Thor: Ragnarok Review

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The MCU has been consistently been getting better as the phases go by. Captain America 2 was better than 1 and 3 was better than 2. Thor 2 was better than 1 and now this latest Thor film has arrived and is the best film in the trilogy. It’s a very fast paced film with a lot of action and hype throughout. It also does a great job of showing how great of a fighter Thor is with or without his hammer. It’s going to be hard for the next Thor film to top this one.

The film starts off with Thor seemingly being held captive by Surtur. Of course, the whole thing is basically just a ruse to get information. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since think we all found it highly unlikely that Thor can be bound by mere chains. Unfortunately Thor has not stopped Ragnarok by defeating Surtur as the true source of despair shows up. Hela is the goddess of death and her abilities are the real deal as she easily beats Thor and Loki. Thor is going to have to form his own team to defeat her.

The heroes definitely get around in this film as Thor goes to Earth, Surtur’s Domain, Asgard, and the Grandmaster’s planet. It’s fun to see all of the different locales as they all worked quite well. The weakest one design-wise would be Grand Master’s HQ, but the arena looked quite good. Earth may win out since it was great to have a Dr.Strange cameo. He looked really good in that scene and they’re definitely building him up to be one of the team’s power hitters. He’s also one of my favorite Avengers in the MCU so I’m ready to see him get more of a role. He’ll have to keep his list handy since a lot of threats are certainly coming to Earth in the near future.

Thor has a lot of fun in this film as he openly mocks the villains and just tries to enjoy everything he does. He’s a good lead and this is probably the best that he’s been portrayed. He’s a lot wiser than he used to be while still keeping his strength. This is Thor as a leader in addition to being a warrior and it makes him a more complete character. Seeing him fight off an army at the end without his hammer was definitely impressive. It’ll be very hard for me to get used to his new hairstyle though. I’m going to miss the old one until it grows back, but it’s not the worst redesign I’ve seen as it’s still miles above the Joker.

Going back to Thor having fun though, it keeps showing how Marvel is just good at writing comedy. The Iron-Man films have always been pretty fun as the humor is just handled well and this film does a great job with it as well. It’s not forced and most of the jokes land. The only film I can think of in the MCU that failed at being even remotely funny was Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Age of Ultron could be really forced at times, but it was still entertaining, it would just throw you our of the movie for a second. As DC is trying to emulate Marvel with their current movies, hopefully they’ve been taking notes. Wonder Woman wasn’t funny and Justice League’s jokes don’t really seem to be working, but it’s possible they’ll turn it around in the film or by the sequel. It takes time to be funny and writing jokes has always been the hardest part of developing a script if you ask me. That’s why it’s not really a problem as long as the jokes aren’t downright terrible, but if there are a bunch in the movie, then you want them to be good. Again, Thor: Ragnarok did a really good job with this.

Loki was a fun ally to have around. Naturally you can’t trust him at all and the film’s pretty self aware on that, but at least it meant Thor didn’t have to be alone the whole time. It’s always good to have at least one companion on a journey. He didn’t look quite as impressive as usual though since everyone he meets ends up beating him up quite badly. He really took his lumps in this film but always manages to keep his confidence. I’d really be on board with him finally being an ally, not a hero as that’ll never happen, but someone who helps out once in a while and doesn’t try to destroy the world.

Now I’ve never been the biggest Hulk fan. He’s a decently good character and all, but I typically just like him in his more intelligent depictions. The only exceptions are some of the really old Stan Lee era comics where he was pretty sympathetic. The film has a good portrayal of him. He’s not too annoying or anything and can put up a good fight. The writer seems to definitely know who he thinks is the stronger fighter (Thor or Hulk) and I tend to agree with him. Brute strength is great and all, but when you’re about as strong and have a variety of other techniques at your disposal, it’s game set and match. Surprisingly the film gives Hulk a backseat role for the entire climax as he doesn’t get to face off against Hela or anything, but it’s a good way to ensure he doesn’t steal the show or get humiliated in front of his fans. It was not what I expected from his role, but it worked well enough.

Unfortunately, this is probably Bruce Banner’s worst portrayal. He’s really slow on the uptake and panics about everything. He is constantly in a state of shock and just holding everyone back. You almost can’t help but wish for the Hulk to return and maybe this is why Hulk wants to stay out 24/7. It’s also interesting how each side can’t remember anything after they turn so for Bruce it’s like 2 years passed in an instant. That’s actually pretty tragic so I should feel more sympathetic for Bruce…but I don’t. I miss his self assured/over confident version from the first Avengers film. I will always look to that as the definitive Bruce Banner portrayal. The only other one that’s close is from the Indestructible Hulk mini series.

Valkyrie is the main heroine of the film and fulfills the role pretty well. She actually doesn’t get on board with the heroes until near the end of the film so her role isn’t huge or anything but she’s pretty tough. Balancing fighting and drinking is tough but she manages to pull it off. I can’t say that I was a huge fan of hers since her backstory basically involves being a traitor and turning evil. You’re sort of supposed to look past all of that, but it’s a little tricky and I think she would have worked better as a villain like Loki who occasionally helps the heroes. I give the film major props for not going for a romance angle here though. I’m sure the writers were pressured by Hollywood into doing this, but they refused.

Heimdall has his own filler subplot where he beats up a bunch of minions and helps guard the Asgardian survivors. He’s a good character even if he doesn’t get much of a role here. He’s the kind of character who makes more of an impact if you’ve seen the first two films. Since this is the 3rd one, there’s no excuse not too. I miss his classic armor, but his new Bishop redesign works quite well and he lasted quite a while considering how outnumbered he was.

Hela is the main villain and also the best character of the film. She’s a great villain because her goal isn’t crazy or just evil. It’s a pretty rational goal as taking over the multiverse makes sense to prove your supremacy. I can get behind that and I can also buy into her taking over Asgard since it is hers by birthright. She looks extremely impressive in all of her fights. I would have liked a longer round 1 fight with Thor and Loki but seeing them fight while on the light speed tunnel was certainly entertaining. I’m also glad that Thor didn’t back up when they all started hyping her up. As long as you stay on Hela’s good side you’re okay since she doesn’t seem to be in the habit of randomly destroying her minions for no reason. She may very well be the best villain in the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe at this point although I’m expecting big things from Thanos.

Scourge is her right hand man and he gets his own emotional character arc. He starts off as the guy that everyone pushes around and eventually levels up to janitor. I liked him well enough at the beginning I guess, but he’s just not my kind of character. He’s one of the weak links, but his actual scenes aren’t bad so it’s not like he hurts the film. I just didn’t care enough about him to be sympathetic. Surtur appears for a bit and gets his own fight scene, but he’s definitely not as impressive as he was in the comics. Everyone basically uses him the whole time and I have to wonder what his ultimate plan is. He better appear in Thor 4 or I’m going to have to remember him as the villain to have the worst plan in the MCU. He may not have thought it over very carefully.

The Grandmaster was interesting and way better than the Collector. It helps that his actor makes the character pretty entertaining as opposed to simply being quirky. There’s a big difference between the two and you always want to be the former as opposed to the latter. He’s definitely a villain through and through but tries to hide his evil intent through jokes. Hey, if Spiderman can do it for the heroes, why not have a villain with that gimmick as well? It does make sense after all and he was a fun guy to have around. I wouldn’t mind seeing him again.

Korg is one of the quirky supporting characters from the Arena. While I didn’t find his voice quite as hilarious as by theater seemed too (They laughed at just about every one of his lines) it did work pretty well for the character. It’s been a while since we got a very to the point character who speaks softly but always manages to keep everyone in check. Definitely the best portrayal of Korg in all of Marvel. Stan (The Man) Lee also shows up to clean shop. His cameo may be quick, but he really sets the tone in his appearance and also shows that he fears no one. You have to have nerves of steel to have his job after all.

Ragnarok’s soundtrack is absolutely great. The themes are all very sci-fi and fast paced. They help to amplify the fight scenes and make the whole film better. Good music helps make a scene more memorable so as you would expect it also has the same effect on the movie as a whole. Most films don’t insert a big song when a fight scene starts. It’s a popular trope in anime but that’s about it despite this being a fantastic way of building up energy for the scene. Well, Thor pulls it off for both the first and last fight. The last fight in particular is handled extremely well as Thor gets one last vision of a certain character and then unlocks his true power. Aside from maybe Avengers and even that is close, Thor definitely has the best soundtrack in the MCU and is high up there for all of Marvel’s theater films.

The action and effects are certainly on point. The monsters of the fire world certainly looked very impressive and it made for a very good opening fight. Surtur’s design was modernized for the new age and while he was rather skinny I still liked it well enough. Hela’s fight scenes were solid as well and her costume was very faithful to the comics. Thor’s style of combat with his electricity will remind you a lot of Cole McGrath or Starkiller and it’s certainly the most efficient way to fight. When you’re using electricity to enhance your range and strength, it is very hard to dodge or counter that. Now that Thor can fight at this level the only Avenger who can reasonably give him a good fight would be Dr. Strange. I don’t think the others could keep up.

Naturally the film has a scene after the credits so make sure you stick around. There are 2 scenes, but the first one is really the only one you need to worry about. It’s easily one of the best post movie scenes in the MCU as we finally have a significant plot development here which works as a great tease for Infinity War. It’s hard to imagine that the big crossover film is so close, but it is certainly approaching fast. It’s also why it makes sense to beef up the Avengers roster since they’re going to need all the help they can get. I’m not sure how some of the street level fighters will be useful, but maybe they can at least distract the villains with one liners while the real fighters take them down.

Now, there is a little plot hax at the end. It’s nothing major but the final fight’s outcome should have been reversed. On one side we have a giant opponent who is extremely slow and can only attack in a straight line. On the other we have a very nimble fighter who can move quite fast and also has a lot of durability. All the character needed to do was move just a little bit and that would have worked as a dodge. I mean, the planet may not be too stable so surviving some intense energy would still have to happen, but I think the character could pull it off. At the very least, losing due to ring out would have been preferable. I’m trying to keep this review spoiler free so I’ll keep that part vague.

I’d like to say that I’ve covered everything, but with a film this big there will always be something that I’ve missed. As far as the MCU films go, It’s easily top 5. Avengers is better and I’ll also give Civil War the edge but this very well could be the third best film. Age of Ultron gives it a run for its money, but I dare say that Thor beats both Winter Soldier and Spider-Man Homecoming. Either way, it confirms that Thor is certainly top 5 and we’ll see how long it can stay there if Marvel keeps raising the bar. I’m still hoping they go all out with Infinity War and have just about everyone appear. Bring in the old villains, Agents of Shield, even throw the Netflix crew a bone with a portrait on the wall or some kind of cameo. Make this the big event that it should be.

Overall, The film was just about perfect. There’s not much to really say about the film in the negatives department. It did pretty well with keeping the power levels consistent. Not perfect, but basically no film is. I felt bad for the poor dragon who fought Thor, but at least the film didn’t destroy Fenfir as in my head canon he can certainly survive a fall. That was nice. Thor himself has also come a long way since the older films and makes a few speeches about what it means to be a hero. The action scenes are first rate and the graphics are quite good. The film’s also just a lot of fun the whole time and has a ton of replay value. It’s not everyday that you get a film as satisfying as this one. I teetered between an 8 or a 9 for this film for a while, but at the end of the day I think it definitely earns the extra star.

Overall 9/10

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Spider-Man Homecoming Review

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The Spider-Man films have always set a pretty high bar. My least favorite one is probably Spider-Man 2 and that one is still pretty cool because of all the memes it started. This one had a lot to live up to since we’re starting fresh with a new Peter Parker/Spider-Man once again, but the film handles it well. It doesn’t make any “real mistakes” (As in issues that would hurt the score) but I do have some minor issues involving power levels to get into. On the whole I’d definitely recommend checking this film out and preparing yourself for the sequel.

Peter Parker is your average kid with super powers who looks up to the Avengers. He wants to become one of the team, but Iron Man doesn’t think that he’s ready yet. Peter decides to prove himself by taking off his suit’s limitations which backfires horribly so he is forced to go back to his old costume. Nevertheless, Spider-Man has to go back out there to find the Vulture and take him down. Will he be able to do this or was Stark right and he is actually still too young for the job?

I’ve been pretty vocal about how I think Peter is a little too young in this version, but what honestly took more time to get used to was the hairstyle. It seemed to be at conflict with the rest of his personality but I got used to it over time. I don’t think he’s quite a match for the other two yet but as he appears in more and more films and grows into the role he should be able to place proudly in their company. Peter made most of the right choices in the film as he skipped the party to go stop the villains and was pretty persistent on that note. While Tony Stark may have kept telling him not to do that, I think Peter made the right move in sticking to hit gut and following the villains everywhere. It may not have always worked, but I agreed with the moves.

Peter Parker’s always been a little like Charlie Brown as things just don’t go his way and the film was pretty accurate with that. It was a really rough road for him as he got beat up several times but it’ll help his battle experience. Lets get this part over with now, this version of Spiderman seems not to have any Spider Sense. Either that or this film just forgot about that part. He gets blindsided many times and snuck up on by villains more often than he actually sees them coming. He can’t dodge for beans and gets beat up by everyone. I don’t think he wins a single fight not counting random henchmen. That’s…a little sad for his first showing. This is easily the weakest Spider-Man yet even if he had a good physical strength feat. Ideally he’ll learn about the Spider Sense soon so we can get that hype fight with Thanos. Of course, strength isn’t essential for a hero so even if he’s weak, Spider-Man is still a good character.

Spider-Man’s only unfavorable characteristic is that he’s maybe a little too infatuated with Liz the whole time. The staring scene in the cafeteria was a bit much. I can overlook the stuttering and barely being able to talk to her since it wasn’t as exaggerated as in some films (Still a bit exaggerated though) but the first scene is still a bit much. He can also act a little too impressed and astounded by the pro heroes considering that I think he could take most of them on, but I suppose it’s like how Deku still looks up to everyone in My Hero Academia even if he could beat most of them very quickly. Beyond that, he’s the Spider-Man we all know from the comics.

Liz is a decently good main heroine. She’s not as good as Gwen, but I’d say that she’s more likable than Mary Jane. Her connection with Peter definitely seems the most random especially since he hadn’t exactly earned a positive reputation at the school the whole time and there was the interesting chant at her party. Maybe she was just being nice by letting him take her to the dance or it was a genuine first step. Either way, at least we got to see a good chunk of her personality in this film and it’s cool that she got to be the captain of the trivia team. You definitely have to be really smart to make it on that level.

I also really liked the plot because the Teacher stole the movie. The moment he ran to Peter and brought him back into the fold was brilliant. Lets face it, if the school championship is on the line, you better bring in your star student. Even if he does ditch class randomly and has been becoming a bit of a delinquent, you gotta take the win. Think more on it after you’re holding the trophy. He was also very polite the whole time and understanding of the tricky history that makes up our buildings.

The sarcastic girl who is always hanging around is easily the best schoolmate. Honestly, she’s more likable than Peter Parker and comes in second behind the Teacher. I won’t say her name since it isn’t said until the final minutes of the film so it’s practically a spoiler, but she just gets a lot of great one liners and burns. She does kind of give herself away early on with the “I’m not obsessed or anything” moment, but always has a good excuse ready. She always happens to have a reason to be around which are constructed well. One scene in particular that was fun was the fact that she was even reading her book during exercise class where you’re supposed to be super serious about working out. Everyone else had a buddy, but she found a way to game the system. She does that a lot in the film and while I suppose she can come across as a little mean spirited, she never even came close to crossing the line. That’s Flash’s job. The sarcasm is never personal, it’s just how she treats life in general. It’ll be hard to top this film’s portrayal, especially if she gets a bigger role in the next film, but you never know.

Flash Thompson…is Flash Thompson. He’s the same bully that he always was, but he never physically attacks Peter or anything in this version so maybe he’s not as bad as some of the others. We’ll see if he ends up looking up to Spider-Man or not in this version since circumstances could make that a little tricky. Happy Hogan gets a decent role in this film as he’s Spider-Man’s go to guy for getting info on the Avengers. Of course, Happy only does this grudgingly and ignores Peter. The whole film could have basically been avoided if Happy had played ball, but he’s not that kind of guy. He does make for some fun scenes though and is just a good character to have around.

Tony Stark gets a good role here as well. I had been kind of hoping to see him take on the Vulture, but I suppose that could have been a lose-lose situation no matter what happened. If Tony loses there would be a riot and if he won, then Spider-Man winning later on may not have had as much impact. Not that Spider-Man ever actually won…but I can’t go into details on the technicalities as that would be a spoiler. We can chat in the comments if anything. I was satisfied with how Tony acted here. I mean, I definitely disagreed with him on various points like just letting Vulture get away every time, but I always disagree with the “By the books” characters. To think, Tony used to be the hot headed character on the team. I guess he has gotten older. It’s always nostalgic to have him appear since it reminds you of the beginnings of the MCU, back when it was still Iron-Man and his friends. While he has drifted away from being the center of the universe he is still the heart of it.

We’ve also got another main character in the form of Ned. I honestly can’t say that I’m a fan of his. He had some good scenes like where he saved Spider-Man from imminent destruction, but I really don’t think Peter needs a sidekick. I suppose the story would be even sadder for him if he had nobody to talk too, but it just feels out of place. I don’t think Ned handled the teacher walking in on him very well even if it was a very Reddit esque excuse that he made for not being at the dance. On the positive side, I do like that he was pretty understanding about Peter having a job and being busy all the time. He didn’t act petty about it and there wasn’t some kind of dramatic sideplot as a result. I’ll give him some kudos there. Now if he can only become a slightly more likable character, then I’ll be fine with him being the guy on the chair. It slightly takes away from Peter’s genius since he is usually the one hacking the computers and such, but we’ll live.

Aunt May is certainly very different from her usual self so she is worth mentioning. I think I’ll always prefer the old Aunt May as she’s such a staple and her intense distrust of Spider-Man added some extra tension to each issue. The comics would always start with Spider-Man winking at the screen as he wonders what would happen if Aunt May knew. It’s hard to see this one having much of a problem with it as she would likely support Spider-Man. She doesn’t want Peter to be in danger, but the conversation that they would have would certainly not be as difficult. I could do without everyone trying to flirt with her as the film tries to remind us of how young she is, but as long as it’s a very subtle running gag I suppose it’s not all that bad. Honestly I half expected her to get in on the action when a web showed up and stopped the Shocker. I figured she had somehow followed Peter to the dance and grabbed the web shooter. I know this would have killed Ned’s best scene in the film, but I think it actually could have been pretty hype.

That brings me back to other hot headed characters though. The film did a good job of capturing the high school atmosphere without getting too detailed. Most films have an issue here because either everyone is constantly making out or doing drugs, or they’re using a lot of language. Both are very accurate, but just because real life has these doesn’t mean that we have to be seeing them. The film gets in the atmosphere while keeping the students respectful and more likable as a result. The Teachers ignoring the students and just taking naps is realistic. Showing videos of Captain America even though he is now a criminal is also realistic and I especially liked how the detention room was set up. It was all pretty good.

As far as the villains are concerned, there are really two main ones to deal with. The Shocker was fun to see since he has always been one of my favorite Spider-Man villains. For a while he was my all time favorite. It’s a little hard to say nowadays, but he may still take the title as long as I’ve got a grip on my nostalgia goggles. This is a very different take on the character, but I can roll with it. He’s not exactly a heavyweight, but he works well as the side villain. The Vulture was the main “threat” and he was a lot of fun. This was a good villain where while you couldn’t really feel too sympathetic after a little while, at least it was nice to see him take on the government. I never liked Damage Control and this film reminded me of why that is the case. They just don’t have much charisma and seem to do whatever they want while earning a big paycheck. Back to the Vulture though, he has a lot of fun with the role in his human form and that’s where all of his best scenes are. Zapping one of his henchmen was pretty neat and the not so subtle threats at Spider-Man in the car scene was pretty good. I’m glad that he put 2 and 2 together unlike most villains.

I would say that the film was maybe a little light on action, but honestly Spider-Man movies usually are. This one probably had the most action in one of his films aside from Spider-Man 3 and Amazing Spider-Man 2. Not coincidentally, those are the two best Spider-Man films to date. This one beats the first Amazing Spider-Man for me and Spider-Man 2. It’s a little hard for me to say if it beats the first Spider-Man or not, but I think I may give it the edge here. The action scenes that we do get are fun. Just ignore the fact that Spider-Man is really getting beat up the whole time and enjoy the fun visuals. I still can’t really take Vulture all that seriously, but the film did its best to improve his design from the comics. He’s not much of a threat as far as power is concerned, but he’s never been a big villain like that.

As far as the soundtrack goes, it’s okay. I didn’t care for the token lyrical song that played twice. I dunno, it felt incredibly out of place and I was imagining something a little happier and with more cheer in the background. I think that would have made more sense. The classic MCU kind of themes were fun though and we had some nice Spider-Man homage themes as well. In the end it’s all just a little forgettable and you probably won’t remember any of it by the end, but few films go above and beyond on that.

There are two after credit scenes. As per usual, the first one is plot important while the second is for comedy purposes. The first one worked well at leading into the next film and while the villain may not be all that intimidating, Spider-Man films are more about the characters than the fights so that’s to be expected. The second scene was decently amusing, but I was expecting more. Like when the character asked if there was anything more then we would cut away to Spider-Man fighting Thanos or the Guardians falling off a cliff as they head to Earth. I would have liked something extra like that to really make me ready for the next films.

On a final note, the film did a good job of poking fun at some old Spider-Man cliches. Everyone knows how the famous hero likes to throw his clothes everywhere and ditch his backpack in a dark alley. Well, he tries it here and it doesn’t go over so well. It borderline went on parody at some points with him really just throwing his clothes with reckless abandon. It wasn’t in your face or anything, but a nice little touch. Hopefully he gets better at that part of the job, but as long as Karen is around he should be okay. For an A.I. Karen can be a little slow on the uptake at times, but it’s always fun to have a murder bot at the ready. Hopefully she’ll become sentient soon so Spider-Man can effectively have backup even if he’s knocked out. I definitely like his suit quite a bit so hopefully it stays for good. I honestly don’t want him to switch into any of those “fancy” upgrade suits like the Iron Spider or a Cosmic Spider-Man design. The classic is good enough for me.

Overall, Spider-Man Homecoming is a very fun film. It’s certainly one of the better Marvel Cinematic Universe films overall. The stakes may have been a lot less grounded, but it was just written well and the film had a lot of fun. One key thing was that it didn’t make any real mistakes like some of the last films and played to its strengths. It’s a different take on Spider-Man from the last two universes and that’s good since they’ve all danced to a different beat so far. The ending may have been a little iffy compared to what I would have hoped for. It was one of the most expected outcomes, but I imagined it playing out a little differently and with less edge. Perhaps it would have been seen as too much, but I would have liked the ending to be Peter walking through the kitchen while eating pizza turning on the lights and noticing the person there. “So….anything you’d like to share Peter?” “Er…..it’s a long story” and then the film ends with epicly loud music playing. Obviously this includes the circumstances that made the ending a “shock” ending without going into details. I mean, maybe this is borderline spoilerish but if you haven’t seen the ending yet then I hope I kept it vague enough to make a difference. Either way what are you waiting for? While this review is pretty long I’m sure there is plenty that I didn’t even touch on. It’s time for you to go check this movie out!

Overall 8/10

Captain America: Civil War Review

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The Captain America trilogy ends on a high note as Civil War escalates the series to another level. I was certainly not expecting the film to take down either one of the two Avenger titles, but it manages to jump over Age of Ultron, making it the best Marvel film right behind The Avengers. While it does not manage to quite capture the level of intensity and depth that Batman V Superman showed, Civil War is easily one of the greatest live action films of all time and a title that I recommend to everyone. Whether you are a comic book fan or not, there is plenty to enjoy here. So much so that it will be difficult to capture all of my thoughts in this review, but I shall do my best so prepare for a long one. On that note, let’s get to work!

The film starts off with a fight against some terrorists led by Crossbones. Captain America and his team of Avengers manage to defeat this group, but in the process a building full of innocent civilians is destroyed by the last ditch effort of Crossbones. Scarlet Witch attempted to keep the blast contained, but couldn’t do so long enough which leads to the media wondering if the Avengers have been given too much power. They want the Avengers to become a public group that works under the United Nations. Captain America is opposed to this because the Avengers will lose their right to act without permission. Furthermore, when his old pal Bucky is framed for being the cause of another large explosion which takes the life of Wakanda’s king, Captain America is forced to go against the law to protect him.

Meanwhile, Tony Stark meets up with a lady who blames the death of her son on the Avengers. The events in Age of Ultron had a lot of fatalities during the final fight, but hearing a personal story about one hits Stark a lot more personally than any statistic would. This is what gets Tony to believe that working under the United Nations as a controlled entity is the best course of action. He doesn’t see eye to eye with Captain America and as Steve (Captain America’s alter ego for my non comic book readers) is forced to go against the government, Tony has to fight him. Neither one will back down as they are both confident that they are making the right choice here.

In the background, we have some other plots going on as well. Zemo is stirring up a lot of trouble in the background as he learns the hypnotic words to control Winter Soldier (AKA, Bucky) and keeps widening the rift between the Avengers. Meanwhile, Scarlet Witch feels personally responsible for the lives lost at the beginning of the film and is having a hard time coping with what happened. Being placed under house arrest certainly doesn’t help with this either. Finally, we have the Black Panther, who is working to avenge his father. He blames his father’s death on the Winter Soldier due to evidence showing that he was responsible for the situation. The Panther won’t stop until he is dead so Captain America will have to try extra hard to save him.

All right…where to start with this review. Let’s go through the negatives first since there really aren’t many of them as you may expect considering the positive tone of the film. It’s a 9 star title so the positives easily outweigh the negatives. One weak point in the film is…you guessed it, the extremely unnecessary romance with Sharon Carter and Captain America. You can’t even call it a romance if we’re being honest folks. They just randomly kiss as they say goodbye to each other and that’s the end of that plot. As I’ve mentioned in the past, you simply can’t develop a proper romance in the span of 30 minutes and especially when these two characters are only on screen together for maybe 15-20 minutes tops. If you want a romance done right, it’s got to be gradual like Tsubasa. It’s a super minor thing that certainly doesn’t hurt the film, but this scene really comes out of left field.

There’s a little language in the film. It’s not super excessive or anything, but worth making a slight note. It was certainly out of character for Spider-Man of all people to say the s word. I remember the good ole days of him being a nice kid in the comics who wouldn’t even dream of swearing. His portrayal is great overall though, but he is the result of several power inconsistencies…I’ll get to that in his section though. Is that it for the negatives? If we’re being a little picky I’d say that the soundtrack was pretty forgettable and underwhelming, but I typically don’t expect live action films to really sound that good. Hannah and Man of Steel are really the exceptions to the rule along witih a handful of other titles. Now let’s get to the positives!

For starters, the fight scenes are great like you would expect. In a day and age where hand to hand fight scenes can be a little dicey at times (Instantly going for the eyes) the fights here are handled well. Crossbones vs Captain America was a great way to start off the film and any fight with the Black Panther was exceptional as well. Naturally, this only gets better when you add in the super powers from the meta human fights. The battle between both teams at the airport is definitely the highlight of the film and easily the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best fight yet! Even before the fight starts, one of the best moments in the film was when Iron Man’s allies slowly started popping up and Captain America was outnumbered by around 5-1. You know that Cap isn’t on his own, but even then it’s just such an imposing scene. Cap would have had no shot against that group and Iron Man’s plan was quite sound. The thing is, great minds think alike and Cap has enough friends to ensure that he’s never alone against such an army.

After thinking on it a lot, I have to say that my favorite character was Black Panther. Yes, Iron Man, Captain America, and Spider-Man lost out this time. The film really handled Black Panther perfectly. He comes across as very reasonable and it certainly makes sense that he would want to avenge his father. Whenever the Avengers would get in his way, Black Panther would be forced to fight them, but he never hesitated. He stood firm in his mission and never wavered while at the same time, he kept a cool head. He certainly didn’t lose his cool as much as Cap or Iron Man and in the end he was the first one to really get away from all of the violence and make the hero call. (Sparing a villain’s life) During the final fight, you can’t say the same for Iron Man. Physically, Black Panther was able to hold his own against Winter Soldier and Captain America. In fact, I’d say that he had the edge over Bucky, but I doubt he would have defeated Captain America. The design for his suit was also really good.
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Next we have the other big guest star of the film Spider-Man! So….I was mixed on his portrayal. As Spider-Man he was great. He had a lot of witty banter during the fight which has always been his trademark and his webbing was also very strong as it was always meant to be. In today’s cartoons and comics everyone breaks through it with ease, but in the old comics even the Hulk couldn’t snap them right away. As for the part of his portrayal that I was iffy about….well, I don’t think the actor works very well as Peter Parker. He’s too young and I think that the director made him talk with a higher pitched voice than usual to make him sound even younger. When he first appeared, it almost felt like a parody. His intro was the kind of moment where I could picture everyone laughing out loud. It just felt off. It also helps that the new Aunt May looks nothing like Aunt May and is still one of the more mind boggling changes. At least she encouraged Peter to fight back against the bullies though so I like her up beat attitude here. I like to think that she already knows about him being Spider-Man by the way. I’m calling it right now, she’ll reveal that in the upcoming Spider-Man film.

Aside from Peter Parker seeming a bit off, I think Spider Man’s power level was very inconsistent. Let’s get real here folks, The Avengers are lightweights without Thor and Hulk around. Spider-Man’s worth more than the whole group put together. Maybe Vision could put up a decent fight, but Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, Winter Soldier, Black Panther, and Captain America would get speedblitzed. Iron Man and War Machine would be overwhelmed as their suits are ripped apart and Hawkeye wouldn’t land a single shot. Spider-Man’s gone toe to toe with Superman in the past and he’s had some very intense fights with Thor back in the day. To have him lose here is a cheaper cop-out than buying a slice at 7-11 instead of Europa because you didn’t feel like walking the extra block.

He’d look good in some moments and then he’d be treated like a joke the next. Here’s an example, at the airport fight, he is able to catch and repel Winter Soldier’s punch with no effort and even starts to twist it off until he is interrupted. Captain America was previously unable to stop Winter Soldier’s blow with both hands and he was flung through an elevator. So…Spider-Man’s stronger than Cap right? Well, you’d be wrong because Captain America completely humiliates him when they fight and overpowers him twice physically during the battle. That makes absolutely no sense and I was tempted to yell something from the audience like “Boooo” “Nerf alert!!” or something along those lines. I restrained myself though for the good of the movie experience.

Another iffy moment is the fact that he seemed to completely not have a spider sense here. I wouldn’t blame Marvel if they decided to get rid of it though because the ability is way too good. Still, without a mention of removing it, I will have to label it as a plot hole. There’s no way Ant Man can sneak up on Spider-Man because Spider Sense prevents such an event from ever happening. It is literally impossible to sneak up on Spider-Man without some kind of power to get past his ability or if you’re Venom and have compromised the ability by actually being Spider-Man for a bit. Every time Spider-Man got hit by a sneak attack I would wince a little on the inside. Still, aside from being treated as a bit of a joke during some parts of the fight, it was a satisfying portrayal overall. It’s great to finally see Spider-Man alongside the Avengers. This is something that fans have wanted to see for many years and now I’m eagerly awaiting the big dream team of Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Cyclops against Thanos. Make is happen Marvel!

Let’s talk about the Avengers now. I’ve never really cared for Vision in any form of media so we’ll start with him. He’s somehow managed to become even more annoying than he was in Age of Ultron. He pretends to be Scarlet Witch’s friend until we find out that he’s under orders to keep her confined. If he was a true friend he probably would have mentioned something like that. He also attempts a long-shot at blasting someone from a super far distance which backfires quickly. He’s one of the strongest Avengers, but seems to forget that most of the time and actually doesn’t contribute almost at all during the airport fight. Powerful or not, Vision is simply not likable.

His fellow Age of Ultron member was solid though. Scarlet Witch gets a lot of screen time in this film so she can finally develop more of a personality. Her abilities are certainly very potent and as she grows more confident, we can expect more out of her. One good scene in particular is when she materializes an energy shield behind her while she gets the poison gas out of a building. Being able to multi task like that is critical in a fight since she’ll need to have a shield up at all times as her defense is rather low. By the end of the film she has learned to be more independent and sure of herself. She has a promising future in this cinematic universe.

I’ve never been a big fan of Black Widow although her character can vary quite a bit throughout the Marvel franchise. The movies have been one of her worst portrayals in my opinion while she tends to look a lot better in the Avengers Assemble cartoon and the Punisher animated film. She was fairly reasonable here though and while she seems to have fallen to the very bottom of the hero totem pole (I’d say that this film confirms that Hawkeye can defeat her in a fight) she is still a good hand to hand fighter.

Falcon’s role in this film is small even though he appears quite a lot. He’s the guy that Captain America can always count on, but the main problem is that he’s still very weak in the end. He basically has part of an Iron Man suit, but it leaves him very vurlnable. His character’s fairly likable though. We’ve also got Ant-Man who pitches in during some key moments. I admit that I haven’t watched Ant Man enough times to really remember the actor’s face. I knew he was Ant Man based on the trailers and plot, but he felt so out of place in this film. I mean that in a good way by the way. It would be like seeing Sandler walk into the battlefield against Thanos in the Infinity Gauntlet. Ant Man’s actor strikes me as a total comedy character and I suppose that it works quite well for Ant Man. There’s really a lot that you can do with size shifting abilities. It’s not the most glamorous power, but it is effective. As for turning huge…I think that’s overrated. If you get hit by an opponent who is that slow, then it’s time for an upgrade.

I’m not really a fan of War Machine here though. It’s not because of the fact that he’s super pro registration because I was on Team Iron Man myself, but it’s why he wants to join. It feels like he’s putting the army before the team (Again…see Iron Man 2 for reference) and that’s why it’s always a little tough to trust teammates who have connections to other groups. If only SHIELD and Agent Coulson were still alive to help sort things out eh? They probably could have helped the heroes go underground as another option. Hawkeye’s role is very small, but very good as well. It was cool to see him break into the Avengers base and he did a good job during the action scenes. He’s a likable member and definitely another guy that Cap can trust.
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Time to talk about the real main characters of the film. I was on Team Iron Man coming into the film by the way and I left on that side as well. It’s not a black and white debate and I’ve always been opposed to registration. In the comics, Iron Man’s team was completely wrong. The Registration act was much worse than the equivalent that we see in the film so that’s one big change. Either way, I’m still against any agreement with the government, but I have to stay on Team Iron Man because I can’t stand Winter Soldier. More on that in a little while.

Back to Iron Man. I think that his decision to quickly go along with the documents because he was shown a picture of someone who died during one of the fights is a little forced/rushed and out of character. We needed the conflict somehow though and this is Iron Man, he would definitely start bending the rules and reshaping the agreement after it was signed. Captain America asks Tony what would happen if they saw a bad situation and weren’t given permission to act. I’m fairly confident that Tony would act anyway and the Avengers would be in agreement. Ultimately, this would lead to even more bad consequences for the team so in that sense Cap is right. They may as well just not sign. Especially due to the fact that the government always turns out to be evil in media and this film is no exception. You can also tell that Iron Man is getting a lot older though and you have to wonder how long he can keep this up. Perhaps age has dulled his reasoning, but his fighting skills are still top notch when necessary. Towards the end of the film, Iron Man goes into a fight without holding back. You can draw a lot of parallels to Batman V Superman in those moments.

Needless to say, Iron Man wasn’t taking any prisoners. Obviously, I’m always technically on the side of saving the murderer since we can’t take justice into our own hands. So, Iron Man should lose, but I’m still rooting for him in the moment. It’s like when you like a bad guy and root for him/her over the heroes. They’re evil, but at that point they are simply a lot more interesting than the heroes. I can appreciate a character who has the fortitude to make the right call because it’s incredibly difficult to make that call. So, as a viewer I’m okay with seeing the villain get destroyed depending on the reason and the method, but I’ll still be fine with another hero saving him/her because it’s the right thing to do. I just won’t be rooting for that character at the moment. An example is from the show Yugioh Zexal. The main villain murdered all of the main character’s friends, but at the end the hero tries to save him anyway and even says that they could be friends. That’s……..very forgiving and I know for a fact that I couldn’t make that call. It’s a good call (Well, saying that they’re friends is wayyyyy to disrespectful to his friend’s memories if you ask me) but if there was another character trying to destroy the main villain, then I’d be on his side. It’s like how I was on Black Panther’s side when he went to destroy the Winter Soldier. Thus, I was pretty pleased with Iron Man’s portrayal here. He even tried to be reasonable at the end until that became impossible.

Captain America makes for a great lead as you would expect. He’s a great hero and tries to always do the right thing. He’s in a bad spot since all of his friends are choosing a side. He also had to go during the initial meeting due to an emergency which was tricky since it meant that everyone chose sides while he was gone. The film did adapt his famous line from the comics about how even if everyone tells you that something wrong is something right, then you have a duty to resist. When told to move, you should plant your feet down and say “No, you move.” It was a great quote of Cap’s so it was good to see it used in the film. While I was always against Cap, he was constantly making hero calls and ultimately he is just trying to help a friend. Bucky was mind controlled into doing awful things so it wasn’t really him. Cap doesn’t want him to have to die for things that were not under his control.

He also doesn’t lose sight of the innocents in the crossfire either. He sticks up for Scarlet Witch the entire film and even goes easy on his opponents like Spider-Man. He’s careful to avoid hurting anyone too seriously and his move at the very, very end of the film was great as well. It’s really impossible not to like the guy and he’s one of the best characters in the film. I do think that his strength can be inconsistent as the expense of other characters, but I’m glad that he looks very powerful here.

As for the Winter Soldier, I really dislike the character. Sure, he was mind controlled, but he doesn’t seem very remorseful about what he has done either. He shows no regret and never resists the mind control all that much. I’d say that it’s because it is in his nature. “I won’t kill anyone” Winter Soldier says right before he drops someone to instant death, but Captain America quickly saves the guy before the murder can occur. Bucky was willing to destroy that guy and he goes all out against just about everyone. He’s constantly looking to deal a mortal blow or at least a very serious one if it will let him escape. There’s no way that I can consider this guy to be a hero or even a slightly likable character. That’s why I couldn’t be on Cap’s team. This is just impossible to like at all. Protecting him is the right move, but I don’t have to like it.

As far as the villains are concerned, there are really only two this time around and both of them are fairly minor. We have Crossbones who makes for a good intro villain for the heroes to fight. He puts up a pretty good fight against Cap and actually manages to bring in a draw by the end. Baron Zemo never gets to be in his costume which is a shame, but he does a good job of masterminding the whole film. It would have been awesome if he had actually committed a certain plan that was hinted at. It would have made for a great final fight, but his true ace was just about as good. General Ross also had his own plans in motion, but he was really not that smart. He kept overplaying his hand. Once he got half of the team to sign the document, he should have taken it slowly. Instead, he placed some individuals in a max prison with very inhumane conditions. It’s almost like he wants the heroes to turn against him. If he tried to arrest Iron Man, then a civil war would have really broken out.

Naturally, I won’t say what happened in the after-credit scenes, but needless to say they were not quite as good as I had hoped. The first one was decent since it gave the film a little closure and I definitely like the option here. The characters in the first scene are in a much better position now. As for the second scene, it is very anti climactic and sad when you think about it. The film could have made it a lot more epic and exciting with a quick shape-shift or an Infinity Gem locked inside of a chest or something. You should stick around to watch the first one, but there’s really no need to stick around for the second I’m afraid.

Part of why Civil War is so good is because it is able to balance the serious and light moments rather well. It’s a very upbeat film, but it still gets serious once in a while for something grim to happen, but not for it to be overly grim. I was worried when Zemo confronted a Hydra agent that we were going to get a super violent moment, but it was fairly tame and I’m glad that the Hydra guy stood firm. This event was a lot different from the comics of course, but it was cool to see the film adapt as much as possible and throw in references/moments when possible. The big Captain America vs Iron Man visual made it in of course and there were several more homages that I’ll let you find out through watching it.

Unfortunately, Civil War followed The Amazing Spider Man 2 in the sense that moments from the trailer were not present in the film. “YOU JUST STARTED A WAR!” remember that line? It’s not in the film. “I was wrong about you….we were all wrong about you.” That’s not in the film either. It’s a shame because those two moments were important in the trailers because they showed that things had reached a certain moment of no turning back. Instead, the lines were pure click bait. The film is still very satisfying on the civil war angle and the ending was a lot more decisive than I had imagined, but it’s still too bad that some trailer scenes weren’t present in the end. I feel like a trailer should always have all of its content be in the film.

All right, we’re near the end now. Aside from power level inconsistencies hurting the film’s logic, I’ve depicted how Civil War was just about perfect. Well, why did it lose to Batman V Superman? Here’s why Batman V Superman was the better film. The soundtrack was infinitely better than Captain America, the latter of which had no significant themes of note. Batman V Superman’s fights were significantly better. Cap’s were amazing though and Marvel’s best, but they simply can’t come close to DC’s. Third, as interesting and engaging as Captain America was, Batman V Superman just obliterated it there. The film has you at the edge of your seat for most of it. Granted, as a much bigger DC fan than Marvel, that will almost always be the case since Batman and Superman make for very engaging leads even when they aren’t written as well as they could be. (Batman lacking in intelligence and Superman being a pushover) So, Civil War was great, but I feel like it loses to Batman V Superman in just about every way. Civil War does beat it with having less unlikable characters and no random bathtub scene though.

Be warned though that Civil War’s ending is a little intense. It was so intense in fact that nobody clapped when the credits started rolling and I had to personally start it all off. I think everyone was in shock or something, but I can’t blame them. It takes a while to get used to these things. After all, Civil War was a thrill a minute and there was never a dull moment during the entire movie. The closest scene to being boring would be the very first one, but it still wasn’t that bad. The pacing is quite excellent for this film. I was the only one who clapped after the final extra credit scene as well, but it was pretty underwhelming so I don’t blame the audience for the silence this time.
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Overall, Captain America is a great film though and no live action film will be able to defeat it for a very long time. In the near future, the only films that may have a shot are Infinity Gauntlet Part 1 (Which I think will actually lose unless Thanos gets his big fight) and Justice League. (Which I’m also a little skeptical of) If you haven’t seen this film yet then I highly recommend that you check it out ASAP. Even if you somehow don’t know who Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man are, you’ll be in for a treat. Considering how well the team fight went, I’m ready to see a full blown Avengers vs Justice League fight in 20 years. Hey, nobody thought that we’d ever get Spider-Man and the Avengers. Given time, I’m sure that a crossover film is bound to happen! Of course, we’d need Thor and Hulk this time around to keep the fight from being too one sided

Overall 9/10

Alpha Flight Classic Volume 3 Review

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It’s been quite a while since I reviewed a comic hasn’t it? I admittedly read this a very long time ago at this point, but better late than never. The Alpha Flight has always been a fairly obscure team in the grand scheme of things and I can see why. I like just about all of Marvel’s retro comics and this one’s no exception, but it’s not exactly a page turner either. You’ll read through the adventures, but at the end of the day, a story about just about any other character would be more interesting. The team needs to either make the characters cooler or they should just add some new members. Either method would help to improve the comic series I’d say.

There are quite a few plot points here. One of them I had actually seen already. Due to the Hulk getting everyone mad at him once again, Dr. Strange banished him to the Crossroads. He was not thrilled, but at least he can’t hurt anyone there. Unfortunately, Box (Member of Alpha Flight) decided to help Sasquatch since he needed a new body but the probe brought back the Hulk, which lead to a devastating battle against the beast. As always, Hulk basically humiliated Alpha Flight, but I’ll give them some props for the effort. They gave it their all after all.

One of the big arcs is the one from the cover. The interesting part is that the cover spoils the big twist about the Guardian not really being the genuine article. Even I thought that he may have been real for a few seconds despite that, but it’s still odd. That was the best arc of the collection for sure. Omega Flight are the main villains and you can tell that there’s a lot of history between them and Alpha Flight. Their members seem fairly interesting as far as there abilities are concerned. I can’t say the same for their personalities, but that’s another story altogether. These guys were out of their depths, but they gave Alpha Flight a good fight and spiced up the collection a little. I’m always ready for a villain group that can be a nice counterpart to the heroes. Just look at the Crime Syndicate of America, even if Forever Evil really dropped the ball on this one by not letting the JLA fight them. Come on, the whole point of a group like that one is to watch Ultraman get to fight Superman. You’re throwing away easy money by not having that fight on screen!

Let’s talk about the characters. For the most part, each one gets a plot during this adventure, but most of them aren’t really interesting and don’t add much to the experience. Shaman is the wise member of the group whose mystical abilities let him get the team out of a hard spot once in a while. That being said, he loses his motivation after Talisman calls him out for tricking her into being a hero and who can blame her? There’s little reason to feel sympathy for Shaman and he’s under the weather for almost the whole collection. He’s just not a good character and if it wasn’t for the Beyonder, Talisman would be dead. Talisman got thrown into her Alpha Flight life and wasn’t prepared the way that the others were. She probably could have handled the whole thing a little better so lets not sugercoat things here, but she’s not a bad character. She can be a bit hard on Shaman, but he did permanently change her life and involved her in a game where the stakes are lethal, the superhero game. There’s little time for her to become a truly interesting character.

Puck is probably my least favorite member of the group and that’s saying something. It seems like he’s always looking for romance or at least pretending too as one scene hints that it’s all just an act. Either way, it’s an act that won’t help his character arc and his abilities are basically pointless in a fight so this guy needs an upgrade and fast. Heather is the new leader of the Alpha Flight since Guardian is gone, but I can’t say that she does a great job of it. She panics when Guardian appears out of nowhere and faints during a crucial moment which allows Omega Flight to fully infiltrate the base. The other members don’t respect her authority so she needs tyo find a way to get them in line. One problem with this is the fact that she has no powers and isn’t exactly at Batman’s level of hand to hand combat. I feel like the leader of a team has to at least be decently strong so maybe she really isn’t cut out for the job. At the very least, she needs to get over the Guardian’s passing and get a grip on the situation before it’s too late. Box can’t walk so he has to rely on a robot suit, which is definitely a rough deal. I’ll give him credit for never complaining about it and accepting the risks when in combat. If his robot body were to break, there’s a good chance that his psyche would as well so entering every battle can be dangerous.

Snowbird finally became a super powerful figure in these issues, which was interesting. Unfortunately, it also came at the expense of her personality as she became a little more distant and cold towards the other members. It’s hard for them to team up anymore because it’s hard to even trust Snowbird. Her new abilities are useful though and now she can attain the strength of the creatures that she turns into. She would really help the team now, but she quit right away so that she could learn what it means to be human. It’ll be interesting to see if this helps her to act more like her old self or if the new personality is here to stay. I’m fine with a distant Snowbird, but she may become a villain if she’s not careful.

Sasquatch gets a subplot with Aurora, but it doesn’t do anything for either of them. Sasquatch seems decently reasonable, but he should realize that Aurora barely cares about him as she’s always flirting with everyone else and really seems to have no class. Sasquatch can be a little mopey at times, but he’s not a bad member. I just feel like he made the wrong choice here. Aurora has a split personality so she’s almost like two characters. The problem is that none of them are likable. We have the really independent and free persona who is really terrible and then there’s the super timid form who can’t make any decision on her own. Both of them are annoying in their own right and she can’t really fight all that well. Her powers actually stop when she makes contact with Northstar due to an “upgrade” that she got so fighting solo is her only option now.

Northstar is portrayed as the rebel of the group. He quit the Alpha Flight and hasn’t looked back since. He likes his new status, but the Alpha Flight find him anyway and basically force him into some new battles. Aurora even calls him out for a crime that he committed over a decade ago. He really can’t get any peace. Northstar can be over the top sometimes, but I definitely have to say that he’s a lot more likable than the other Flight Members. She’s not a part of the group, but I have to give a shoutout to Pink Pearl. She has no super powers except for the fact that she is massive so she has the physical power of someone like the Blob. It’s hilarious to see her beat down the Alpha Flight. Just when I thought that the team couldn’t call any further…they ended up surprising me!

The art was solid. It had the retro feel that Marvel’s comics all had at the time. The fights are all easy to read and the character designs are spot on. You can always count on Marvel to deliver in this area and while the Alpha Flight stories may not have been the greatest, the art was still quite good. It’s a fairly short collection although not too short to the point where it’ll feel like half of one. There are a decent amount of comic and it makes for a more complete read when put next to the usual 4 issues.

Overall, This is a good comic book. It’s just not much better than good though and you could do better with just about any other title from back in the day. If you want a break from all of the super popular heroes though, then this is a nice change of pace. It still references those other teams, but it stays as a self contained collection for the most part. I wonder if these guys will ever get a film. Considering that so many heroes have gotten a title by now, I wouldn’t be totally surprised. Either way, you can expect my next comic review to be about a comic that’s a little more impressive!

Overall 6/10

Ultimate Comics Spider Man Volume 5 Review

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Miles is a character who I’ve given a lot of grief in the comics. Mainly because he comes across as a little overconfident, but not in a fun Kirito kind of way. It’s hard to differentiate, but there are many characters who act overconfident, but simply can’t pull it off as well as others. Maybe it’s because Miles also tries to act inexperienced and gets upset constantly at the drop of a hat. He’s too all over the place. That’s not the case here…but is that a good thing or have we traded personalities for another negative one? All that and more in the review!

It’s been a year since Miles gave up the Spider Man mantle. His mother was destroyed by a stray bullet and his dad was injured so Miles just figured that it wasn’t worth it to being a hero. A lot of other characters have gone through this decision in the past and it’s always wince worthy, but it’s worth pointing out that it’s not a Miles specific issue. That being said, the issue is presented in different ways based on who the character is and the situation. Here, everyone is telling Miles to get back on the horse. Whether they do it through blackmail (practically) or peer pressure, they eventually force him to get the costume back on.

Two new vigilantes have appeared by the names of Cloak and Dagger. They are hunting a meta human who has explosive abilities. SHIELD isn’t looking into the matter since this relates to an evil partner of theirs, Roxxon. This is why Jessica Drew needs Spider Man back in action to help her take this group of scientists down. The scientists aren’t purely academic geniuses, but they can also fight when necessary. The final pair or issues is where the bulk of the action is in this volume and the fights are pretty good.

I enjoy the art for this series for the most part. I feel like the humans can look a little odd at times. It’s like they’re always pouting. That all goes away once the action scenes start though. The art really looks vibrant during the meta battles like when Cloak and Dagger first appear. The final group fight against the scientists was also well done and Taskmaster’s bout was a nice hand to hand fight. It’s why I’m always open for a good comic book fight after a long period of dialogue. Dialogue is good as well of course and the first half is still solid, but I was certainly pleased with the ending.

I was actually worried a little that the heroes would lost to the scientists, which would kick off the next arc, but luckily that didn’t happen. The villains were decently tough with one of them even looking like the ultimate Sinister, but Spiderman’s group has this. I don’t care for Cloak, but his powers do make him decently OP. (Overpowered) Spiderman’s venom shock still proves to come in handy in just about every fight and it’s a power that would really aid the original as well. It’s a great ability for escaping from a tough situation or for launching a quick attack.

This is Cloak and Dagger’s debut so it was interesting to see them. They both seemed like decently likable character before the switch. After that…I can’t say that they looked too good. Cloak went from being a respectable fellow who seemed like a very nice guy to someone who didn’t really care if he destroyed someone. He casually puts people into his cloak even though he knows that they could blow up or be seriously injured. Dagger seems more grounded in that respect as she wants vengeance, but not for it to be fatal, even if she hasn’t really thought about how to accomplish this. Cloak is certainly stronger since his all consuming cloak can really cause a lot of damage, but Dagger’s no lightweight either. The way that they quickly assumed that a metahuman was working with the villains was very iffy though. They seriously didn’t have much of an excuse to go after the bomb user.

Bombshell was easily a more likable character than Cloak and Dagger. She didn’t ask for these strange powers, but took them really well. She wasn’t panicking or on a quest for vengeance. Bombshell just kept on living her life like usual until she was attacked out of the blue. She doesn’t really have anywhere to go, but it seems like SHIELD’s got their eyes on her. Bombshell could certainly be a valuable asset to the team and was one of the heavy hitters here. Spider Woman’s role is mostly that of a mentor to Miles here. She finally lets him know that she was a clone of Peter Parker this whole time. Jessica Drew can certainly still fight and she does well against Taskmaster, but without Spiderman’s venom sting, she seems to be at a bit of a disadvantage in these fights. She needs some kind of extra edge, but her hand to hand experience will suffice against most opponents.

As for Miles, he’s still not the greatest of main characters for me. He’s not as bad as he was in other comics, but deciding to stop being a hero for a whole year is a little iffy. Particularly when he decides not to step in when Bombshell was getting double teamed by two new figures. It’s one thing to not actively suit up, but another to just watch as a fellow super human is being attacked. It feels like he is always wondering about whether he should tell his girlfriend that he is Spiderman or not. I reviewed the first graphic novel of the sequel series to this one so I can safely say that he does make a choice soon. His friend isn’t much help though and that guy’s pretty annoying. It doesn’t help that the comic decides to randomly have two characters tell Miles that his friend was actually never his friend and one thought that they were actually together. Why do we need to keep on adding politics to our comics? Miles denies this which is good, but I wouldn’t put it past the comics to try and make this happen. Let’s hope not. I don’t think Miles needs to be in a relationship with the girl either though. Comics don’t need romance, I just want to see some action. Now that Miles is finally back in costume, that should happen soon.

It’s always something to think about just how different this Ultimate Universe is. There’s no Peter Parker, but he’s actually known as a hero here. He managed to really help a lot of people in his final acts and even Jameson accepted him. There aren’t Avengers around typically and the X-Men are hard to find as well. The flip side is that super villains aren’t a regular occurrence like in 616 and the world isn’t ending every other week. It’s definitely a more grounded universe and it’s a fun alternate universe that has been developed. It’s just a shame that most of the titles typically aren’t that good.

I do hope that Miles tells his Dad about his secret identity soon though. The guy seems pretty reasonable and I’m pretty sure that he would take it well. Even if he doesn’t, Miles has SHIELD to fall back on, but at this point, he should probably consider that it’s a necessary step or he may end up having some regrets soon. With the drama mostly tucked away, I’m ready for some more action packed volumes coming up although this was the last one for this series so back to the sequel or to the older titles.

Overall, This was a solid Ultimate collection. A little light on action, but the final 2 issues had enough action to cover the volume. The first half’s drama wasn’t that bad either. It can be a little annoying to see Miles give up on the costume for a whole year though since that’s no small stretch of time. I like his Dad, but the other supporting characters aren’t so good. I can’t say that Gwen’s great here either, but Aunt May’s decent. It would be hard for her to be an unlikable character I suppose. Miles seems to be less overconfident now so in costume he’s good now. He just needs to work on the alter ego now. Writing out his friend from the series would be a great start. I’d recommend checking this volume out and it’s a good jumping on point if you’ve never read Ultimate before.

Overall 7/10

Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. Review

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After reviewing the legendary Batman and Superman shows, it’s time to look at something that’s on a lower level. The Hulk show is essentially in the current Marvel show continuity, which means that you can expect a whole lot of comedy with a touch of action at some points. It doesn’t work as well as Ultimate Spiderman or Avengers Assemble, likely because the characters aren’t as interesting. It’s not a bad show and still looks good when placed next to Pac Man, but I can’t really say much for it. Ah well, it made for some good times.

The show ran for 2 seasons and actually had a bit of a long running plot. Rick Jones was turned into A-Bomb due to gamma exposure and one thing led to another so he became the Hulk’s teammate alongside Red Hulk and She Hulk. He decided to start a webshow which would prove that the Hulks are actually heroes. A mysterious being known as Skaar appears and is defeated by the heroes so he joins the team. The 4 of them stop many local threats, but there is typically a mastermind in the shadows. His name is the Leader and I hope you like him since the guy will be a major recurring villain throughout the entire series. The heroes humiliate him in every way possible, but he never stands down so you’ve gotta like his determination. Another plot that comes back a lot is the Kree as Ronan is always trying to get revenge against the Hulk and even the Avengers have to step in at one point.

Depending on how much you buy the whole quantity vs quality, you’ll like the fact that the Hulk show has a lot of guest stars. Some of them actually look good too so that’s definitely a nice plus. They certainly help to spice the show up and provide us with a little variety. Without the guest stars, the Hulk show would likely not be nearly as interesting. As with the Superman and Batman show reviews, let’s take a look at some of the good and bad episodes here.

I’d say that the opening two parter was good as we got to see Hulk fight Skaar and there was certainly a lot of action. Another good episode was when the Hulk’s personality switched so that he became an intellectual who didn’t fight except as a last resort. We got to see the Hulk think his way out of his problems, which was a nice twist and blew the Leader’s plan away. A few of the other nice episodes which didn’t involve guest stars included a challenge by the Titan Xemnu, as he fought all of the Hulks. His physical power was incredible and the fight was actually quite good. Likewise, I liked a roller skating episode that came shortly afterwards as the heroes got to test their skills.

Most of the episodes with guest stars were naturally a lot of fun. One of the highlights was when Ghost Rider appeared to drag Red Hulk to Hell. It was an intense episode and Ghost Rider was definitely given his due respect. He looked very powerful as he should and was no nonsense. The Avengers get to help out in the final two part episode against the Kree. The episodes were a little light on actual action scenes, but it’s always nice to see the Avengers show up and remind us that continuity can be real. It’s like jumping into the Avengers Assemble show.
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The Guardians of the Galaxy also showed up a few times and it’s always nice to see them. They even got to be in a Christmas episode and there aren’t too many shows which let Christmas appear anymore so that was neat. I think all shows should have a Christmas episode at some point. Dr. Strange helped out against Dormammu and his Mindless ones. Those Mindless ones would eventually appear in Avengers Assemble and Ultimate Spiderman so they definitely get around. Even the Silver Surfer showed up in one episode to fight off some nightmares. His voice was admittedly very anticlimactic and not one that I would have chosen for the character. Still, I always liked the Surfer so seeing him back in animation again was certainly cool. Spider Man was also around a few times and he even got to take on Venom in one of the episodes. It was definitely neat to see the Wall Crawler show up and he always makes for one of the best guest stars with his epic quips and constant readyness to show up the Hulks.

Deathlok and the Inhumans also appear in the series. Things get a little dicey for Black Bolt and his friends as they get trapped within a dome, but the Hulks are always ready to help out. The fight with Deathlok was also fun and his guns sure pack a punch. That fight should realistically be a cakewalk for the Hulk, but we’ll just say that he was holding back. The Thing helps out in one episode although his rivalry with the Hulk doesn’t quite work as well when the Hulk is in full control like he is here. It’s just there, but it doesn’t feel as natural. Aside from being on the Avengers, Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man all get episodes in the series. Iron Man probably has the best role as he mostly sticks in character although his defenses shouldn’t be able to be hacked so easily. Captain America gives up on hope with his episode very quickly, which was more than a little iffy.

The worst would tragically have to be Thor. In one episode, the Leader becomes the All Father so Thor and Loki decide to serve him regardless of how evil he is. Apparently, they must follow whoever is on the throne as if they were from the Shiar. That’s completely out of character for Thor and it was just odd. The writers clearly didn’t know what to do there.

One of the episodes that definitely wasn’t very good was when the Hulk decided to live underground because the mole people were his true friends. It was pretty hilarious to see how easily Hulk was willing to ditch the surface dwellers, but it still didn’t make any sense and any episode with the Mole Man will typically get a thumbs down from me. Mission Impossible Man was another miss episode. I definitely don’t care for the Impossible Man as a character and this certainly did not increase his chances of being a likable character. We also can’t forget the Planet Hulk two part saga as Ego The Living Planet is involved in a huge twist, which was not a good one. There was also more crude humor than usual to be found there.

I’d say that most of the Hulk episodes were decent. The only bad ones were really the episodes that overdid it with the humor. That just happened to a lot of season 1 episodes as they would sound good on paper and then get a little gross while watching. Season 2 improved on this, they never became perfect, but you could actually go through some episodes without major crude humor attacks. That was a start, but the series never got to see if it could really go on a role.

Time to talk about the characters. Hulk is the lead and he’s definitely very heroic. You wouldn’t know it at first glance, but he really cares about everyone’s safety. Hulk’s a very selfless hero and also quite intelligent as this incarnation seems to have Bruce’s smarts along with his typical strength. He rarely ever enters into a rage and is always portrayed as the most capable hero while also being the strongest. Hulk’s essentially the perfect lead. He may make a mistake once in a while, but Hulk always gets the job done, even when the other heroes don’t believe in him.
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She Hulk doesn’t like the cold, but aside from that she is always one of the more reasonable characters in the show. She has a very inconsistent rivalry with Red Hulk that shows up once in a while. She Hulk may not be as strong as the Hulk, but she helps to remind him not to lose control at certain points and she always has a witty remark at the ready. Red Hulk is essentially a one dimensional version of Vegeta who tries to act as tough as the Hulk even when he knows that the Hulk is actually the stronger, smarter fighter. He is always upstaged, but he continues to talk tough in every episode so I suppose that he deserves some props for that…I guess.

A Bomb is the comedy member of the group so he’s always thinking of some quick lines to remind everyone why he’s so tech savvy. He can turn invisible, which is a great trick, but this is Rick so he doesn’t use it as well as he should. He’s a fairly likable member of the group, although I prefer Red Hulk and She Hulk. The worst member of the team is easily Skaar. Skaar is basically here for the crude humor jokes and they can get quite disgusting at times. It’s best to just forget about him as he never contributes to the show and just brings it lower and lower.

As for the villains, the Leader is certainly the main one in the show. The Hulks won’t rest until they’ve thoroughly humiliated him in every sense of the word over and over again. They force him to plunge their toilets and work at a fast food joint among other things. The Leader puts up with it because he wants to be ruler of the world someday, but it is pretty embarrassing for his fans. His plan with Skaar was also poorly thought out to the point where you will wonder what the point of it is. His whole “Query..etc etc, Answer, etc etc” gimmick was pretty neat though. This is mainly just because the Leader’s voice was spot on. He sounds bored with every line that he utters and while the other villains also push him around, the Leader never loses his confidence.

As for the Abomination, he’s essentially a stronger version of the Leader. He doesn’t get quite as many good lines, but he almost takes down the team a few different times and he even took over the base at one point. Abomination can be a little generic, but he was certainly given more credit here than in Avengers EMH so that’s a good thing. He’s finally almost on Hulk’s level in strength like he’s supposed to be. He even took over a town, which was very…interesting to say the least.

Normally, I like to talk about how good the animation is, but I can’t really say that this time. Whoever draws the character does not know how to draw teeth, as they are simply too big and stand out way too much. Think of the classic shows like Justice League, Spectacular Spider Man, or the old Transformers show. Do you remember the teeth? Naturally, the characters had teeth and smiled sometimes, but you didn’t notice a giant pair of teeth every time they talked. That’s what happened in the Hulk show and it can be quite distracting. The fight scenes can be decent when they happen though and the character designs are good. It’s similar to how Accel World’s animation was terrific, except for the human characters. As with this show, it’s a big enough negative that you have to take a double take. I’m going to give the Hulk show a bit of a thumbs down here, but it has its moments.

As for the soundtrack, you’ll probably forget it right away. This isn’t the kind of show where you will typically remember the music. That being said, I do remember Red Hulk’s theme because it plays whenever he fights or has a meaningful scene. It’s essentially a generic “tough guy” theme, but that doesn’t stop it from being decently good. At least it was memorable and maybe that’s all I could have asked from it. The show did need a theme song though. I don’t see why everyone is ditching the theme songs nowadays. They were classic and theme songs help to take a show to the next level!

One unintentionally humorous thing from the show was that the very first episode had a plot hole. It ended with Rick being taken to the base to heal, but in the second episode, Hulk never actually made it to the base. Whoops…heh heh. It’s something that you would expect from the Hulk show, but at the same time, you didn’t expect it to happen so soon. It had a retro vibe to it I suppose, but it’s something that you’d think the writers would have noticed. Especially since it aired as a two part event.

While the Ultimate Spiderman show has the gimmick of Spiderman constantly breaking the third wall and stopping time, Hulk goes for a more practical option. At the end of every episode, he’ll sit down in front of the camera and explain that episode’s moral in case you missed it. The messages are more inspirational and heartwarming than My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. Now, that’s a little bold to say as My Little Pony has some of the best messages out there, but Hulk teaches you about caring for your family and teammates, ignoring any bad qualities they may have and focusing on the good, how problems shouldn’t always be solved by violence, trusting in your teammates, and dozens of other great morals. It’s never handled very subtlety, but sometimes that’s a good thing. Being able to talk about these things with a straight face is a good thing and the Hulk show is great for impressionable kids you are watching the show.

One of the things that really bogged the Hulk show down was the unfortunate crude humor and the uninspired dialogue. While the crude jokes are not as frequent as Pac Man (That would almost literally be impossible) they can definitely get pretty dicey at times with a lot of sneezing and potty jokes. They force the Leader to live in the bathroom for a while and the toilet is clogged so he has to try and unclog it. It gets preeeetty dicey for him to say the least. If there is a crude humor joke to be thought of, it’ll be in the show and it certainly gets old. The obvious puns and gags from A Bomb and the others can be good as long as they stick away from that area. Ah well, I guess the show didn’t want its solid seven.

Without that, the show would have been decent. It would have been similar to shows like Avengers Assemble and Ultimate Spiderman. I would never go as far as to call them great shows, but they were still fun and add to the mythos of the characters. I’m still really glad that those titles are around and I can’t say the same for the Hulk title quite as easily. Even this upcoming rating that it got is very close as you can make a decent argument for one star lower. I think it was just good enough, but it was definitely on the edge.
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Overall, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. is a show that had potential. It’s essentially a Marvel version of Batman Brave and the Bold, but with less guest stars, sloppier animation, and inferior writing. Also less of a soundtrack, but that’s to be expected. It couldn’t quite keep up with the Avengers or Ultimate Spiderman. It should be really thankful that it got a season 2 as that saga certainly helped the show improve. Otherwise, I’m tempted to say that it could have gotten a 5. Still, there were enough positives for me to call it a decently good show and I’d recommend it to Hulk fans who wants to watch some fun action. That being said, you’d be better off watching the 90’s Hulk show or just going for Avengers EMH. I’m confident that Guardians of the Galaxy will beat the Hulk show so maybe everything will start to look up from here…maybe. Also, make sure that you stick around for the moral at the end of each episode!

Overall 6/10

Fantastic Four Volume 4 The End Is Fourever Review

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It’s time to look at the end of an era for the Fantastic Four. They’ve had some really great runs over the years like the Hickman epic and the classic run. A lot of things have happened over the years and now the plots can all wrap up. The collection ends on a high note and things wrap up nicely without feeling forced or rushed. We even get some fun guest stars!

The Fantastic Four has been split apart recently. The kids were kidnapped by the Wizard, Mr Fantastic was kidnapped by a guy who wants to be known as the Peace Man or something like that. The Human Torch doesn’t have his powers anymore and the Thing has just barely gotten away from prison. As you can see, they aren’t really ready to stop a worldwide invasion by aliens, but they decide to give it a whirl anyway. They’ve made plenty of friends over the years and they’ll need all of them if they want to win this battle.

This collection is essentially nonstop action, which is really rare for the Fantastic Four series. The alien insects are everywhere so we get cameos from several Avengers. The Avengers don’t look so good once again, but it’s mainly SHIELD that starts things off on a rocky note as they decide to attack the Hulk. Everyone eventually gets over the mix-up, but it did give us a nice excuse for a quick fight scene, which is always a solid way to kick things off. The Fantastic Four’s group definitely would have won had the battle kept going since they had the Hulk on their side and Invisible Woman could have handled the rest of the group.

The art is quite good as you would expect from the Fantastic Four series. The fight scenes are vibrant and colorful while the dialogue scenes flow naturally. This is certainly an easy comic to read as a result and I had a fun time blasting through it. The final issues also celebrate its 75th anniversary so we get a few short stories and one issue where we see what all of the other heroes were doing when the Fantastic Four first formed. That was fun and there were certainly a lot of guest stars so the comic really tried not to leave anyone out.

The comic also had some really good writing and it was an interesting read from start to finish. Mr Fantastic got his props as he was able to foil most of the villain’s plan on his own and also broke free from the trap. He is Mr Fantastic after all and while some of Marvel’s other geniuses like Tony Stark typically get more publicity, I’d consider Mr Fantastic to easily be the smartest man in the Marvel Universe. I wouldn’t take anyone against him in a battle of wits and he’s still my favorite member of the Fantastic Four. He was portrayed perfectly here!

The Thing looked good and he was certainly willing to jump into the fray right away. He’s a character who’s had his ups and downs, but I’m glad to say that this would be more of an up for him. The Human Torch looks nice and heroic. The comic still plays up his flirty side a bit, which is regrettable, but he doesn’t go totally overboard in the past so the writer did a decent job with him compared to past incarnations. Invisible Woman continues to show why she is a threat in any fight since her force abilities are really effective against all fighters. There’s a twist about why she has been using her powers more freely lately, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that they are still her powers. Once she gets used to them a little more, she’ll be back to being a big threat in the Marvel universe.

The villains aren’t very high profile, but they’re not bad either. I’ve never been much of a fan of the Psycho Man, but his abilities are decent I suppose. I much preferred the peace guy who did escape so that’ll be a plot to delve into in the future I suppose. He’s quite smart even though he was duped by one of the other villains. I actually liked him as a villain since he seems to be a good match for Mr. Fantastic.

The subplot with the kids wasn’t bad as the kid made the right call and showed everyone that he’s not a true villain deep down. I don’t think that he should have played along from the beginning to be honest, but it all worked out in the end. The plot was not quite as interesting as any of the others, but at least it gave the kids some closure so maybe they won’t be needed in future arcs. I still don’t really like how Valeria is portrayed to be as smart, if not smarter than Mr Fantastic. That’s still a little iffy if you ask me.

I do appreciate the fact that the comic mentions why most of the Avengers aren’t around to help. Since the invasion is taking place across the whole planet, they have to protect the other countries that have less superheroes. This is a great reason for them not being around and I wish that more comics would acknowledge this. New York has all of the big threats so I’m glad that some stuck around, but the other countries have far less superheroes so they could definitely use the help.

After the nonstop action for most of the collection, I didn’t mind the short stories at the end. The camping story with Mr Fantastic and Valeria was fun and we got to see that Mr Fantastic did have fun enjoying nature when he wasn’t busy inventing things. The Thing’s was a little sad for him with the ending, but it shows that he’s always ready to help. I’m not sure if short stories would have worked as well if they had been the whole collection, but they still would have been fun to read in a different way when compared to the action. Both techniques work when the writing is good enough. The fact that we had fake versions of the Avengers was also awesome since it gave us an excuse to see Thor and Iron Man take on the Fantastic Four. Scarlet Witch even fights her doppleganger. The villains aren’t really a threat here and it’s really just to show you all of the friends that the Fantastic Four have made over the years. Trust me, they’ve made quite a lot of them!

Overall, This was a really fun volume. Whether you’ve read the previous ones or not, it’s easy to jump right into the action. A lot of things happened to set up the situation, but it’s easy to understand what the situation is and what the heroes have to do to stop the invasion. It’s too bad that most of the Avengers are busy, but the Fantastic Four are always more than a match for any adversary. The team is essentially a blank slate now so they can really do whatever they feel like doing now. It’s a great way to hand over the comic to a new creative team since there are no big subplots unfolding at the moment. This was a good run and an epic end to it so I recommend this collection to all Marvel fans.

Overall 8/10

World War Hulk Review

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I remember this arc when it first came out. There was a lot of hype around it and I still consider the plot to be one of the best concepts from all Marvel events. Only Civil War may be able to top it. Nothing beats a good Heroes vs Heroes story, but one that comes close is when the hero turns evil and decides to destroy the heroes. It’s sort of like the Doomsday story in the comics as Superman has a long monologue about what would happen if he finally met a villain that he couldn’t defeat. It’s a story that has a lot of potential. World War Hulk doesn’t live up to all of it sadly, but it’s still a fun comic.

As mentioned, the plot is very simple. The Hulk was shot into space and deserted to die on a planet full of gladiators and aliens. He managed to survive and lived a happy life there, but then his rocket ship came back into orbit and crashed on the planet, destroying everyone on the planet. The Hulk blames the Illuminati for placing the bomb on the rocket and he has now returned to Earth to destroy them and make the Earth suffer for what has happened. All of Marvel’s heroes will have to set aside their differences if there is any hope of stopping the Hulk.

It should be noted that the Hulk picked a great time to launch this attack. For starters, Thor isn’t around at the moment, which takes away a really large threat right from the start. Also, the Civil War is still raging on at the moment or at least the post effects so the heroes have to reluctantly work together at the risk of being arrested. Yes, this is definitely the Hulk’s moment of glory and the heroes may not know what hit them! It should be noted that some heavy weights like Ghost Rider and the X-Men are noticeably absent, but they end up fighting the Hulk in tie-in issues. It’s too bad that they weren’t included, but I did review the X-Men one a while back.

If you wanted a comic with nonstop action, then this is definitely the one to check out. The 5 issues are basically showing the Hulk take down the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and all of the loners who tried to join the fray. Even the military stood no chance against the Hulk. Granted, The Hulk had about 5 teammates known as the Warbound who are apparently about as strong as the Hulk pre rage. That’s a lot of hype for those guys, but they did manage to defeat Spiderman (Off screen naturally……he never gets any respect in the modern comics!) so I suppose that they lived up to their reputation.

The Hulk has never been madder than he is now so his power is really skyrocketing. By the end of the comic, he starts to grow so powerful that he could have destroyed the Earth with a single stomp. That’s some insanely good strength. Naturally, Hulk is a total villain here who only cares for revenge. It’s a motive that works for most villains so why not for him right? He’s not mindless here by any means and he just believes that the Avengers need to pay for their crimes of genocide. An eye for an eye is his strategy. It’s been a while since we saw the Hulk portrayed as a villain so that was neat. He even uses his intelligence to trick Dr Strange at one point since he’s totally in control here. You have never seen a more deadly Hulk.

The Sentry’s role in this is also quite big as he gets hyped up right from the start. One problem that you may have with this is the fact that everyone acts like the Sentry and Hulk are best friends. Since when right? The Sentry is also a little insane and completely unlikable, but you still have to respect his incredible power. He’s said to be the strongest hero in Marvel and while I completely disagree with that, he’s certainly one of the stronger members and not someone to be taken lightly.

I do have to mention that the art isn’t very good here. It’ll look all right at times and then the character models will just start to shift and tumble. I dunno, there was just something a little off putting about it, but the art still wasn’t downright bad. We still got some fun action sequences out of it (Which is the whole point of World War Hulk right?) and the scene where the Sentry finally makes his move is pretty epic. The guy definitely seems to think of himself as a Superman level fighter and maybe he has some valid reasons for this. He does end up looking really good here after all.

As this is one of the more modern events, you can tell that you are missing some things by not reading the tie ins, but it’s not as big as in some other graphic novels where it’s in your face. The pacing is good. The Hulk gradually defeats everyone and by the end you will be wondering how the Hulk can possibly be defeated. You have to wonder if even the Sentry will be able to stand up to such a powerful threat. Most of the other heroes do feel like light weights here. Even fighters like Ms. Marvel and She Hulk are shown to not even be a threat to the Hulk. Seriously, they just watch Iron Man get taken out and only jump in to help at the very end. Not very heroic eh? I was personally disappointed that Spiderman was taken out off screen by one of the minions. I don’t buy that…at all.

In fact, as cool and tough as the Hulk is, I don’t buy any of it. The heroes badly outnumbered Hulk and his little group and I feel like they really should have won this round. I think that Ms. Marvel could give the Hulk a good fight. When she’s with She Hulk, Ares, Spiderman, and many more fighters…that should really be enough to end things. The Fantastic Four didn’t look too good, but I have to admit that those guys would be outmatched in an instant. Only Mr. Fantastic can hope to save them all and things didn’t go according to plan for him. It was fun to see Iron Fist and X-23 jump into the action and Iron Fist did all right against one of the Warbound, but he was soon put in his place.

Dr Strange entered a type of rage mode to stop the Hulk and nearly destroyed innocent civilians in the process. It was the only time where the heroes looked bad as the Hulk had to save them before stopping Dr. Strange. It was still a fun super form to look at though. Even the government gets some hype as General Ross explains that he always knew that the other superheroes could never stop the Hulk. Naturally, his weapons aren’t that effective and he doesn’t stand a chance, but you really have to admire his confidence. Ross has no doubt that he will stop the Hulk and he fights on right up til the very end. He was actually a very likable figure here and he has certainly known the Hulk much longer than anyone else.

The Warbound don’t really have much of a personality as they carry their baggage from Planet Hulk. I didn’t like any of the members and I doubt that the film would change my mind. One of them admits that what they are doing is wrong, but he doesn’t care since he just wants revenge. Better to be a villain than to knowingly act like a villain. Seriously, the guy is constantly talking about morals and justice while he’s attacking the heroes. Definitely not your typical superhero behavior eh? The justice concept would have been pretty interesting had the Illuminati actually placed a bomb inside of Hulk’s rocket, but a plot twist nullifies that. Most of what the Illuminati did was unintentional, but they still deserve a lot of blame for what happened to the Hulk. His time in space was certainly not a pleasant one.

You have to wonder what would have happened if Thor and the X-Men had been here from the start. Would the Hulk have been able to come out on top like he did here or would the heroes have stopped him? I feel like the heroes should definitely have won and with Thor and the others, that should be a guarantee. I would love to see another arc like this pop up soon where one powerhouse takes on the whole Marvel Universe. Not in a single blow or eventually, but a gauntlet run like what happened here. Those scenarios are always a lot of fun.

Overall, I was hyped to read World War Hulk from the start. I just love the concept of it and greatly enjoyed the X-Men vs Hulk tie-in. That being said, it was maybe a little less enjoyable than I had been expecting it to be. The gladiator ring part of the saga wasn’t great and the art was definitely a little sub par. The nonstop action was great though and the dialogue was engaging as well. This is definitely a solid read for all Hulk fans and especially if you just want to see some big hero against hero fights. There is a cliff hanger, but it’s not that great. Especially when you know who the mysterious figure turns out to be. Still, this was a fun event. Smaller in scope than most of Marvel’s big specials, but it was still impactful and showed us the Hulk’s true power! (Albeit, slightly over hyped…)

Overall 8/10

Thor Sunlight and Shadows Review

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It’s time to look at a Thor collection and this one actually brings the final issues of the 500 issue Thor series. The story moved onto another title and Thor fans may be a little disappointed in how the series ended as it doesn’t wrap a whole lot of things up. Still, 500 issues is quite the milestone and while I have not read all 500 of the individual issues at the moment, I’ve read a lot of them. This story is bogged down by several factors, which keep it from being a good collection.

Thor has mysteriously lost his powers so he must now learn to live and fight as a mortal. It’s pretty bad timing for him, but luckily he gets his powers back for an issue…only to lose them again. What is happening and why are his powers affected so heavily? He has the Enchantress to help him out, but more questions continue to arise and no answers can be found. Thor ends up bringing back and unlikely ally to tip the scales.

These issues came out during a time when Marvel’s comics were rather chaotic. The art would result in a whole lot of splash pages and everyone constantly looked off model. The fights were typically glorious, but that was about it although the art could be unintentionally humorous. This definitely happens to Thor, but the art just isn’t good. Thor doesn’t really look (or act) like Thor and a lot of the characters do look rather strange. The art is definitely under average although I wouldn’t call it terrible. It could just be more consistent and easier to follow.

Still, the main issue that I have with the comic is that all of the characters are just unlikable. I’m not sure about all of the circumstances surrounding the characters, but it doesn’t change the fact that I don’t like them. Thor fans in particular will be dismayed at how the title character is portrayed. Gone are the days when he was a very smart combatant who knew when to fight and when to talk. Now, he just fights the villains for fun and he actually hangs out with the Enchantress. This wouldn’t be a bad thing if she was totally reformed, but she still has slaves who attend to her every needs and Thor doesn’t care at all. That’s the oddest part about the whole collection. It’s why the relationship between the Enchantress and Thor has never worked out and shouldn’t ever work out. Thor is a hero so he shouldn’t tolerate such things.

He still is the hero of the story, but this just seems like a huge oversight and it compromises his position of being someone who tries to stamp out all evil. I also didn’t care for the plot where he is losing his powers and the tie ins just make it feel even worse as Thor had to quickly regain his powers for an issue so that he would be ready for the event and then he lost them just as quickly for the sake of the main story’s plot. I definitely don’t think that the comic planned that part out too well.

During the story, a major part of the plot is the fact that everyone from Asgard seems to have vanished and the next Ragnarok appears to be happening. Loki’s behind the scheme, but it’s rather vague and constantly gets thrown aside for the tie ins. The actual graphic novel ends with a tie in about to begin as Onslaught has gotten ready to destroy everything so Thor must join the fray. That fight sounds like it would be fun, but that is sadly not included in this collection. Back to the Asgard plot, Odin makes an appearance and things aren’t looking well for him.

He seems to have lost a match while trying to stop Asgard from being destroyed so he was stripped of his powers and sent back to the 1970’s or something like that. Tired of everyone ignoring him, Odin succumbed to beer and whiskey. He is now a drunk old man who is a shell of his former self. It’s a very sad drop for him and he definitely looks pretty bad. As I mentioned, the Enchantress has not reformed her ways so I would hardly call her a good character either. She also doesn’t have much of a role here although she helps out while in the background.

The only decent character that I can think of here would be the policewoman who helps Thor out. I don’t believe that I’ve seen her before and I guess she was just added to give Thor a contact who was on the force. She doesn’t do a whole lot, but at least she can fight and takes the whole trip to the savage land in stride. The comic had a guest star in the form of Red Norvell and I read the classic comics that introduced him. Unfortunately, he is definitely not likable here. He fell into hard times and went into some shady businesses to keep himself afloat. Thor gives him another chance to have super powers and Norvell takes it, but then the comic is essentially at its end so he doesn’t get to do anything with his new found power. Either way, he just doesn’t seem like hero material.

The comic is actually interesting while you’re reading it, but not a whole lot happens when you look at it in retrospect. Thor fights a lot of average humans, but we don’t get to see any real super threats. It makes sense since Thor is depowered, but the issues needed someone who could fight. As such, we only got a few brief fight scenes, which is too bad since you would expect more than that from the Thor comics. With better characters, the story could have gone places. Instead, it feels a bit like it’s in an alternate universe, which is how I feel about a lot of the 90’s stories in Marvel. Superman had a similar identity crisis over in DC at the time.

The rest of the Avengers make a cameo at one point when they recruit Thor and you can tell that the teamis at a rough spot. When Black Widow is essentially the leader of the group and there’s only one other member, you realize that the villains have likely already won. I believe that Dr. Strange made a cameo here although if he did, I’m pretty sure that he didn’t look so great. I suppose that you can’t win every battle right? As a send off to the Thor series, this definitely wasn’t a great way to do it, but the actual comic series was a lot of fun. It just jumped the shark towards the end of its run.

Overall, This is a very odd Thor comic. It simply doesn’t feel like it could take place in the Marvel universe and Thor is seriously out of character. There isn’t a lot of action to be found here either although the fight scenes are okay. I wouldn’t call this a good comic, but I don’t think that I would consider it to be a bad one either. It’s just around and it made some mistakes. It’s an interesting read, but you should keep in mind that it feels like an alternate universe title the whole time and the actual plot doesn’t get to advance that much throughout the whole graphic novel thanks to the tie ins and a long visit to the Savage Land. If you want to read a good Thor comic, I suggest heading back and reading the classics from the 1960’s. The Marvel Masterwork collections is a good way to find them.

Overall 5/10

Essential Hulk Volume 7 Review

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I’ve certainly read a lot of Hulk comics. More of them than I had originally thought as I have already read the first four Essential Hulk volumes. This one takes us deeper into the Hulk mythos and we really see why he had such a tough life back then. Nothing ever seemed to go the Hulk’s way and you end up feeling bad for the poor guy. He didn’t ask for this and the Hulk just wants to be left alone. His comics can be good or bad depending on the writer since the Hulk is a character that can be difficult to truly understand. I think that the writers did a decent job here.

Naturally, there are a lot of adventures in this collection. The Essential series typically includes over 500 pages worth of adventures so there are well over a dozen comics here. This is actually the final Hulk Essential so far, but it seems like they are released once every three years so perhaps it is still going on. It’s amazing that the Hulk got around 300 issues for his series. Nowadays, it’s hard to see a title reaching that long. After the Amazing Spiderman finished with 700, I doubt that we’ll ever even see a title crack 200 anymore. 100 would still be tough, but I’d say that it is still doable.

As there are only three annuals, I’ll quickly mention those first. The first annual is one that I’ve already read twice as Hulk teams up with Angel and Iceman to take on the new Master Mold. It’s a solid comic to read and the Hulk gets his respect. Master Mold was never really in a position to defeat the powerhouse. Another Annual had the Sasquatch attack the Hulk to find out how tough the Green Goliath was. It’s one of those times where you have to ask Canada what they are thinking. Bruce Banner had just been trying to relax and he didn’t want to fight, but he was forced into a confrontation. That kind of thing seems to happen to him constantly and you can see why Banner is always on edge. This issue was probably the best annual and the fight between the Hulk and Sasquatch was a lot of fun. The issue made it clear that the Hulk is much stronger though. Unfortunately, the ending is pretty tragic as the person that the Hulk was defending ultimately becomes afraid of him and the Hulk leaves without a friend once again. It’s an ending that will make you dislike the Alpha Flight team even more than usual and I do wish that the Avengers would come in to teach them a lesson.

Finally, the third annual is the most dull of the three. A guy attacks the Hulk with some robots that are essentially large chess pieces. You may have to stifle a yawn as Hulk beating up on robots is nothing new and I’m not sure how this became an annual. Using it as a normal sized issue would have certainly been good enough for me. All right, with the annuals out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the individual issues and arcs that were present in this collection!

One of the first arcs had Hulk go to Sampson’s base for treatment. They were making a lot of progress and the Hulk was starting to become a very nice character, but Moonstone decided to sabotage this effort on behalf of The Organization. It wasn’t hard for her to pretend to be an innocent civilian who was being attacked by The Hulk, which started some trouble. The Organization then grew bolder and got Captain America, Quasar, and Falcon into the mix along with Hulk. The four heroes proved to be too much for the villains and that was a nice team up. Captain America certainly looked reasonable. I’m sure that the Falcon would have been likable as well if he hadn’t been knocked out for the duration of the comic.

Quasar is interesting as he is built up to be sort of like Superman when he appears. He follows The Hulk and they have a rematch in the following issue. He is soundly beaten, but Quasar is still a powerful fighter. He has dealt with cosmic beings in the past after all and he even plays a role in The Infinity Gauntlet. I definitely don’t mind the character. It’s unfortunate that he is also against The Hulk, but the gamma being is used to it at this point. At least the Hulk was able to best him in 1 on 1 combat.

Another team up had the Hulk face off against the Machine Man. An organization…perhaps The Organization!, decided to have someone pose as the Machine Man and steal one of Hulk’s new friends. Hulk followed and really did a number on the real Machine Man as the Hulk ripped him to pieces. They ultimately come to terms and defeat the true enemy, but not before having a big fight that lasted through 2-3 issues. It was impressive to see the Machine Man give such a fight and they essentially leveled an entire city. Never let it be said that the Machine Man is a light weight! Naturally, the Hulk has been tricked once again and even more people turned against him, but at least the Hulk finally had an ally on his side as well. His name actually isn’t Manny, but Fred. (Courtesy of Comicvine) Fred helped the Hulk out by pointing a (unloaded) gun at the “villains” before the misunderstanding was wrapped up.

Do you remember the famous city of gold? Well, the Hulk got to go there after some men appear and say that the Hulk is the chosen person of prophecy who will save them all. For once, the Hulk believes that they are attempting to trick him from the start and goes along with them to destroy the city from the inside. It’s not a bad strategy and I was glad that the Hulk was ready because the people were actually trying to trick him. The Hulk ends up fighting these mages along with a villain named Goldbug. The sorcerers are stronger than they appear and Goldbug actually ends up helping the Hulk. While the Goldbug did betray the Hulk early on, he wasn’t a bad villain. I grew to like him and he did save the Hulk from certain death towards the end of the arc. They made for a good team as they squashed the plans of the villains.

Time for the final two arcs! Talbot has decided to end the Hulk once and for all as he builds a powerful suit of armor. The Hulk figures out that the army has decided to keep the body of Jarella for experimentation and decides to rescue her. The lady deserves a proper burial and the Hulk isn’t going to let anybody stand in his way. Talbot is certainly in over his head, but Captain Marvell has arrived to help. I was glad that Marvell helped Hulk ultimately get to Jarella’s world, but he should have been up front with Talbot. He knows that Talbot is effectively going crazy with bitterness and resentment so he should just level with the guy. “Talbot, I’m here to help the Hulk. Don’t try to stop me!” Things ultimately didn’t work out so well because Talbot got the last laugh. Marvell still looks decent, but it’s safe to say that the Hulk had the edge here.

Hulk ends up making it to Jarella’s planet, which was on the verge of being destroyed. As his final mission, the Hulk needed to save her land from the invaders. This wasn’t very difficult for the Hulk and it was a relatively peaceful way to end the saga. It’s still sad that Jarella had to die in the first place, but at least Hulk saw to it that she could be back home. As for how the Hulk will get back to Earth, it’s hard to say. There are definitely many ways to go about it though so that shouldn’t end up being a real problem.

As you can see, this collection was definitely sadder than most of the Marvel comics. I can see why sales fluctuated so much with the Hulk title because it really isn’t for everyone. You feel bad for the Hulk because it almost seems like he is destined to have no friends. He is constantly betrayed by the people that he trusts and the ones who are loyal have a tendency to die or disappear. The Hulk even cries at several points because it all starts to be too much for him. The Hulk is powerful, but he still has emotions and these events can really make him feel bad. If he were smarter and able to talk more like in the current Marvel shows, it would be different. As it is, The Hulk is smart enough to know what is going on, but not smart enough to stop these tragedies from happening to him.

I do like the Hulk a lot here. He may not be the smartest weapon in the tool shed, but he means well and always tries to help people out. Things just don’t always go his way and there are many villains who are constantly trying to frame him. The Hulk’s strength is usually enough for him to take the win and he has always been quite the fighter. Bruce Banner looks less impressive as he is always out of the loop and rarely appears. You could say that the series is really all Hulk, all the time. There are a few supporting characters, but I can’t say that many of them are very interesting.

Rick Jones shows up for a guest star appearance and tries to help the Hulk on TV. I also liked the guy that Hulk met in a bar. I forgot his name, but the kid loved defying the current status quo of the US and he had a lot of ideas. (I think his name was Manny) He was a loyal friend of the Hulk’s. Jim Wilson was another guy who tried to help the Hulk out, but all three of them were ultimately not enough when the going got tough. General Talbot finally cracks in this collection as he blames all of his failures on the Hulk. Naturally, he is just kidding himself as per usual and he ends up just being another enemy to add onto the long list of foes that the Hulk has to deal with. Betty’s role is also very small, but it seems like it was about to get bigger before the comic ended. She is back in town and now that she has divorced Talbot, she is ready to start her life over again. Unfortunately for her, General Ross had a heart attack and isn’t doing well.

Doctor Sampson is looking after him. Sampson is pretty likable here and he does a good job when he was in control of the Gamma Base. As with just about everyone, Sampson is suckered by the villains into thinking that the Hulk is a bad person at one point, which can be annoying. It’s like the whole world is against the Hulk isn’t it? Ah well, at least Sampson did try to help the Hulk for quite a while.

The art’s in black and white, which can make it a little tough to tell just how good it is at times, but I’d say that it works out fairly well. You can always tell what is happening and the action scenes are fun to follow. I believe that the artist may have changed once or twice since we switched comic series once to Captain America and the volume also included 3 annuals. Either way, they were all pretty good and I would give the comic a thumbs up here.

It’s very impressive that the Hulk got a series with around 400 issues. You can tell that he’s been through a lot and I hope that he found a happy ending somewhere during his journey. Right now, he could certainly use a happy event. I have less sympathy for Bruce Banner since he is able to talk to people when he wants too and is more intelligent so his situation isn’t quite as bad. I could see Banner being decently content and at least his mind gets to take a break when the Hulk is in control. With Ross and Talbot temporarily out of the way, the Hulk can finally get some peace and quiet.

Overall, This Hulk collection was a good one. The Hulk is still not quite as exciting as some of Marvel’s other big heroes, but you really do start to feel sympathetic to the big guy. The art is good and we do get some nice guest stars to keep things fresh. There weren’t many big villains to be found here, but they can’t always be around. Plus, Hulk’s villain gallery is a little smaller than the average hero’s. It’s an easy collection to jump into so I certainly recommend this if you’re a big Hulk fan or just want to read some quick Marvel comics. The size of the volume certainly makes it worth the purchase as long as you don’t mind the art being in black and white. This is the final Essential so far so I’m essentially caught up with the Hulk. Hopefully, I am able to read volumes 5 and 6 so that I can say that I have read the whole saga so far. With the Hulk TV show still going on, I won’t have to say good bye to the character for long!

Overall 7/10