Saint Seiya: Origin Review


Saint Seiya returns with the next spinoff. It’s another trip to the past as we see more of Gemini Saga. It’s interesting how this one adds a few new angles to how the events played out. They’re all completely self contained too and even knock themselves out so it doesn’t affect canon much. It’s a nice way to make the journey more unexpected though so I’m certainly on board with this. Sadly Aiolos doesn’t return but I suppose he already got his title.

This title is 2 chapters long and starts out with Seiya bringing the pain to Gemini Saga. It’s the climax of the arc and Seiya has just landed the final blow. This causes Saga to remember how this all went down. In the past the Pope and Roshi have a discussion about trying to keep the realm strong since Hades will be showing up soon. They sense something sinister in the air but figure that it’s probably nothing. Roshi will be monitoring the waterfall after all so if something happens then he will be ready.

Well, one day a pair of comets appear and land by the Pope. It is Gemini Saga and his twin brother. They will make for great gold Saints but then another baby lands on the island. Roshi realizes that it is the dark star of legend, a sign that one of Hades heralds has arrived. He commands the Pope to destroy this baby..but it’s a baby so who’s gonna do that right? The Pope declines of course and the baby vanishes into thin air and is absorbed into Gemini Saga. Little did anyone know, that is why Saga turned evil and it wasn’t actually a split personality. It’s actually one of Hades’ minions…….

So that is a pretty interesting change that’s for sure. His name is Gemini Lemur and he is way stronger than Saga at least mentally so taking control of him during the saga was child’s play. He doesn’t actually get to talk in this special though as he just takes the form of smoke and manipulates events how he wants it to play out. It’s a nice concept but the guy barely feels like a character.

The more interesting subplot is with Ker, one of the highest ranking fighters in Hades’ army. I’m pretty sure she was made up for this prequel but I’m not positive. She woke up early somehow and decides to “play a prank” on Athena by summoning Lemur. She also mocks Kanon for kicks which backfires horribly on her. It was nice to see Kanon getting his hype here. With the Trident of Poseidon it makes sense that he would be pretty powerful. It also gave the prequel some action since this is more of a lore heavy story. So that was a nice confrontation. I always liked Kanon as a solid villain.

Ker is also pretty interesting. Honestly she probably should have just stepped in and destroyed Athena if she really wanted to make Hades proud. He certainly wouldn’t have been against it and this would have been an easy task with all of the infighting going around. It’s why narratively speaking it may be a little questionable to have someone so powerful just watching on the sidelines the whole time.

The art is pretty good as expected. The character models are on point and the action can look dramatic. You can tell that the fights would look good here if we actually got some of them. It definitely would have been a cool touch if you ask me. At only two chapters this series really goes by in the blink of an eye though. It’s not quite as strong as the other one but I had no issues with this story. It’s pretty interesting and hopefully they put it at the end of some kind of volume release as a bonus chapter. More people should get to see this part of the lore.

It doesn’t do the Gold Saints any favors though. I never cut these guys any slack because they haven’t earned it. Even here, Roshi has one job which is to watch the Waterfall in case Hades approaches and yet he doesn’t do anything even when Ker infiltrates Athena’s lair (Roshi doesn’t even realize this) and when the shadow comet lands by the Pope he still does nothing. What’s the point of standing guard if you will always just sit back and wait to see how it all plays out?

It was nice to have a lot of easter eggs and foreshadowing at the ready for the Hades arc though. Roshi explaining that a shadow comet is the sign of their arrival is something that did happen at the beginning of the Hades arc. Likewise, that the reason he can’t move by the Waterfall is that he has to wait for the Hades seal to come undone. Of course, it’s pretty easy to add Easter Eggs when a prequel comes out way after the series completed but it’s still nice to see. It helps everything just feel more expansive.

Overall, Saint Seiya: Origin is a good little story. You almost feel like a title that says “Origin” would be about the original Saints though and not how Saga got his dark side. Even in this chapter they reference the events of the original Holy War and how a lot of the Golden Saints died. They’re the ones who would need a prequel. I’m sure they’ll show up in one of the many spinoffs but a title literally called “Origin” would definitely be very fitting for those guys. Either way this is definitely another story I can certainly recommend.

Overall 7/10

Mario Bros Review


It’s time to look at the classic Mario Bros game. I remember playing this one a lot back in the GBA days because it came as a special feature along with Super Mario World. It’s definitely a fun title to spend some time with. It’s also nostalgic seeing the level layout since the stage usually makes it into the Super Smash Bros titles or at least it’s been there for 2-3 of them I believe. The game uses the good ole jumping gameplay from the 2D adventures while switching things up a bit as the levels don’t have you going after a goal. It’s definitely a lot of fun and I’d recommend giving this one a look.

So the gameplay involves a bunch of enemies appearing out of pipes on the top layer of the stage. Your job is to jump and hit the ground they are walking on. This will cause the enemy to flip over. At this point they are vulnerable and you can jump onto the layer and kick them off. It’s definitely the tactic I would recommend here. The earlier you knock them off the better because once there are a lot of enemies on the map it can get difficult to isolate them. Additionally there are fireballs that roam through the levels and touching any of them means instant death. You also have a Pow Block that will hit all of the enemies at once but you should really only save that for when you are being completely overwhelmed. It’s not a resource that you just want to bust out at any ole time. Think of it as your secret weapon.

I made it pretty far here into the 20s. I don’t know how many levels there are but that seemed like a reasonable push. At latter levels you get to fight with minions that are a little faster than the original ones. You have to choose your jumping spots carefully because if they get past you then it may be all over for your chances of success. There are also little ice minions who will freeze the ground which makes it a lot more difficult for you to move around freely. You’ll end up skidding or stopping in your tracks whenever you try to change directions.

The graphics are definitely solid. This is also a game where the main theme is pretty catchy and memorable. It works well when you’re taking down the enemies. I didn’t see an option to play as Luigi but since this game is called Mario Bros I assume that there has to be some kind of way to choose him. Otherwise the title just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and I’d have to question why the game called it that. This is a very peaceful game but also so different from the other Mario games. The series really shifted gears after this one. It would be interesting to see more of a homage to this game in a future Mario installment. After all, this game did serve as a stepping stone to launch the franchise.

In terms of replay value it’s really all just about trying to see if you can beat your high score. Whether the levels have an end or not, there isn’t really an actual story here. You just jump right into the game and work on defeating the minions. It’s got that arcade feel to it where the levels are just a lot of fun to play through. You shouldn’t have any problem getting the hang of the controls and just diving in. Nintendo’s always done a good job of making the first levels pretty easy which gives you time to get comfortable with the controls. Then slowly but surely they start giving you some real challenges to work with.

Overall, Mario Bros is a solid NES game. As with most of Nintendo’s original titles it has a lot of character. You can feel the effort that went into this game. It’s just a very well designed one and so you won’t get bored here as you play it for a while. Ultimately the lack of content will prevent it from getting a higher score but I imagine it is always tough to add more content like that back in the day. The games could only hold so much space in them after all. I’m one step closer to completing all of the NES games which will be a cool milestone.

Overall 6/10

Fantastic Four: Fantastic Origins Review


It’s time to look at a recent take on the Fantastic Four origin story. It’s definitely a classic origin that everyone knows pretty well by now, but it hasn’t been remade quite as often as some other origins like Batman’s or Spiderman’s. It’s also been a while since I read it so it was a fun trip down memory lane. There are some new elements added like the Mole Man, but for the most part it plays it pretty straight and is certainly a solid comic.

So the book starts with Reed Richards deciding that he wants to be the first person to go to space with his crew and investigate some cosmic rays. He gets his Susan, Johnny, and Ben Grimm to go with him. His partner in science warns Reed not to do this, but he doesn’t listen and they all get blasted by cosmic rays. Now Reed can stretch, Human Torch can fly and shoot fire, The Thing has a rock solid defense and super strength while Sue can turn invisible and create powerful barriers. They are now going to be called the Fantastic Four and must keep the world safe from those who would oppose it.

The first half of the book is about the heroes getting used to their abilities and after that we get two main adventures. The first one deals with the Mole Man as he shows up to attack the city. His underground monster is certainly fierce and since the city has no real protectors at the moment he does a lot of damage. It’s a pretty fun first story and the direction they took the Mole Man in here was unique. It’s a nice spin on the typical adventure and seeing him as a supporting character would be pretty fun. He’s no Reed Richards but certainly quite smart in his own way.

The other story involves Namor as he regains his memories and decides to destroy the city. He also ends up falling for Invisible Woman in a sub plot. I’ve never been a big fan of the guy and that hasn’t changed now. He just feels really petty all the time and not very smart either. He’s like a very petty version of Aquaman. It’s still a solid follow up story though the first one wins on all fronts. This certainly won’t be the last time the FF have to deal with this guy.

There is also one bonus adventure at the end which works as a preview for another series. We see the FF deal with the Wizard and Reed then heads back to base where he has been quite distant for a while. The various clones that the Wizard creates disturbed him and so he heads to his secret place, a convention of Reed Richards from various parallel universes. A few of them even have the Infinity Gauntlet and they have invited the main version to join them. It’s a pretty compelling pilot and I did enjoy the artwork quite a bit. Reed’s current design would take some getting used to, but I could definitely see the arc being quite great.

Back to the main comics here though. One thing I liked here was how quick Reed was able to find a cure for Thing and his determination here. Part of why Ben was always upset is because Reed is so smart that he could do just about anything and yet curing The Thing always seemed to be something that was quite far off. That’s not the case here and in general Reed is just quite solid. He’s one of the more underrated geniuses in Marvel seeing as how I would actually put him as the smartest character in the verse.

Invisible Woman also looks good and her powers get a lot of credit. She’s always been the strongest member of the team, but the original comics didn’t always do a great job of showing it. There is no doubt who the power hitter is in this collection and that’s a good thing. How do you beat someone with near unbreakable barriers and an array of other force related abilities? Human Torch easily gets the smallest role of the 4, but he’s in character. He definitely has the most fun with his abilities.

The Thing is my only real problem with the comic. His bad attitude is usually not all that justified but other comics have done a better job of showing why he’s so upset. Here he goes from 0-100 as he tries to murder Reed almost as soon as they exit the ship. I thought that was a bit much and a total overreaction considering what just happened. There wasn’t even enough time for the implications of the crash to totally hit him. Reed handles this as best he can, but the Thing never truly came back from this rocky start.

Meanwhile the Mole Man looked pretty good and as I mentioned earlier he has a bit of a unique character arc here. I get the feeling that he would ultimately turn evil if the series were to keep going, but at least right here right now he wasn’t bad and gets to be in an adviser position. There may quickly get to be too many brains in the room though. In this version Reed has an assistant who doesn’t get along with Sue all that much. Fortunately the comic doesn’t even try to turn this into a romance triangle because Reed’s definitely not the kind of guy to waver and Sue’s not petty enough to actually get too upset at the assistant. Nevertheless, they don’t get along much and I wonder what the point of this character is. She doesn’t hurt things or anything, but if you cut her out then nothing really changes at all.

The intro also throws you a few easter eggs like a quick cameo from Dr. Doom. I’d say that the story did as much as it could within the page count and is one of the better origin stories. I also thought the art was really solid. It is definitely above average and the pages all flow together really well. I ended up reading the trade from cover to cover. Sometimes it’s nice to go back to the simple days of street level threats rather than galactic showdowns. This is a comic that new and longtime fans can enjoy.

Overall, This is a pretty solid comic. It takes us back to the basics of the series while keeping the adventures fresh. The Thing is still pretty ungrateful the whole timed you ask me but he definitely did get the worst transformation out of the 4. Reed brings up an interesting point that the other 3 can at least look normal through sheer willpower so it is odd that the Thing can’t do so. Maybe one day he would be able to control his power, that would definitely be a cool plot twist. If you haven’t read this comic yet then I would certainly suggest checking it out. The writing is pretty sound and it’s an engaging read.

Overall 7/10