Black Widow Review


Black Widow is a film that feels like it’s been in the works for ages. After the Avengers 2012 film there was already talk about a potential solo film. I know a lot of people wanted a whole film about Budapest, others wanted a prequel even further back in the red room. Ultimately we would finally get the solo film now, which takes place after Civil War. It’s a pretty good place to put this film in, I would say the only other area that would have worked would have been the multi-year gap between Infinity War and End Game.

The movie starts off with showing Natasha as a child where she grew up with her parents and younger sister. Their life was pleasant for a while but one day they had to suddenly sneak out and head back to base. Her life was thrown upside down and then she went to work as a Soviet agent until eventually she was able to break away into the Avengers. I would say this was the best way to handle her early childhood.

Personally I would say the film starts off slow. It doesn’t really pick up until we go to the present which is precisely why I never wanted a full prequel film about her childhood. It could be interesting to see her as an assassin and you could pull off a film like Salt but in general I’m always a lot more interested in seeing the present. Yes, this isn’t the exact present but it’s not too long ago. This way you still see scenes of her past without having a 2 hour experience about it which seems like a fair balance.

So the movie truly picks up with Widow on the run from the government after Civil War. Aside from Captain America, the rest of her team was already captured. Widow has had enough of this and intends to vanish forever into another life but suddenly gets thrown back into the fray when she is attacked by the Taskmaster. After suffering a complete defeat, she heads over to her sister Yelena for some answers. Turns out that the Red Room is still in operation so Widow is going to have to confront her old ghosts one more time.

The opening action scene with Taskmaster is definitely solid. Taskmaster gets to show off his good hand to hand skills and copy abilities from the comics and Natasha fights well as always although she is definitely out of her league in this battle and goes down quickly. It’s a good way of getting her back into the fold and effectively forcing her into the action. It also showed how she would still make the heroic call in the end such as when she went for the vials even though she had been looking forward to some down time.

Lets start with the film’s strong points. The action and effects are top notch as always. The hand to hand fights are on point and I like how the objects as used in combat. Taskmaster has his shield while Natasha uses whatever items she has on hand. The different locations all look really good and there are a lot of different environments here to be sure.

The soundtrack is also pretty good. We get some Russian opera styled music here during one of the opening montages and some classic action tunes. While I wouldn’t say any might be a complete standout, they work out well for the scenes that they’re in and help to enhance the moment.

Yelena is a great new addition to the universe. Historically I’ve always liked her a lot more than Natasha as the Black Widow. She tends to be more of an antagonist but I’m nowhere near close to being caught up with her character so maybe she is usually a good guy now. Either way she brings in a lot of the witty lines in the film. While it’s clear that Natasha is more skilled, she is also older than Yelena and got a lot of great experience with the Avengers. Give Yelena some time and she can catch up at some point.

Yelena loves poking fun at the other characters and it works really well for the dynamic here. She was definitely the standout character here. I also liked Natasha’s mother Melina. As a strategist she also has a lot of good plans and is integral when helping the other characters out. That said, she did have a really suspect scene involving a pig as well as the implications that this has. While they play the sympathy card a lot, I can’t see her as anything other than a complete villain.

There’s some good setup to the rest of the universe as well although this is squarely a Black Widow film. The after credits scene is pretty low key for the most part but the final part has a lot of solid implications for fights coming up. Lets just say that the person who is about to be hunted should be in a lot of trouble since I think he’s outmatched here. Maybe he’ll surprise me though. I’m not really feeling the new Nick Fury type character yet since I prefer his mysterious approach to the “fake friend” tactic this one likes to try. Still, should make for an interesting confrontation down the road.

Finally, I’ve always liked the concept of the rogue agent who goes back to their roots. It could be someone who used to be evil or just someone who needs to do an impossible task. It’s the very concept of Mission Impossible, but I’m thinking of more solo operations like Salt, Resident Evil, John Wick, and other titles like that. They can get rather intense but the story itself is always very compelling. The same goes for Black Widow as Natasha has to tap into her old skills which may be rusty at this point.

After all, as a kid even before growing up in the Red Room she was a tough fighter and even more so after completing her missions. As an Avenger she had to learn how to fight as a hero which means no lethal moves and as a result she couldn’t go all out anymore. Hawkeye even gave her a straight fight in the first Avengers film which likely wouldn’t happen in her prime. That said, with how easily she handled Yelena, it’s clear that growing rusty is not a problem in her case.

Black Widow is definitely in the top half of the Marvel Cinematic films. There are enough films now where it’s tough to rank them all but it’s squarely under the top tiers like the Avenger films but above all the Phase 1 titles (Not counting Avengers) and others scattered across the phases. It’s a great film and only the 6th 8 star film I’ve seen in 2021. There’s a lot to like here.

Now for the film’s weak points. I thought it went way too far in making the Red Guardian as useless and comedic as possible. Sure, his personality can be fun and some of his humor moments do land, but couldn’t he have looked good at least once? Strength is his whole thing but he fails in his break out scene, gets humiliated by Taskmaster, and ultimately doesn’t win a single battle. I’m not familiar with him in the comics so maybe he always gets wrecked but it felt a little overdone. He deserved at least one quality moment without the rest of the team constantly dunking on him.

I was also underwhelmed by Taskmaster. I wouldn’t say he was a bad villain, but…he’s just not Taskmaster. We’ve seen Marvel do this with several big villains like Mandarin and Ultron where they just don’t feel like their normal selves and this would have to be put into that category. The first red flag is when he doesn’t talk at all during his opening fight. Seems like a robot with no personality. I can get behind the costume being the weakest Taskmaster design yet since it’s passable but this guy just doesn’t feel like Taskmaster. Where’s the bragging, witty dialogue? I’m used to a fairly talkative Taskmaster.

His role is also a lot smaller than you’d expect so he doesn’t the time needed to look particularly impressive. You have 0 doubt that Captain America, Black Panther, Bucky, and a bunch of other hand to hand fighters would crush this version of him with ease. So he was on the disappointing side, good in a vacuum but I think they just should have called him something else and kept the Taskmaster title open for the future. Who knows, maybe there will be a twist and we’ll get another Taskmaster soon.

Now lets talk about Natasha, I was a little quiet about her in this review so far if you’ve noticed. Retroactively this movie really makes her character look shaky at times and downright bad at others. Now, you know a big part of the plot is that the red room is still around, but Natasha was super sure it was gone. So the film goes into why she thinks this is the case…and it makes her look a bit naïve.

She really didn’t do much inspecting to see if this was really the case. She went to extreme lengths in her quest for vengeance as well. Now you can put some blame on Shield and her partner for believing someone who just turned to their side without having someone else watching the situation but at its core this is Natasha’s issue. Characters make mistakes in their past and this was a long time ago…but it’s a rather huge mistake. The film will explain what I’m talking about here with her plan to destroy the red room but I’m keeping any specifics out for spoilers.

Even more egregious is the fact that afterwards she never actually tried to find Yelena or any of the others. This feels a little convenient since that would have also told her that something was going on. A lot of the film is about Natasha trying to correct her past and trying to be a better person now. It’s what she was talking about with her ledger being red a while back in the early Avenger films so we see exactly what she was talking about. I’ve never been a Black Widow fan and this film doesn’t help matters.

It’s part of why I was glad to see Yelena showing up since she’s always been more fun and this film keeps that up. Still, Natasha does do well in the fight scenes and still proves to be the critical character needed to stop the villains. Without her here there’s no way the others would have been okay. She’s started her first step on the redemption journey by finally thanking the guy who gets her all her equipment and tech. I felt bad for him the whole film so at least it’s a start because that guy deserves a lot of gratitude for always coming through.

That’s it for weaknesses. I mean, the main villain is pretty bad but he’s really a non factor here. The guy is just around since we need a head of the red room but that’s the extent of his room. He can’t fight and can only rely on Purple Man type powers to keep himself in the fight. It’s also another chance to make Black Widow look bad since you’d think she could resist this but I guess the powers of science cannot be defeated.

Costume-wise, I preferred Natasha’s outfit here to the usual Black Widow one. Granted, the old version is a lot more fitting to the title but I do like to have a change of pace once in a while so this was a really good way to flip things. Also, it worked well for the snow scenes. I missed the sky fall gunfight scene from the trailer though. I wonder if it was made only for the trailer or if it got so much bad press about the bullet dodging physics that they just scrapped it. I hope it’s the former because it’s still a great concept for a scene and would have worked really well at the end. Maybe just tweak the scene a bit to show her dodging but then we’re good.

Ultimately my favorite action scene in the film was the opening battle with Taskmaster. Part of why it’s so effective is because of how sudden it is. Taskmaster just appears out of nowhere and starts the fight right away. If not for the fact that he can only focus on his objective, Natasha would have been completely finished off there. The match has a lot of tension and the night time background works well since it feels like there is absolutely no backup. If Natasha were to die here, it would be easy to cover up and even the Avengers may be at a loss.

Widow was also caught off guard so it’s not like she had her gear. You really see how tough a hero is when they just have to fight as they are. You think of moments like Steve being attacked at his home by Winter Soldier, Tony’s house being attacked in Iron Man 3, or Catwoman breaking into Bruce Wayne’s house in Dark Knight Rising. Usually the hero is caught flat footed and gets wrecked but when they’re able to put up a good fight you gain a lot of respect for their survival instincts. I’ll give Natasha credit here, she did put up a good fight even with no prep time despite the combat disadvantage.

The writing is really on point as well. While the Red Guardian may be the comic relief character of the film, I thought Yelena had all the best jokes and funny one liners. The conversation about how Natasha is always posing before and during her fights was fun. Yelena even gives it a shot on her own at one point and the fact that the pose is immediately recognizable does support her point there. Whenever she is around you can expect a lot of fun dialogue. You do get a very genuine feeling from the Guardian in his lines too but I don’t believe his talk about Captain America. He would get folded like an old lawn chair if he tried to defeat Steve. The other characters could have probably cut him some slack since he’s been trapped in jail all this time though.

Overall, Black Widow’s definitely a great film. It’s may have the slowest start to an MCU film but really turns up once we get to the present when she’s trying to evade Ross. That’s when the film gets great and then it keeps up that momentum the rest of the way. The action is on point and as always Marvel has a ton of great backgrounds and environments to fight in. The film may be 2 hours long but it really ends in a flash. You won’t even notice the time and it’s a title you can safely recommend even to people who have not seen the other Marvel titles since her story is fairly stand alone.

Overall 8/10

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Review


Marvel is keeping it going with a second live action show connected to the movies. Following up on WandaVision this one is more of a down to Earth story with two characters still trying to move on after Cap seemingly died or at the very least is super old right now. Personally I’m in the “he’s dead” camp myself but you never know when he might pop out to mess with everyone. This one’s a good show and I would put it above the WandaVision show. As it all takes place in the modern day you can expect a lot of setup for future events.

The show starts with showing us where the two characters are at. Falcon is in a rough spot financially since being an Avenger and a top ranking government agent doesn’t pay very well. (I still have major issues believing this by the way. There’s absolutely no way the government could let this happen. Even without Tony there should be some way he should have a lot of money right now since being a free lance government worker pays really well and with the Avengers press and such that should add up.) He and his sister may even have to sell their boat which is causing a lot of tension between them. Surely Falcon can find a way to get past this but it’s going to be difficult.

Meanwhile the Winter Soldier is trying to deal with his guilt of murdering so many people back when he was a Hydra agent. He is going to mandatory counseling to deal with this and has been working as a vigilante to try and commit a lot of good deeds to overwhelm the negative ones. It hasn’t stopped his nightmares though and he needs something big to take his mind off of things.

Well, they’re in luck. A terrorist organization known as the Flag Smashers have popped up. They go around burning buildings and destroying property to realize their goal of “One People One World” Effectively, they are saying that the world was better during the 5 years when everyone was blinked out of existence and they want everyone to go back to that time. They are led by Karli, a super soldier who is willing to do whatever it takes to get this mission accomplished. Sam and Bucky are going to need to unite forces to stop her.

Right off the bat it was nice to see some pseudo Avengers action here. One of the highlight battles was definitely when they engage the Flagsmashers on the train and get some assistance from the new Captain America, John Walker and his partner. With 4 on 4 effectively you figure the heroes would win but they still get rolled up like a burrito. It just goes to show that they are still lacking that power hitter to win the day but it was a well balanced fight that went back and forth.

All of the battle scenes here are on point. There’s a lot of good choreography throughout. That said, Falcon and John feel incredibly outmatched here since they are normal humans dealing with super soldiers. They should be getting rolled every time they try to fight because the gap is just too huge at this point. Especially as in later films we’ve seen more of what the super soldier serum could really do for Cap. It’s not a level of power that you can easily match.

The show only lasts for 6 episodes but it gets to accomplish a whole lot within that time such as plot setups for the future and different developments that will be relevant to the films coming up. One character who was fleshed out really well here was John. I rather liked the guy and thought that Sam and Bucky were way too harsh on the guy. He really was just trying to help initially but all they had to offer him were insults and a bad attitude. You can see where his character arc is going from there from the start though.

It’s a classic Ironwood kind of path although handled with a lot more subtlety. By the end you can’t even say John is fully evil or anything. The fact that his emotions run away with him is incredibly dangerous though so he’s likely going to end up more like Punisher than the actual Captain America. Still, I look forward to seeing more of him. He’s a versatile fighter who was usually fighting against bad odds and still did well.

His 2 on 1 fight against the other heroes was impressive, so impressive that you could make the case he would have beaten either one of them 1 on 1. That would scale him to possibly being even a little stronger than Steve who was initially getting overpowered by Bucky at times although I suppose since then he had surpassed him. John does have a whole lot of combat experience though so it makes sense. To him the whole thing must feel unfair as two vigilantes are trying to take away the shield he got from the government. Mix that in with the other events from that day and he had a really rough time of it.

On the government crowd we also have Sharon who finally gets to appear in the universe again after being gone for a long while. She’s a fun character and definitely doesn’t seem to have an issue with murdering her opponents though. She has managed to survive for a long while on her own which has definitely had an effect on how she sees things. Sharon will be an interesting character to keep an eye on.

Zemo also gets a big role here. Yes, I do think the heroes busting him free as part of the plan was an extremely risky plan that could have easily backfired. I disagreed with it from the start mainly because of how many innocent people would and probably die die during the escape. It’s glossed over but they had to free a ton of prisoners to keep the guards busy and we see a lot of guards getting knocked out during the chaos. Considering that all of these villains were incredibly dangerous like Zemo, I doubt they would be taking prisoners.

So the benefits didn’t outweigh the dangers there. At that point you could easily be rooting against the heroes for the rest of the show and I wouldn’t blame you. It was pretty shocking how dubious a decision that was. Zemo’s a fun guy though. He’s certainly as villainous as ever but he does agree that the Flagsmashers are a big concern since the guy really doesn’t like the super soldier serum. He’ll be an ally at least for a little while but he’s not someone you can turn your back on.

Joaquin is Falcon’s main army contact and the guy does pretty well for himself. He certainly isn’t someone who is ready to fight with a bunch of super soldiers but he does well when needed and finds out a lot of info. Then there’s Falcon’s sister who is fun enough. She helps to keep him grounded and is doing what she can to stay afloat.

Now let’s look at the two main characters and the main villain. Falcon leads the title card so as you can imagine he is effectively the main character here. A big part of the story is his character development from giving away the shield to ultimately deciding to take on the mantle. You’ve probably seen certain shots from the final episode between the film announcement and the big deal it got but he will certainly be entering a new status quo going forward.

I would like for Falcon to get a super soldier serum of his own just because I don’t think it’s possible to compete for long without powers but maybe that is coming up. He’s a good character here and there’s a lot of nice banter with Bucky. Falcon does fumble the ball towards the end though with his speech about how Karli wasn’t a terrorist. You can understand the idea behind this and not rushing to conclusions, but he shouldn’t have used her as an example.

Let’s face facts here, she blew up several buildings that still had innocents inside, she was going to blow up a bus of government officials to send a message and she was just getting started. She was getting more and more extreme throughout the show so calling her a terrorist is fair. His main comeback seemed to be that she had a good message but your intentions and goals don’t matter when you cross a certain line.

After all, there are tons of villains who had goals that people may even agree with but the methods are what nullify them. The universe is over populated so you may agree with Thanos on reducing it, just not by destroying people. Adam Taurus fought to help give the Faunus equal rights which everyone agreed with but he wanted to do that by murdering people so it voided the cause. It’s the same thing with Karli. Maybe they can think of a way to make the world better but it doesn’t change the fact that she and her Flagsmashers were absolutely 100% terrorists.

So I think Falcon got caught up in his feelings a bit there with a character who had just threatened to murder his sister an episode ago but otherwise he was a fun lead. It’ll be good to see how he handles the mantle in the next season. Meanwhile Bucky is definitely the more down to Earth guy in the group. I would say it seems like he was nerfed quite a bit to make sure he wouldn’t just outshine the rest of the cast though. Based on how well he fought Captain America he should absolutely be dominating these Flagsmashers. Unless it’s 4 to 1 or something he just has way better combat experience and his arm is on point. There’s a 1 on 1 fight where it’s fairly even near the end and I feel like Bucky should waste the guy.

On a personality level though Bucky is finally getting past his old feelings of guilt so I think we’ll see a more confident version of him if we get a season 2. It’s no secret that I’ve never been a Bucky fan in just about any incarnation but he’s not bad here. At least I’m glad we don’t have to deal with the mind control and such anymore. Now he works pretty well as an anti-hero and the banter with him and Falcon is always a positive. His super rushed romance that doesn’t go anywhere could have been skipped though.

Finally we have Karli. In case you couldn’t guess, I was not a big fan of hers. In part it’s because I don’t exactly see her group having any tangible ways to make the world a better place. Okay, she’s upset that half the world came back and destroyed the world unity that people had. Since she can’t destroy half of the population to bring things back to normal (Although I wonder if that was the plan pre-Covid. If it was, then that changes everything) how does she propose the world make this situation work? She doesn’t offer any solutions throughout the whole show.

Presumably she tried peaceful options earlier based on her dialogue but we never even learn what her proposal is. She always goes right to burning buildings and beating people up so there isn’t even any kind of agenda that you can get behind. Ultimately that’s why I can’t get behind Karli because her group didn’t seem to even have a tangible goal.

There’s also a guest star that shows up here but I won’t go into that here as it’s probably the first guest star from one of these shows that I didn’t even know was in it. So that was a nice surprise and her role is pretty good. She gets to show off her skills rather quickly. Including cameos and guest appearances like this also helps to cement this as something really in the universe which is always nice to see.

As always Marvel delivers with a lot of impressive effects here. The show does really feel like you’re watching an extended movie which is always impressive. TV Shows have certainly come a very long way from how they used to be. It probably helps that this is a mini series. I also like how the events seem really important to the movies. With a show like Agents of Shield no matter how many times they may say it was canon or the show would have references, you suspected that nothing big would ever happen because the execs would worry that people wouldn’t watch it. Sure enough, Shield is basically not cannon to the extent that nothing there mattered if you just watch the movies. While the movies could somehow back out of the events for WandaVision and this show, I find that to be 99% unlikely. There just seems like no way it would be possible. The events here are massive which is nice to see.

Overall, Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a pretty good show. We have a solid cast of characters and a lot of interesting plots going on. I do think the two heroes did really overstep their boundaries as heroes and acted like vigilantes quite a bit. Not a problem as I rather enjoy vigilantes but it’s never really portrayed that way which is odd. You’d think they would be full fugitives by the end of the film no matter what results they got. I particularly enjoyed John Walker’s character arc as he tried to use the mantle well and be the best hero he could be. Whenever I see him swinging Cap’s shield around I do wonder how people don’t straight up get murdered though. Never forget that the shield is made up of Vibranium. You feel like a single shot would utterly shatter someone. I think this show has a better chance of getting a season 2 compared to WandaVision but at the same time the odds are still small since this will probably continue on into the movies. If you haven’t seen this show yet then I would definitely recommend checking it out.

Overall 7/10

WandaVision Review


WandaVision is the first of the big Marvel TV shows to come out. One of the big hooks for these is unlike the previous shows such as Agents of Shield or the various Netflix properties, this one would be plucking some rather big characters straight out of the movies and into TV format. As a result you can expect more big events and for scenarios that actually impact future films. WandaVision definitely delivers on this as the events feel quite massive and you can bet that the films will feel an impact here. I did have some issues with the show’s pacing but lets dive in.

The show starts by introducing us to Wanda and Vision who appear to be living in a rather old era. It’s like something out of I Love Lucy or I Dream of Genie with the two getting involved in some wacky adventures. Each episode plunges us 10 years forward in time or at least with what the show is paying homage to but in real time it’s just the next day. Something doesn’t seem right though, why are the characters stuck in what appears to be an alternate world? Something just doesn’t seem right here.

Most of the show is about this mystery. The first 3 episodes keep this up and then in episode 4 is when we finally start to crack the puzzle. As a result it makes things rather interesting for a review since that is about a third of the way through the show. The actual plot twists are at the halfway point so would that be a spoiler? Since the hook of the show is figuring out what is happening I would say it is so I’ll try avoiding those plot threads for the most part.

So, the intro episodes for me are the weak links. The show isn’t quite as funny as it thinks it is with the various homages. It’s fun noticing what shows the series is going for but the issue is that it isn’t quite as good as any of those. The Office certainly made better use of the Mockumentary style, The Brady Bunch seemed to be more entertaining and likewise in each era. I think the issue is that the show was trying very hard to be as wacky and intense as possible to simulate these shows but as a result it doesn’t feel natural.

So I wasn’t big on the old time parts. The whole time I was always looking forward to the meanwhile plots as we see what everyone else is doing. Also, you can start to piece together what the plot is very quickly even if it takes the characters in universe a little extra time to pick up the pieces. The show is at its best when it is fully embracing the twists. The final two episodes are definitely the highlight of the show for that reason. It’s certainly nice to see the characters in a slice of life setting but it would have worked best in modern day.

I was satisfied with the various twists and explanation of what is going on though. It all makes sense and you can also see why it would be hard to intervene at this point since the Avengers aren’t in the best shape at this point in time. Iron Man’s not really in the picture, Cap’s gone, and Thor may be in space right now. You’d have to hope that someone like Ant Man is around and the odds of him even hearing about this event are slim to none.

For the characters, Vision is probably the worst one here. I really can’t cut him any slack. The guy moves as fast as molasses once he finds out more and more information so you can’t help but feel like he’s partially responsible for what is going on. The second he realized that something was wrong you would figure that he would quickly act or do something to help out. Instead he just drags the whole thing out as long as possible well past the point where you will lose patience with the guy. At the end of the day, his acting can help save lives so the longer he doesn’t do anything, the worse it gets. He had to be the most frustrating character in the show without question.

Meanwhile Wanda definitely has a lot to do here of course. Without going into details, you can see how her character has changed drastically even when you just see flashbacks in the show to her younger days. Her powers have gotten quite a lot of respect in the movies so we already knew that she was quite powerful. This whole show is really setting up that she will only get stronger from here. Power corrupts so this is rather dangerous and her actions in the show don’t exactly make her a beacon of hope.

All right, time for a quick pair of spoiler paragraphs. Skip these two if you haven’t seen the show yet but it’s time to dive into some of the bigger items here. All right, so it turns out that Scarlet Witch was holding everyone here against their will. She went from being a morally dubious character to a flat out villain and it’s not really something you might have guessed initially. The show did set her up as being suspicious as early as episode 2 to be honest but it’s all rather gradual. She seems rather insane and spiteful but you may write that off as just being fed up at the villains until it’s too late. I think she is going to make for a very interesting villain. Someone who isn’t quite pure evil yet but is quickly going there. Based on the end credits scene in the show I think she is going to be absolutely psychotic in short order. She does seem to be set off pretty easily and in a way this whole show could be considered as a super villain origin story.

In that sense you can see why the government wanted to wipe her out. Hayward and Monica represent two extremes in the army. Monica is insistent on treating Wanda like a victim who is only holding everyone hostage and threatening to murder her because she’s unstable at the moment. Hayward doesn’t want to try any negotiating and believes just shooting Wanda is the easiest way to do this. As a result both of them seem really unreasonable. I think you’re meant to be on Monica’s side as Hayward starts going so extreme that he even tries to shoot kids straight up. As a premise you do need to take Wanda down for sure, but there should be lots of ways without destroying her. Her durability is still that of a human’s if you can attack before her shield’s up. I do think peace is out of the question once she has hundreds of hostages the way that she does though. With her power said to be even stronger than the Sorcerer Supreme by the end, Strange may actually need some help in dealing with her. I can see why her powers are greater though, if you think about it, she essentially altered reality for an entire town and created new life forms complete with true super powers. That means she can conceivably do something similar like creating the original Avengers to fight Dr. Strange. There are so many exciting possibilities here and needless to say they all spell bad news for Agatha as well since she’s really at Wanda’s mercy right now.

Okay, spoilers are over now so back to our regularly scheduled program. We have some supporting characters from the old days like Darcy. She’s good at trying to crack the case although she does give the government a lot of grief whenever she helps. She definitely reminds them that she is doing this because she has to and not because she wants to. Monica also gets a fairly big role in the show and looks good. While I do think she needs to look at things in less of a “peace at all costs” approach, at least she is trying to reach out to Wanda. She probably just needed more of a plan though but we are setting up some fun things for her character in the future.

Inside of the dome we also have some supporting characters like Wanda’s kids. I’m not a big kids person but they could have been more annoying I suppose. At least they have powers which is pretty cool. That definitely separates them from the average kids at least since they can now defend themselves. You also have some neighbors like Agatha and I’m sure the instant that name is mentioned a lot of people will have various ideas on how that would play out.

Then the show has a really solid climax which was nice to see. We’re definitely at a point where shows can even look like movies now so I’m glad to see this show embracing that. No reason to shy away from big comic fights now. You can just get straight into the action and we get a prolonged battle from multiple sides which was fun. Things are definitely starting to get high tier by the end and magical battles are always fun. There’s just a whole lot you can do with that.

So WandaVision is a show where I’d say it really turned up once the action got going. Not necessarily fight scenes but once we got less of a focus on the old TV show motif and more into the actual plot. I admit that at times it felt like those scenes were straight up filler that were just holding the big plots up. The TV shows are a big focus of WandaVision so taking them out would effectively be changing the show but I think they could have had less scenes for it. Maybe it was just the execution that was off for me but that’s really the only thing that holds the show back from going further.

In a way the show was going for a low key horror vibe despite the classic show settings because you can see that something is off the whole time. So, if the show had committed to this more fully I think that could have been interesting. Grab a Stranger Things vibe or something with each question leading to more mysteries. You would need to retool the plot a bit but for example, Vision realizes he is in a world created by the Grand Master and none of it is real or he’s in a simulation. He confronts Wanda but even she isn’t real and he’s in Mephisto’s lair. Something like that would have been really scary but those are just alternate paths. I feel like the shows were sort of stuck in the middle so while you had that feeling of unease, it wasn’t quite enough to keep you compelled.

The writing is on point though so whenever the show is in the modern setting then it’s pretty interesting. I always like seeing a lot of government scenes so the moments with Hayward and the team were always fun. He may go all in but at least the guy did his best in commanding the troops. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how many average humans you have though, it’s not going to do much at all against a true magic user.

Overall, WandaVision is a fun show. At only 9 episodes it is definitely over in a flash and can feel like an extended movie. It’s a fun thing about having the show format since you can cover a lot more ground than a film ever could. The first half of the show is a little slow and they didn’t have to do the dog like that by the end. Beyond that the second half turns up though. There are a bunch of twists and turns here so while you may understand the main plot and get most of the twists early on, ideally at least a few can throw you for a loop. I wasn’t expecting the after credits scene after all which was really solid. I can’t wait to see where that one goes since we should get more action out of it. I’d definitely recommend checking this title out and we’ll see how the rest of the shows fare coming up. Oh yeah there was also a song that shows up in the show which was pretty catchy.

Overall 6/10

Spider-Man Review


Spider-Man has had a whole lot of shows and movies over the years. He is Marvel’s most popular character of all time after all so you would expect nothing less. The character tends to churn out a lot of quality content. Ultimate Spiderman may not have set the world ablaze but it was definitely a solid show with good animation and a lot of guest stars. This show tries to take the character back to its roots as more of an origin and then slowly starts to build things up. It definitely had a solid run and I’ll look forward to seeing what’s next.

The show starts off by getting the usual origin out of the way with Peter being bitten by a radioactive spider and then allows Uncle Ben to be murdered. We then cut forward to Peter being accepted into Horizon High on scholarship. It’s a very prestigious school, one of the top ones in the entire country for technology. He’ll now be surrounded by other geniuses at the school and Aunt May is naturally very proud. He’ll continue to work as Spider-Man on the side but this school is hiding more secrets than Peter would have initially suspected. Can he continue to hide his double identity while also keeping his grades up and uncovering the school’s mysteries?

For people who grew up with the Spider-Man comics from the 60s, they’ll feel pretty nostalgic. It’s fair to say that we haven’t had a proper Peter Parker story in a TV show since the 90’s version and that was quite a while ago. Ultimate Spiderman while fun, was absolutely a Spider-Man story first and foremost. It was about him constantly teaming up with other heroes and even working as an instructor. That show was going for a team up approach while this one is going for a more personal feel.

It’s like comparing Batman the Brave and the Bold to the classic 90’s Batman story. Both have very different approaches. Now I’m more of a team-up guy personally but that doesn’t mean a solo story will lose. You’d have a hard time finding people who prefer Brave and the Bold to the 90’s show or saying that Ultimate Spider-Man beats the 90’s version. Solo stories can be a blast as well and then when they have their guest stars it feels like a bigger deal. With constant team up series you do run into the issue of how to increase the threat each time or how to make the individual stories feel threatening after having end of the world stakes.

Ultimate Spiderman had that issue to an extent at times as it’s hard to go from Spider-Man taking on the Beyonder to stop the universe and then going back to Paste Pot Pete. This Spider-Man show starts out with far more street level threats for Spider-Man to take down which then leads up to the season 3 finale where he has to defend the Earth from Venom. Now lets talk about where this show ranks real quick. Naturally it does not beat the 90’s show but I would put it above Spider-Man Unlimited, The Amazing Friends, the original cartoon, and the CGI show. Pitting this one against Ultimate Spider-Man is tricky. Ultimately I would give that one the slight edge. It’s close but ultimately that one does win in animation and it had a healthy episode count with a lot of solid adventures. Who can forget the mobile game adaption right?

So that would still put this on the higher end for Spider-Man shows. If you look at the show on its own then it absolutely stands out quite well. I thought the show handled the approach of seeing Spider-Man slowly mature and become his own hero really well. An interesting angle is also how it introduces the other Spider characters like Gwen, Miles, and Spider-Girl early on. In a way it’s like a look at the 60’s Spider-Man if he grew up in the modern day where there are just so many heroes. Now, while it may have been even more interesting to have kept Spider-Man by his lonesome to really start off small, it is kind of nice to have other characters trying to hide their secret identities for a change. It’s like a big game of cat and mouse as nobody knows what the other is doing. I always like that kind of tension.

For the animation, it’s not nearly as vibrant as Ultimate Spiderman was, but it does look very clear. I think once you get used to the more pale colors, the actual flow of the animation is quite solid. The hand to hand action is really good and the choreography even for the energy attacks is always on point. You can follow along with the action really well. The soundtrack is less noticeable but unfortunately that is really the norm for most shows. Really if you look at post Justice League there aren’t many comic book shows where you can point to a really vibrant soundtrack. (Ignoring the animes) The only one I would name would be Avengers Assemble as to this day I say they ripped some of the themes straight out of Justice League. It was always cool to hear them of course. That said, there is one theme I really liked here. I would unofficially call it the Cloak & Dagger theme since it always appears in an episode where they show up. That can’t be coincidence right?

Season 1 is mainly episodic but with a lot of plot lines being foreshadowed. This was a nice touch because it’s one of those things the original comics did so well and any superhero show starting out should absolutely do this. Yeah it can be risky if you don’t get future seasons but it’s worth it. Early on in season 1 the show already starts to foreshadow the Jackal, Spider-Gwen, Doc Ock, Norman, Alistair Smythe, and many more characters. you have all of their human personas walking around so you know what’s going to happen to them even before the characters themselves do. For some characters the payoff is quick while for others it takes a very long time.

One of the big sagas in season 1 was the big Spider-Island adaption. I remember when that arc was still going on in the comics and the show handles it pretty well. Suddenly every character has spider powers and you can imagine how society would go absolutely nuts at this point. If everyone is super then nobody is or at least that’s how the saying goes. Spider-Man would just have a lot of competition in standing out. Doctor Octopus also gets several episodes to himself as he is introduced. This guy would go on to have a pretty massive role so that makes sense. The first season does a great job of setting the stage and getting all of the characters introduced.

Season 2 starts to ramp things up for Spider-Man from street level threats to more high end villains. First off, Peter gets a job at the Daily Bugle so we’ve got that iconic storyline now. Meanwhile Doc Ock is trying his best to work as a hero but can Spider-Man really trust such a guy? It’ll really test his whole motto about giving everyone a second chance. Venom also finally merged with Eddie Brock, leading to the most famous version of the character. Even the Avengers show up and get kidnapped so Spider-Man has to save them. Yes, Spider-Man is a rookie no longer. Now he is a full hero and people are counting on him.

The Venom two part saga was pretty hype. Eddie definitely makes for a powerful villain and it add some tension since he knows who Spider-Man is and how to reach him. When someone like Aunt May is put into a dangerous spot naturally Spider-Man isn’t going to take that well. The Avengers episode is admittedly a little cheesy that they were captured so easily. By the way, it was A.I.M. that captured them so…I’m having a hard time buying it.

Season 2 doesn’t end there with the big events though. Next up we have a saga where a bounty is put on Spider-Man so every villain wants a crack at him. This leads to many episodes where Spider-Man has to deal with many villains back to back. It was a good way to show off his stamina and really illustrate that Spider-Man is not an easy guy to bring down. This all leads up to the whole Superior Spider-Man event where he trades bodies with Doc Ock. Now that was an intense storyline both in the comics and the show.

You do feel bad for Peter though because Ock puts his life through the wringer. It’s the kind of thing where no matter what Peter does or says later on about someone else being in his head, people will never trust him quite the same way again. Ock does a great job while trading places though and shows Spider-Man several ways he can improve. Now, he’s not an improvement in every way of course as he’s more of an anti-hero but he does make some valid points about Spider-Man installing better web equipment and having tech around to monitor the city. Ock took the whole job very seriously.

This also helped introduce Cloak and Dagger who would never become main characters in the show but looked good whenever they showed up. I rather like that duo so it’d be cool to see more of them. Their great theme song helps as well. If anything you might miss Otto when he’s gone. Although I didn’t really care for his possible romance plot though. The show mainly stays away from any romance which is probably for the best since in a school setting that could get overly dramatic pretty fast.

With Peter back we get the Avengers getting kidnapped again which is always fun. Beyond that the final episodes are all about the Goblin War. Norman’s making his big play..or is it Norman? Either way Spider-Man and the other wall crawlers will have to try and take down this army of goblins. Fortunately most of them are just grunts with a costume but it is concerning that so many have appeared to spread chaos.

Definitely a solid way to wrap up season 2 for sure. The stakes were increased and it was nice to get a change of pace here with the whole body swapping thing. The Avengers admittedly looked very bad in this season and it would continue to an extent in season 3. I guess that’s the one thing with having a lot of guest stars here. To show off how powerful the new threat is it can be tempting to have them lose so Spider-Man has to save the day but you have a hard time believing that the Avengers would lose first to A.I.M. and then to Regent.

Finally we make it to the final season which is easily the shortest one at 6 episodes but at least each episode was double length. The title of the season is Maximum Venom so you can imagine who the big villain is. So Venom is coming back and this time he has brought an entire planet of symbiotes with him. Together they manage to take over the planet, the Avengers, and just about every supporting character there is. Characters like Aunt May have to form a resistance and we even get Moon Knight on the team. For many of the heroes Earth is already lost so they plan to fight back a little bit here and there or wait it out in the sewers.

Now I’m not going to say this is executed quite as seriously as it all sounds on paper but I wouldn’t say it’s comedic either. The show actually plays this out pretty straight and Venom is really shown to be a fierce opponent. We also get Mary Jane introduced to the season at long last. They may play up how awkward Peter is around her at times though especially with baby Groot messing with him during their appearances. You feel like Mary Jane would make herself scarce after the opening scenes but at least she took it all pretty well and just seems like a very nice person the whole time. I suppose she just barely made it into the show before it ended since she showed up for the final episodes of the series.

Season 3 ended the show off pretty well. We got to close out a lot of the big plots here. All of the heroes are on good terms now and they’re pretty much ready to leave the school. I still don’t like Max but at least he should have less things to hide now though. Spider-Man is also ready to become an Avenger so things are looking up. If we got a season 4 then I’m guessing everything would go sideways again on account of the Parker Luck but at least like this things went well for him.

Lets talk about some of the characters. Peter is the main character of course and he’s really good. He may make his share of mistakes but throughout the show he is portrayed as a nice guy who does what he can to help out. Balancing his work as a superhero and an everyday student is naturally pretty difficult as it is. While it takes him some time, he does live up to his reputation for giving people a second chance when he forgives Otto Octavius which is pretty tough after all the things that guy did. The show also takes time out to show what a genius he can be as well which is something we don’t always see a lot of lately. The school setting and expanded take on his origin days helped to give him time to show this off instead of just overwhelming opponents with his physical power.

Then we have Harry who gets a pretty big role and character arc here. At first he starts out as Peter’s best friend and then of course things get pretty heated once he learns more about the Goblin heritage. He also gets a bit jealous when Otto enters the picture as well. It takes a while for all of them to really form one close unit but I liked him and the cool fire sword he got as Hobgoblin. It helped to make him more of a threat and not just another one of the friends. Since Peter’s friends all had super powers here that may have easily overshadowed him.

I definitely did not like Max though. I found him to be one of the most ungrateful characters in the series and he was always quick to go against Peter despite how much the lead did for him. Peter had his back every step of the way and the guy never did anything to try and help him. The worst of it was in the final season when Peter tried to save his job twice including disclosing his secret identity and Max just slammed the door in his face. Mix that in with all the dubious experiments and Max is just not a good guy.

Anya is one of Peter’s best friends in the show and she becomes Spider-Girl. Anya’s a fun addition to the cast and from the main members I certainly haven’t seen her as much as the others so it was nice to see her get some extra screen time here. She doesn’t really have any big personal plots compared to some of the other characters but she’s always ready to fight and help out.

Miles gets the biggest role from the friends as he helps Peter a lot and they share secret identities pretty early on. He also has the plot with his uncle/father (I forget which but I think it’s his father in this version) being a super villain so that adds a personal element to things. Surprisingly it’s a bit of a smaller role than you would expect. He’s typically the comic relief member of the group and tries to make sure everyone is having fun.

Then we have Gwen and naturally she has a big role since the Jackal is always around. Surprisingly Captain Stacy doesn’t show up as much as you would expect. Gwen’s a solid friend and may be the most fleshed out character from Peter’s inner circle. This family development definitely helped a lot in giving her things to do aside from just fighting the villains off. Her battles with Jackal definitely tend to get pretty intense. The Jackal’s also a fun villain. I’m always up for seeing more of him as I consider the guy to be a far more compelling evil scientist than Otto. It also opens up the door to the Spider-Clones although the show didn’t get into that yet.

Aunt May is solid as always. I did like that she was able to fight here like when she took her giant gun out. It shows that she was ready to rumble which is always important. I like to think that she knows Peter is Spider-Man as well even if she doesn’t say anything. Jameson’s role here is small but he does look good in the Venom episodes when he puts his life on the line to buy his staff some time. It shows that while he is a pretty gruff fellow he’s ultimately still a good guy. He’s a solid boss who thinks of his employees first.

Otto gets a really big role in the series since he starts out as a hero, turns evil, turns good, turns evil again, then he turns into Spider-Man, then he turns good again. He had a whole lot of things going on that’s for sure. I never really became a fan of his though. I guess the character just never really interested me but he’s better than in Ultimate Spiderman so I’ll give him that. While I usually didn’t care for his episodes much next to the other characters, I did like the Superior Spider-Man story arc quite a lot so that one worked out really well. At the very least his fans should be happy with how he looked.

Likewise, Norman gets a lot of props here. He’s the big mastermind behind a lot of the villains which is very fitting to his character. He’s always been the kind of guy who manipulates others from the shadows. He seems to return over and over again throughout the series. Harry finally got some closure from his character by the end which was a good way to wrap up the cycle. Norman’s always been one of the most compelling Spider-Man villains and the show did him justice.

Sandman doesn’t appear much but his opening episode was very memorable. It actually gets rather tragic by the end of it too. His powerset is always fun to watch and he does make for a pretty sympathetic villain the whole time. Speaking of minor roles, the Avengers look decent at best but most of the time they come across as pros who talk a good game but really can’t back it up. Being kidnapped and having to be saved by Spider-Man multiple times isn’t the best look after all. As the Superior Spider-Man Ock was also able to defeat them rather easily.

Finally there is Venom and naturally he looks pretty great here. He has several hosts during the series and in each one he is able to dominate pretty quickly. I’m still not a big fan of the whole twist that he was one of the weaker symbiotes on the planet though. That always seemed a bit cheesy to me. I like to think of Venom as one of the tougher ones. That’s just how I’ve grown up with him after all. Seeing him be humiliated and mocked by the others doesn’t feel right. Beyond that he does have his own sense of pride though and makes for a pretty intimidating villain. He was a fitting choice for the final boss.

Spider-Man definitely had a good run. There were a lot of solid adventures here and characters to meet. It’s not quite a great show as it would need that extra boost to reach the next level but it was quite consistent. As the seasons went on the show just kept bringing more plots forward and it felt like a pretty strong continuity was established here. Whether something happened a season ago or two the show would remember. If it had kept on going it would have been nice to see how everything else was adapted. Alas, all shows must end at some point.

Overall, Spider-Man is definitely a show that all fans of the character should check out. In general if you enjoy superhero shows then this will be a good one to check out. The story is sound and you have a good blend of action and adventure. It’s a pretty light hearted show and you can also expect some decent comedy. The jokes don’t tend to drag on for the most part or anything like that so you’ll be able to focus on the story. The show doesn’t really have any weaknesses so it makes for a pretty fun experience from start to finish.

Overall 7/10

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review


It’s been a long time since SHIELD started and quite a bit since it finished at this point. I’ve had the review on the backburner since November of 2020. The show certainly had its ups and downs over the years. It was always fun to have this show to look forward to each week either way and with over 130 episodes it lasted a while. I definitely won’t be forgetting it anytime soon. Grant Ward’s various appearances and basically coming back every season was always a blast. Maybe one day these characters will return. That said, I ultimately would not recommend the title due to some seasons just going a little too crazy.

The basic premise of the show is that there is a group known as SHIELD which has always protected the peace over the years. They do so from the shadows and nobody even knows they exist aside from all the big companies in the know. Agent Coulson is one of the highest ranked members. He was thought to be dead after the Avengers 2012 film but he managed to survive. The show begins with him assembling a new team of fighters. Ward, Skye, Fitz, Simmons, and also the experienced Agent May. Together they aim to stop Hydra and all other threats from infecting the planet. Season 1 is mainly about introducing the team and taking some grunts down first. The season ultimately ends with some big plot twists as well as an inside agent who was a traitor all along.

This was a solid way to introduce the cast. One of the more underrated scenes is when Garrett shows up with his team on the SHIELD base and we get some quick fights. Ward took care of his opponent while Coulson and Garrett had their talk. It was pretty tense and also cemented Ward as the most dependable guy on the team which helped make the twist more effective later. While teased a lot, I also like how they made sure to reference the Avengers in just about every episode. It was an effective way to remind people that SHIELD was in the universe even if later on it felt less and less like the show was actually canon.

Coulson is debatably the main character of the series although you can make an argument for Skye. He’s a very solid leader and does a good job of always making sure SHIELD is on the right path. It was nice seeing him get some power ups over the various seasons but for the most part he stayed as being a very normal down to Earth guy who was ready with the quips. He had a lot of the best lines in the series and always helped to add some levity to the situation. It just wouldn’t be the same without him.

Agent May is definitely the toughest member of the group. She is able to fight through serious injuries and never stops battling. Her nickname of being “The Calvary” may get old after the heroes mention it for the 50th time but season 1 was really about building up hype for all the characters so I suppose it makes sense. Her fairly emotionless approach to most scenarios was always fun. Her best moment is likely when she crossed over into another dimension to take out some powerful aliens in Season 6 and effectively had a time frozen fight to the death there. It was quite impressive.

Then you have Ward who is always super confident and charismatic. He tends to steal the show whenever he is around because the guy is so fun. While most of the other team members are either rookies or jaded retirees, Ward is just an excellent agent who is still in his prime. He’s skilled at everything he tries and that’s why he is always the person people turn to. How many characters are able to consistently get hype as a hero, villain, cybernetic copy, and alien in the same series? Whenever Ward shows up you know something is about to go down.

That said, there was one scene with Ward that I found ironically funny as soon as it happened. So in the series there are 3 people who are extremely determined to protect Skye. First you have Coulson who really sees her as a daughter figure. You have Calvin who is actually her father and so his goal is to protect her at any cost. Then you have Ward who is obsessed with Skye and wants to protect her in his own twisted way. All 3 of these characters have a good amount of hype and skill so you figure they can handle anything right? Well, there’s one scene where Skye gets threatened so all 3 of the hype characters pull out their guns only for Whitehall and his crew to take out bigger guns so they surrender.

That to me was the funniest scene of the entire series. To have all 3 of these characters just immediately surrender to a bunch of guys with guns was hysterical. It was certainly tough for the heroes before the era of them all getting their powers that’s for sure. As for Skye, she definitely gets a whole lot of development across the various seasons. She starts out as a timid rookie and eventually becomes a confident rebel. In the final season she even actively makes the choice to murder one of the villains against orders. Specifically, she ordered someone to murder a villain though so she didn’t get her hands dirty in that scene but she takes out her share of enemies.

Once she became Quake, Skye became one of the most powerful SHIELD agents which is impressive. The fact that she can conceivably destroy the planet is pretty impressive. So Skye’s a good character but I do think she uses her powers rather poorly. She should be winning just about every fight and yet most times she forgets she has powers or uses them way too late. There are so many times where she is defeated and you have to shake your head. When you have impressive abilities like that you really just need to fight to the end and keep on going. Personally, I think she just didn’t train enough.

Then we get to the worst member of the group Fitz. Fitz is just extremely annoying from day 1. His personality is your standard science guy who is really smart academically but doesn’t do well socially. After he gets betrayed by Ward he loses a lot of his mental functions for a while so it takes multiple seasons until he is back to normal. You can try to make the case that this is why it was so easy for him to turn to the dark side but there is still no excuse for this. Fitz is very easily turned on multiple occasions. He is often okay with taking the easy way out such as sacrificing a few to stop an attack. He goes as far as to perform tortures on his teammates and the guy never properly gets any real repercussions for this. By the end of the series you can’t look at him without thinking that you are just flat out looking as a villain. Fitz is not a true hero as far as I’m concerned. His romance plot with Simmons also drags on over and over again and often times Fitz is tempted to forsake his duty as an agent for this.

Unfortunately Simmons is pretty much just as bad. When we find out that Skye has powers Simmons is very quick to say that the lead should be destroyed. There is no mind control here or anything like that. Simmons just jumps right into drastic territory because she thinks the risk is too great. The fact that she was willing to betray her friend so easily was just crazy. Then you have the whole destiny thing where she and Fitz delude themselves into thinking that they are immortal so nothing can go wrong in the present. That’s why pretty much any scene with these two can be painful. They’re just bad characters.

Fortunately we had some extra agents in Hunter and Bobbi who were far better even if their screen time is pretty limited. Hunter doesn’t take things too seriously and you could say he isn’t even all that heroic. Mainly he’s here for Bobbi. He still makes a lot of mistakes of his own though. When we meet the “Real SHIELD” lets just say that things get shaken up. That said, It made for a really cool cliffhanger to suddenly have a whole other group around. I would have been fine exploring that plot for a while longer to be honest because there is a whole lot you can do with that.

Bobbi also stands out as a quality character. One of her better scenes is when an alien warrior shows up and just easily crushes the main cast. Bobbi goes up against him in round 2 again facing certain defeat but doing so to buy a little more time. She’s a talented fighter and doesn’t even like combat but is always willing to stand back in the fray. It’s too bad she wasn’t around to fight more. Next up is Mack who gets a pretty big role by the end of the series. I wasn’t a fan of his though.

Mack’s main issue is that he’s not good with power. He panics a whole lot and starts yelling at the team for no real reason. When the going gets tough in the final season he literally just quits even though he has a responsibility as Director and just gets out of there. Then he gets depressed and shuts everyone out for over a year. You can’t be making these kinds of mistakes when you’re leader or you’re just putting everyone in danger. That’s why I could never support his rise to leader, especially when May or Skye would have done a much better job.

Lincoln is one of those guys who joins up but you feel like it’s just so he can have a romance with Skye. Given that there are other guys around who will last longer that means he was doomed from day 1. Lincoln was reasonable I guess but he doesn’t leave a huge impact. His electric powers were cool though and he did defy the Inhumans at times so I’ll give him credit there. Radcliffe is one of those villains who’s around a little more for comic relief at times. He’s a super genius given that he was able to build Aida and he usually comes out on top with his plans. He evaded SHIELD for years after all. He’s a fun enough villain and has some humorous moments even if he doesn’t really get to go in the field a whole lot.

We got some guest stars early on in SHIELD even if they wouldn’t return for long. Nick Fury’s scenes in season 1 were a lot of fun. It helped really make Agents of SHIELD feel like a big deal at the time. Maria Hill also got to appear and she’s a capable general as always. One of the more surprising appearances had to be Lady Sif. She gave us a fun episode even if Ward was mind controlled a little too easily. I like to think he wouldn’t fall for that. While not a guest star, we also had Agent Triplett show up for a brief time. Unfortunately he didn’t last very long but I did like the guy while he was around. He was always very enthusiastic about the mission.

Back to bigger members, Yo-Yo is easily the most powerful SHIELD member. She has legitimate super speed. Now, she does have a drawback where she has to return to the spot where she bounced from each time. That is a pretty big weakness but with her speed it shouldn’t matter. Of course that means that the show has to make her look bad a lot of the time so she doesn’t end the fight quickly each time. She can be a fun member for the most part despite this. It’s just tough for speedsters because they always have to be nerfed at some points.

Deke is a character who started out okay and then really jumped up the ranks. He had to survive in a pretty dark future and that showed his determination. Once he was in the present with everyone else he was able to have a blast just enjoying all the little things. He started his own company and had the catchiest theme in the whole show. It was always a lot of fun to see him even if the rest of the cast treated him horribly the whole time. At times it was for comedy and at other times the heroes were just jealous of his success. He took it all in stride though, even wishing Skye well despite his one sided romance for her not working out well for him.

One character who joined the crew late and definitely was not that good was Daniel. He is here from the Agent Carter show and managed to become a main character by the final season but he’s just annoying. Another one of those guys who panics a lot and he also got over Agent Carter awful fast to rebound with Skye. While it can be nice to have someone from the old days here marvel at all the new stuff I was just never able to get on board with him. I’d prefer if Deathlok had returned. He had some fun appearances early on in the show and was a good fighter to have on hand. His role was ultimately not very large though.

Garrett was one of the first big SHIELD villains and he did really well. The guy has a lot of connections and is really good at strategy. He had some solid one liners as well so he’s pretty memorable. I thought he was better than Malick who is a similar kind of villain but won’t leave as much of an impact on you. Now Raina was a villain you don’t forget. She loves to hear herself talk and is constantly making speeches. That said, despite being able to see the future and knowing a lot, she ultimately doesn’t fare too well here.

Calvin was an interesting villain seeing as how he’s Skye’s father and all. He has a pretty tragic backstory with what happened to his wife. You kind of hope he’ll take down Whitehall real quick but that guy is just a little too tricky most of the time. At least Calvin was always interesting though and you could definitely understand his motives. I wasn’t really a fan of Whitehall though. He’s just another old scientist here to cause some havok. We’ve seen it all before.

Season 2 features the destruction of SHIELD thanks to the events of the Captain America: The Winter Soldier film. Coulson is now the Director of SHIELD and things are as busy as ever. For starters a race of beings known as the Inhumans have begun appearing everywhere. These guys have a lot of fantastic powers and now every group wants them such as Hydra and AIM. In particular a man named Whitehall is quite intense about grabbing them all and running live experiments until he can perfect a way to use their powers. It turns out that Skye also has some ties to the Inhumans as well. Can SHIELD really keep this under wraps or are we about to get a war between humans and Inhumans?

You could say season 2 is when we really started embracing the comic book nature of the show more. Inhumans are a nice segway because they have powers but are fairly normal otherwise. The annoying thing about this is always that the Inhumans initially aren’t looking for trouble despite their tough talk and are taken down pretty quick. It’s why you send to see a lot of people acknowledging that Magneto has a point while Xavier’s wish for world peace goes on as mutants keep being captured and destroyed. Inhumans are effectively very similar to mutants if you think about it and are hunted a lot as well. Black Bolt doesn’t really get to weigh in here compared to his mini series though. This season was a lot more violent than the first one as Whitehall keeps going back to his scientific roots. In effect it’s why you always get worried when someone has regeneration because you know they are going to end up using that ability quite a lot as Jiaying had to.

Jiaying plays a pretty big role here as the leader of the Inhumans or at least this branch. Her healing abilities are really good but in a way this is just bad news for her since it means the villains can exploit this for quite a while. That said, I wasn’t a big fan either way. She just didn’t seem to have any plans for the long term survival of the Inhumans which is not good. Eventually of course things were going to go sideways. Gordon was a dependable right hand man. His teleportation ability was also really solid. He’s a likable guy. Gordon may not always watch his back too closely but without him the Inhumans wouldn’t have lasted nearly as long as they did.

Then you have a pretty interesting villain in Lash. Lash is so powerful that most of the Inhumans couldn’t last very long against him at all. It would take several just to try and bring him down. He’s pretty much a creature of mindless rage and he’s at his best when you don’t know his identity. The show really allows this guy to go all out and get a lot of hype so I appreciated that. Even the design was pretty unique.

The third season brings The Hive into the fold. Hydra has brought him around to cause chaos and he is basically a king of unlimited power. Naturally he decides to use Ward’s body so we have the guy around once more. His powers are pretty impressive and naturally this is bad for the Inhumans since he can effectively use a lot of abilities. Coulson wants to use the Inhumans for good as always and strikes a deal with Rosalind and her government group. She’ll stop capturing Inhumans for nefarious purposes and he’ll share data. This truce threatens to compromise both sides though and causes a lot of tension within the ranks of SHIELD.

As soon as Ward was back it’s hard not to get hyped since he’s always a blast. Of course in this one he’s here completely as a villain at this point trying to get revenge on Coulson. I was not a fan of Coulson’s partnership with Rosalind from the start though. You can’t make deals with villains like that and by all accounts she was totally a villain with all the kidnapping and such. You can’t just pull all of that and hope to get away with it. With this deal she would basically get away completely free. It was a pretty reasonable season. I would say it wasn’t as big in scope or new ideas as the first two seasons but the Hive had to be the strongest villain yet. From all of the seasons this one blends together the most because there were quite a few episodes here so it’s not like it was literally all Ward but he’s easily the most memorable part of the whole thing.

As mentioned Rosalind wasn’t very impressive. I just didn’t like her as a character from the start and she never really got better after that. She’s basically just another government agent. We got to see more of two SHIELD Agents Piper and Davis who would have bigger roles later on. Needless to say, I was not a fan of these characters. They just don’t really add anything to the story or dynamic. You could cut them out and nothing would have changed. I would say the best way to think of them is like getting two red shirts from Star Trek but then giving them an entire plot line and lots of extra appearances for some reason. No matter how often they appeared they were never impressive.

The Hive was an impressive villain as mentioned. I mean to a good extent he just felt like Ward but he does have a different personality in the end. He was certainly more ruthless. Then you had Hellfire who was another villain around but not nearly as powerful. The guy’s basically just a traitor who sells out and ultimately doesn’t realize that in the end the Watchdogs will take him out as well. His flame powers are good though. Elemental abilities are always fairly high tier because there is so much you can do with them.

In the fourth season the gang begins to tamper with forces beyond their comprehension like the Ghost Rider. The group heads out to find him but he’s busy tracking other villains down. The Ghost Rider is effectively a spirit of vengeance using a human host that appears from time to time to carry out a mission and then leave just as suddenly. Naturally this is a big burden on the human involved. We had some nice ghost type fighters to go up against him and the effects for his flames were pretty solid. We also have some drama within Shield as the Patriot takes over in Coulson’s place and quickly starts to become a very shady individual. That’s why you have to be careful when turning down a position to someone else. Coulson didn’t want to be leader and now it could come back to bite him.

Additionally we have the Framework appearing here. In this other world everyone’s lives are a little bit different which includes a completely evil Fitz as well as a powerful android known as Aida. This just helps to cement Fitz as one of my least favorite characters as we see just how close to being evil he is. You could cut him some slack if this was just in the framework but lets just say this isn’t the last we’ve seen of evil Fitz. This was definitely a very intense season. I liked Aida though, she’s one of the most memorable villains to be sure. She got a pretty bad deal by the end as Fitz basically just used her. She was a villain of course but you still felt like Aida deserved better. Her abilities were absolutely crazy as well so you could say she was one of the strongest characters in the series. You also can’t go wrong with Ghost Rider of course. He’s always a pretty fun character to have around and the heroes are lucky to have him and his powers at the ready.

Ghost Rider just helped give the heroes a lot of muscle and came through when it counted. His host here was also solid as he was always ready to fight. Things were certainly personal for him after all and he made sure to get a whole lot of revenge on the heroes. As for the Patriot, I did not like him. The guy was given a good position and then squandered it on a power trip. He had every opportunity to be a great character but at the end of the day he definitely did not live up to it. I have to take away a lot of points from him as a result. He just could have been so much better so it was a shame that he couldn’t live up to this. The way he went out also wasn’t super impressive.

Enoch is a character who would end up having a massive presence in the series. He is a Chronicom from the future so he is always prepared. He tends to be a pacifist and has a hard time understanding human customs but gradually he becomes proficient at it. He also has a lot of solid humor scenes. I would argue the final season gives him a little too much hype with being able to take down the entire SHIELD group. It’s hard to picture that in the slightest but he is tough. Also, without his planning the team would have died many times over. He’s like the Watcher only at least he actually helps out.

The Superior is another big villain who showed up. I like the fact that he realized how Coulson was always popping up from the dead and why he may be responsible for everything. He wasn’t correct of course, but I would say that it’s a reasonable interpretation of events at its face value. I also liked his determination to solve everything as a human and win with his own two fists instead of taking any shortcuts. He’s the kind of villain you don’t forget very quickly.

We finally get time travel in the 5th season. The heroes are transported to the year 2091 where naturally humanity has fallen. The Earth was destroyed and a bunch of Kree rule most of the universe. The heroes are onboard the “Lighthouse” and have to find a way back to the past. Additionally Fitz is somewhere in this timeline, or at least a version of him is. He’s currently working with Enoch and eventually the two plots collide. Once the heroes are back home they have to figure out a way to prevent the Earth from being destroyed and averting this disastrous future. It’ll be difficult but Talbot feels he is up to the task.

This season went the most all out in a lot of ways. Having almost the whole season take place in space was pretty crazy and we even had effectively a tournament as Skye and Yo Yo were forced to face off against other villains. Having a villain group with the powerful Ruby also helped to up the tensions. The stakes were quite high in this season although at times it would also get pretty dark here. The future is pretty hopeless with Kasius in charge after all so everyone either becomes a slave or is quickly taken out of the picture. Talbot being tortured for ages while the heroes were having fun in space was also rough. It’s easy to see how he came off the deep end in the second half.

I enjoyed his battle with Skye a lot though. It felt like something out of Supergirl with the characters flying around and getting things pretty high tier. For the most part despite having characters with super powers you couldn’t expect to see big meta human battles like this. Talbot may have become a big villain but at the end of the day I’m still a big fan. He was an interesting villain which is always important and with his powers I do think he would have been in good position to protect the Earth. With Thanos referenced it would have been fun if he had stepped in to fight for a while.

Tess is one of the survivors in the crazy timeline and she did well to survive. She’s got her own connections and always has a gameplan. While Tess may not stand out a whole lot next to Deke, she did well. Flint was another survivor who did well and the fact that he had some basic rock powers was cool as well. He’s a little young so there wasn’t a ton he could do but every bit helps. Kasius is the big villain here but he’s not likable in the slightest. He’s one of those villains more worried about romance and wanting more power than actually having plans. He would tend to just be annoying most of the time getting emotionally involved with his past and rambling a lot of the time.

Sinara was a solid villain though. As Kasius’ right hand woman she was always ready to fight. Her techniques were fast and lethal leaving no margin for error. Serious villains like that always tend to work well because they are focused on achieving their objective and that’s it. Sinara did really well. Likewise I enjoyed Ruby. Her disc throwing abilities were quite potent. I also liked her confident the whole time. She may have been manipulated a whole lot during the show but she’s a villain who really stood out. Ruby may not have seemed evil with her personality but she was ruthlessly butchering all of her opponents so you can’t go easy on her either.

Season 6 breaks the team up into two groups. One group heads into space for a lot of adventures while they look for Fitz who is once again missing across the timestreams. This tends to be the more lighthearted plot as the heroes go to a bunch of different planets. Every place is pretty different. Then you have the ground plot where a guy named Sarge who appears to look just like Coulson is running around. As Coulson should be dead by now the heroes are upset to see this lookalike. Sarge is saying some crazy things about surviving a lot of destroyed planets so the heroes need to get some answers out of him before Earth is put on a 1 way trip to oblivion.

The space adventures were okay but I think most of the intrigue and suspense here was with the Sarge plot. There’s a lot of fun mysteries here like what his whole deal is and how he relates to Coulson. There’s a lot you could do with his whole world hopping thing as well and seeing Coulson as a villain was just surreal. It was always fun to have him around. The rest of his crew was mostly forgettable but Sarge stands out. That said, I do think he didn’t handle some plot twists well as he was quick to forget his grudge. I would have liked him to keep his Sarge personality through and through.

It does make for a good climax though and the arc is just exciting from start to finish. We even got a bunch of monsters running around. Meanwhile Izel made for a great space villain though. Her humming was fairly iconic and she made for a solid mastermind. This isn’t her first rodeo as she’s been taking planets down for ages. I’d be very close to saying that she is the best villain in the show. I won’t go quite that far but she can hold her own with any. Her ability also helps to make her one of the most powerful ones though as she keeps on controlling people. She could have easily finished off the main characters so many times you’ll lose count. With great power comes a lot of holding back though. Her fight in the realm of the dead was also a lot of fun.

That brings us to the final season which involves a ton of time travel. The Chronicoms have decided to eliminate SHIELD by destroying them in history. The team will now have to keep jumping to different eras in time in order to keep up with them. The difficult thing here is that the Chronicoms always appear to be a step ahead. Additionally the heroes manage to grab onto Daniel Sousa so now they’re at risk of changing time. Still, the villains changed time first so does it all even out? Each episode is a reference to a different movie or show and we also get a lot of crossover elements here to really cement this as the final season. The gang’s together for one last ride and then it’s all over.

SHIELD did a good job of really throwing in as many elements as possible here. We got to relive all of the seasons to an extent and got some extra closure for each character like Skye getting to see her Mom again. The best episode here was probably the time loop. I could watch films and shows about that concept for ages. I’m a pretty big time travel fan so elements like loops and paradoxes are just a lot of fun. It was a fitting way to end the saga at long last and this was just a really solid season. It would have been nice to see Deathlok, Hunter, and Bobbi are they feel like the only big characters that the season was missing. We did still end up getting just about everyone though so I was definitely still satisfied in the end.

Nathaniel Mallick is one of the big villains here. You could make the case behind him being the main villain over Sibyl but they’re both about 50/50. With his sonic powers at the ready he makes for a pretty big threat in the season. I would say at no point do you think he could seriously beat Skye in a 1 on 1 fight but unfortunately she tends to turn her back during battle a whole lot and just underestimate everyone. This really ends up leading to her downfall at times. He’s not really my kind of villain. The guy whines a whole lot and doesn’t really seem to know when he’s being manipulated. He just talks with a lot more confidence than you would expect considering his lack of power but I guess relative to most of the case he is pretty tough.

John Garrett shows up again and I have to say I liked this new version of him quite a lot. The guy can teleport now and has endless confidence. He returns every one of Coulson’s subtle digs and one liners with a counter of his own which is nice. You want to see a villain be able to dish it out like that. This whole thing is more of a game to him compared to the others though so he does panic a bit when things are coming to the end. I still have him as the best villain in the season though.

Sibyl has a big role of course but you can’t help but feel that she ruined everything for the villain. The Chronicoms have time travel at their disposal and crazy high tech options. Why couldn’t they just blow up the planet or something like the hunters suggested? Sibyl kept saying that they had to follow her plan exactly since she can see the future but at the end all that did was put the villains in a bad spot time and time again. Things would have been a lot better if they had just ignored her. So she’s a fun villain but she overthinks everything.

Finally we have Kora, but she was not very good. My main issue with her is that she was very wishy washy about which side to be on. She was quick to turn evil and then to turn around again and again. She also wasn’t very smart with how she handled her final scenes. I remember in one cliffhanger when she hugged the villain a lot of people were waiting for her to suddenly stab him or something but then it just never happened. There’s a lot more the series could have done with Kora if you ask me. I liked her confidence and swagger, she just never followed up on it.

Naturally there are a bunch of other characters in the series overall but these are at least a bunch of the big ones. With 130+ episodes it makes sense that there’s time for a lot of them. Especially since as a live action series the episode lengths are double that of a normal show so this is more like reviewing something that’s 260 episodes long. It’s still quite impressive that it lasted so long. In general that’s just quite the feat. I also thought the show wrapped up quite nicely with the final season. They had a lot of fun with it and explored some nice concepts.

So at the end of the day, why does this show lose out? Well, in particular with the earlier seasons like 2-4, the series decided to get really gritty. You had characters being tortured numerous times, surgery on screen while the character is still conscious, and things like that. The show liked to make the villains appear as big threats by making them as evil and sinister as possible. It’s just the way the show would usually handle this. So it would go for being violent as well as dark/tragic. I would say in the final seasons, especially the very last one this got dialed back a bit but there would be moments like this in every season. You were never truly going to escape the violent nature of the show. Even the final season had the buzzsaw robots which were incredibly over the top to the point where it was more of a spoof than anything.

In that regard Agents of Shield is a show that’s more like Attack on Titan. It’s entertaining while watching it but it can never escape the core issues that doom it to a low score. Typically if you’re a long running title your odds of surviving moments here and there are increased because you can have so many positive moments that you drown out the bad ones. For example, if you’re only 13 episodes and have a horrible episode, that will hurt more than having 8 bad episodes out of 136. It’s all relative of course and you hope that even at its worst a show will never go bottom of the barrel. Shield never gets awful I would say but what hurts is the frequency of these moments. It got to a point in some seasons where you could expect this to happen every episode. I recall Whitehall’s season being the most violent at least back in the day. The Inhumans and the whole cyber season could be up there too though.

So violence is the main thing against the show. In a combat setting you can give it a bit more leeway but when you get to the torture and non combatants being thrown into this then it gets to be a bit much. On a much less severe note, the show also has a ton of rebound romances as it goes on. Throughout the series you can’t possibly take any romance seriously because of how they keep shuffling. Skye had affairs with Ward, her tech co-worker, Deke, and Lincoln at the very least. I think that was it at least. May had Coulson and Ward, but I could swear there is a third guy in there somewhere. Then you have Yo-Yo going with Mack as well as some other guy although I forget that expendable’s name. Simmons was with Fitz and some random guy she met on the moon, etc. Basically everyone in the show tends to be quick to fall for multiple characters so even by the end when they presumably find their true romance you may roll your eyes at that.

The Fitz and Simmons plot gets a ton of screen time for example and I can never buy into it. I mean, it doesn’t help that both characters are some of the worst in the series though. Fitz and Simmons continued to surprise me with how bad they were the whole time. Each season would bring them to a new low and they both had a similar plot line of going off the deep end. I suppose they match up in that sense but yeah I definitely was not feeling this story from start to finish.

It’s usually most convenient for guest stars since they don’t have time for more than one. For example at least Hunter and Bobbi always stayed consistent. It was definitely sad to see them go since they did add a lot to the team’s dynamic while they were there. So Agents of Shield can’t really get away from the romance angle and there’s a whole lot of it. I gather that’s pretty much a requirement for live action shows or pretty much most shows in general but with such a long running direction then it’s bound to add up after a while. The writing was usually pretty solid though. We got a lot of nice interactions during the show and pretty quality one liners. It’s pretty fun to see the first episode of the show again and then compare it to the ending. I ended up checking out the very first two episodes again just to see the contrast. The show started out very upbeat and fairly low key with a lot of practical effects and everything was down to earth. Then by the end you have the heroes hopping across dimensions and all having super powers so it was really quite the journey. It feels pretty natural as you go through though.

I would say the show is at its best when the gang is having fun with some solid action scenes thrown in which is why I would probably put the first and last seasons as the best ones. Still, it did a good job of shifting genres for each impending threat. The show also did a good job with the season cliffhangers. Each season would usually end with something crazy like the reveal of a new director or a cutaway to the far future where everything has gone crazy. It always made for a pretty hype way to await the next season. Good cliffhangers are always crucial for a long running title like this.

Overall, Agents of SHIELD is one of the only long running live action series that I’ve watched from start to finish. Aside from The Office, Ultraman, and Agent Carter I can’t think of any completed series where that is the case. I’ve seen a ton of episodes for old classics like Twilight Zone, Odd Couple, and I Love Lucy but not in a start to finish kind of thing. It’s pretty rare in general and I’m definitely more of an anime/cartoon guy but live action titles definitely have their own charm. With today’s effects they can basically be like watching a movie that just keeps on going and going. I wouldn’t be able to recommend the show myself as there are too many moments where you’ll be shaking your head. If you like watching the Marvel films though and want something to binge through as 2021 continues to roll then this is a pretty good option. It gets quite a bit darker than the films but there’s also a lot of light hearted episodes and comedy thrown in so that may balance it out. It should definitely last you a while even at top speed.

Overall 3/10

Spider-Man: Fake Red Review


When this Spider-Man manga first came out I was pretty pumped. The premise was interesting and the artwork was solid. It had all the makings of being the next big hit and possibly the definitive comic book manga adaption. Unfortunately this one got cancelled pretty early. The author managed to wrap up all of the loose ends so that there is no cliffhanger here but you wish this could have gone on longer. Well, it definitely works as a solid one shot so I would definitely recommend checking it out if you’re looking for a solid action title.

The story starts with Yu having a pretty tough time of things. He doesn’t have any friends at school and he’s also not very brave. When someone is literally getting bullied and beaten in front of him Yu chooses to look the other way. It’s just how he’s always lived his life. He skips school to practice his mountain climbing as well but is too afraid to talk to his classmate/mountain climbing expert Emma. One day he finds Spider-Man’s costume in the trash. Spider-Man has been missing for a while now and the costume appears authentic. Yu ends up putting on the costume for fun but is quickly mistaken as the genuine article.

As “Spider-Man” Yu’s life is really changing. He is finally able to hang out with Emma, get caught up on his studies, and most of all Yu finally feels like his life is great now. There is really only one problem here…he has no super powers. When fighters like Jackpot and Slik show up, will Yu really be able to stand strong and help defend the city or will he escape as soon as things get tough? Additionally we have the mystery of what exactly happened to Spider-Man.

This may just be one volume but it does feel like quite a lot happens. We get a few chapters solely for Peter Parker as we find out what happened to him even if Yu is still the lead overall. I think fans of Peter will be very satisfied with his portrayal here. He is really shown to be the ultimate hero throughout the adventure. He makes all of the right moves but of course the Parker luck continues to drag him down. Whenever he saves someone, it seems like he has to sacrifice something from his life. The guy really can’t catch a break and naturally Jonah gets involved as well.

Mary Jane and Aunt May don’t get to appear much here but it was nice to see how they were handling his disappearance as well. As for Yu, well he’s a decent main character I’d say but not one of the better ones. It’s hard to look past the opening scene where he literally lets someone get completely beaten up just so he can stay safe. That was really rough. From there he does his best to act like a hero though. He’s a bit over the top with how awkward he is around Emma though. By the end of the series Yu has done a good job of being a hero in his own right. He may still not really have many friends and will take some time getting back into the school routine, but at least things are looking good for him.

Emma is a fun heroine though. She’s got a nice sense of humor and is pretty dedicated to her craft. She’s apparently quite well known in the mountain climbing circuit due to her efforts while also maintaining high grades in school and having a ton of friends. Emma is even nice enough to watch out for Yu even though they barely know each other and she helps him out when he’s in a jam. Emma’s final scene also cements her as a quality character as she continues helping out even when nobody knows it.

Silk acting as Spider-Man’s main ally here was a pretty interesting call from the manga. She’s not the first person you would think of but it’s good for variety. In this series they apparently met early on and have been like family for a long time now. Silk’s shown to be a very dependable fighter with solid reflexes. Her ability to read waves and energy signatures is cool and the opening fight with Venom was intense. The battle is fairly short but does quickly introduce Venom as a powerful adversary while also showing how well Silk fights. If Silk was always like this I dare say she would be the best heroine in the Spidey-verse.

Naturally we have Venom as one of the big villains and he looks great. His design is absolutely on point and the guy fights like a true monster. He’s not someone you really want to have to deal with that’s for sure. Especially as the series gets some pages in full color you have some really dynamic moments. Other villains pop up as well such as Scorpion, Jackpot and the mysterious mastermind behind all of this. Scorpion leaves less of an impact than Venom but he also looked good here. His design was on point and the guy radiates power. As for the mastermind, he’s a bit whiny but a decent villain I suppose. Jackpot’s definitely more of a troll than the other two but a very dangerous one with all the lives she puts at risk when they panic.

The artwork is really top notch here. There is a ton of attention to detail in each page. The character designs are air tight and the battle scenes really flow well. Near the end of the series we get a big group fight and you can feel the intensity. The Venom battles are also intense with a lot of property damage in the background. I would easily say it’s the best artwork for a comic adaption I’ve seen in manga. This could hold its own with any mainstream manga title in this regard. the art seems like it’s styled on the 90’s-early 2000s look for Spider-Man and it suits him well.

Fake Red balances out the action with solid character development and interactions throughout. The pacing is very solid and each chapter is over in the blink of an eye. It’s definitely a real shame that this story could not have continued longer. I suppose it just wasn’t to be. Perhaps someday the author will get to do some kind of sequel story though. I feel like we could have Peter as being the full lead again though since Yu’s plot really feels over and done with. There is clearly a whole lot you could do with a story about Peter dealing with the fallout from his disappearance though and then from there just introducing a lot of new villains and even some more heroes.

Overall, Fake Red is a really solid volume. It succeeds thoroughly at being an impressive hero story. There’s a lot of different plots going around that all get wrapped up by the end. All of the characters get their moments to shine. I would say the art is part of what rises this story to the next level but the writing is also on point. It just makes for an easy and fun read. I basically got to read through it twice as I prepped for the review to make sure I remembered everything. If you haven’t checked this one out yet then I’d definitely recommend giving it a read.

Overall 8/10

Spider-Man 2099 vs Venom 2099 Review


I haven’t read a whole lot of Spiderman 2099 over the years. I mainly just know him from the video games and comics but he always seemed like a pretty good guy. Definitely had a pretty neat costume which stood out. This comic was very enlightening in that Spiderman 2099’s actually not a good guy. He certainly didn’t inherit Peter’s morals that’s for sure and once the big twist occurs in the final arc it’s unlikely that his character will be able to bounce back from this.

The first comic is the main crossover and unfortunately that means you won’t see Peter again after this opening issue. Still, it’s a fun team up. Basically Peter suddenly finds himself in the year 2099 while Miguel appears in the modern day. Both of them need to find a way back to their own times and quickly although both of them seem to prefer the other location a bit. We get to see Vulture 2099 and classic Venom which was fun. The two Spidermen don’t actually get to fight each other here this time though.

It’s always fun seeing Peter and if anything you wish he could have stuck around a bit. He definitely holds up as a very solid main character and I wonder what was going on in his universe at the time. He definitely has no trouble taking down Spiderman 2099’s opponents and why would he? Peter’s got decades of combat experience up his sleeve which helps out quite a bit in fights like this. If anything the only part of the story that doesn’t make sense is how Venom gets easily taken out by 2099 in a few good hits. You can argue that he was not knocked out and just chose not to continue his pursuit but I find that pretty hard to buy. He just lost real quick since the comic was almost over but for that they probably shouldn’t have even had him appear.

In the main comics we’ve got quite a few plots going around. One of the main ones involves Alchemax. They’ve finally got a new head who turns out to be a future version of Dr Doom. He has quickly begun to reshape the image of the company. Surprisingly for the better as his methods aren’t quite as draconian as the previous leader’s methods. Doom doesn’t bother with destroying mobs or hunting Spider-Man. He’s focused on the bigger picture. In fact, he’s even offered to recruit 2099 to the force although the hero hasn’t decided yet. The offer expires after 48 hours and then things will really begin to change. Meanwhile Miguel has been promoted to one of the highest positions in the company. Now he can really help make the company a good one, but will he find himself corrupted in the process?

The new status quo has just started and there’s a whole lot they can do with this so it’ll be interesting to see how things shake out. Meanwhile we also have the debut of Venom 2099 who’s off to a good start. This guy’s definitely got a crazy design and an impressive power set. It’s fair to say that 2099 is weaker than the original Spiderman but this Venom could possibly hold his own with the original. His acidic powers are pretty great and he’s also got a solid amount of regeneration. Right now 2099 seems completely outmatched against this monster although the sound weakness is a good way to turn the tides. He better make sure he continues to play this smart though because if he messes up the timing even once then it’s all over. The volume ends with a big stinger as Miguel finds out who he is really up against.

The volume doesn’t say who it is, but my theory is that it’s actually his brother Gabriel. This is where we segway into why Miguel’s not a good character. So it turns out that Dana was with Gabriel but still decided to cheat with Miguel behind his back. While Dana also shares equally in the blame, there’s no way you can let Miguel off the hook on here. Not only was he knowingly being involved in a cheating affair but it was involving his own brother. I don’t blame Gabriel for not wanting anything to do with Miguel after that. Miguel mentions quite a bit how his family is quite fractured with his mother being an alchoholic and his father being a super corrupt business man, but Miguel is no different now. Then he rebounds with Xina afterwards or during. The timeline got a little tricky there. Either way one of them doesn’t live through this volume which will make Miguel’s decision pretty easy. It doesn’t make him a better character in the slightest though.

So that hurts the cast of heroes. Really there isn’t a hero to root for. Gabriel seems reasonable in his short comics that we see between issues but he’s not doing so well in the main ones either. If anything Miguel’s boss at Alchemax might be the best character. Miguel really doesn’t like him but the guy does his best to make sure people at the company are safe. At least he’s doing his job right? Doom is also very solid although I would still consider him to be a villain. He may be acting heroic now…but it’s Doom. He’ll show his true colors soon enough.

Miguel might be a disappointment but it doesn’t really hurt the actual comic. One thing I’ve always enjoyed about the Spider-Man comics is how there can be so many different plots moving all at once. The only other story where you tend to see that is with some of the classic X-Men comics. This also occurs in Spider-Man 2099. There is just so much happening in every issue. I always say the more the better. Why stick to one plot when you can have 5? The writing is solid here as well with a lot of interesting dialogue between the characters. The future world makes for a pretty unique backdrop as well. This future is definitely quite different from a lot of the others we’ve seen. It may be a bit on the corrupt side but it’s not nearly as crazy as some other timelines.

The art is solid. It’s got a very bold style so the panels really jump at you. The action scenes are solid and the comic as a whole is easy to read. The font is the right size and I definitely enjoyed this era of comic art. In general I’m not too hard to please in this area. So long as you’ve got striking colors and the proportions are right then I’d say you’re in pretty good shape. It’s important for a comic to have good art as well so you can just read it through.

Overall, It’s definitely fun seeing the 2099 era. During the crossover we see someone from 3999 which also looks interesting. I have a lot of questions on how the Goblin is the big force nowadays. I suppose if the heroes took him out they would have changed that world quite a bit. I already have questions for 2099 as it is like how all of the heroes got taken out of the picture. People still worship Thor and I presume he is alive somewhere in Asgard. With all of the comic events since then I doubt the 2099 timeline will ever come close to coming to pass in 616 but other Earths are fair game. The more possible futures the better because it’s fun to see how things could have been. If you’re up for a solid action/adventure title then I definitely recommend this one. The dynamic of having Miguel as the corporate leader now is bound to be fun and Venom’s definitely the biggest threat I’ve seen 2099 have to deal with.

Overall 7/10

Blade: Trinity Review


It’s time to look at the final Blade film. Does it end on a high note or end up disappointing? Well, it’s better than the first film but I wouldn’t say it’s as good as the second so it’s squarely in the middle. I liked that we got some more fighters this time around. It’s about time Blade had some backup. On the other hand, the plot feels pretty aimless the whole time and there isn’t much of a focus next to the first two. It feels like events just happen so Blade can go around beating people up. That’s not a bad story idea of course, but to me it felt like there wasn’t much of a plot beyond that.

So the movie starts with Blade murdering a bunch of vampires as normal. Unfortunately one of the guys he murders was just a human pretending to be a vampire. Unfortunately people see this so now the government is after him. The vampires have finally framed Blade. This lead to his capture but fortunately he is busted out by a pair of allies known as Abigail and Hannibal. They get him back to base and explain that Dracula has been resurrected. The 3 of them will need to take him out before the villains figure out the trick on how to be a day walker. This won’t exactly be the first time that Blade had to take down a powerful foe though so he’s ready for this. Blade isn’t the kind of guy who goes around losing fights after all.

I do have a bit of an issue with the opening. Blade is questioning why the guy didn’t die and is shocked to find out he wasn’t a vampire. We do have tons of familiars who are humans that Blade has been murdering throughout the films. Why is this guy any different? Seems to be like Blade is a little more surprised than he should be. Framing him would also be very easy for this same reason since he’s never cared who he murdered before. If they’re working with the villains then he ends them. End of story. That’s just how Blade works, he’s never been the kind of guy to even think about offering up some mercy. I’d be surprised if he were to stop now.

Unfortunately as part of the framing plot this does mean that Blade and Whistler spend a lot of time fighting off actual cops and government agents. You understand that they have to use some self defense, but this goes beyond that as they openly start shooting and bashing away at them. Whistler even uses a giant explosion that without a doubt murders a bunch of them. This is an ongoing trend that happens in numerous scenes. It feels like the heroes murder as many innocent people as villains in this film. It was a rather odd way to end off the trilogy. It does portray Blade as even more of a Punisher type of vigilante but I’m not sure if we needed that here. I think some of these scenes could have been cut or at least altered to show that they weren’t actually murdering anyone.

Beyond that Blade is still a solid lead though. He talks tough and is always ready to take the villains down. I like the new extended cable weapon he has since it’s very useful for taking down scores of enemies from a distance. If you ask me it’s easily one of his most useful weapons by a long shot. The Whistler gets his share of hits in as well. Without powers there isn’t a whole lot that he can do, but he’s always ready with background support. The two new characters are really the ones who are here to fight on the front lines.

First you have Hannibal who is mainly here to crack a lot of jokes. Apparently he used to be a vampire and got cured which is neat but it wouldn’t have made any difference if he wasn’t. This tidbit of knowledge doesn’t matter in the slightest. He manages to get a big win near the end although I can’t say it feels deserved since he should have lost that round. I found him to be a reasonably entertaining character although it would have been nice if he were a little stronger. Then you have Abigail who has an excellent opening scene and continues to look good throughout the film. She’s a solid hand to hand fighter and uses a crossbow that can even light up and burn opponents to death.

Blade finally has an ally who can really fight alongside him. She isn’t a vampire so she has no super abilities but her close quarter combat skills are enough for her to take multiple opponents down so that’s quite impressive in itself. She’s a big reason as to why the setup of Blade having allies worked. If both of them were comic relief it would have been a little pointless. As it stands, she can only continue to get better and better as she fights along with Blade and a fourth film with them would have been interesting.

As with the earlier films the fight scenes are really solid here. We get quite a few good battles and this time each character gets their own fight. This leads to a pretty wide variety of battles. Blade tends to have the best ones, but as mentioned Abigail’s was solid as well. Dracula’s battle with Blade is a highlight and we got a lot of back and forth there. Dracula’s character itself wasn’t amazing though. He spends his first fight scene running which is pretty odd for a guy who prides himself on being the King. You’d think that he would welcome a challenge right off the bat. I suppose vampires just can’t help but fear Blade.

As always the graphics are really solid here. The effects are on point and the soundtrack is also great. We get the classic rock themes that you always want to see. For the negatives, it’s really the same as always. The film’s pretty violent with everyone getting bumped off. There’s a lot of blood draining going on for sure. We also add a new wrinkle as we see dog vampires that end up getting bumped off. It was so completely unnecessary. The instant I saw the dog appear I knew the film was setting itself up for a fall. I’ll give the movie props for not having them die on screen but it’s of little comfort. The film would have lost at least a star if that had happened and if it lost 2 there wouldn’t have been any lower for it to go. The writing isn’t the best here, but it could be worse. At least the script tried being a little different from the previous ones.

Overall, Blade 3 had some good ideas but also faltered in others. On one hand it was nice to see Blade having some young allies who could actually fight alongside him and weren’t evil. The soundtrack continued to be really good too and amplify the fights. On the other hand, the film is as excessively violent as always and this time there were even animals. Additionally the plot itself felt the weakest. After Dracula resurrects and the heroes have their opening fights it feels like the film stagnates for a while until we get to the climax. It didn’t feel like the pacing was quite as tight as the last two films. I’ll give the 3 films this, they were all pretty consistent and roughly on the same level as each other. That may not have been a good thing for their score, but you can’t win em all.

Overall 2/10

Blade Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.

It’s time to look at one of the original comic book films from back in the day. Blade is largely forgotten nowadays although it seems to have had a bit of a resurgence in recent years. It’s a vampire film which naturally does limit how good it can be to a large extent. Unfortunately the comic book aspect of the movie was unable to do enough to take it back to the next level. It makes all the usual mistakes of a vampire film and ends up being rather similar to Resident Evil. Resident Evil would ultimately have the edge though with its top tier soundtrack and a more interesting plot. Come to think of it, zombies may also beat vampires for me although it’s close since both don’t make for particularly good movies.

The movie starts off with one human being lured away to a vampire party. They are about to finish him off when Blade appears and destroys the lot of them. Unfortunately he decides to toy around with one of them a little too much so he manages to get to a hospital and murder a bunch of people as well bite Karen. Blade takes Karen over to his base where the Whistler tells Karen that it’s all over. She’s already dead and they’re not going to help her. Karen’s not thrilled about this so she decides to stick with the gang. At the very least she should be safer with the pros right? Blade doesn’t have much time to guard anyone though because he’s on a quest to avenge his mother and himself by murdering Frost. Frost is the one who turned Blade into a vampire after all and this is the closest that the hunter has gotten to being on his trail.

Right from the start Blade introduces itself as a film that is going to go all in with the violence and vampire action. The first scene probably has more blood almost all of the other comic book films. The violence never lets up either as we see people eaten and blown up. The TV edit does cut away from a lot of the direct moments which is quite telling considering how violent the film still was. Automatically there’s no way the film was going to get a very high score because of how excessive it all is. Definitely be sure you’re cool with the violence if you plan on checking this one out.

I’ve also never been a fan of the drinking blood angle which is pretty hard to avoid in a vampire film. It’s part of why those films are always destined to lose if you ask me. While it can be possible to do a good vampire story (Records of a Fallen Vampire) it is very difficult and not particularly likely. The villains aren’t particularly fun either. You’ve got Quinn who is the main comic relief of the villain group. He is always in a party mood and doesn’t take things too seriously. This never bodes well for him in a fight and you know from the start that he has absolutely no chance against Blade. He’s just completely out of his league.

Then you have Frost who can be a decent main villain in some Blade stories but he doesn’t work here. They really play up the fact that he’s a much younger vampire than the others so he’s always fooling around. The guy is pretty smart and does take the vampires to new heights that the old ones wouldn’t have reached. He definitely gets some points there and is a reasonably strong villain. Ultimately he’s not nearly as charismatic as he thinks he is. The rest of the villains don’t really get much of a role. For the most part they’re just here to get blown up.

For the heroes we’ve really got 3. First is Whistler who is the mentor figure of the movie. You can probably tell how his story will end up the instant he is introduced. He’s human so there’s not a whole lot that he can do against vampires with their special abilities. Still, he doesn’t back down from a fight which is really important in this kind of thing. He’s a bit of a downer though as he doesn’t even try to give Karen any hope. Karen is a solid heroine though. She does actually get involved in some of the fights and adapts pretty quickly to using a gun and other such tactics. I was glad that she spent more time being pro active as opposed to running or something like that. She was even able to work on a cure right away. Karen contributes quite a lot to the cause and that’s why she’s a pretty solid character. I’d be up for seeing her in sequels someday.

Then we have the main character Blade. He feels sort of like a more brutal Batman at times with how he will suddenly appear and start taking out the enemies. The main difference of course is that Blade murders his opponents. At first he tends to spare the humans although in some fight scenes it’s really hard to tell if he spares anyone. By the end though he is all out of mercy and just takes everyone out. He’s a pretty great lead. Blade’s serious and down to business throughout the movie. The film did a really good job with this portrayal and I’d say that Blade is pretty much perfect. I also like all of his tools and weapons. It makes for a pretty good arsenal in these battles.

The fight scenes are pretty good in the movie as well. When it’s not going out of its way to be particularly gritty we have some solid hand to hand action and swordplay. The scene of Blade arriving in the climax was handled particularly well as he got down to business. His opening fight against the vampire army was also solid. The movie helps to enhance these scenes with a solid soundtrack as well. We get some pretty fun rock themes for the battles. They have a nice retro feel that you don’t really see quite as much anymore in the modern films. For some reason rock music doesn’t seem to be as popular for the average fight scene which I don’t understand because the fast tempo should always be in season.

Overall, Blade is definitely what you would expect from a vampire action film. The action can be good but ultimately the film is held wayyyyy back by the vampire angle. It goes way too far in being overly dark and gritty. I can’t recall the last film I saw which was quite this violent. The body count is pretty high and you usually won’t be able to go more than a few minutes without something super violent happening. The film can be having a fun little scene and then you’re thrown into the next villain scene or something crazy happening. Pretty much any villain scene will end with something violent happening. These instances certainly add up so I wouldn’t recommend this film. It’s all just too excessive. If you want to watch a good supernatural action film then it’s time to watch the Avengers 2012 instead. It delivers on all of that without going overboard. We’ll see if the next Blade films are able to improve from this one or if they will ultimately make the same mistakes.

Overall 1/10

Spider-Man: Fake Red


This Spider-Man series is off to a solid start. The general premise of Spider-Man vanishing and someone having to take over for him is pretty interesting. I look forward to seeing where it goes and hopefully the series lasts for a long while. I’ll have a review up for it when the series finishes.

Overall 7/10