The Batman Adventures Volume 2 Review

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It’s time for another Batman Adventures review. The DCAU adventures have been a lot of fun and so I was expecting quality from the start. Fortunately, that is exactly what I got in return. This collection brings 10 stories and they are all from the main title so no specials of anniversary issues. It’s cool because so far the series has managed to do that for the first two volumes. None of the stories are bad which makes for a consistent volume.

The first story sees the return of the Man Bat. Everyone assumes that Kirk has had a relapse and he doesn’t help his case by admitting that there are gaps in his memory. Batman steps in, but the clues just don’t add up. It turns out that someone was framing Man Bat. This was a decent story although a slightly weak way to start the volume. As you all may know, I’m not a big Man Bat fan so his stories just aren’t as interesting as the others. Writing was on point though and there technically wasn’t anything wrong with it.

The second story was a Batgirl one as she had to go up against Cat Woman, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy. This was a more enjoyable story with a lot of constant action and Batgirl always makes for a good lead. This was pretty early on in her career so I’m a little skeptical on how well she would actually do against these villains in a fight but it was pretty reasonable the whole time. A costume party is always the perfect way to stop crime while keeping your cover as well so it was a good decision on her part to take this chance to attack.

Next up is a team up with Talia and Batman. Essentially, she tricks him into helping her stop some criminals who stole proof of Ra’s illegal deals. That’s actually really impressive if you think about it, but once Batman and Talia are on the case you know that it’s all over. I still don’t buy into the romance part of it, but that’s why it’s always cool that Bruce Wayne is actually just a fake alter ego that Batman made. Batman himself is still all business as per usual and looks good throughout all of the issues.

The next story was a Robin story. I suppose the series was trying to switch up the protagonists pretty consistently. I suppose I can roll with that. The enemy is the Ventriloquist this time so Robin has no trouble taking him down. This seems like it came out just a little before the Nightwing phase so it’s nice to see a Robin who is so confident and competent the whole time. He basically spends the whole comic taking names and even points out something Batman could have done differently in his mission before he was cut off.

Commissioner Gordon got the next story and this one was surprisingly really good. Gordon decides to save a cop who’s been exposed by the villains on his own since he feels guilty about it. He allows Batman to also work on saving him, but tells him not to move in until Gordon has his shot. Gordon takes a lot of the crooks down and does a good job. In the end he may not have been able to win, but you have to admire the attempt. The DCAU definitely did the best job at making him a great character. He was a by the books guy without being overboard to the point where he would try to constantly arrest Batman.

Joker was up next and this issue did a good job of capturing the essence of Joker. He’s a villain, but one with a code of honor. He learns that someone is making comics where he always loses to Batman so he fires the author and kidnaps the replacement so the adventures can be more realistic. As a result, Joker wins in a few of the issues before Batman finally defeated him. As Joker pointed out, he wouldn’t lose so easily this time because he was fighting for the kids. He had to protect them from the comic’s lies. It was just a very entertaining comic to read and Joker actually put up a pretty good fight against Batman when it came time for fisticuffs.

Next up was a Ra’s story as he wants to change the world once again. He always acts as if he will ultimately help the planet which I don’t buy into. I actually preferred the Talia story, but this one isn’t as bad. It plays out as you’d expect and Batman seamlessly infiltrates the enemy ranks and shuts the project down. There wasn’t quite as much action in this story, but it had a good blend of detective work and action mixed in. I definitely liked the ninja outfit that Batman borrowed for the mission and the character who originally wore it must have been pretty cool.

Batgirl and Robin returned for a big team up issue. It was cool to see them team up for what was evidently one of the first times. Robin showed off his experience while Batgirl brought in the X factor they needed to take on the crooks and steal the proof they needed. It was a more low stakes adventure that focused on the core of being a crime fighter, stopping your every day crooks. Technically that is definitely a big part of the job as you can’t expect to see a super villain every time.

A pretty intense story that came up next had the return of the Scarecrow. He found a way to deliver the fear straight to everyone’s minds so they all feared just the sight of him. Nobody was immune so Batman just had to toughen up and get past it. Scarecrow may not be a tough villain, but his fear gimmick is certainly not something to be taken lightly. At least Batman has a lot of experience with dealing with his inner fears so he’s one of the perfect heroes for taking this guy on.

The final issue had a few D list villains escape from prison to unleash their master plan. It was a villain centered story, but it was reasonably amusing. The Nice Guy is certainly an interesting villain and he made the right call in not attacking the dog at the end. It’s probably the most light hearted story in the bunch and is a reasonably good way to end the batch. I probably won’t remember any of those villains, but it was a nice dynamic.

The art is pretty good. The designs from the DCAU are always good to look at and it’s pretty easy to keep track of what’s happening. The issues actually end a lot sooner than usual because each issue only has a few panels and they’re all huge. It makes reading through the comics really easy although I wonder why this is the case. It’s certainly a different style compared to the rest of the DCAU adventures. What really makes this comic solid aside from the art is that the writing is just really good. You can easily picture these stories being full length episodes and everyone stays in character. It’s no wonder why the DCAU has stayed so popular over the years.

Overall, This is a pretty fun collection of stories. There aren’t too many breakout hits that will really stay memorable, but none of the stories are bad. They’re all pretty fun and nostalgic to read through and I look forward to checking out more comics in the series. Ironically I have now read volumes 3 and 2 so I just need to find the original somewhere. With both Batman and Superman having 3 volumes it’ll be interesting to see which one reaches 4 first. If you count spinoffs, then Batman has already won though as I’ll be reading that one next. Get ready for Robin to get more of a role. If you haven’t checked this comic out yet, then I’d definitely recommend changing that!

Overall 7/10

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Superman Adventures Volume 3 Review

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It’s time for the next volume in the Superman Adventures series! The last one was pretty great and this volume continues to operate on that high level. It’s hard to say which volume is actually better. This one may claim a slight edge but it’s pretty much neck and neck. I’m gonna miss these Superman stories, but coming up I’ll be reviewing some Batman comics so those should also be pretty cool. The DCAU lives on!

The first story has Jimmy show a new intern around as he tries to get a story. Unfortunately, this kid isn’t very good at anything so he holds Jimmy back the entire time and even embarrasses him in front of Superman. I thought the story was a little mean spirited towards Jimmy. I didn’t like the new kid at all and he was a little over the top with how quiet he was and how he constantly kept getting in Jimmy’s way. There was a twist at the end which you could probably have guessed from the start, but it couldn’t save him. Not a bad story, but probably the weakest of the batch since Superman didn’t really get to appear much.

Another story has Bruce Wayne get kidnapped by the Mad Hatter. He won’t be released unless Batman shows up but the problem is that Bruce Wayne actually is Batman! Superman decides to lend a helping hand and teams up with Batgirl to find him. This leads to Superman showing her how he deals with criminals in Metropolis like buying them a coffee. It was a pretty interesting scene and reminds you that above all else, Superman’s always a stand up guy. Batman even had to thank him in the end. It was a fun crossover story and probably one of the only times we’ll see Superman and Batgirl team up.

Next up we have a Clark Kent story. He’s been spending so much time as Superman that he has been neglecting his reporter duties. It’s hardly his fault as he can’t let someone get mugged just because he wanted to write an article. Still, Clark’s in hot water so he has to find a way out of this predicament. He learns of a suspicious rail road and decides to crack the case. The issue lightly deals with the classic topic of whether or not he should really be Clark Kent. The comic can’t get into that much as it’s way too deep of a topic for a single issue, but it’s always an interesting question. If he were to become Superman 24/7, where would it stop? He could eventually become a dictator or society would start to rely on him too much. I do think it would be for the best if he wasn’t Clark Kent much at all, but I suppose if he never took time to relax he’d go crazy. It’s a tough call for sure.

The Parasite comic is more of a standard Superman action story. It’s one of the only comics in this batch where Superman could fight an opponent at his level so I was certainly all for that. Superman does fall for his tricks a little too easily and I think his power shouldn’t leave quite so quickly but that’s what makes Parasite such a dangerous opponent. His fight with Superman is fun and I’m glad that Superman decided to get in on the action so quickly. Letting the cops try to deal with Parasite seemed like a reeeeally bad idea from the start. No offense to Metropolis’ finest, but they’re not ready for this. I always liked Parasite quite a bit as well. He just has a really cool design and great powers.

The action got dialed up further in the Supergirl adventure though. With Superman busy on a Justice League mission, it’s up to Supergirl to protect Metropolis. It won’t be easy though as General Zod and two other Kryptonians escape from the Phantom Zone. Taking on all 3 of them is pretty difficult even for Supergirl. What helps is that she’s immune to kryptonite but so is General Zod. This was pretty interesting and it goes against Justice League Unlimited, but I suppose they couldn’t have known there would be an episode like that. I don’t really see why Supergirl would be immune to Kryptonite and didn’t quite buy into the explanation. Still, it is an incredibly useful ability to have without a doubt. She’ll always have the edge as long as she carried a chunk around with her. It would have been fun to see Superman show up so it’d be 2 against 3, but Supergirl really did a nice job of out thinking the villains.

Brainiac returned in another comic as he started messing with everyone’s electronics. Professor Hamilton is around so he’s as annoying as ever, but Superman has to do all of the hard work. While Hamilton is busy destroying Superman’s precious memories, Superman stands up to Brainiac. The intellectual villain has always been one of Superman’s iconic foes and it’s nice to see him here. I think Superman’s massive speed advantage makes it so that he should always win the fight with ease, but we shouldn’t discount a genius intellect too quickly eh?

One unique story had a group of kids decide to outwit Superman. They got a prototype suit from Lex that could teleport so they’d use it to steal sneakers and other such stuff. They would each take turns in the suit which made them all act really differently. This made it difficult for Superman to actually pinpoint a motive or track them at all. He would need science for this mission and even then he had to find a way to apprehend the kids without actually hurting them. Fortunately, the suit is a prototype so it’s not completely perfect yet. It wasn’t my favorite story in the batch but it was all right.

A much better story involves an assasination attempt. Someone is after the President’s life so Superman decides to act as a bodyguard until an important meeting is over. The Assassin shows up and is strangely confident despite Superman being around. It’s a pretty tense issue and the villain was pretty fun. You may not feel too much of a threat since it’s a guy with a gun trying to get past Superman, but he is resourceful I’ll give him that. It’s also nice to see the President and the army teaming up with Superman. It always makes for a pretty fun dynamic.

As always, the art is pretty good. It captures that nice DCAU feel the whole time. Sometimes the artist will even have a lot of fun and make Superman look serious all of a sudden. A good example is when he broke into the White House. There’s a twist about that of course, but it made for a pretty intense moment. The fight scenes are all on point as well. It’s certainly not the streamlined masterpiece that you see from today’s comics, but it has that retro hand drawn feel to it. I’d personally say that it works quite well.

What really helps these issues shine is the high writing quality. Superman always acts like himself, a peerless hero who always makes the right calls. He doesn’t waver in the line of good and evil or doubt himself, he just makes the hero calls. The supporting cast is very fun. They all have personality and aren’t portrayed as caricatures of themselves. The stories balance humor and being serious with great results. There are really no negatives with the comic once again and you’ll find yourself reading it cover to cover in one sitting. It’s not too short either so don’t worry about that. The collection has 9 issues I believe.

Overall, Superman continues to have a lot of great stories. The actual series had over 60 issues, but for some reason this is the last main graphic novel collection. After this they started reprinting the comics or throwing random ones into a collection. I hope the rest of them are nearly packed at some point because I want to check out the rest. It’d be a shame to see them just end like that. I highly recommend checking out this collection. As a Superman fan you’ll definitely appreciate it and you’ll certainly enjoy it even if you just like comics in general. It’s a must buy!

Overall 8/10

Superman Adventures Volume 2 Review

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It’s time for the next installment in the Superman Adventures series. Honestly it’s been a long time since I rented a comic so it’s good to start off with the greatest Superhero out there. My local library may have had the biggest selection in all of NYPL, but they’re going to be closing their doors for the next 3 years so I figured this could be my last chance to just go and pick out the ones that I wanted. I got quite a few DC comics and one Marvel one so prepare for those reviews to come out soon. In the meantime, this comic was just as great as I expected it to be.

It brings about 7 issues which is a good deal for a graphic novel. The first two stories deal with Superman contracting a rare kryptonite disease and now he is dying. His powers are fading away and the general public doesn’t know about it so they’re all bashing Superman. They claim that he has lost his drive or that he doesn’t want to play the hero anymore. Lois Lane is one of those skeptics until she learns the truth and decides to join a last ditch excavation to try and cure Superman once and for all. She’ll have to go through a war torn country to find it though, but at least this’ll give Superman a fighting chance.

It’s a pretty fun double comic. Hamilton is still annoying since I know he grows up to be a traitor someday but I suppose I’ll try to work around that. Lois is also a little iffy since I would have thought that she’d suspect something instead of also thinking that Superman was getting lazy. At least she is a woman of action though and quickly does her best to revert the situation. It’s just as much a Lois story as it is a Superman one and the dynamic works well. The ending is a little sad for a doctor who helps Superman out though. He was being blackmailed by Lex and is basically told to destroy Superman or to die. The doctor decides not to do it and Superman just tells him that he did the right thing…and then leaves the Doctor. It’s heavily implied that he just left the Doctor to his own devices which seems a little cruel of him. Superman didn’t seem very sympathetic at all but I suppose he’s still sore at almost dying. It would have been a sad way to go.

The next story had less stakes but was pretty amusing. An alien race arrives on Earth and challenges Superman to a best of 3 bout with their champion. He is incredibly strong and has some complex weapons which he uses to overwhelm Superman. The Man of Steel will have to put all of his common sense to use to defeat this opponent and that’s just what he does. What do you do when you’re fighting someone and both of you have weapons that you don’t understand? Just throw it away and win in fisticuffs. There aren’t many who can beat Superman that way after all. The writing may have been a little weak as this guy should not have been throwing Superman around, but I suppose I’ll overlook it in the spirit of just having a good time. Superman also should have been able to lift his medal at the end if you ask me.

There was also a special featured in this collection where Lobo is back in town. Superman inhaled a gas that is deadly to everyone on Earth so he goes to space to find the cure. Turns out Lobo is after the same cure, but only so he can collect the reward. The two ultimately have to team up against a bunch of aliens. Unlike the more gullible characters who fall for Lobo’s tricks, Superman is one step ahead of him the whole time. Their group dynamic is pretty interesting and I’m always up for some good banter. Lobo definitely doesn’t look nearly as impressive as Superman in this comic and I can certainly agree to that. While there may not be as much action as in other comics, it’s certainly one of the better issues here.

If you want one of the weaker issues, look no further than the Robocop issue. There’s this assassin with a Robocop suit who is out to silence all of the witnesses who are against Lex and the other local villains. A TV reporter with something to prove ends up telling him where the last witness is by mistake so now it’s a race against time. It wasn’t a bad comic by any means, but this guy isn’t even remotely a threat during the entire issue. Perry was also being a little unreasonable with how news is only what is written down and not what is recorded. As Lois pointed out, he should just be happy that his cameras are always the first ones on TV. I mean you can’t ask for much more than that right? Even if it is weaker than the others, I’m up for a more street level Superman comic once in a while.

Back to the more outlandish plots, Mr. Mxy- has returned to try and make Superman’s life twisted. He erases Superman’s memories and alters reality so that Clark was never Superman and he is instead. It takes a while for Superman to piece the puzzle together, but Mxy was pretty thorough with how much he changed reality so I can’t really blame him. Superman’s plan is pretty sound after that though. Mr. Mxy is definitely one of his most overpowered foes so it certainly involves plot hax each time. Mr Mxy just shouldn’t read stuff that he doesn’t know. That being said, I’ll take this kind of plot hax over serious power level stuff any day. I also thought Mxy did a great job of impersonating Superman even down to the personality.

On another more street level comic, Bilbo is having a tough time at the bar. See, he’s always lying about knowing Superman and it has finally caught up to him. He feels pretty bad, not about constantly getting drunk or lying to everyone, but he feels bad that nobody bought into his lie. He decides to be a real hero and gets to work beating up a gang. Superman shows up as well and feels bad for Bilbo so he officially makes them friends so now Bilbo isn’t actually lying when he says the stories. At least he has one true story, the rest are technically lies. It’s an entertaining issue, but it’s really hard to actually feel bad for Bilbo as my summary implies. He really brought all of this down upon himself after all. Nobody was pressuring him to make up those fantastic lies after all and he kept sinking himself into a deeper and deeper hole. The comic does show what a nice guy Superman is though.

Finally we have the big Dr. Fate comic. It seems like everyone went to Zatanna’s family to train as Superman also went there in his youth. He worked on fighting monsters and becoming immune to monsters. In the present, one of those monsters has now escaped and aims to take Superman down with him. Superman must remember his training which he can’t remember too well at the moment and take them down. Fate also shows up at the very end, but not as much as you would expect. While the stakes are higher here than in most of the other comics, it didn’t work too well for me. The whole explanations while in the portal were pretty convoluted and it jumped from the present to the past a little too often and suddenly. It was a little hard to keep up with and even the art was rather chaotic. It had a good start and a decent end, but it just all felt a little hollow to me. Ah well, magic is supposed to be confusing I suppose.

The art is very good during the comics. The issue with the best art was probably the Lobo special which makes sense since I imagine they definitely put a lot of effort into that one. The whole collection is quality though and it really captured the DCAU style. It would have been nice if these stories could have kept on going for years and years, but I think we’re reaching the end of them. I have the next collection at the ready though so I’ll be reading that one very soon.

Overall, The collection is a pretty good size. 6 normal issues and two specials is nothing to sneeze at. Superman’s the main character so you can’t go wrong there. It’s his DCAU personality as well so he’s essentially the perfect main character. It really is a Superman story as well since there are basically no guest stars. (Fate appeared so briefly that it barely even counts) I do love me some guest stars and the next collection has at least one, but it also reminds you that Superman is holding up the whole collection and doing it rather easily. Just as important, there are no real negatives in the comic. There are no objectionable scenes of any kind. It’s another reason why I loved the DCAU. You didn’t have to be nervous about reading through it because you know it was made for all ages. The writing is great and the comics are a blast. This was really DC at its height and I still miss these days. If you want a trip down nostalgia lane, this is a great place to start. It’s a must read for all Superman fans.

Overall 8/10

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Review


I’ve been a casual big My Little Pony fan for ages now, but I had yet to get into the Equestria Girls part of the franchise. When I saw that my library had ordered this comic I knew it was time to jump in. It’s a pretty fun spinoff from the main series. I definitely prefer the main title as you can argue that the whole point of My Little Pony is seeing the ponies show us values of friendship and harmony which we can then apply to everyday life. Seeing fellow humans use these messages can still be effective, but it loses the extra intensity that the main comics have since there are no dark overlords trying to murder everybody here.

There are really two main comics here. The first one deals with how the main characters met up and became friends in the first place. All of the ponies get a lot of screen time here, but Rarity may have looked the worst. So, Applejack has moved to the school and is hoping to make friends. Unfortunately her mean cousin is around and takes it upon herself to bully Applejack. Applejack tries her best to fit in with the “cool” crowd, but they won’t have any of it. Fortunately, Pinkie Pie has a plan to make everyone smile by cheering at the local soccer game. Rainbow Dash is too busy winning awards and stomping people into the dirt to help Applejack. Usually this is where Rarity would step up, but she enjoys the attention and decides to turn a blind eye to the bullies. Fluttershy would speak up, but she’s a little too intimidated by all of the other characters at the moment.

So, here’s why Rarity is probably the worst character of the story. She basically just ignores Applejack’s plight the whole time which felt a little out of character. Maybe it was the only way that the writers could get the story across, but it still felt a little iffy to be honest. She made the right call in the end though so I suppose that’s what counts. Rainbow Dash was probably the best character this time. Sure, she may have been a little overconfident, but lets face it, that’s why she’s such a great character. While the rest of the characters were getting messed up by the drama, Rainbow Dash was focusing on the win. Fluttershy was…Fluttershy. She was a little too nervous to confront the bullies, but at least she let them know that the dog was sick. That was definitely a good move. She’s a nice character, I just wish Fluttershy would put the others in their place a little more. Especially when they started subtly insulting her by calling her names like Flustershy or Flutterbye. She does quite a bit of crying in the story but it also shows that she has heart!

It’s always nice to see the characters meet up though so this was a great way to start the comic. I’m assuming they all know each other already in the movie then or this is some kind of alternate retelling of the origin. The bullies got put in their place, but surprisingly I don’t recall them being truly converted. I’ll assume that they turned good off screen since the heroes never leave anyone behind. They must all embrace friendship at some point.

The second tale is about the main characters hanging out with Sunset. She was shunned in Pony world and escaped to the human one so she can finally have some friends. (I’m pretending that I don’t know what happened in the main series. If you just read from this comic, this is the vibe you get) Twilight Sparkle has essentially banished Sunset to the human world so she can be a better person and must keep up a diary chronicling what happens each day. Sunset hasn’t gotten to enjoy the holidays since she had no friends, but Applejack and friends decide to help her out. After an intense Avengers esque scene where all of the friends are brought in to help with the party, they invite Sunset over. The party goes great, but then pictures of it start leaking out to the school and Applejack suspects that Sunset is guilty. Sunset pleads her case, but the main six will hear none of it. They are now getting bullied by the entire school and blame Sunset for it. Meanwhile Sunset is friendless once again, but has decided that she’s going to solve this case.

As you can probably guess, Sunset didn’t sell out her friends. Honestly that would have been quite the plot twist, but it’s probably a good thing that the comic didn’t go there. It may have been hard to have been a Sunset fan after something like that. She’s a pretty fun character and it’s cool to have one of the humans actually be a Pony. It seems like everyone knows, but she still tries to act like a human anyway as she quickly stops herself from saying phrases like “Everypony.” I’d probably just keep using it personally since it’s pretty unique and all, but I guess whatever works.

The rest of the main characters didn’t look quite as good this time around. They were a little quick to doubt one of their friends and Sunset’s denial should have been enough for them. Rainbow Dash’s battle against Fluttershy in the video game was pretty intense and I’m glad that Dash took the win. It was nice that Fluttershy was a little more pro-active in the game though and really got into it. The characters have definitely been through a lot by now so I’d expect some character development.

I could also sympathize with the villain of this story a bit since once again, Rarity was being a little iffy. The villain was clearly getting along pretty well with her friends so they could have let her stick around. I don’t think she would have gotten in the way or anything. The villain still made the wrong move, but at least it also reminded Rarity of an important message. I kind of wish they would have a letter at the end explaining the message for those who didn’t get it, but it’s clear enough so that shouldn’t be a problem.

As far as the art goes, it’s not amazing, but it’s pretty good. The character designs are all on point and the only part that is a little iffy are the tears. They end up creating large puddles which can be a bit much. The scenes of the characters all crying and still fighting each other were also intense. The best panel in the comic is definitely when Rainbow Dash tripped someone up and then jumped on his head as she passed him in the soccer game. A bit brutal sure, but this is Rainbow Dash we’re talking about. She’s always ready to go for the win.

The writing is also pretty solid. The whole point of the series is its 5 star writing after all so it doesn’t disappoint here. As mentioned earlier, my only gripe is that the Main 6 doubted Sunset a little too easily, but it does help you sympathize with her. It feels like everyone is always doubting her because of her past and it shows that even the main characters aren’t exempt from that. Still, she’ll stick around as one of the heroes and eventually they’ll all really accept her.

Now, there is one huge plot hole here that I have to address. Don’t be alarmed but I picked up on this instantly. (Humble brag) There is one scene where Rarity orders 16 pizza pies, but the stack looked a little too large so I decided to count them all. There were 17 pies that the character was holding. Where did the extra one come from? The quality checkers slacked off on that one a bit to be honest. It happens to the best of us though right?

Overall, This was a fun comic. Rainbow Dash was the MVP with Sunset being the runner up so Pinkie Pie lost out for a change, but she got a small role this time around. It’s too bad that Equestria Girls didn’t get its own ongoing like the main My Little Pony series. I’m sure that there are a bunch of stories that you can tell in this setting. Still, the main title is the one that I’m the most interested in so hopefully the library can get more volumes soon. If you’re a big fan of the franchise then you’ve gotta check this one out. If you’ve never taken the plunge before, then now’s a good time to start. You’ll be surprised at how much you enjoy My Little Pony during the adventure and one day you’ll be bold enough to call yourself a fan in public. Small steps first.

Overall 7/10

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review

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It’s time to review the final DK Country game and possibly the final main DK game of them all. The Country series has been pretty solid for all of the installments so it’s nice to see what the Wii U can bring to the table. The game is a little shorter than Returns and noticeably easier as well, but it’s still a quality platformer. One nice mechanic that they added was the dash and now I can’t imagine playing a DK game without it. It makes the characters so much more versatile and deadly in the levels.I certainly had a blast spamming it and it’ll remind you of the 3D Sonic games.

The plot involves a group of ice creatures deciding to take over a mountain. This angers DK and his pals because they want more bananas and they don’t grow in frigid temperatures. Thus, DK and friends decide to beat people up along the way and eat what they can. Still, can they defeat this Bowser impostor or will the trials be too much for them? The story definitely pales in comparison to the last game though for one key reason…the first 4 worlds are filler. They have nothing to do with the plot and there aren’t even any ice levels in them. For a game that’s called Tropical Freeze, this was a little odd. Once you enter the final 2 worlds then the ice levels start to show up so that was neat. Either way, the level variety is always fun, but I wish the plot could have worked with that a little.

The gameplay is the 2D platforming that you would expect. That being said, as mentioned earlier we now have a dash mechanic. It is incredibly handy as you can cross large distances with the move. It’s also not too automatic or easy so it feels like a legitimate technique that you’ll want to master. If you learn it just right, you’ll find yourself blasting through the levels. The gameplay is very smooth and you can definitely know that this is a AAA game right off the bat. I was very happy to trade in the Wii remote controls for a more proper All Pro and Gamepad setup as well. It’s night and day comparing the two styles for this platformer.

While the levels are significantly easier than DK Country Returns, it’s not really fair to say that it’s too drastic. The main reason for this is that I just got done completing the former so it’s possible that I’m just more prepared for whatever the DK series throws at me right now. It’s like playing Dark Souls 1 and 2 back to back. 2 will probably feel a lot easier than 1 did initially. I do think that Tropical Freeze probably had the tougher bosses though. It’s a close one, but the last boss for example would certainly be rather difficult to defeat in one player mode. He has a lot of health and it’s hard to predict his horn attack. It almost feels purely random. I don’t think any of the bosses are inherently unfair though. They’re tough, but you just need to keep on going at them until you win.

The soundtrack isn’t bad. There are no super hype themes like the Returns villain jingle, but they’ll get you through the stages. The boss theme that plays when a boss first shows up is similar to Mighty No 9’s main boss theme which is pretty interesting. There’s a good guitar/drum solo that works well for that. I don’t really recall any of the stage themes, but they were pleasant enough. The graphics also look pretty sharp for the title. It brought back the Shadow levels and the elements all look really sharp. The characters also look good in the cutscenes. Nintendo never disappoints when it comes to the technical aspects and they rarely do with the gameplay either.

There’s a good amount of replay value here as you’d expect. Collecting all of the puzzle pieces in the levels will certainly take a good amount of time. There are quite a few of them in each level after all. Most of the levels require repetition to really get them down so it’s more about the time than the difficulty. I believe you unlock an extra world if you do that so that’s a nice incentive. It’ll certainly give hardcore DK players a few extra hours to have fun with. The main game will only take you a handful of hours as well. 6-8 I’d imagine, but that’s a pretty decent length for a platformer. Having 8 worlds helps a lot, but 6 will do.

Overall, Donkey Kong has brought us another pretty solid game. If you want to really experience the difficulty as the true DK experience, make sure you choose to play as DK. If you want to coast through the levels a little easier, make sure to pick Diddy Kong or Dixie. They can cheese you through just about any obstacle. I look forward to seeing another Donkey Kong country game rise to the surface. Hopefully the plot will be a little better even though I know that is rarely Nintendo’s goal. As long as the gameplay is good, I suppose the rest doesn’t matter quite as much and Nintendo certainly knows how to handle gameplay. I never got to play as Cranky, but that’s fine. I get the feeling that his special ability wouldn’t have been all that great.

Overall 8/10

FCBD 2017 Boom Summer Blast Review

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I always leave this one for last because it doesn’t look very interesting. I’m not a big fan of anthologies in general either so mixing these two elements together is a nice recipe for disaster. Still, maybe it would surprise me right? The first story certainly didn’t as we start the comic off on a low note. The plot is that a mouse wants to leave his village because he’s curious and a wise animal tells him about how everyone who crosses the woods…dies! Cats live out there after all and mice can’t do anything about it. Ah well, the mouse decides not to cross. The art was pretty bad and the story tried to be rather gritty and serious. No fun was to be had here and I certainly won’t be checking out the trade.

The next story was about a girl who is opening up a restaurant in monster world. Unfortunately, nobody wants to help her except a very entitles monster who doesn’t care about the business. She just wants the paycheck and isn’t afraid to say it. Again, the art is very underwhelming and I don’t see this series being very fun. None of the characters are likable and the premise will get old after the first few pages. It’s easy to see why so many comics are cancelled before they really got to run. They just never had a chance in the first place.

The final story is about a band. They were in a mysterious car accident where one member died, 3 were seriously injured, and one emerged unscathed. We then jump forward a year and the group is still playing. I guess this mystery will be addressed at some point, but I can’t say that I’m intrigued. The big problem in the issue for the characters is that they have to play in the same concert as the Boneheads. The groups don’t get along and a lot of insults are hurled from one side to the other. Great. The art’s pretty bad as per usual. We also get a gritty story about kids being drowned for no reason and all of the characters are incredibly bad. This isn’t a good recipe for success either so for those reasons I’m out. Unexpected Shark Tank reference

Overall, Boom lived down to my expectations as always. If there’s one thing you can count on from this free comic, it’s consistency. The only good thing I can think of in this comic is the Pac-Man image on the wall in the final story. I gotta admit, that was pretty classy. Still, there’s no reason to read this issue since you won’t be checking out any of the 3 series anyway. You should just get going while you can and stick to Marvel/DC for now. If you want to branch out, then read some old Mega Man or Sonic comics since both of those aren’t exactly hitting it big at the moment.

Overall 3/10

FCBD 2017 Bongo Free For All Review

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It’s time for Bongo! It’s pretty impressive how you can always count on the Simpsons to show up with a comic year after year. You can also say that it’s a little worrisome how the writing in this story may be the best out of all the Free Comic books. Maybe that’s just a credit to this story rather than a diss to the others. Regardless, it was surprisingly good and reminded me that the Simpsons can be a good show when it remembers how to be one. It just so happens that it remembers very infrequently and there are probably more bad ones than good titles. (Bold statement I suppose)

The first story here is the best one as Bart Simpson breaks his back and now has to use a suitcase to get to school. The bullies have a field day with this and Bart finally learns what it is like to not be one of the cool kids. His reaction to this is on point as Bart uses the wheelies to his advantage. He can now out run the bullies to the ice cream sandwiches and also beats them in a basketball game. It’s just a very satisfying story all around and while Bart may have betrayed his new friends in the end, they got the last laugh.

The next story wasn’t quite as hype but it did its best. Homer Simpson stayed out late for some reason so he dashes home to steal his son’s sandwich. As he’s eating, Homer realizes that a burglar is outside so he goes to face him, only to be soundly defeated. The burglar in question is actually an animal and Homer finally realizes that it’s game over. The banter between Bart and Homer wasn’t bad to be honest. I also like the idea of Homer stealing his sandwich and their temporary alliance since they both should have been asleep. The execution after that wasn’t as interesting with the whole burglar nonsense.

The final story was the weakest one. Two kids are running around for some reason when they decide to start panicking over a bunch of cosplayers. They hide in the sewers and run all around town until they finally go home again. It was rather boring. The only good character was the local pastor who kept everyone in line and talked a really good game. He may let crooked cops take advantage of him, but at least the guy means well. I have a feeling that he may be the most entertaining character in the show.

Overall, This was a pretty good Bongo, I dare say that it was one of the better issues in the long series. I’m not going to become a Simpsons fan anytime soon, but at least this reminds me that the franchise always has potential when it’s handled right. Of course, you could say that about almost anything. There’s only one more free comic to get through so I’m pretty close to the end. It’s been a good run, but they all must end eventually.

Overall 7/10

FCBD 2017 Secret Empire Review

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It’s time for a look at the big Marvel event that is coming up. The premise is pretty laughable and the actual comic has more plot hax than I’ve seen in a very, very long time. That’s part of the charm though, think of this as a satirical parody and you’ll be just fine. Otherwise, you’re just going t have to stretch your disbelief on this one a bit.

So, as you have probably heard by now, Captain America has turned evil. He works with Hydra now and wants to rule the world. The issue has him attack the Avengers so that he can bring everyone under his domain in one fell swoop. The Avengers roster is pretty strong as this point since they have female Thor, Iron-Man, Hulk, Ms. Marvel, and a bunch of other fighters. No worries, Captain America has this planned out through very vague stuff as the heroes just start fainting. The narrator is pretty dramatic about the whole thing as he lets you know that the heroes were clearly outmatched. I value his input, but the heroes should have easily defeated Hydra. Even with Captain America on their side….it’s not as if the villains are that strong.

The art isn’t bad. There’s a red effect playing the whole time so it can be hard to see anything though. I don’t see this event being all that great, but I’m hoping that it’ll be somewhat good. Any Marvel event has the potential to be great since you’re bringing all of the big characters together for a lot of hype action scenes. How can that possibly go wrong right? I’m just going to need the writers to come up with a bunch of reasons for how the Avengers lost so easily so that at least one of them can be believable. Evil Captain America holding Mjolnir? Ha!

The backup story sees the start of a new Spider-Man series that must be written by Slott. The dialogue is just so bad that it must be him right? It starts off with Spider-Man and Mary Jane arguing quite a lot about everything that they can think of. They get in a lot of personal insults and then Spiderman has to run off to fight the Vulture. Spiderman acts very aggressively the whole time as he keeps on insulting the Vulture over and over again. Finally, they’re both immobilized because the new Trapster comes and takes them down. She steals the cash and insults both of them as well. Good thing she’s one of the “nice” villains who doesn’t want to actually destroy the heroes. She could have finished off Spiderman but decided not to do so. That’s nice of her.

I’m also glad that the comic referenced how old Spiderman is nowadays. The new Trapster mentions how he was around when she was a kid so he must be ancient by now. It’s definitely true since Spiderman should be very old at this point and time. Luckily being a hero gives you some immunity to the usual effects of time passing. You just can’t stop a friendly neighborhood Spiderman. I can’t say that there’s much of a hook to continue reading the story though. It seems like this is going to be a pretty bad depiction of Spiderman and the new villain isn’t much of a threat. Perhaps the point is that Spiderman will be back to dealing with street level opponents, but that doesn’t really come across as very epic now does it? Still, if the writing improves then it could be a good story.

Overall, I still can’t get past the concept of Secret Empire. Am I really supposed to be taking Hydra seriously after all of these years? The characters sure weren’t as they kept making puns and one liners even while they were being defeated. Clearly they weren’t feeling the danger. For Spiderman it seems like the same ole same old stuff, but I’m sure they could do something there to make the whole thing more exciting. Hopefully the event/series premiere ends up turning out good. It’ll have to be from the normal comic readers though as this issue likely won’t bring more people on board.

Overall 7/10

FCBD 2017 Guardians of The Galaxy Review

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With the film currently out, it definitely makes sense to have a Guardians comic. The marketing guys were definitely ready. It’s also clearly movie inspired at this point with the roster being identical. Surprisingly the comic seems to have gotten the D rank artists. The art looks terrible and I’m just wondering what happened to the series. The previous comics that I had read of it looked quite good so this is a big drop in quality. In particular, Rocket and Drax look very off. Still, you can’t say that Gamora or Star Lord look much better either.

In the plot, the team has gotten captured by the Nova Core. The Nova are finally back in biz after apparently being out of commission for a while, but now their members are all expendable green aliens who are picked on by the Shiar. The Guardians escape of course and steal a ship as well. The problem is that everyone is after them as per usual so the team is going to have to stay sharp and stick to the shadows. It’s a decent story, but the art is just a real drawback. The comic also got surprisingly brutal in one scene as someone’s eye is taken. That scene was pretty unnecessary and you can probably guess which member of the group brought this to the table. Meanwhile the “Drax is a pacifist” plot will definitely be intriguing. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Luckily, the backup story is a lot better. This time, the Defenders are getting some hype since the show is almost here. With the Kingpin out of the way, Diamondback wants to bring Hell’s Kitchen to its knees once more. The problem is that Daredevil and his friends are always getting in the way. To fix this, he heads to Jessica Jones’ office and shoots her. He also sends a message to the other members via attacks from his cronies and declares the neighborhoods to be his. If the heroes attack him…he’ll attack back!

This story was good because the art was very solid. The shading effects were great and all of the characters seemed well rounded. The writing was solid and this is a good way to hook in a new audience of comic readers. The cliff hanger was good and even if these gangsters seem a little outmatched, it could still make for a pretty good story arc. I’m not sure about Jessica losing so easily but maybe she doesn’t have any real abilities in the current comics. That or this Diamondback fellow is just that fast. Regardless, it brings some nice stakes to the table.

Overall, this was a good issue. Defenders really brought its A game and it’ll be nice to see the team get some recognition again. It’s been a long time since they were talked about in the same sentence as the Avengers or Fantastic Four so if the series gets big, then that problem will go away. Guardians didn’t really go anything for me. I suppose the Shiar vs Nova corp subplot could be good, but only if there are some actual characters on the Nova side and they’re not just all nameless aliens. Bring back the X-Men as well, those crossovers always looked pretty fun.

Overall 7/10

FCBD 2017 DC SuperHero Girls Review

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I got to read one of the novels for the SuperHero Girls series so I’m finally a little more familiar with it than I used to be. It’s a fun concept and a good way to get more people to read comics. I can certainly get behind the series. It’s also impressive how it expanded so far in such a short amount of time. It appears to be going strong.

Well, the comic starts off with Wonder Woman and her pals dealing with a pair of rhyming villains. They had a lot of good burns even if they naturally lost to the Amazon warrior. After that, Wonder Woman is invited to spend the summer with her father Zeus, but is a little intimidated at this prospect. Fortunately, she is allowed to bring her friends. Nobody wants to go so Wonder Woman ends up settling for Bumble Bee. Upon her arrival, a gust of air assaults the heroes and Wonder Woman wonders if this was really a good idea!

There’s not a whole lot of action of course, but it’s a fun read that you’ll be able to blast through. It’s also very interesting whenever you see a villain since most of the characters who are usually villains in the mainstream comics are now heroes. I wonder how the writers decide which villains to keep as villains. Originally I would have thought that every character would be a hero, but I suppose that wouldn’t make sense and would take away any sense of danger.

The story isn’t quite as engaging as the one from last year’s event, but it’s still pretty fun. The friends all came across as rather unsympathetic to Wonder Woman’s plight and I’d call them mean spirited if I didn’t realize that it wasn’t intentional. They just already had plans. The artwork looks pretty solid. It’s not absolutely top of the line the way that a lot of DC comics look. It is going after the My Little Pony/Strawberry Shortcake crowd with brighter colors and more abstract designs. Maybe “simple” is a better way to describe it. It’s not all that intricate or detailed, but it makes it easier to read. All of the character models look right so I’m definitely on board with this.

Overall, SuperHero Girls continues to be a fun comic series to follow. It even had Supergirl catch the villain instead of Wonder Woman which lightly hints that Supergirl is still the faster heroine. It’s always a fun matchup to think about. The Zeus arc should be pretty fun, especially since it seems as if at least one god is against Wonder Woman. My money’s on Ares personally, that guy always did have a bit of a grudge.

Overall 7/10