Mike McAvennie

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Trade Tales! - Superman: Earth One Volume 3

Next up for the month is one of the big ones: General Zod. To make a long story short, he’s powerful, likes black, and loves long walks on the beach that he himself created with all the destruction he caused. 

In all seriousness, Zod has been a go-to villain ever since his introduction in Adventure Comics #283. Whatever version of his story you follow, he’s always been a rogue general who rebelled on Krypton. For his punishment, he and his followers were sent to the Phantom Zone. There have been other Kryptonians locked in the Zone, but Zod is the mainstay for the franchise. The guy’s especially been an important role in the movies since he's one that can go toe-to-toe with Superman.

Today’s story is the 3rd volume to the Superman: Earth One series. I’ve covered the previous two volumes, so it’s time to finish it out. While the J. Michael Strazcynski-written series hasn’t been great, it has been an interesting re-telling of the Superman mythos. JMS is back at it with the story. Sandra Hope also returned to do the inking. This time, Shane Davis isn’t on the ride for the pencils. The penciling was being handled by Ardian Syaf, an artist who recently got himself into some trouble. That’s all I’ll say on that. So, what trouble has this version of Superman gotten himself into this time?

Superman: Earth One Volume 3
Writer: J. Michael Strazcynski
Pencils: Ardian Syaf
Inks: Sandra Hope
Colors: Barbara Ciardo
Letters: Rob Leigh

Friday, September 15, 2017

TV Talk - Superman: The Animated Series - "Fun and Games"

Next up for the month is Winslow Schott, aka Toyman. The character first appeared in comics in Action Comics #64 and has been a mainstay ever since. He’s also been revamped a number of times in the comics and even in other media. He even hasn’t been Schott. He’s usually been a disgruntled toy maker who wants revenge for losing his job or other things. Heck, Sherman Hemsley played a version of him on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Sueprman, so this character has been places. There’s even a heroic version of Toyman out there.

One thing that’s been interesting is that people have tried to darken the character over the years. One of the biggest changes was to make him into a straight-up nutjob when he killed Cat Grant’s son, Adam. I’ve heard that folk weren’t a fan of that change in the mid-90’s. I haven’t gotten to those issues yet in my re-read, so I can’t say what I think about it. I did think about looking at those issues, but I’m going somewhere else with the character. The character was revamped on Superman: The Animated Series, so that’s where I’m going with this one. Today’s post looks at “Fun and Games,” the fourth episode of the series.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Tales From the 50 Cent Bin! - Action Comics #647-649

Next up for the month is actually a double feature! I have two villains for this post and they are pretty well-known: Brainiac and Metallo. Since Metallo is less complex, I’ll talk about him first. Metallo was first introduced in Action Comics #252 as John Corben, a criminal. After a fatal accident, Professor Vale was able to save Corben's brain and put it into a robotic body with a heart of Kryptonite. After John died, his brother ended up taking the role until the reboot in 1986. Then, John Byrne brought the original idea back and gave it a more Terminator edge in Superman #1. At this point, Metallo was deactivated and under Lex Luthor’s possession.

Then, there’s Brainiac. Where do I even start? Ever since his first appearance in Action Comics #242, he's been revamped and retconned in just about everything. Let’s just go with the Coluan background here. There’s no need to mention the fact that he’s been a Kryptonian A.I. too. In this iteration, He was a scientist from Colu who was executed via teleportation. His consciousness ended up on Earth and found Milton Fine, a circus performer who had psychic powers. He took control of Fine and fought Superman a number of times until he ended up becoming catatonic. He also ended up being under the care of Lex Luthor.

Today’s story is “The Brainiac Trilogy” from Action Comics #647-649. At this point, Action Comics was back to being a main Superman book. Beforehand, it was weekly and being shared by multiple heroes. We haven’t gotten to the point where the Superman books were tying right into each other yet. Roger Stern was the writer. The artwork was done by George Perez, Kerry Gammill, and Brett Breeding. So, sit back and see how Brainiac got his groove back!

Action Comics #647-649
Writer: Roger Stern
Artwork: George Perez, Kerry Gammill, and Brett Breeding
Colors: Bill Oakley
Letters: Glenn Whitmore
Editors: Jon Peterson (associate) and Mike Carlin

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Tales From the $4.99 (eh) Bin! - Action Comics Annual #1

Next up for the month is a villain who is in the D-list: the Kryptonite Man Even though the Kryptonite Man is a mostly unused villain, he still has something that can knock Superman down to his knees. To give you a hint, it’s all in his name. The name has been passed around to different folk, but the effect is still the same: they are embowed with green kryptonite radiation.  The Kryptonite Man first appeared in Superboy #83 (1960) and has sparsely appeared since then. I think there were 3 versions in the Post-Crisis era and one of them was a weird clone of Superman. Since I’ll be spending some time in that era this month, I think it’s time for something more recent.

The Kryptonite Man made a return during Grant Morrison’s run on Action Comics. This time, he was Clay Ramsey, the infamous wifebeater that Superman threw around in his early days. Ramsey was a part of Vyndtyvx’s (Lord Vinnie) for Morrison’s run. Today’s issue is the annual from that run that featured the villain. Sholly Fisch, the backup writer on Action Comics, wrote the whole issue. Cully Hamner handled the artwork. There is a backup “written” by Max Landis with artwork by Ryan Sook at the back about the Atomic Skull. I’m not talking about the backup here but I can say is that it was alright if a bit brief.

Action Comics Annual #1
Writer: Sholly  Fisch
Artist: Cully Hamner
Colors: Val Staples
Letters: Steve Wands
Editors: Wil Moss and Matt Idelson

Monday, September 4, 2017

Tales From the $3.99 Bin! - Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds

Next up for the month is a more recent villain who was once a hero: Superboy-Prime. I’ve called this character by the name of “PRIME” here mostly because he ain’t worthy of the Superboy title and it gets tiring typing “Superboy-Prime” a lot. Plus, he’s actually pretty easy to make fun of. “I’ll Kill you to Death” was one phrase that was uttered from the poor, poor boy. The character first appeared in DC Comic Presents # 87 in 1985. He was from Earth-Prime which was supposed to be the “real” world of the DCU. He was a fanboy named Clark Kent who one day gained powers.

Afterwards, he went right into the action with Crisis on Infinite Earths where he, Alexander Luthor (Earth-3 version), and Superman (Earth-2 version) defeated the Anti-Monitor. He then went into limbo for 20 years only to be brought back as one of the villains for Infinite Crisis. After that, he appeared in the Sinestro Corps War as Superman-Prime since the name “Superboy” was being fought for in court. Finally, he appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis and the less said about that, the better. To make a long story short, it apparently sucked.

Today’s story is Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds. It sort of ties into Final Crisis. If you wondered where Superman was while the forces of Apokalips reigned on Earth, here you go. This story was also the continuation of re-introducing the original Legion of Superheroes into current continuity. It even served as a way to acknowledge the other rebooted Legion teams. Now that is one, long story that I won’t get into here. I also remember this mini being especially late when it was released. Geoff Johns, the pusher of that storyline, is the writer. Legendary artist George Perez is on the pencils and Scott Kolbish handles the inks.

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: George Perez
Inks: Scott Kolbish
Colors: Hi-Fi Design
Letters: Nick J. Napolitano
Editors: Eddie Berganza and Adam Schlagman

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Tales From the 50 Cent Bin! - Adventures of Superman #526

Next up for the month is another C-lister: Bloodsport. Before you say anything, they’re not connected to that awesome Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. See, there have actually been multiple versions of this character. The first version appeared in Superman #4 as Robert DuBois, a crazed veteran who went on a killing spree. The next one who appeared the most was Alex Trent, a white supremacist. He appeared around 1994. There was another one from around 2007 but we never learned anything about him.

Since someone wanted it, the first two versions had a meet-up. By the way, DuBois was black, so you know you’ll get some “special” talk from Trent. Adventures of Superman #526 was released in 1995. Karl Kesel was the writer. Instead of Stuart Immonen, we get treated with a guest penciller in Rodolfo DiMaggio. Klaus Janson also was a guest as the inker. So, what happens when two inmates go at it?

Adventures of Superman #526
Writer: Karl Kesel
Pencils: Rodolfo Dimagio
Inks: Klaus Janson

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Tales From the 50 Cent Bin! - Action Comics #595

Next up for the month is one of Superman’s lesser known villains: Silver Banshee. Superman only has a few female villains and she’s one of them. Banshee, aka Sibhohan McDougal, was part of an old Gaelic clan. When she had once delved into the world of dark magic, her soul was dragged to the Underworld. When she was sent back, she caused a lot of damage and some of that was in today’s issue. She’s only made a few appearances in the comics since then, though. She did make it to other DC properties like Justice League Unlimited and Smallville. The place where she’s probably remembered best is on Supergirl where she and Livewire took on both Supergirl and the Flash.

She was actually one of John Byrne’s creations, first appearing in today’s book, Action Comics #595. At this time, Action Comics had pretty much became “Superman Team-Up” since a hero would guest star in the book. Today’s hero is my favorite dude, “Name Withheld.” The issue was written and drawn by John Byrne who was also working on the main Superman book at this time. Inks were done by Keith Williams.

Action Comics #595
Writer/Pencils: John Byrne
Inks: Keith Williams
Colors: Tom Ziuko
Letters: John Constanza
Editor: Mike Carlin

Friday, September 1, 2017

Random Smallville Episode - Onyx

Don't lose your hand, Lex! Especially that one!

First up for the month is the criminal mastermind of our time: Lex Luthor. If there’s one villain you know will show up in one form or another, it’s Lex. The guy’s shown up in comics, TV, movies, and video games. Ever since his first appearance in Action Comics #23 (1940), he’s been the thorn in Superman’s boot. He’s been a mad genius, a powerful businessman, a self-proclaimed savior of the human race, and everything in between. He’s even been the good guy in some stories.

Today, I’ll take a turn at Albuquerque and look at an episode of Smallville. While Smallville wasn’t perfect, had more pros than cons. One of them was Michael Rosenbaum’s Lex Luthor. While it didn’t completely work with his descent into evil, seeing him go bad was pretty interesting. Today’s episode will be “Onyx” from Season 4 or what Trentus Magnus calls “The Dreaded Fourth Season.” Season 4 was where it got a bit weird for the show and I’m not talking about Sam Winchester either. It wasn’t a horrible season, though. Still, it must be asked: is “Onyx” one of the bad ones?

Superman Month - Bring on the Villains

So, what have I done to myself this time? I was trying to come up with a certain theme for Superman Month. I’ve looked at origins, random stories, weird stories, and homages/rip-offs, so it’s time to look at the most important aspect of a Superman story: the villains. This month, I’ll be looking at stories that feature a villain from Superman’s rogues’ gallery. If you think it’s just Lex Luthor and couple of other blokes, you haven’t been reading much, have you? I'll try to include a lot.

The plan is to look at a story from the franchise.  I won’t just be sticking to the comics either. You’ll see that with my next post. I’ll also give some information and my thoughts on said villain. So, come on by during the month. You might find something interesting. I’ll even provide Peach Tea that’s provided by Lex Luthor’s Tea division at Lexcorp. It might have a bitter taste, but you’ll feel it kick in with a boom!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Random Thoughts On... The Highlander Franchise

“From the dawn of time we came…moving silently down through the centuries. Living many secret lives, struggling to reach the time of the Gathering, when the few who remain will battle to the last. No one has ever known we were among you…..until now.”

This monologue from Sean Connery started off a franchise that was popular in its time: Highlander. Whether it was a good franchise is a matter of debate, though. A few months ago, I started to wonder if there was a podcast about the Highlander series out there. By the way, thank From Crisis To Crisis: A Superman Podcast for that. Every April Fool’s Day, they do a parody review of something else instead of a Superman comic book. This year, it was an episode from the Highlander TV show. It took some searching, but I found one by the name of Highlander Re-Watched. Since then, I’ve been catching up on all of their episodes about the series and movies.

For those who probably don’t know, Highlander was a 1986 movie about Connor MacLeod, a 16th century Scotsman born in the Highlands. He belongs to a race of Immortals who battle each other throughout time. When the battle is over, the loser gets beheaded and the winner gains their strength and essence through the Quickening. When the last Immortal on Earth is left, he or she will earn “The Prize,” something that is kind of vague.

The movie was pretty much a standalone, done-in-one thing since Connor wins the prize. Then, four movie sequels, two live-action TV shows, an animated TV show, an anime,  a few comic series, and a few (some cancelled) video games came. Since I’ve been a sword-faring mood (Renaissance Festival and Witcher 3 play), I thought I’d finally share my thoughts on the franchise as a whole.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Favorites - 11 Villainous Characters Gone Good

“Everyone loves a good redemption story.”

I don’t know who said the quote, but it's a true one. While we sometimes like seeing folk be bad, we also like seeing them go good. You can look everywhere for this common trope as well. This list was actually what started the whole thing. I didn’t have to think hard about which heroic figures have gone evil, though. I did have to put a little more thought into this one. While some names popped into my head easily, others took a minute. These aren't necessarily my favorite characters and it’s not in any order, so let’s start off with someone really random.

1. Sami Brady (Days of Our Lives)
I know you’re looking at me weird, so let me explain. When I was younger, my grandmother was an avid watcher of Days of Our Lives. Guess what we more or less had to watch at about 2pm? We didn’t have another TV, so I had to do something wit that time! If you’re wondering, no, I’m not a DOOL fan. I haven’t watched the show in years. I do glance at it at the YMCA if it's showing, though. Even though I’m not a fan, I can say I got fond memories of it. Sami wasn’t necessarily one of them.

To put it nicely, she was one… witch. She was usually scheming to get some dude. I think one of them was named Austin. Even when she got the dude, she’d screw it up somehow. She was pretty much the jealous sister of the show. After some time, I do remember her becoming less of a witch and turning into a somewhat nice person. I guess the writers or actress got tired of that constant role of villainess. I don’t know if she stayed that way since soap operas are a lot like comic books. I can say that Alison Sweeney did a good job with that role. The fact that I remember her says something. 

2. Vegeta (Dragonball Z)
I think it’s time to swerve away from the odd and look at “The Prince of all Saiyans!” When Vegeta came onto the scene, he was a straight-up bad guy. No one can doubt that. I don’t anyone can forget what happened to poor Nappa, aka “Mr. Clean with a ‘Stache.” Even after his time on Namek where he allied with the heroes, he wasn’t a good dude. Vegeta was obsessed with being better than Goku and he even did some really stupid things because of his Sayian pride. When you let the evil android get stronger instead of taking him out earlier, you’re not exactly good, are you?

Even when Goku returned for the World Tournament years later, he was still a douche. He let himself be taken over by Babadi (some green thing?) and went on a rampage. It wasn’t until his own son was in danger that he actually began to look heroic. He sacrificed himself to take out Majin Buu and even though that Pepto Bismal-looking thing didn’t die, it was a noble sacrifice. Like all characters in the DBZ universe, he did come back but he came back different. He even put an end to his rivalry with Goku.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Favorites - 10 Heroic Characters Gone Bad

“All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That's how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day.”

This quote from Batman: The Killing Joke says a lot about heroes or good people who go down a dark path. Sometimes, an event will happen in their lives that will irrevocably change them.  Mostly, they can find the way to keep their wits and continue to fight the good fight. Heck, how has someone like Spider-Man not gone totally dark after what’s happened to him? Other times, they fall so far off the wagon, you wonder if they were even on the wagon to begin with. You’ll see this trope everywhere in movies, TV, books, and video games. So, here are some good characters that turned dark. They’re not necessarily in order either.

1. Anakin Skywalker (Star Wars)
That’s right, folks. One of the best villains in movie history was once one of the good guys. It always has to start like that, don’t it? Even though the prequels weren’t perfect, they and Star Wars: Clone Wars showed how a “mostly good” Jedi would go evil. Because of Palpatine’s influence and Anakin’s own fears, he became Darth Vader and helped tighten the Empire’s grip for years. I’ll touch on his ultimate end next time, though.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

"It's a Video Game!" - Mass Effect: Andromeda

“Space: the final frontier. This is the voyage of the Survey Ship Tempest. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Ryder has gone before… and no, I ain’t just talking about dating a hot asari either!”

Well, it has come to this. When I heard that another Mass Effect game was on the way, I was stoked. The Mass Effect trilogy is one of my favorite video game series. I think every ME fan was throwing that “my body is ready” meme around or something. Then, as we started to see more of it through trailers and gameplay, the excitement started to die down. Also add reports of things going on behind the scenes. Then, the game was actually released. The reception was pretty mixed overall. Some liked it while others thought it was really flawed for what Bioware is known for.

Mass Effect: Andromeda was released during March this year. The reports and videos about the game did leave me worried, so I thought I’d wait until those game patches got released. Besides, I’m an adult with bills to pay, so it had to wait. I did rent it through Redbox first to see how the game actually was. Later, I finally bought the game along with the latest Witcher game. I’m playing that now and… well, I’ll keep my opinion on whether it’s better than MEA. After over 70 hours of gameplay, what did I think of this spinoff?
The Many Faces of Ryell Ryder. I played around with some looks and they worked for the most part. I did have that weird gaze that everyone has, though.

Mass Effect: Andromeda takes place roughly 600 years after the original trilogy. In 2185 (between Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3), the major races came together and formed the Andromeda Initiative. The plan was to make a one-way trip in four giant ships (arks) and the Nexus (their version of the Citadel) to the Andromeda galaxy and explore new planets. 20,000 citizens from each race (human, krogan, turian, and asari) volunteered for this undertaking and they were all put to cryogenic sleep for the long, 600-year trip.  One of the leaders of the Initiative was Alec Ryder, a former Alliance soldier and one of the Pathfinders for this undertaking.
Daddy Ryder!

You’ll either play as Sara or Scott Ryder, Alec’s children. When the Hyperion (humanity’s ark) makes it to the galaxy, they run into trouble. Hey, it’s the Mass Effect universe, so you know things will go bad. It turns out that the planets that the races are supposed colonize aren’t perfect. Add new threats, new races, and infighting with your people into the mix.  Top all of that off with something happening to Alec and you are made humanity’s Pathfinder, the one who’s supposed to lead the colonization of these planets. With a new ship and new crew, you’ll have to brave space and make the Heleaus Cluster a viable place to settle.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Random Thoughts On... Scott Snyder's and Greg Capullo's Batman Run

For a while now, I’ve been going through most of my comics’ collection. I’ve mostly been doing it to weed out anything I don’t want anymore. So far, it’s only been a couple of things but not anything too big.  I’ve mostly been reading my not-so-complete collection of Post-Crisis Superman. I’ve collected stuff from the late 80’s to the late 90’s. When I get past 1999, that’s when it’ll get pretty spotty. Still, Post-Crisis Superman will make the cut. I’ve ran across some subpar issues, but it’s pretty good so far.

Anyway, one run I wanted to revisit was Scott Snyder’s and Greg Capullo’s run on Batman. At the time this series was coming out, folk were claiming it was the best series on shelves. The word of mouth got me on this one. While I was already a Batman fan, I only read a little involving the character. Most of my fandom came from the movies and animated series. Since the New 52 was starting up and I was starting to get comics regularly, I jumped in and stayed to the bitter end. Since Scott Snyder (not related to Zack Snyder) is revving up for a Batman-centered event called Dark Days: Metal, I thought it was finally time to read and talk about this run.

As I said above, Snyder’s and Capullo’s run was part of the DC’s New 52 initiative. Snyder already had some experience with Batman (the Dick Grayson variety)  since he was writing Detective Comics before this run. I didn’t know who Capullo was, though. All I knew was that he worked on Spawn and X-Force. Their run on Batman would last about 52 issues, the whole entirety of New 52 and “DC You”. There would also be a few special issues in there but I’m pretty much focusing on the main book.

Snyder was pretty much on the whole time with some writers coming in and helping out with back-ups and annuals. James Tynion IV, Gerry Dugan, Brian Azzerello, and a couple of others would help out at times. While Capullo had a couple of breaks here and there, he did a lot of his own work on the book. Other artists included folk like Andy Kubert, Jock, and, Jason Fabok, and Alex Maleev. The backups would also be handled by Rafael Albuquerque and others. Inkers would also vary here and there. Capullo’s main inkers were Johnathan Glapion and Danny Miki.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Favorites - Best Animated Versions of the X-Men Part 2

Here are the rest of list from a couple days of ago. Not only are there heroes, but there are some villains.

If you think I’m not a fan of ‘ole Slim, you’d be mistaken. Someone cool had to start this part of the list off! Cyclops is more or less accurate in all three shows. The 90’s show is probably the one is most comic accurate since he’s leading the X-Men, married to Jean, ticking off Logan, and being a little uptight at times. On X-Men Evolution (EVO), Scott led the team into battle and was pretty cool at times. As for the Cyclops of Wolverine and the X-Men (WATXM), he was a little off the rocker. Since Jean was presumed dead, he quit the team and only came back because Logan asked him to. Even though he’s not leading the group, he does get a few moments to shine in the season.

It’s kind of easy to throw Scott in the “overbearing good guy who never breaks the rules” group. To be fair, it’s not a bad thing for him since I’d follow him into battle. The problem is that he really doesn’t come off as cool to most folk. While I liked Cyclops from the 90’s show, he was a little lame at times. Also, his voice actor was okay. Then, we get to WATXM’s Cyclops who was pretty much depressed all the time. I know he’s been at that stage in the comics too, but the creators go overboard with it on the show.

This is why I choose Cyclops from EVO. When re-watching the show, I really thought he was a cool guy. He could even have a little fun from time to time. You can’t say that about the rest of the Scotts. While throwing him and some of the others into high school was a weird move, I think it helped me like the character a little bit more. We got to see him grow into one into being a good leader. Yeah, he’s not butting heads with Logan over Jean (that would have been creepy…), but everything else worked.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Favorites – Best Animated Versions of the X-Men Part 1

You know, there is something missing from TV these days: an X-Men cartoon. While I can’t call myself an uber-fan of the X-Men these days, I can still say that they’re one of my favorite superhero teams. A lot of that fandom mostly stems from the many animated shows. Heck, I think I could almost recite a lot of the dialogue from the 90’s show’s first season. If only I could put that type of power towards something truly worthwhile…

Anyway, ever since Wolverine and the X-Men ended, we’ve seen less and less of them on TV. While the movies are still coming out and there are live-action shows coming, even I’ll admit that they get it wrong at times. The animated shows were able to capture more of what the X-Men were all about. Plus, they knew how to have fun and that is something the movies still struggle with. The X-Men (Wolverine at least) will pop in every so often on some Marvel show but that’s it. I think even Deadpool is supposed to get his own animated show. I bet someone’s happy about that!

So, what are these posts all about? A while back, I was wondering about which X-characters from the cartoons were done the best. I considered everything from the stories to even the voice-acting. Since most characters don’t crossover to different shows, I’m keeping the list to only a few heroes and villains. I’m also only including X-Men (the 90's show), X-Men: Evolution (EVO), and Wolverine and the X-Men (WATXM)I know there’s an X-Men anime from 2011 out there, but I’ve never seen it. Besides, something tells me that those versions of the characters probably wouldn’t make it on here anyway. Also, this isn’t a competition in which show was the best. I felt that these three shows had some great strengths as well as some unfortunate weaknesses.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Movie Talk - The Amazing Spider-Man Duology

After finishing Mass Effect: Andromeda (I’ll talk about that soon), it’s time to get to these two movies. We’re this close to another Spider-Man movie coming out. The first reactions are out and they’re saying that it’s good. I probably will see it. Since some critics I follow have said good things about it, I may do it.

Last time, I looked at Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. While its last movie wasn’t good, it was cool revisiting it. When I heard that Sony was going to reboot Spider-Man, I was kind of shocked. While Spider-Man 3 was a disappointment, you’d think that Sony would continue with what they were doing. Unfortunately (for most fans), that wasn’t meant to be since Sony and Sam Raimi couldn’t agree on what to do next. When Raimi left, Sony went on and decided to reboot the whole thing with a new origin and new actors. Director Marc Webb was brought on to direct the two movies.

The Amazing Spider-Man was released in 2012 while its sequel, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, was released in 2014. I didn’t see any of these movies at the cinemas. I almost saw the first one in theaters, but I think I was already off the Spidey train at that point. I did eventually see bits and pieces of it on some cable channel one night. As for TASM2, the word of mouth kept from that one. I still remember Spoony’s epic 2 hour rant about the thing. By the way, whatever happened to that dude? Anyway, I finally watched these movies over the week.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Movie Talk - Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy

So, we have another Spider-Man reboot coming out… yay? I guess someone was praying for another one to be done. All I can tell you is that it wasn’t me and now I have Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” playing in my head again. I’d probably be happier for it if they didn’t push back Black Panther. Yeah, I’m still going to bring it up! Seeing that awesome trailer has me even more irate as well as happy! Thanks, Marvel!

Since we’re coming upon a possibly *spectacular* time for Spidey fans, it’s time to finally talk about Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. Originally, I was supposed to have talked about these movies years ago. When The Amazing Spider-Man was going to be released, I was planning on doing it. I even had a themed month with him and Batman at the same time. I don’t remember why I didn’t talk about them. I guess had too many things on my plate.

I don’t remember when I saw the first movie. I know we had rented it at Movie Gallery at one point. Now, I vaguely remember when I first saw Spider-Man 2. It was during my freshman year of college. MTSU was playing it at the KUC for a week, I believe. It ended up being a solo trip for me one night. As for Spider-Man 3, I also saw it on campus. I don’t know if MTSU has it anymore, but they used to have a channel that would play movies that were just released. I think I started to watch it around the point where Peter and Harry had their first fight.

I have to admit that I haven’t seen much of these movies since then. I think the only one I’ve really watched in the last few years has been Spider-Man 2. While I am a fan, I haven’t been into Spider-Man much these days. I'm not sure what it is. Since it’s been a while, I decided to watch all three movies over the week. A lot has been said about them, so what can I add?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Random Thoughts On... Star Trek: New Frontier Books One through Four

Well, I’m to my last post for the Sci-Fi Month... and it’s June 1st. At least I have an excuse with the trip and my time at the Renaissance Festival. As usual, it’s been cool getting back to doing regular posts. There were a couple of things I couldn’t get to, though.  Since I’ve touched on all the current Trek shows and movies, I think my last post should look at a lesser known crew: the crew of the USS Excalibur.

Some time ago, I talked about the first book to Peter David’s Star Trek: New Frontier series. For those who don’t know, Peter David and John J. Ordver put together a concept about a crew that wasn’t tied to what was going on in the movies and TV. At that time, DS9 and Voyager were on. You also had the TNG movies. David took a few unused characters from TNG and mingled them in with new characters of his own. David has had written them in novel form and even comic book form. From what I can tell, it’s actually still continuing. The latest book (an eBook) was released in 2015.

I don’t remember where I first heard about the series. It may have been on Two True Freaks but I’m not sure. All I know is when I read the first book, I really got hooked into checking them all out. Unfortunately, I haven’t done much of that reading. I stopped after reading the fifth book in 2014… sorry, Pete. I did lose a little interest since I was trying to find them all. Since there’s already so much stuff to see and read, they got literally put in the closet to make for more book space. I want to get back on this horse eventually, so I just want to talk about the first four books in the series.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Random Thoughts On... The Watchmen

Next up for the month is a return to the comic world. The 1980’s was a time where comics began to change. You do see some changes in the 70’s, but the industry really goes through them in the 80’s. We got event books, a total revamp of a universe, and two stories that changed the way creators tell stories in the comic medium. Whether these stories were good or bad for the industry is a debate unto itself. One of them was The Dark Knight Returns, a story that really brought the edginess back to Batman. The other story and the subject for today is Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. It’s a story that I think is good… if a little overrated.

While I wait for legions of Alan Moore acolytes to chastise me, I thought I’d just talk about the story in general. For those aren’t familiar with this story, here are the simple points. Watchmen was a 12-issue maxiseries that was released from 1986 to 1987. It was written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons with John Higgins as the colorist.  It takes place in an alternate version of 1985 where Richard Nixon is still President of the United States. While there are government superheroes, other vigilantes are outlawed because of a law called the Keene Act. Moore takes these characters and explores them through a variety of ways.

I think I first learned about Watchmen during my time in college. That was when I really started to dive into comics. Plus, the movie was being talked about at that time. I already knew about the story before I even read the trade. I’ve really only have read the whole story a couple of times with my most recent read being a few days ago. I actually didn’t own a copy until a few months ago. As you can probably tell, it’s wasn’t high on my “must-read” list. After reading it this last time, I think I was a little wrong to have it that low.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Movie Talk - The Robocop Movies

Next up for the month is a little something different. If folk think that you need aliens, space adventures, and big booms to tell a story, then the Robocop series will prove you wrong. Well, the big booms are there at least. Robocop is something I’ve always had an interest in. I think I saw the first Robocop movie on ABC a long time ago. I never watched any of the animated series but I think I owned a toy. I’m not sure on that. It’s one that I’ve wanted to revisit here, so now’s the time to re-visit the first three movies and the 2014 reboot.

As I said before, I saw the original 1987 movie when it aired on TV. It and Robocop 3 were one of the first movies I viewed on Netflix. I don’t know how I first saw Robocop 2. It may have been on TV. I know I’ve seen it since then on TV. I actually rented Robocop 3 when I was a kid. Other than Netflix, I don’t think I’ve seen this one on TV. If it was on there, I probably skipped it. Then, there’s the 2014 reboot. This one was also a Netflix viewing. I never got to see it in theaters (nor rented it), so Netflix was the best place. So, what do I think of these now that I’ve recently re-watched them?

Friday, May 26, 2017

Random Thoughts #45 - Thoughts on Star Trek: Discovery

So, after much delay (literally), we’ve finally seen a glimpse of the newest Star Trek show, Star Trek: Discovery. I thought I’d give some thoughts on it. I gotta say that I wasn’t that excited about the show. Heck, I didn’t even know if the show would even be produced. All the behind-the-scenes rumors about the show definitely didn’t paint a good picture. Then, add the fact that Bryan Fuller, a pretty popular showrunner and Trek alumni, left the show. Top it all off with the show being exclusive to CBS’s new streaming service and you have something that may not work.

After seeing the trailer, I’m still unsure about this series. I can say that it all looks pretty cinematic from the planet scenes to the stuff on the ship (don’t remember what it’s called). I can’t say too much about the whole cast, but Sonequa Martin-Green looks fine as the first officer. I wonder if she’s half-Vulcan or has a Vulcan background. That part with Sarek was kind of interesting. I like that the series is going down another path by focusing on someone other than the captain. We also got a nice look at Doug Jones’s alien character. He looked pretty good.

Now, there are the things I’m worried about. It’s supposed to be set 10 years before TOS but things look too different. The ships and uniforms look pretty different. It’s supposed to be set in the Prime (the original) universe, but it looks like it could take place in the reboot’s universe. There’s also the look of the Klingons. They almost look like a new species but I will say it's kind of cool. This is only a teaser, so we don’t have the whole story behind the changes. Hopefully, the production team cares enough to explain some of the changes.

There’s also the fact that most Star Trek doesn’t have a glowing record when it comes to first seasons. Outside of TOS, Season One tends to be not a great time. Hopefully, the writing, the action, and the acting is on point. We ain’t so forgiving on shows these days. Then, there’s the whole streaming thing. I’ve heard that All Access is $5.99 a month which isn’t that bad. Still, it seems like overkill for CBS make us pay to see it. What’s worse is that outside the US, the show’s being streamed on Netflix. What the heck happened there?

In the end, I will check out the pilot of the show. It’s airing on CBS in the Fall, so I and many others will get a taste of it. I have no expectations right now. Until we see more, I think we all should go into this show with that mindset. Well, that’s all I got for now. Until then, Peace, God Bless, and chill folks... chill.

Oh yeah, to those complaining about the diversity: have you seen Star Trek? I know it's mostly trolls, but it is grating.

Random Pics of the Month - Eight Things About Daniel Jackson

It's been a while since I've done one of these. I think it's time to look at a property I've barely touched here: Stargate. So, in keeping with the tradition, here are seven things about the other brain of the group, Daniel Jackson.
Daniel Jackson looked a lot like James Spader for some reason...

Daniel Jackson somehow gets all the ladies with that brain of his.

Daniel Jackson 'bout to bust up some fools, yo!

Daniel Jackson is such a softie.

Daniel Jackson got some guns. MacGyver got him working out!

Daniel Jackson will do the will of anyone even if it's the government, the Ori, or the Ancients. Just pay the man!

As I said, Daniel Jackson can get the ladies.

Finally, the gene pool didn't stray far when it comes to Daniel Jackson since he started it.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Look at PKD - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?/Blade Runner

Now that I’m back from Chicago, it’s time to look at more PKD stories and adaptations. Tonight,  it’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Yes, that is the title to the book. I doubt Warner Bros. would have been fine with that name. I can see why Ridley Scott or who ever was behind the movie)changed to something edgier: Blade Runner. The Phillip K. Dick novel was first published in 1968. It’s been reprinted a lot since then. Blade Runner was released in 1982 and got a mixed reception at first. Since then, it’s become more popular and some claim it’s one of the best sci-fi films.

Now I have a confession about this movie: I hadn’t seen it fully until a couple of days ago. Yes, I know I’m a pretty bad sci-fi fan. Put down your digital ptichforks! I’ve seen small reviews here and there about the movie beforehand. I know Confused Matthew did a review back in the day. I think SFDebris did one as well. I actually read the novel before I saw the movie this time. I checked out Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep at the library a couple of years ago. Now that I’ve finally seen the movie and revisited the book, what do I think?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Blade Runner
Novel Written by Phillip K. Dick
Movie directed by Ridley Scott

BRIEF BLURB: In the not too distant future, a bounty hunter named Rick Deckard must hunt down fugitive androids that have landed on Earth.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Trade Tales! - The Star Wars

Next up for the month is a weird return to the Star Wars universe. Actually, I don’t even know if you can call it that. I guess it’s the “Earth-2” of the Star Wars multiverse or something.

For those who don’t know, George Lucas had an original draft to Star Wars called “The Star Wars.” It was similar to what he put into the original trilogy but a lot of crap was different. Some names and characters are similar but there are a lot of things different about it. For example, Luke Skywalker is older and is in Obi-Wan’s role. Annikin Starkiller is more or less of the main protagonist and basically has Luke’s role from the movie. There’s a Darth Vader who’s only a scarred general, R2-D2 (spelled differently) actually talks, and Han Solo looks like Swamp Thing. Those are just some changes.

I actually found the trade at a comic convention last year. I got it along with the adaptation to Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. The 8-part miniseries came out through Dark Horse. I think this mini was one of the last ones done before Marvel got the rights for the comics. J.W. Rinzler is the writer of the adaptation. He’s done a few things for the Star Wars universe. He even had to get permission from George Lucas to adapt the script. The artwork is done by Mike Mayhew and I’ve seen some of his stuff with DC. So, how does this original draft hold up?

The Star Wars
Writer: J.W. Rinzler
Art: Mike Mayhew
Colors: Rain Beredo
Letters: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Nick Runge

Sunday, May 14, 2017

"It's A Video Game!" - Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Next up for the month is a return to something cool. Back in 2011, Deus Ex: Human Revolution was released. It was a first-person shooter/stealth RPG that was heavily influenced by cyberpunk. Imagine someone mixes Robocop, Blade Runner, and a few other sci-fi properties together. I heard good things about it and tried it out one day. I’ve tried it out a few more times since then.  I even have it’s predecessor/sequel, Deus Ex, on my computer. If I had a good game controller to play the thing, I’d be set. A couple of years ago, I talked about DE: HR here and I had good things to say about it.

Around the time of my review, I heard that a sequel was finally coming down the line. Of course, I was hyped.  Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was eventually released in August of 2016. I didn’t get to play it until a couple of weeks ago. It takes place two years after the events of Human Revolution. At the end of that game, the Illuminati (yes, The Illuminati) wanted to halt human progress, so they created software to cause all augmented people to go mad. The event was known as the “Aug Incident.” Don’t get it mixed up with Marvel Netflix’s “Incident.” You (as Adam Jensen) were able to stop them before they did any more damage. Afterwards, something happens and you’re out of commission.

The game picks up with Adam two years later. Because of the Incident, Augs are now outcasts to society and treated like crap. Adam is now working for Interpol in Prague. He’s also secretly working for the Juggernaut Collective, a hacking group who’s wants to take down the Illuminati. When a terrorist bomb goes off in Prague, Adam has to do what he can in finding the true culprits. Not only do you have to deal with anti-Aug problems, you also got Augs stirring up trouble. Adam also has to deal with things related to some new upgrades he mysteriously gotten to his body.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Look at PKD - The Minority Report

Next up for the month is a new, small segment. Ever since I started to do this branch out, I’ve been looking into the writings of different sci-fi authors. One of the big ones has been author, Phillip K. Dick. I wanted to touch upon one of his novels and its adaptation last year, but I didn’t finish it in time. Then, there’s the fact I can’t find the dang thing. Anyway, instead of A Scanner Darkly, I think I’m going to start off with a more well-known property: Minority Report.

The Minority Report was a short story that first debuted in Fantastic Universe, a sci-fi magazine from the 1950’s. It’s been reprinted in a lot of places since then. It was even adapted into a small indie movie by the guy who did one of the Jurassic Park movies. I think the lead actor was some up-and-comer named Tom Cruise. Hopefully, you can smell the snark. I originally saw the movie before I read the story. For a while, I didn’t know it had been adapted. Later on, I actually found the story in a book that had other short stories written by Dick. So, what do I think of the original story and its adaptation?

The Minority Report
Story Written by Phillip K. Dick
Movie directed by Stephen Spielberg

BRIEF BLURB: In the future, a division known as Precrime is used to stop and punish crimes before they happen. Its director, John Anderton, ends up being accused of murdering a man, so he goes on the run to find out how it happens.

Monday, May 8, 2017

TV Talk - Battlestar Galactica Season 1

Well, this took a while to get to. A few years ago, I decided to revisit the original Battlestar Galactica show and its horrid sequel, Galactica: 1980.  If the original 70’s sci-fi show was a father, then G: 1980 was the child who decided to go down the dark path and become an arsonist. If the reboot is anything, it’s the franchise’s child who went to get his doctorates in Science, Liberal Arts, Theology, Philosophy, and Aerospace. What I’m trying to say is that Season 1 of 2003’s Battlestar Galactica might be pretty good.

Battlestar Galactica came out as a mini-series in December 2003 and eventually had their first season a year later on the Sci-Fi Channel. I don’t remember what I thought of the show when it first aired. I saw some of the original mini-series when it was aired on NBC of all places. I think my thoughts were “Hmm… this is a little racy. Nobody isn’t in the room, are they?”  Okay, it's not Game of Thrones, so it's not that racy. I actually didn’t get to see much of the first season when it was aired. I think I only saw a few episodes especially the season finale.  Talk about “Holy Crap!” Since it’s not on Netflix anymore, I’ve been finding the seasons for cheap in different places.

I know some were bothered by the changes to the reboot. Starbuck’s a woman? Tigh’s a white guy and a jackass? Boomer’s a pretty attractive Korean woman? I wasn’t as knowledgeable about the original series, so I wasn’t really bothered by the changes made. Heck, I’m still not bothered by them. Not a lot was changed though. If anything, stuff just got modernized and it looked less Star Wars-like. After all, BSG was a bit a riff on Star Wars. I didn’t recognize any of the actors at that time except for Edward James Olmos.

Battlestar Galactica takes place in another part of the galaxy. There, humanity lives in a group of planets known as the 12 Colonies. Beforehand, humanity was at war with the Cylons, a robotic species that they created. After the war, the Cylons went into deep space and stayed hidden for 40 years. In the present day, the come back much different and more powerful than ever. They strategically wipe out the 12 Colonies. About 50,000 humans remain from the attack and one Colonial fleet ship, the Battlestar Galactica, remains to keep them safe. Since their area of space is pretty much overrun by Cylons, humanity’s leaders decide to take the survivors and search for the mythical 13th Colony known as Earth.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Trade Tales! - Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 17: Clone Saga

Well, it’s May and you know what that means: Cinco de Mayo! Also, it’s Sci-Fi Month, a time where I pretty much praise (or wreck) one of my favorite fictional genres. This month is different in that this is the first time where I won’t be looking at any Star Trek shows or movies. I’ll still fit it in though. The thing I like about Trek is that it’s not just contained to movies or TV.

This time though is a return to the Ultimate Universe. I’ve been wondering when this day would come. Now that it’s here, I’m a little sad. I thought about ending this long look at Ultimate Spider-Man with the next volume but I may continue to its end. Besides there are really only a few volumes left in this iteration of the series. It does mean I will have to browse the horrible subject known as Ultimatum, but I’ll get to that stuff later.

Today's post is about the Ultimate Clone Saga. Now, my history with the Clone Sagas (Sagi?) is a little limited. I never read the original Clone Saga from the 1970’s. Back in the day, I did peruse a few issues of the pretty infamous 1990’s version at grocery stores. I know this may be sacrilege, but I kind of liked Ben Reilly. His costume was kinda cool. Hey, I had to do something while my mom was getting groceries! This trade also marks an important time for the series. Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley together made it past 100 issues. That’s actually pretty rare in the comic book industry.

This 9-part story takes place in Ultimate Spider-Man #97-105. As usual, Bendis does the writing. Bagley is on the pencils. Inks are handled by John Dell and Drew Hennessy. They also get some help from John Sibal and Matt Ryan. The colors were done by Justin Ponsor, Richard Isanove, and Andy Troy. The letters were done by Cory Petit and Chris Eliopoulos. The trade I have also has some interviews from Wizard Magazine with Bendis and Bagley. So, let’s see what happens when Spider-Man meets a crapton of people who look like him!

Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 17: Clone Saga
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Mark Bagley
Inks: John Dell, Drew Hennessy, John Sibal, and Matt Ryan
Colors: Justin Ponsor, Richard Isanove, and Andy Troy
Letters: Cory Petit and Chris Eliopoulos

Life for the Parker boy is a little complicated right now. He and Mary Jane Watson are talking again which leaves Kitty (the current girlfriend) understandably miffed. Then, there’s the fact that his lunch with MJ is ruined when the Scorpion wrecks it all. He changes into costume and not only has to subdue this new foe but also not get shot by the NYPD. When they’re alone together, Spidey removes Scorpion’s mask and finds out that he looks exactly like him. Meanwhile, MJ makes it home she is then kidnapped by someone who is later revealed to be a disfigured clone of Peter.

Since the villain literally has his face, Spidey knocks Scorpion out and takes him to the Fantastic Four. He also reveals his identity to the four (take a drink) and Johnny recognizes Peter from his time at Midtown High. Peter realizes it’s getting late, so he heads back home and finds out that MJ’s missing. He first heads to the warehouse where they’d sometimes hide out and instead finds a young woman in a spider costume. Thinking she’s behind MJ’s disappearance, he attacks her and is effectively taken out by her. After she checks his vitals, the girl leaves.

Peter wakes up and heads back to his house where he finds someone else who’s supposed to be dead: Gwen Stacy. She’s wondering what’s happened and remembers little. Then, Aunt May shows up and sees Gwen. Obviously, she flips out but Peter is able calm her down. He also tells her his secret about being Spider-Man. May angrily tells them both to leave but they then get another visitor: Richard Parker, Peter’s father. It turns out that he didn’t die on the plane crash. Agent Henry Gyrich of the FBI found him and had him working for their Research Dept. He’s also behind Gwen’s resurrection. Then, things go from bad to worse when SHIELD shows up outside. Reed Richards told Nick Fury about the clone since cloning’s illegal, so Fury and a legion of new Spider-Slayers have come to take Peter in.

Because of all of this, “Gwen” transforms into a symbiote-like creature (a lot like the one that killed her) and attacks SHIELD while May has a heart attack. This enrages Peter who also attacks SHIELD. Ultimately, they are both stopped. Then, the Fantastic Four show up and try to defend Peter. Sue Storm goes into the house and takes May and Richard to the hospital. Peter surrenders himself to SHIELD when the woman in the Spider costume (I’ll call Spider-Woman) shows up and takes Peter out of the area. She reveals herself to be a female clone of Peter and tells him everything about how she and other clones were created. She also tells him that one of the clones (I’ll call Kaine) may have kidnapped MJ. They end up heading to the disheveled Oscorp where it all began.

At Oscorp, they find Kaine, a multi-armed clone, and MJ who has been transformed into a Goblin creature. Kaine entered the OZ formula into MJ so she could protect herself. Seeing Peter causes her to transform back to normal and Peter knocks out Kaine. Suddenly, Nick Fury, the Fantastic Four, and SHIELD shows up and they have Otto Octavius with them. The Fantastic Four leave and take MJ back to their lab. It’s ultimately revealed that Octavius is the true creator of the clones and “Gwen.” They were created so that the FBI more could have super soldiers that weren’t under Fury’s hand. It’s also revealed that Richard Parker did die and that the man Peter met is another clone with fake memories. Kaine tries to attack him but is killed by SHIELD agents.

After hearing all is, Fury has had it with… well, Doc Ock and leaves Peter and the remaining clones to “deal” with him. Unfortunately, it’s revealed that Octavius actually has the power to control metal and creates new arms for himself. The multi-armed clone is killed but Peter and Spider-Woman are able to take Octavius down. Spider-Woman leaves while Peter stays and is eventually picked up by Johnny Storm. At Baxter Building it’s revealed that Reed and Franklin Storm were able to cure MJ. Peter professes his love for her and they kiss. Reed also reveals that they could also make Peter normal if he wanted to be. Peter ultimately declines the offer, though.

At the hospital, Peter finds out from Sue that his cloned dad has died of old age. Peter stays with Aunt May and is visited by Fury who apologizes for all that went down. After he leaves, May wakes up. Kitty (who got the X-Men to see what was going on) is in the hospital with Jean and wants Xavier to erase Peter’s identity from May’s mind. Xavier doesn’t do it and it turns out that’s it a good thing since May is glad to see Peter safe. In the end, Peter stays at MJ’s house while May is in the hospital. Kitty also finds those two kissing later too. Fury holds on to “Gwen” and Scorpion. Then, this Clone Saga comes to an end.

So, what did I think of this 9-part saga? This thing was long but it doesn’t read like that. Other than that, this was really good in my opinion. Bendis really gets to put Peter through the wringer this time. Not only does he have your stereotypical teenage problems, he’s got problems with “The Man,”man! It was interesting to see Peter deal with all of the crap being thrown at him. I also liked seeing this concept modernized. It’s like Bendis grabbed every small idea from the other Clone Sagas and threw them into a blender with some octopus meat. It also felt like a nice continuation of all that came before in the series with Peter’s dad, Doc Ock, Oscorp, and Nick Fury.

The drama gets ratcheted up to 11 with the dead returning and May finding out about Peter’s secret. I did feel it was weird for May go rail on Peter like that when she found out. Luckily, it was only a moment of madness since she’s fine with Peter at the end of the story. I also liked the heroic additions to the story with the Fantastic Four playing a major role and the X-Men cameoing once again. Probably the best addition to the series is Jessica Drew aka Spider-Woman. She was actually pretty cool and she was even cooler than Peter was. It was also cool to see Doctor Octopus return in the way he did. The “Magneto” powers were weird but they did make sense in a way.

The artwork is pretty good overall. As usual, Bagley and team put in some good work. The quiet moments between everyone were pretty good. The action was awesome as usual. Seeing Peter and Spider-Woman tag team Doc Ock was pretty cool. I also liked the designs of the clones. They hearkened back to similar things we saw in the 616-universe. While I thought some of the art was a little sketchy at times (mostly the first issue), it was overall good.

I actually don’t have many problems with the story as a whole. I’ve said before that it’s weird for Peter to be the ultimate players of women’s hearts, but he is a teenager. Aunt May’s outburst felt pretty out of left field but when you consider all she’s gone through in the year, it makes sense. Plus, she’s accepted Peter at the end. I did think MJ turning into a Goblin creature herself was way out of left field though. Add the other weird elements of Gwen-Carnage and an aged Peter clone and you get one weird story.  At least it’s a well-written, well-drawn weird story that doesn’t get as weird as the 90’s Clone Saga was. It doesn’t take 3 years to complete either!

Unmaskings/Reveals of Spider-Man: 3
This time, we got 3 reveals of Spider-Man’s identity. I thought about including the FBI and their research team, but they’re a part of the government, so they already knew. The Fantastic Four find out Peter’s identity when he tells them at the Baxter Building. Later, Franklin Storm (Sue and Johnny’s dad) finds out his identity. Then, there’s Aunt May’s reaction to his identity. I’ll just leave it at three since that sound like enough to get drunk or gain calories on.
Uh... May? You okay? Missing your meds again?

Total Unmaskings/Reveals of Spider-Man: 18

Finally, here are the highlights. While a lot of cool stuff happens, here are my favorite bits.

-Professor Xavier… is okay? – This occurs at the end where Kitty pleads with Xavier to erase Peter’s secret from May’s mind. Now this is an Xavier who isn’t a complete douche, Mark Millar! By the way, I know regular Xavier could be a d-bag too at times.

-Tag Team against Doc Ock – the fight between Peter, Spider-Woman, and Doc Ock was pretty cool.

-Meeting the Fantastic Four – It was about time he met up with the other four.

-Together Again – While Kitty being thrown to the curb is harsh, it is nice seeing Peter and MJ get back together.


Overall, this was a really nice arc. It definitely made up for the last few issues I’ve read. I felt the series had been a little off before this moment. Hopefully, this momentum continues from here. Well, I’ll stop here with my gushing over Ultimate Spider-Man. I do have something else coming later that involves Spider-Man and it may not be too good. Let’s just say that it involves skateboards, Emma Stone, a bewildered Jamie Foxx, and lizard cops. For now, Peace, God Bless, and watch out for my clone. He’s a bit… rough.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Trade Tales! - Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 16: Deadpool

Well, it’s April and we’re getting that weather everyone “loves.” For those who don’t know, that weather is a nice blend of wetness and wind. At least it’s warmer and the sun does shine from time to time. 

Before I get too bogged down in May (Sci-Fi Month), it’s time to return to Ultimate Spider-Man for a bit. So far, all’s been good for the most part. I do feel like the series has dipped a little at this point but it’s not dreadful. Today’s pick may test that, though. Ultimate Spider-Man: Deadpool contains Ultimate Spider-Man #91-96 and Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #2. That second annual came soon, didn’t it. As usual, Brian Michael Bendis handles the stories for the trade. Mark Bagley is penciling the main series while Mark Brooks handles the Annual again. The inkers for this trade are plenty though.

Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 16: Deadpool
Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Mark Bagley and Mark Brooks
Inks: Danny Miki, John Dell, Mark McKenna, Mark Morales, Jimmy Palmiotti, Jamie Mendoza, Victor Olazaba, and Mark Brooks
Letters: Cory Petit
Colors: Justin Ponsor, Richard Isanove, and Laura Martin

The story starts out with Spider-Man and Kitty (in a masked costume) taking down a lame criminal called the Ringer. After some swinging and kissing, her automatic ride picks her up while Peter heads home. When Kitty makes it to the Mansion, she gets attacked by some of the X-Men. Before she gets knocked out, she sends the Blackbird to Peter’s house. Peter sees it, suits up, and has it fly him back the Mansion. Kitty meets him there but she then stuns him with a gun. It’s revealed the it was none other than Deadpool taking her form… huh.

Spidey then wakes up on a helicopter shackled with the other X-Men. Spidey and the X-Men then get dropped onto the island of Krakoa. It turns out that the government of Genosha has kidnapped the X-Men in order to get back at them. Spidey was just along for the ride. Spidey and the X-Men start out split up but eventually come together. It’s then revealed that this is being broadcast live around the world. It even has a swarmy announcer. Going against the X-Men are Deadpool and the Reavers, a cybernetic band of douchebags.

The X-Men and Spidey fight their way through the group. It takes some time, but the group is eventually beaten. Deadpool tries to get one more fight in but he is also taken out and unmasked. Let’s just say that the charbroiled version of him looks much better. The team makes it to the compound where Xavier is being held by the Ultimate version of Mojo. Luckily, all seems to be fine with Xavier since he gets to mess with Mojo off-screen. The heroes then head back to the States. The story ends with Peter getting home really late. Luckily, Aunt May decided to play hooky herself and spend the night with her date, Miles Warren. Duh duh duh!

(Note: Miles Warren doesn’t play into… well, you know…)

The story starts out with a flashback to months ago. Spider-Man is chasing someone who is after someone else. It turns out that Blade, the Daywalker, is chasing down a vampire. Pete is almost bit when Blade grabs the vampire and takes it out. He then tells off Spidey and disappears into the darkness. We cut to present day where Ben Urich has proof of a vampire sighting. Unfortunately, he’s being blocked by Jameson. Peter want to say something but keeps it to himself. At school, Peter finds out MJ has seen he and Kitty together. He tries to keep it calm but MJ understandably sasses him out over it.
Peter, you suck with women. Also, nice Blue Beetle reference, Bagley. 

Later, Ben Urich tries to talk to his witness who was bitten by a vampire. Unfortunately, the chick bites him. Luckily, Spidey was tailing Urich and a fight breaks out between her, another vampire, and him. Also, Morbius shows up to apparently fight the other vampires. Spidey gets them all lumped together and the fight continues. The fight ends with Morbius taking on the other while Spidey gets Urich to a hospital.
Morbius: Also, put your mask back on, dummy!

Later, Morbius comes to Urich’s room and tries to bite him but Spidey stups him. It turns out that if Morbius bites Urich, that’ll counteract the other vampire’s bite and cure him. Spidey doesn’t believe it but their scuffle ends when other vampires come to get Urich. Peter even gets bit but luckily his radioactive blood keeps him from turning. Morbius kills the vampires  is able to cure Urich. The story ends at school. Peter (hiding his bite) and Mary Jane (who’s cooled down from yesterday) have a bit of a moment together.

“Annual #2”
The annual starts out with Spidey taking down the Shocker once again. Thanks to advices from lawyer,  Franklin Nelson, Spidey actually takes the lame criminal to the police department. There, he runs into Captain Jean De Wolfe who is secretly in cahoots with Wilson Fisk. She pulls Spidey aside and asks him to trail a recently released criminal by the name of the Kangaroo. The actual truth is that Kangaroo is encroaching on Kingpin’s territory. Spidey feels uneasy about this but does it anyway.

Spidey heads to the location and finds that he isn’t the only costumed nut after this guy. Daredevil is there beating the crap out of him. Then, the Punisher (who recently escaped from Ryker’s Island) joins the fun and fires a bazooka at the location. Then, Moon Knight (who just recently woke up from his coma) joins the fight. What I’m trying to say is that it’s all one big cluster—buster. Anyway, Daredevil isn’t exactly happy to see Spidey since Spidey’s still too inexperienced. Luckily, Spidey and Daredevil take down Punisher and Moon Knight leaves.
I'm kinda sad that we won't get this in the MCU.

Captain De Wolfe and the police come to apprehend Kangaroo. All seems good until Punisher breaks his bonds and shoots De Wolfe dead. Spider-Man finds him and starts to lay in on him but Punisher reveals that she was working for the Kingpin. Spider-Man and Daredevil get their butts out of there. The story ends with Daredevil finding Moon Knight at his base of operations. The story ends with Daredevil telling Marc Spector that he’s putting a team of costumed folk together to one day take down the Kingpin. Also, we see Fisk mourn for Jean De Wolfe.
"... and I'd like to invite to our Avengers Initiative."

So, what do I think of this one? I wouldn’t say it’s the least favorite, but I can’t say it’s the best either. There are good things here though. I thought it was cool that we get to see more of the Peter/Kitty relationship. We also get the other part that involves Mary Jane. It does make Peter seem a bit of a douche but he is a dumb teenager, after all. It was also nice to see him actually team up with the X-Men this time. When he’s been around them, not much fighting’s been going on. Too bad it was against some lackluster villains.

Then, there’s the other two storylines. While I didn’t necessarily enjoy the Morbius story, it was nice to see the Ultimate versions of Morbius and Blade for a short time. I also liked that we got some more Daily Bugle action. It feels like it’s been a while since we’ve had that. The Annual was cool in that it’s a continuation the underworld shenanigans involving Kingpin. It was nice to see Daredevil (needs to switch to decaf), Punisher, and Moon Knight show up here. Just know that this is leading to something. Heck, Daredevil’s Nick Fury-like approach to Moon Knight at the end was definitely an example.

As usual, the artwork here is pretty good. While there were a lot of inkers in on the fun, it didn’t feel too different. Bagley did a good job as usual and Brooks handled the annual pretty well. As I said once before, their styles are a little different but fit the universe. The small quiet moments and the action scenes were pretty good. I also thought Kitty’s new costume was pretty good. I do have to say that some of the double pages in the first arc were a little muddled at points.
You can look up how he looks online. It is pretty bad.

The negatives are few but important. While the Spidey/X-Men team up was interesting, the villains were a bit lame. I really wasn’t a fan of Ultimate Deadpool. I barely like regular Deadpool and this version wasn’t an improvement. Basically, he’s “Anti-Mutant Bigot #119” to me. I also felt that team up was an issue too long. As for the Morbius story, it felt a bit shortened since we really don’t learn much about the vampires here. The Annual was fine but the flashbacks were a little weird at points. That being said, it’s not a bad trade. The good does outweigh the bad here.

Unmaskings/Reveals of Spider-Man: 1
Morbius unmasks him at the hospital in order to see the bite. Luckily no one’s around to see. Still, I have to give a point to the meter. At least it’s only 1.

Total Unmaskings/Reveals of Spider-Man: 17

Finally, here are the highlights of the trade:
-Spidey and Kitty vs The Ringer – That was one lame villain! It was hilarious seeing the two tear him down like that.

-Blade cameo – While he wasn’t in the story much, it was cool to see Blade. I just imagined Wesley Snipes playing him.

-The Death of Jean De Wolfe – Her death was a bit of a shock and yeah, I know what happened to her original counterpart. Everyone’s reaction to it was interesting. What was more interesting was Kingpin’s reaction to her death.


Overall, this was okay. It’s not bad but it isn’t one of the better trades in the series. A part of me feels like Bendis was filling in space for some of this. Maybe he didn’t want to go all out with these issues since we’re coming up on a turning point for the series. Let’s just say that some serious stuff goes down in the next big story arc. Next time, I’ll be looking at the Clone Saga… the Ultimate Clone Saga. Besides, it’s Sci-Fi Month as well, so you know clones need to be involved! Until then, Peace, God Bless, and don’t toy with your women.