6 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

The Reflection Review

Stan Lee made a few works over in Japan that I’ve already checked out. Hero Man was pretty fun. It was a good show/manga with a fairly basic premise but one that just worked out well. Then we had Ultimo which had a great premise, but questionable execution which caused it to stumble across the finish line. Finally we’ve got the Reflection and unfortunately this is closer to Ultimo than Hero Man. The terrible animation keeps this from being a true contender even though the story itself isn’t that bad. It’s not a show you’ll likely ever re-watch but it’s reasonably interesting.

The show starts off by introducing us to the Reflection event. One day a mysterious cloud showed up and rained the world in bolts of energy. These bolts destroyed some people and it gave others super powers. The vast majority of people experienced no real change. The ones who have changed are known as the Reflected. The ones who were blasted with purple energy turned into villains and the green rays turned the others into heroes. Society still doesn’t know how to deal with them so they’re treated like mutants in X-Men. The government wants no part of them and Reflected are at risk of being destroyed just trying to live in every day life. So when some of them go missing nobody seems to care.

This takes us over to Eleanor. She is looking into these vanishings and is approached by a guy named X-On who asks her to look into Wraith. She finds out that Wraith is related to a villain organization with some kind of mysterious plot. She doesn’t know what it is, but is quickly dragged into the battle. Wraith wants her as well as all of the other Reflected and is going around attacking political figures. Eleanor bands together with X-On to stop them and gradually the group grows but their partnership is a very weak one. Will they actually be able to work together or is this partnership doomed to fail?

Reflection’s plot is rather vague. Most of the series is the heroes trying to stop the villains, but not really knowing much about why they’re doing this. Stopping the kidnappings is reason enough so the heroes don’t really need to know much more than that. It’s easy to see that they’re not particularly invested though. Their fights tend to end in stalemates with the villains getting away. Even by the final episode we still don’t really know anything and everyone is at large so nothing really gets accomplished. Needless to say this show ends on a big cliffhanger which will likely never get resolved. It’s hard to know what the show was going for so it ends up being an odd experience, but not necessarily a bad one.

The show’s only real problem is the fact that the animation is terrible. It’s probably the worst animation I’ve seen aside from FLCL and Pop Team Epic. You could also make a strong argument that while those two were also using experimental animation styles they were higher quality than Reflections. Reflection looks like the 1960 Marvel motion comic shows based on Thor, Avengers, Iron Man, and the other originals. You have to take the time into account so back in the 60s that wasn’t bad. Post 2000s? That’s downright horrible. It’s really hard to get as invested in the show as you could have with proper animation. I’m convinced that it cost the title at least a star.

Reflection is only 12 episodes but it still made the questionable choice of having episode 2 basically be a repeat of 1. We go through the same events from a different point of view with recycled animation. I know this isn’t the first show to do it, but it’s a terrible move. The opening episodes are where you try to get in viewers. Using recycled footage like this is only good for eliminating viewers and no show would actually aim to do that. You can see how the show got off to a rocky start. At least the soundtrack is decent. It’s incredibly limited so you’ll be hearing the same tunes a lot but at least they aren’t bad.

Okay, I think we’ve got the negatives out of the way. Lets look at the positives. I-Guy is a fun character who gets a surprising amount of character development. He starts out as a bit of an annoying celebrity who values his background noises more than actually stopping the villains. This results in a lot of innocents getting murdered on numerous occasions. Eventually this leads to people close to him getting bumped off so he finally takes being a hero seriously and aims to wipe everyone out. He’s a compelling character and by the end I was more interested in his plot than X-On’s. I also liked the armor design.

Reflection also has a solid atmosphere. It’s similar to Dead Fantasy or early RWBY. Due to the nature of the animation and how gray-scale everything is, you can never tell when something serious is going to happen. I-Guy’s allies being murdered or the villains destroying the old lady are very unexpected. In a more traditional anime it’s often obvious when someone’s about to die and there’s a big deal made about it. In a show like this it just happens out of nowhere and you aren’t given as much time to process it before going to the next event. While some shows may go too far in the shock value, Reflection uses this sparingly which makes it that much more effective.

The various characters also have solid designs aside from I-Guy. A good amount of detail was put into the villains and heroes. Lets talk about some of the other heroes first. X-On is the main hero who shows up in every episode and he wants to get Wraith for personal reasons. We don’t end up learning what those are. He has some kind of mysterious origin which is the biggest deux ex machina I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I’ve seen people use that term a lot in anime, but this has to take the cake because there is nothing leading up to the twist. It also happens to be the only way that the heroes can possibly stop the villain’s plan. X-On isn’t one of the best characters though because he’s pretty mean to Eleanor for absolutely no reason. His tactics just make it easier for the villains to make a move. His copy ability is also super handy yet he uses it in all of the wrong situations. It should have made beating the enemies quite easy in a lot of episodes.

Eleanor is the heroine who gets dragged into all of this. She can teleport, but her ability has a short range and she isn’t exactly a fighter. She means well and does her best to help the others who are in trouble. Unfortunately she cracks by the end of the show and makes a terrible decision. At the end of the day she is the one who pulls the trigger on making a really terrible call. It’s at the very end so I wouldn’t say it’s a character destroying moment though. At least it made her more interesting. It just came at a heavy cost.

Lisa has the ability to turn into a giant mech which is pretty handy. The robot may be clunky but it is very durable which is handy. She’s a little impatient at times and just wants to jump into action. I’m not the biggest fan of her character. From the heroes she is one of the less interesting ones. The worst would have to be Michael though. His ability is that he can see other Reflected so he takes them all to an underground shelter. Most of them seem to like this but it ends up just gathering everyone together to get bumped off. Too bad most of them can’t fight right? His partner is Vy, who used to be his wife until she was turned into a giant monster. She’s a lot better than Michael as she can fight and actually does well against the villains. Usually he chickens out and tells her to stop early though which is unfortunate.

From the villains we had a lot of members but most of them didn’t have much character. Wraith doesn’t actually do anything until the last 2 episodes. He has a cool design and his powers are definitely crazy. The guy likes using a lot of mind games but at the end of the day his big plan is basically to merge with darkness and give up on life. It’s not the best way to go out and as a leader it basically means he failed. His plan doesn’t make any sense to me and just seems pretty terrible to be honest.

We had a thunder villain named Volt who really didn’t have much character. He appears a lot but doesn’t do much. Same can be said for the guy who can turn into a dog. Flaming Fury’s character seems to be that she is merciless even as far as the villains go. Her fire abilities are fun at least. Then you’ve got Stan Lee who you expect to be the big villain the whole time but it turns out that he is just another underling working for Wraith. His telepathy is good but it seems like he may not be able to fight.

The two biggest villains were Steel and Dead Wing. Steel is the squad leader while the villains are on a mission. She can manipulate steel and is a formidable foe. Towards the end of the series she starts to have doubts on her mission, but it seems late for that since she is one of the main villains who was murdering a bunch of people. It’s possible that she is related to Eleanor or something based on how she acts at the end. From the villains I’d say that she was my favorite though. I like a good character arc and she probably would have had a good one.

Finally we have Dead Wing who seems to particularly like messing with I-Guy. In this case I don’t think there is a connection though and he just enjoys murdering everyone. His fights with I-Guy get pretty boring after a while but I suppose you have to like his confidence. No matter how many times he gets beaten he gets right back up. It works out well for him too since in the final fight he was easily dominating I-Guy. That’s why you should always fire your lasers when you’re in a robot suit instead of falling to your knees immediately.

Now there is one more problem I had with the show. That’s the fact that the heroes and villains keep fighting each other over and over with no actual progress being made. I-Guy fights Dead Wing 4-5 times throughout the series which is way too often. There’s not much point having a colorful villain cast when it’s always going to be the same pairings. It would help if the fights weren’t always stalemates but almost every time the fight ends with one character just walking away. That gets old very quickly. Same with X-On vs Flaming Fury or Steel. A lot of the time it feels like these fights are just to buy time. It’s less of a problem in most shows because at least you have fun animation but we’ve already gone over the fact that this won’t be happening here. This show easily has some of the most boring battles I’ve ever seen.

Reflection also seemed to forget about some of its characters at times. I suppose in fairness the show must have planned this out, but throughout the show there is a group of girls who are on their way to America. It takes them forever to make it though and they fight until the very last episode of the show. You’re waiting since episode 1 or 2 and the payoff is terrible. Literally they lose their first fight so what was the point of the hype? I expected them to at least win, but even 4 against 1 they ended up getting completely wrecked. I don’t think the writers were big fans of these characters.

Overall, The Reflection is a show that is interesting for its plot and atmosphere. You should be engaged on your first run through. It’s playing itself up as a mystery and that’s what it is. That’s the best way to go into the show. The animation will prevent you from ever coming back to the show on a second run. It does succeed in looking a lot like a comic book, the problem is that it looks like one of those comics that I probably wouldn’t check out of the library. There’s just not a whole lot for you to come back and experience. If it ever got a second season I would certainly be there though. One of Reflection’s greatest strengths is the fact that it didn’t make any big mistakes. While that may not sound as enticing as other positives, it’s still an important one to have. If you want to see Stan Lee’s take on creating a whole new set of heroes and villains then this is a fun one to check out. Get ready to watch the characters make some questionable decisions though. The only one who can save them all is I-Guy.

Overall 6/10

8 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Captain Marvel Review

It’s time to look at Marvel’s latest installment in their expansive MCU franchise. Thanks to an early screening my brother got tickets to I was able to see this film a few days before it came out. It’s definitely a solid film that delivers on all fronts. It has all the classic MCU trends for success; strong dialogue, solid action, and quick pacing. The film doesn’t slow down the tempo and by the end you’ll be satisfied.

The film starts off with an early mission with Carol and the other Kree operatives. It’s a classic extraction mission as they need to get one of their agents out of a hostile environment. The situation does not go as expected and deteriorates quickly. Carol now finds herself on Earth and must confront memories that have haunted her recently. Are the Kree keeping secrets from her? Whether she likes the answers or not, Carol knows that she has to seek them out.

There’s naturally a lot more to the plot than that, but that’s a pretty general description so you won’t have anything spoiled. This is an early review so I’ll be even more careful than usual to avoid spoilers. Now, there is a general feeling among many reviewers that it’s bad to be predictable. A feeling where if you know exactly what’s going to happen in a film then it did something wrong. I don’t agree with that. Captain Marvel isn’t particularly subtle. All of the twists and turns are very predictable and you’ll always know what’s going to happen next. You’ll know which characters are the villains and which ones are the heroes. As Carol tries to figure out her past you’ll end up figuring it out first. To call it the most predictable superhero film may be pushing it, but there aren’t any surprises here, at least when it comes to twists. That’s likely due to a mix of the MCU formula telling you what to expect and general context clues.

I’d argue that this isn’t a bad thing though. What’s important is the execution. As long as the film does a good job of getting to its goal then knowing where it’s going isn’t a bad thing and that’s what the film does well. It’s always a fun adventure. This is thanks in no small part to Carol herself. She holds the film quite well as a lead. I buy into her tough persona a lot more than previous heroines like Black Widow and Gamora. I’ve always liked characters who are fairly aggressive and Carol here is like Hal Jordan or Wonder Woman. Nobody’s going to push her around and anyone who tries eats a photon blast. Captain Marvel is consistently defiant throughout and that’s always a good thing. She’s a lot smarter than other leads as well in a practical sense as she doesn’t fall for an obvious trap near the end of the film that I think many others would have. I look forward to seeing her in End Game. The only concern naturally is how powerful Captain Marvel is. She’s closer to fighters like Superman and Supergirl than someone like the Hulk. It’s easy to see her quickly taking down someone like Thanos here. I think the writers are going to have to be extremely cautious with how her character is portrayed going forward. It’d be pretty annoying to see her nerfed or losing a fight for no real reason.

Another plus for the film is the writing. MCU films are always a action/comedy blend which aim for a 50-50 split. The top notch films like Infinity War, Avengers, Winter Soldier, etc have a good blend. It’s the case for most of them to be honest as the franchise has been consistently great. The only exceptions have been films like Ant Man and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 which were on the weaker side. This one is a great example of how to do it right. There’s a lot of solid banter throughout and quality jokes. The humor scenes are funny though and aren’t forced. They also don’t take away from the fights. The heroes aren’t joking during battles, they take the stakes seriously and only joke before/afterwards.

This also contributes to the film’s quick pacing. It has quite a bit of replay value here since no act drags on. The film’s always moving and that’s always important. A film shouldn’t just be good the first time around, you should be able to re-watch a movie and still enjoy it. That won’t be a problem with this one. The action scenes are solid and the film’s rapid humor style ensures there isn’t a large build up before the jokes that would be harder to sit through if you already know the punchline.

I’d say that the effects look solid as well. They certainly aren’t for everyone as the higher-tier the fighters get the more obvious the effects become. It’s why people didn’t like Man of Steel’s effects despite being incredible. The colors are flashy here and the suits look good. Captain Marvel’s costume is incredibly accurate to the comics and stands out. The action scenes great and seeing Marvel fly through space blasting away at enemies is really cool.

Naturally there is an after credits scene here so be sure to stick around. It’s definitely one of the better ones. I always particularly enjoy when these scenes further the plot along. It’s one of the more direct continuations though so I’m wondering if they’re going to have to show this in the actual End Game film as well or not. I’d appreciate the boldness of not doing such a thing of course as at this point you should be able to stick around for an extra minute or two to see what scene is at the end. I can understand skipping the more comedic ones of course, but since you don’t know which scene it’ll be you just have to test your luck.

Of course the supporting cast here is solid as well. Nick Fury’s always been a fun character and it’s nice to have a younger version of him running around. He gets a pretty big focus here and is certainly right in the middle of many of the events here. He’s always quick on his feet and supports Carol pretty well despite having no powers. Coulson also shows up here although it’s more of a guest appearance than anything. He doesn’t do anything particularly big, but it’s always nice to see him around. There’s also Goose, the cat from the trailers. He’s naturally a lot of fun and I’m always up for having animal show up so long as nothing bad happens to them.

Then we have the Kree operatives. Yon-Rogg makes for a very capable commander. He’s a solid combatant and always thinks strategically. I definitely thought he was a good character. There’s also the sniper Minn-Erva who is pretty ruthless. You can quickly understand her character which speaks to the writing. She doesn’t get many scenes but definitely ends up being one of the most compelling Kree members. The rest of them don’t make much of an impact. Meanwhile for the Skrull there is really only one major member. He’s decent, but not nearly as interesting as the Kree.

I like how the Supreme Intelligence was shown here. It’s definitely a tough character to adapt and the way it was handled here makes a lot of sense. They also gave it a good amount of character even if you wonder how much of it is genuine. It’s definitely pretty cool. If Captain Marvel gets a sequel then I definitely see it getting more of a role. Of course, I would definitely have some serious questions about its appearance. You will have some questions by the end as this film takes place in the 90s as advertised. A lot has happened since then after all.

The film has a lot of inspirational moments as expected. Between the standout visuals and the music there are definitely a lot of memorable moments here. While the 90’s music may not pop the same way that the first Guardians did, the tunes are good. I liked the song that plays during one of the final fights. It was really unexpected, but that partially plays into why it was so successful. There’s a lot of quality choreography during the fights as well. These villains don’t go down so they just keep re-entering the fight. Makes for an extended climax which is always good.

Overall, Captain Marvel is definitely a great film. I really had no complaints with it. It managed to succeed in all categories. Putting aside the crossover films it’s definitely one of the MCU’s best titles. If we don’t count sequels it’s certainly in the top 5 debut titles for a hero. I definitely recommend checking this film out in theaters. It’s also the kind of film that certainly benefits from a big screen so you can really take in the epic visuals. It’s always tough to continue making solid film after film so Marvel definitely deserves a lot of credit for that. Now the wait begins for End Game. The trailers have been pretty lackluster for that one, but it is nice that Marvel’s trying to keep the film pretty hidden. They did a good job of that for Infinity War as well as I managed to duck all of the TV spots. I’m definitely expecting a lot of fights for End Game.

Overall 8/10

7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Black Panther Review

It’s time to take a look at the next Marvel Cinematic film! Even though we get 2-3 of these a year, it always feels like such a long wait until the next one. This one has been a long time in the making as Black Panther got a lot of fans after his appearance in Civil War. He was definitely a highlight in that film and remains a great lead in this film. The movie does a good job of not letting the jungle limit it and we do get quite a few nice city scenes as well. All told, it’s a solid addition to the MCU and I’d be up for a sequel although I don’t think there is too much more they can do here in Wakanda so a sequel would probably need to take place at one of the other bases.

The film starts with a quick recap of Wakanda history. We then see the previous Black Panther murder a traitor which sets up the main plot. Right after Black Panther is crowned King of Wakanda, another member of royal blood has shown up to take it back. King T’Challa must now learn what it means to be King and if he even wants to rule such unloyal followers. Either way, he has a duty to stop this villain from launching an attack on the rest of the world or Wakanda will face severe retaliation of the Avenging kind.

I had one big fear when walking into this film and that was that the movie would resort to animal violence since part of Wakanda is essentially a jungle. Then just when I thought I was safe, 3 large Rhinos showed up. Fortunately the film went out of its way to ensure that none of them were hurt. Panther trapped one, a second just ran off, and the third one turned good. Once this scene had been played out, I knew that the film was going to be safe. We also mitigate the jungle aspect as most of Wakanda is actually very high tech and sci-fi esque. I definitely enjoy seeing technology and cities the most so this was good for me. I’m still not a fan of any landscape that isn’t a city of some kind or the inside of a high tech facility. Those just make for the best scenes if you ask me.

The best scenes of the film all take place in the city for the most part. The opening fight scene with Klaw and his gang was handled really well. Panther’s new suit made for some good action effects like when he totaled the car. The old suit was bullet proof which is great, but this one does all of that and more. While the suit is shown to have limitations, this should help him keep up with heavy weights like Spider-Man now. In theory, Captain America would probably lose at this point since their fight was already very close and now landing any damage on Black Panther will be very difficult. It’s a really useful power up and with all of the new tech Panther’s sister is coming up with, he is only going to get stronger.

Pretty much all of the hand to hand fights here are really good. The scene where both Panthers are decimating the opposing armies was a nice contrast as they are both way stronger than the rest of the fighters. Of course, that’s why Black Panther needed to hurry and take the other one out since casualties would run high. Even with this, the film does a good job of making the warriors look reasonably strong. I’d personally say that they looked more impressive than the Amazons in Wonder Woman as these seem to know how to fight and wouldn’t get caught off guard by bullets from people right in front of them. The film also corrects one more thing from the WW film. In that title we learn that the Amazons are also hiding in plain sight by having their island just appear as more water. This doesn’t work for obvious reasons. People just fly through there anyway and then the illusion fades. They would get found out in no time. In Black Panther, the illusion is backed up by being an actual country with borders. They have soldiers and weapons deter anyone from approaching. The deception is simply in appearing to be poorer than they actually are. Maybe this will still be a bit of a stretch for some, but it’s much more believable if you ask me.

Black Panther is a very solid character as I mentioned earlier. While his best appearance will likely always be in Civil War as his character was perfect there, he doesn’t really do anything wrong here. Maybe he should have been quicker to throw the villain out or done more to prevent Klaw from escaping, but you can’t expect him to think of every possible contingency. Thanks to the ritual fights forcing Panther to be in human mode, we do see a more vulnerable version of him. His hand to hand skills actually may be under Bucky, Black Widow, and some of the other hand to hand characters in the series as he has trouble with various fighters, but granted, he should always have the Panther serum for future films so it shouldn’t be a problem. He’s still more than proficient as only high level fighters can hope to defeat him. He may be King, but Panther isn’t stuck up or arrogant yet which is good. Part of why he can be annoying in the comics is that he ends up being like Black Bolt at times where he seems completely corrupt with power. I don’t think the films will be going that route.

Ross is a surprisingly great character and was actually my favorite in the film. He’s a very confident CIA agent who doesn’t back down from anyone. His illegal dealings with Klaw may be suspect, but I get the feeling that he was going to double cross the villain. He’s quick on his feet and an ace pilot as well. He’ll certainly be fun to have around for future films and I’m glad that the CIA has at least one really good member. It seems like they’ve been playing second fiddle to SHIELD for a while so it’s time to finally surpass them. Ross doesn’t really have any bad scenes. Another really good character is Panther’s sister Shuri. She recently got to appear in an animated Avengers episode and based on her portrayal there the film’s depiction was also very accurate. She’s a genius with tech and has come up with many great inventions in a short span of time considering that this takes place only around a week after Civil War. Considering that a big threat like Thanos and his army won’t go down to brute force so easily, her tech will come in handy. She’s not afraid to get on the front lines as well and is just a very charismatic character the whole time.

Killmonger is the main villain of the film and he’s pretty cool. Even before becoming the Panther Killmonger was a very talented fighter as he racked up kills in many different countries. It was interesting to see how he was an undercover agent for the CIA who managed to use the heroes and villains until he finally got into Wakanda. To an extent I do have to question how he knew so much about Wakanda though. He knew about the traditions and seemed just very well aware of the culture in general. We can assume he found the location from the book and since his father was okay with him finding it, maybe that’s when he learned everything. Maybe the book was also just very detailed. Getting Klaw was easy enough since it was relatively common knowledge that he was the one who broke into Wakanda the first time. Killmonger does continue the Marvel tradition of having a villain who has the same abilities as the main hero as he and T’Challa are essentially copies of each other, but that doesn’t really matter to me all that much as long as the fights are good and they were here.

I didn’t care for Klaw though. He’s just not my kind of villain and seems to just get lucky all the time. He’s just a normal guy with a sonic cannon and he isn’t even all that fit. I don’t know how he escaped for this long, but it definitely seems like a stretch. He’s wanted by basically every powerful person on the planet so where can he possibly hide? Well, his plot seems to have finally wrapped up here and I won’t miss him. Okoye was a good member of the Wakanda special forces and is certainly one of their best fighters. Her best combat appearance is probably in the club where she beats up quite a few special agents, but she also puts up a reasonable fight against Killmonger. At that point, tech just beats talent, but otherwise I don’t see any Wakandan fighter beating her in a fair battle.

W’Kabi is a pretty terrible character. I can’t say much about him, but you’ll probably know where his character is heading right from the start. It’s similar to a character beat we saw from Doctor Strange only this one is probably more petty. There’s definitely no saving this character. Nakia is a decent character. She doesn’t get much to do and is overshadowed by the others, but isn’t bad. I do wish we could have avoided the token romance which doesn’t add anything to the film and just seems to be filler, but I guess it wasn’t given much of a focus so it could have been a whole lot worse. Nakia’s Tron Discs were cool though. Between that and the Energy Cannons, we had quite a lot of good weapons that have a lot of potential for future films. She just need a hoverboard or air boots to help her maneuver quicker. Baku’s a fun character s well. He definitely has a strong sense of honor and will repay his debts. When he accepted his defeat gracefully without trying any cheap tricks I had a feeling that he would be a good character. He also has a point that Killmonger beat Black Panther in a fair fight so calling it murder was a little drastic. Blame the outdated ritual system, not the player. Baku made the right decision in the end though and really came through for the heroes.

It can be hard to feel bad for Wakanda when they have such poor traditions though. Why should Black Panther have to fight to be king anyway? I guess it’s to give the other tribes a way to be King, but since it will just cause tensions and potentially get them to split again it doesn’t really seem to be practical. I’m pretty sure T’Challa learned his lesson with that though and probably abolished that rule very quickly. Also, the fact that it’s possible to suffocate underneath the dirt they throw on your for the ceremony is another part where you have to shake your head. What’s with all of these unnecessary risks? Killmonger may not have done it for the right reasons, but at least thanks to him these traditions are probably gone as well. On a side note, I was wondering where Bucky and Captain America were hiding the whole time, but I guess getting involved in this fight would have just made things more complicated. Panther could have certainly used some backup, but it all worked out.

I really enjoyed the soundtrack here. I didn’t care much for the Lion King themes or the tribe tradition music, but a lot of the tunes were surprisingly techno/electronic. It seems like this theme would pop up whenever the villain showed up and basically for any action scene. Good music makes the whole presentation that much better and it definitely worked really well here. I’d say that as far as MCU soundtracks go this would definitely be in the top half. The visuals are also really good. I do like the purple energy that the suit gets from taking a hit and the metallic invention room that the sister uses looks cool. It’s a pretty nice set up for sure. The writing is also solid as you’d expect. The one liners between the characters are usually pretty solid. Killmonger adding a more modern/slang spin to Wakanda was also rather nice. He acts as a bridge between the new and old ways to an extent.

The film does have some of the weakest after credit scenes though. The first one just feels like it should have been the actual ending. It’s not really teasing a lot considering you knew this was where Panther was going with the idea. It’s not a bad scene, but it’s not really much of a stinger either. The second scene is far worse as it is showing us something that we’ve already known. It isn’t even a good character that we see and is just rather boring. You could feel the theater letting out a sigh as we waited for something else to show up and then the clip ended. These scenes are just bonus so they can’t hurt a film at all, but I was still hoping for something a little more hype.

So where do all of the Avengers stack up power-wise now? I’d list the rankings as 1. Thor 2. Hulk 3. Dr. Strange 4. Spider-Man 5. Iron Man 6. Vision 7. Black Panther 8. Captain America 9. Scarlet Witch 10. Black Widow 11. Ant Man 12. Hawkeye. For now I’m not counting the Guardians or the helpers like War Machine and Valkyrie, but I’ll do a more complete list for Infinity War. The suit was definitely enough for Panther to finally pass Cap. Strange could potentially pass Hulk depending on how powerful his magic is in Infinity War and by the same token Vision could drop behind Panther and Cap if he looks really bad without his Gem. Some of these matchups are pretty close so a power up can make all the difference.

Overall, Black Panther is a fun and engaging film. It’s pretty fast paced for the most part so it comes across as very exciting the first time around. I do think it will lack in replay value to an extent because some of the dialogue will likely drag on the second time around along with the flashbacks. When the action is happening the film is at its best but we do get some reasonably long breaks in between the action like getting Panther back into fighting shape and having the council of Wakanda chat about things. The writing is strong though and the cast is good though so it’s certainly a movie that I’d recommend to everyone. It’s good to see another Marvel hero get a stand alone film and we are one step closer to Avengers Infinity War now. I have high hopes for that film and am fully expecting it to be one of the best MCU films yet. There are just so many good ways that the film can play this out that I have to assume they will choose one of them. It’ll be cool to see Panther lend his might to the team as well. Only a few short months left.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Ultimo Review

Ultimo is one of those manga titles where the concept should write itself. Giant robots running around fighting each other should be pretty awesome. Add in a cosmic threat and you’re set. Unfortunately, the manga gets unnecessarily complex, throws in time travel which really hurts the story and just goes in a lot of odd directions. As a result, it wasted a bunch of time so then when it was effectively cancelled it had to rush everything to the end. The ending is very original and will remind you a lot of Madoka Rebellion, but it’s not exactly the ending that many of us were hoping for. It’s just a very odd story.

Yamato is a guy who is fairly down on his luck. He is always caught in awkward situations by his friends and he can’t work up the nerve to talk to Sayama…especially after these incidents. One day he notices a robotic kid called Ultimo or Ulti for short. Ultimo seems to be an antique, but he randomly wakes up one day and takes on a giant robot named Vice in the middle of the street. Both of them are severely damaged, but then Yamato finds out that he is Ultimo’s master. There is apparently a war going on between Doji (That’s the official robot name) of good and evil. I believe there are 12 total with 6 on each side. A mysterious being named Dustan created these Doji so he could see once and for all which side will ultimately emerge victorious. Yamato doesn’t totally understand all of this, but he can’t let the Earth be destroyed so along with Ultimo he gets to work on stopping these guys.

That plot actually isn’t half bad. The first few volumes were pretty good as well as Yamato gradually meets his allies and enemies. The fights are good and I thought the series would be fun. Then the Rune plot happens which I’ll delve into later. Then the low point of the series happened…the time travel. Time travel is typically a really good thing, but this one completely wrecked it. Yamato gets taken to early Japan where we find out he was a Yakuza or something. Every character is doomed to infinite reincarnation by Dunstan and the heroes and villains were deadlocked there. Not only is this a complete waste of time that doesn’t go anywhere, but it is immensely boring.

Yamato finally makes it back to the present, but he arrived too soon so we have to relive a few fights and action scenes again. They’re a little different of course, but not enough so that it really matters. Also, Yamato has control over time so he can just rewind it whenever something happens that he doesn’t like. As a result, it was a little hard to get interested in the plot. That and the fact that the rest of the cast weren’t too interesting despite their overpowered abilities.

Lets talk about the characters. Yamato is the lead and I suppose he isn’t too bad. He’s not quite as tough as you’d imagine despite his punkish design, but he does his best. He learns the abilities after a little while and is then able to fight with the best of them. From there on he did good and at least he always shut Rune down. He does have a tendency to get kidnapped and placed into awkward positions though. Ultimo is a better character even if he can be a little confusing. He is meant to be the ultimate hero, but is actually the shadiest of them all. He lets rage consume him quite a lot and acts like Optimus Prime in the Michael Bay movies. He just wants to completely eradicate all evil and is consumed by this desire. He starts to turn evil during the middle of the series although Yamato has a talk with him about that. He can be real intense, but that’s part of why I like Ultimo. He’s a cool hero and I like the confidence that he has. He may not be too strong without an operator, but shows that he still has a nice degree of skill. The series did a good job of showing why he deserves to be the lead.

K is the human operator of Vice, the ultimate villain counterpart to Ultimo. Unfortunately, he is a really bad character. He just likes eating instant ramen and is always being ordered around by Vice. He’s a total comic relief character, but is also pure evil. It’s a really weird combo and I’m not totally sure what they were going for with his character. Either way, I don’t think it really worked. I did like Vice though. He had a really good design and at times he reminded me of Bass. He’s naturally not as cool as the latter, but he is definitely in my top 3 favorite characters of the series. He super forms are all really good and he was a very persistent enemy. Vice just kept getting back up over and over again for as many times as needed. He was one guy that would never give up and also didn’t like being a pawn which was a good motivation for trying to go after Dunstan. Too bad that guy was just a little too strong.

Rune is one of the characters that makes the series a little dicey. After Yamato got to experience his original self along with everyone else since they are endlessly reincarnated, Rune also kept her memories. The problem for her is that she was reincarnated into a male body this time, but still wants Yamato to herself. So her female soul is literally trapped in a male body. I don’t think we needed this plot and I know that I definitely didn’t want it included. It gets a lot of screen time and creates some awkward situations that have nothing to do with the plot. I never cared for Rune as a hero, but she isn’t much better as a villain either. This is Jealousy

Dunstan is the big villain of the series but he is comically overpowered. He is made to look just like Stan Lee which is pretty interesting since the guy helped to write this series. He has the powers of all 12 Doji and can use them all at once. The guy can alter time as a result and his physical stats are off the charts. The main cast can’t do anything against him even if they all team up. It’s a rather odd twist to the whole thing since that means their goal of stopping him is unattainable from the start. Either they’ll have to win him over to their side which is possible since he claims to be impartial, but that would also mean that he wouldn’t pay for his crimes. It is a direct result of Dunstan’s actions that a ton of people died after all. Alternately, they can fight him, but they’re doomed. Despite the fact that Dunstan is probably too strong, he makes for a pretty fun villain. He rarely ever gets to appear, but he seems like a nice enough guy. That’s probably meant to help us not look at him in a poor light which doesn’t work, but I’m at least glad that he is a likable villain.

Musashi is a space cop who travels time. He sounds a lot cooler than he actually is. Despite running through time, he doesn’t really seem to have a clear idea of what to do and he’s also not that tough. He looks good during his initial appearance, but fades into the background after that. We did see a brief glimpse of the future I believe which was fun, but the series could have done more with him. However, like the rest of the humans, he was ditched by the end. His Doji Sophia is pretty useful since she can mess with the 5 senses and even affect the 6th one. It’s hard to hit anything when she’s around since she’ll have you seeing double or everything in reverse. It’s a great ability to have for sure but since every Doji has great abilities it doesn’t necessarily mean that she is the best.

Sayama is the main heroine and it’s definitely hard to get a read on her. She acts nice enough at first but seems less innocent and oblivious than most. She has a pretty big twist at the end and gets some good fight scenes. Her motivations may not make a lot of sense at times, but she seemed like a reasonable character. The twist actually works pretty well if you ask me and makes her more of a deep character, she’s no longer just here for the school scenes.

I keep mentioning how strong the Doji are so lets quickly talk about their abilities. Here are the hero abilities. First off you already know Ultimos. He has complete control of time. This allows him to weave in and out to the past and future to dodge attacks. Unlike other series this does not create alternate dimensions so it can be spammed as much as you like. Unfortunately, Yamato is typically distracted and rarely uses it. When he does, Ultimo is unbeatable which is why he commands the hero group. Service is also a powerful hero. She can manipulate a Doji’s power which includes the time stop. She can simply nullify its abilities along with any other. In a sense, she could be the ultimate fighter as long as she can defeat the enemy. Some of the villains are still more powerful than her even without their abilities after all. Regula’s ability is complete memory manipulation. It can erase all of your memories in an instant and replace them with others. Since he is a hero he doesn’t do this, but you can see how it would be useful in a fight. If your opponent forgets how to fight and thinks you are now an ally, then the match is already won. There are some counters to this though like the emotion Doji as a person can fight with their emotions rather than memories. Pardonner is a healer that can heal any injury in an instant. It can also place illusions within the soul of your mind so that it fools all 5 senses. He’s a great support fighter as he can keep healing all of his allies at any time. Slow has the classic Fate Alteration ability. She can simply alter fate so that an attack which landed actually missed. Altering fate has no real limits, but it takes up a lot of energy so Slow can’t afford to have a long drawn out battle. It’s really hard to counter this, but if you keep attacking without letting up, Slow can run out of energy. Of course, your fate could be to miss and stab yourself by mistake. Finally we have Goge. He manipulates emotions to prevent you from battling or to make you erratic. It’s very similar to the memory manipulation so getting hit by both at the same time would be intense. It’s another very valuable ability to have.

Okay, those were the heroes. Did you memorize all of the abilities? They’re all extremely great and overpowered so the villains have to have really good powers to match. Fortunately they do so lets dive right into them. Vice is the leader so he’s got some good powers. He can steal and copy an opponent Doji ability so he can potentially gather any. He has incredible speed and power and can fire omnidirectional spikes that hit in all directions and can also block any attack. His overall ability is called incompetence which is absolute destruction, but the ability is rather vague and even the wiki doesn’t seem to totally know what it means. Taking it at face value, maybe his opponents will be unable to use their full strength since they’ll be incompetent. Desir is another ability nullification type who can shut down all abilities in decently sized radius. This includes allies though and Ultimo’s time travel seems to be immune. It doesn’t seem as useful as the hero version. Edile has super strength. It’s actually pretty laughable next to everyone else since all Doji have a measure of super strength. Lets move on. Avaro can duplicate himself. He claims that he can fill the whole planet with copies of himself but take that claim lightly. It’s not a bad ability, but not great either. Paresse has a lot of spikes to stab people with. It’s another really weak villain. Wait…the villains must have some good members right? Rage has electrical abilities and was even able to overwhelm Ultimo in a fight. It may not sound very impressive on its own, but I suppose manipulating electricity always has a lot of uses. He can move with that level of speed after all and since the Doji are all robots in a sense, his attacks can be super effective. Jealousy can read the hearts of his opponents. This allows him to know what they will do next with 100% accuracy. This is actually a very good power since it is effectively knowing the future and unlike the mind reading strategy where a character can fight without thinking, your heart always knows what’s up. Finally, Orgullo has fire abilities. Eh…that’s not too impressive although I like fire.

After writing all of those powers down I think it’s safe to say that the heroes should have a massive advantage. However, they end up dying most of the time so Yamato has to retry the battle. It’s like a video game in that sense. The villains surprisingly have better teamwork at times and it is easier to power up their Doji. That’s because it’s easy to be evil while it’s hard to be good. That’s actually a pretty interesting concept that they decided to tackle and it was actually handled relatively well.

The whole series has a lot of discussion on good vs evil. The characters try to blur the lines between these two and even Yamato starts to be unsure of whether or not there is really a good side. He starts to think that everyone is part good and part evil which is probably the wrong conclusion to have. It’s hard for anyone to switch sides for this reason. The heroes are still trying to destroy the villains after all rather than taking them hostage and they’re doing it all effectively because Dunstan is forcing them into this situation. It’s definitely pretty interesting and the fact that Ultimo keeps acting evil doesn’t help matters. I believe more in the rationale that there is a clear line between good and evil and that line isn’t hard to see. I believe that’s a superhero quote that I saw in a recent article, possibly by Destroyer14 but I can’t remember which.

Now the ending is certainly one that we should talk about. There are some spoilers….to put it lightly, in this paragraph so skip now if you don’t want to see. Are you out? Here we go! In the end, Dunstan wins. Yamato got all of the heroes and villains to unite, but Dunstan just one shotted them all and laughed a bit. He then rewinded time so everyone was still alive and decided to try it in a different setting. He’s going to continue the games, but this time with everyone being friends and we’ll see how it turns out. Yamato can finally hang out with Sayama so he doesn’t seem to care. It’s very similar to Madoka Rebellion where Homura won in the end and everyone is content to live in her world. The difference being that most of them didn’t know about it there. Yamato certainly realizes it here and I believe Sayama does as well. It’s possible that the others did have their memories wiped though. It’s just a very odd and somewhat depressing ending based on how you look at it. Dunstan showed that his power is leagues above the rest of the cast so they never even had a prayer of beating him. The fact that the character looks exactly like Stan Lee is also interesting. He effectively wrote himself into the series as the strongest being ever. Stay humble.

The manga can get a little crazy, but one thing it is good at is bringing in a lot of nonstop action. You can make a lot of comparisons to the Bayformers movies, but this one is certainly better than those. The plot just takes a backburner at times as we get fight after fight and then the plot is given through exposition as opposed to actually telling us about it. Honestly without the time travel nonsense which basically introduced the Rune plot (Since she wouldn’t have regained her memories without them) this series could have actually been real good. It’s futile to look at hypotheticals like that, but interesting to think about nonetheless.

The fact that each of the characters are so powerful and made to be unbeatable also helps make the series a little more entertaining. I still think the heroes should win and having time control is way too overpowered for Yamato, but that helps us bring in the plot hax. Also, the power levels matter a little more since virtually anyone can beat another in one hit. It just depends on who strikes first. Yamato limiting his own power reminds me of Angelic Layer which I’ll talk more about when I get to that review. I suppose it would be too easy otherwise though as Yamato could just stop time and finish everyone off.

Each Ultimo was already strong so the introduction of the God Ultimo forms and then their second modes was cool as well. They just kept on getting stronger and stronger to the point of no return. Again, it’s a shame that parts of the manga were so weak like the characters (I basically liked all of the Doji, but none of the humans were particularly good. If I had to pick a favorite human it would probably be Musashi or Yamato, but that’s not saying much) and the time travel since otherwise parts of it felt like Hunter X Hunter level writing. There was a lot of strategy during the fights to counter the abilities and a lot of potential for directions which the series could go in. Since it was a full war of 7 vs 7 and players could keep on changing sides there were just so many interesting variables.

I’m glad that the pre arc phase ended early on though. As I mentioned, most of the human characters aren’t so good. There are a bunch of them running around, but most are either unlikable, bland, or forgettable. The last two are similar I suppose. The school friends never actually contributed anything and the heroic Doji owners made it hard to root for them at times. One thing I like is how everyone is bloated with self importance as they never give Yamato straight answers, but while amusing, that doesn’t help make them likable. The villains aren’t either although they’re not supposed to be. As I mentioned, you’re really reading this for the action and feats more than anything else.

The art is really good for the most part. The characters look good and I like the designs of the Doji. Their ultimate modes look quite good as well and you can tell that the artist has a lot of experience. What does bring the art down a bit though is the fact that it gets a little too chaotic during the fight scenes. Each page gets very cluttered to the point where it is hard to follow the fight scenes. You will need to spend a long time with some panels to actually see anything. One positive is that each volume takes a lot longer, but I feel like the fights could have been scaled better. I think the author had a problem with showing the scale of the fights while still making them small enough to fit in the actual scene. The trick to that is messing with the background, but I am sure it is difficult. In the end this lowered the art’s ranking overall, but most scenes still look good.

Overall, It really has been a long time since I read the series. I read volume one almost a decade ago and all of the volumes were separated by very long waits. It took ages to finally read the final volume so you can imagine that my recollection on the early parts is rather iffy. It’s definitely better to read something like this in a marathon batch like with Pandora Hearts. I remember not enjoying it all that much more than I remember why I didn’t enjoy it much. That’s the tricky part since other parts of my memory seem to remember the series being rather dynamic and interesting. I think it’s probably because the concept was cooler than the execution so I still think about what it could have been. For all I know there could be animal violence scenes that I’m forgetting or a bunch of hype moments that I can’t remember. It’s a tricky case and I may re read it someday, but certainly not in the near future. What I can say is that if you’re looking for a mecha series with fighters who are comically overpowered then this may be the title for you. It gets chaotic, but that helps it feel like a summer blockbuster. On the other hand, most action titles just handle all aspects of themselves better than this one does. You’d be better off reading DBZ, Kenshin, Black Cat, or any of those other titles. I’d slightly recommend this one and the positives are a little better than the negatives, at least as far as I can recall. It’s certainly nostalgic looking at this title since it’s been such a long time, too bad it never got an anime. At the very least I’m sure the visuals would have been really cool.

Overall 6/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Thor Sunlight and Shadows Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 5/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Marvel Masterworks The Incredible Hulk Volume 2 Review

It’s time to take a look at a collection which brings some of the Hulk’s first comics! I’m about 99% sure that I’ve already read this one, but apparently I never uploaded it to the site. Ah well, the re read gave me a chance to review it. The Hulk comics are typically fun and this one was enjoyable, but like always, you end up feeling really bad for the Hulk by the end. He didn’t ask for this!

Unlike the average collection, this one brings 20 issues. The reason why so many are able to fit in here is because Hulk has to share with Giant Man and later on with Namor. So, each issue is only 10 pages instead of the usual 20, which ends up working out quite well. That means that each issue must end quickly so some arcs go on for quite a while like the Leader story. That villain just didn’t want to go down!

Luckily, the issues never actually feel rushed except for the Hercules story. He meets up with the Hulk in the final issue and the fight is essentially over as soon as it has begun. It’s safe to say that the Hulk had the upper hand despite the boasts of Hercules. I’m not surprised since I always considered the Hulk to be much stronger than the Olympian. Hercules is no Thor and I don’t see him ever being such a powerful contender in Marvel.

The first issue was the big fight with Giant Man so the collection started and ended on a high note. It was fun to see Giant Man take a shot at the Hulk since the fight wouldn’t be so even nowadays. The Hulk has utterly surpassed Giant Man and while I would still say that he was the stronger fighter back in the day, it was closer. Giant Man used to be the power hitter for the Avengers, now he’s just the tech guy.

Most of the issues dealt with the Leader as he worked on capturing the Hulk and eventually succeeded. He then forced the Hulk to go to the Moon and steal something from Uatu. That was easily the best part of the arc as the Hulk took down the “strongest fighter in the galaxy.” That guy was bred for combat and the Hulk still schooled him. The Hulk definitely overpowers most of his foes with ease and that’s how it should be.

There was also a mini arc where the government blasted the Hulk with a time ray and Rick Jones ended up spilling the beans about Bruce Banner being the Hulk. I was a little surprised that there was no retcon or plot twist to force the heroes to forget about this. I’m pretty sure that Talbot gets amnesia in a few issues, but Betty will still know Banner’s ultimate secret. His secret identity certainly didn’t last very long now did it?

The art switches about halfway through the volume as the main team comes back to help out. It’s an interesting twist and there’s more of an emphasis on facial expressions. Betty Ross’ hair also turns gray for some reason. It took a little getting used too, but the second half still holds up quite well. I love the old style of art as the artists really had to work on every panel. It’s certainly not as well refined as the modern day stuff and you can probably see some inconsistencies and characters going off model if you’re paying a lot of attention, but it’s still very solid overall. It may not be quite as good as the rest of Marvel’s titles at the time, but it’s hard to match up to those.

The Hulk is a good main character as always. Once again, the whole story is just really tragic for him. He makes another friend, but the guy is naturally killed off right away so the Hulk is left without an ally. The army never gives him a break and he is constantly being framed by the villains or put into very bad situations. At least the Hulk gets a lot of opportunities to smash and it’s always good to see him take the win. His strength fluctuates a lot, but that’s part of his whole gimmick so it’s all right for the most part. Typically, you can expect The Hulk to come out on top in a fight since he just won’t go down and the villains typically have to use gas to take him down. The Hulk is certainly the best character here.

I’m not a big fan of the Leader and he’s always been a bit of a weak villain if you ask me. He’s smart, but he doesn’t have a whole lot of power to back it up and he just feels outmatched if you ask me. At least he has some cool androids, which give the Hulk a good fight. Giant Man and the rest of the Avengers don’t seem too concerned with the fact that the Hulk is on the loose. I suppose that most of them just don’t think that he’s very dangerous so he’s not a top priority. Still, they should at least try to protect him from the government since those guys never give him any peace.

You may have expected this, but the issues are still very hard for the Hulk. He is constantly being framed and used by both heroes and villains. When he finally does make a friend, the guy is typically killed off in the same issue. You really can’t blame him for wanting to retreat and just be alone sometimes, but the government or another villain inevitably finds him. It turns into a never ending cycle of sadness for the guy and it’s why it is always fun to see him on the Avengers. At least he has some teammates that he can count on in those situations, but it would be quite a while until he joined the team again from this point.

As always, the writing is one of the reasons why the Hulk collection is fun to read. The characters are all direct and address each other with some classy English skills that it reminds you of how the language used to be. Even the older slang felt more refined and the villains would say things like “With my wit, I shall overtake your brutish strength!” when battling the Hulk. It’s just easy to read and the pages really flow into each other.

If there’s one part of the plot that’s always a little iffy, it’s the question of how much the Hulk knows. Sometimes, the Hulk is completely mindless and other times he will be able to form quite a few sentences. There was an arc where the Hulk’s mind was taken over by Bruce Banner, but this was separate from those events. I suppose that you can make the argument that the Hulk gets smarter as he grows weaker so that it’s the opposite of the strength factor. Either way, it’s a fairly mild thing.

Overall, This volume of the Hulk is a fun one to read. It’s a fairly stand alone collection with few guest stars, but the Hulk can easily hold his own title. The comics are much sadder than the others at the time, but it never goes too far. Given how short each issue is, you can definitely blast through the adventures in no time. It would be great for the Hulk to get an ally at some point and hopefully he will soon, but they don’t tend to last very long. With good art and solid writing, this is a collection that any Marvel fan can enjoy and the issues hold up well.

Overall 7/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Marvel Masterworks The X-Men Volume 3 Review

It’s time for another visit down memory lane with some classic X-Men comics. The Marvel Masterworks series has definitely been an excellent way to look at some of Marvel’s original all stars. I don’t believe that I’ve read any that I disliked. The X-Men collection is even better than most as the comics were really interesting and about on par with those of Spiderman and Thor. It’s fun to see Cyclops and how much of noble leader he was in contrast with his current personality. This is a collection that you don’t want to miss!

The collection brings 10 comics and since each one is about 20 pages, we get around a 200 page collection. That’s a decent size and it allows the graphic novel to churn out quite a few stories. The collection starts off with an action packed two parter where Count Nefaria assembles a group of super villains to take down the X-Men. Their members are all rather weak and unknown, but they prove that teamwork can make any villain a legitimate threat. Can the X-Men put aside their differences and defeat them or will they be crushed?

This was a great way to start off the collection. I had quite a bit of fun with this two part story as it was fun to see the heroes actually losing against some of the weakest villains that I’ve seen in a while. This certainly wasn’t there day, but at least Cyclops put up a decent fight. When you think about it, the X-Men really aren’t that tough so a sneak attack can work quite well against them.

Next up was a one shot issue with the Locust. This comic was fun to read as the guy got a sucker punch in on Cyclops, which was hilarious to read. There’s not a whole lot more to say about it because the Locust is just another villain who wants to terrorize the world. His goals and motivations are essentially cardboard, but he still makes for an interesting antagonist. I never considered him to be much of a threat though.

After that, was the two part comic with El Tigre. El Tigre was just your average criminal until he found a pendant, which allowed him to gain great powers. Once he had both pieces, he claimed to be a god and the X-Men realized that this villain would be no pushover. In fact, it may take everything that the X-Men had and more to defeat this guy. Thor is mentioned as the X-Men admit that he could have beaten El Tigre, but what can mere mortals do? El Tigre was a bit of a boring villain. Decently likable, but there was nothing to him and I can see why he never became popular. His telepathic abilities were certainly good though.

The Mimic returned for the next 3 issues. He decided to join the team and help them out, but he was unwilling to alter his personality. Mimic essentially bullied his way into being the team’s leader. He is the most powerful member of the group to be sure, but he’s not a very nice guy. He helped the team against the Banshee and the Super Adaptoid though. Without him, the team would not have lasted very long against those threats. They were certainly lucky that the Mimic was in town.

It was fun to see the Super Adaptoid. He’s like a retro Ultron and made for a very imposing villain. He probably should have beaten The X-Men, but I suppose that having the Mimic along gave the team some extra muscle power. It’s sad that nobody believed Iceman when he saw the android though. The Cobalt Man still doesn’t make that much sense into how suddenly he turned evil, but he was a fun adversary as well. He’s essentially an evil Iron Man and it’s impressive that someone was able to replicate the suit. The Mimic wasn’t a very likable guy. He comes across as really arrogant, but not in a cool way. He can barely back up his tough talk and didn’t last too long when the stakes were high. He has a sad ending to his story, but it’s likely just temporary and I expect him to be in fighting shape before long.

Finally, the comic ended on a bit of a quiet note with two stand alone stories. Warlock decided to attack in one issue, but it wasn’t the cool Adam Warlock. This was Merlin and the man had merely changed his name. It was a decent issue, but nothing to write home about…just to write the blog about. In the last issue, the dreaded Cobalt Man made his debut. He used to be an all right guy, but putting on the costume turned him into a super villain. It’s interesting because there’s no reason why this should have happened to him. I suppose that it’s just like how putting on a mask makes some people turn into super heroes, it has the opposite effect on others.

There are naturally a few subplots, which continue in the background during the issues and will likely stick around for future volumes as well. There’s an evil organization that keeps being mentioned and you can bet that they are about to make their move. Jean Grey also quit the team to enter into college, but still ends up helping out in just about every issue. Professor Xavier is also keeping a big secret. There are probably even more plots going on if I really focused and that’s one of the reasons why the collection is so much fun. Being able to juggle many different plots is the sign of a good writer.

Also, the comic is a blast to read through and through. In the end, that’s why you read a comic after all and few succeed more than this one. The writing is on the dot and it’s great to hear the characters exchanging one liners. The characters even acknowledge this as it leads to a loss for the heroes several times and the villains rub it in. “While you’re posturing, I’ll take this.” is an example of something that a villain will say before stealing something or maybe even beating up on the heroes. It’s something that modern comics don’t really do anymore as the heroes don’t indulge in puns and their quick burns. I certainly miss that as it was really classic and fun to witness.

The roster is a pretty good one although the team is a little weak at this point. Cyclops is still the commanding leader who is always ready for action. He hasn’t come to terms with his optic blasts yet, but he’s certainly on the way to recovery at this point. He’s easily the strongest member of the team and the most likable one. Angel is Cyclop’s rival and the guy is decently heroic, but certainly not as likable. He puts Cyclops in a bad position when the Angel accuses him of attempted murder and the guy is constantly flirting. That’s definitely not cool. Iceman is pretty great as he gets the most burns and can fight on his own better than most of the others. He doesn’t get a very unique role compared to the others, but he’s always helping out. Professor X doesn’t act as the leader very often anymore, but he starts to act a little shady in this volume. It’ll be interesting to see what he’s hiding. He has a device that allows him to walk a little, which is interesting. I wonder why he ultimately ends up ditching it and will be interested in seeing how it is broken. You would expect him to simply rebuild it, but I suppose that there are extenuating circumstances.

Jean Grey gets a bigger role than the rest of the team since she has her own major subplot where she joins College. She’s definitely a good character and helps out the team in many circumstances. If she had more mental energy, she would easily be the power house of the team. As it stands, her powers have not developed enough to make her a big threat. The Beast is still my least favorite member of the team. He always uses big words to impress the others, but I just don’t see him as much of a fighter. Having a little extra agility isn’t very lethal. Of course, none of the characters are downright bad and they’re all written well. So, even the most unlikable members (Beast and Angel) still end up being good characters when compared to the average bad one.

As expected, the art in the comics is really good. This retro style is a lot of fun and the action scenes definitely roll by smoothly. I was glad that the X-Men altered their costumes a little as Jean was right that the old ones simply had too much yellow. They were rather bland and didn’t scream “Super Hero” to those who saw them. The Avengers all had unique attire after all. If the X-Men had to share the same ones, it would need to be a good costume that you could never forget.

Overall, This was a really fun collection to read through. The X-Men never disappoint whether it is this roster, The Uncanny X-Men or one of the various mixes throughout the years. Back in the day, The X-Men were certainly a fun bunch and could hold their own against the Avengers. (In style, not power) They probably passed The Avengers for a time when Earth’s Mightiest Heroes lost Iron Man and Thor. I highly recommend checking this collection out when you have a chance and I will be reading volume 4 in the very near future so keep your eyes peeled for that. It’s going to be an epic ride and I’m nearly through my comic backlog now.

Overall 8/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Essential Hulk Volume 7 Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Marvel Masterworks Daredevil Volume 2 Review

All right, it’s time to read a classic collection of Daredevil issues! With the recent Netflix show on the air, he is a character who will gain a little more recognition than what he has seen in the days of old. If you saw my post on the show, you’ll already know my views on that. Needless to say, this comic is the kind of publicity that he needs as opposed to the show and you will see a noble superhero here. It’s a fun collection even if it’s not quite as action packed as the classic comics of other heroes.

As this is only the second volume, the series is still just getting started. Daredevil decides to leave town for a while to let Foggy and Karen keep the office in order for a while, but gets caught up in a tough situation with the Plunderer and Kazar. Not able to catch a break, Daredevil also gets into a mix up with Spider Man and learns that there are other heroes who can defeat the Man of Fear! Naturally, that’s just the tip of the iceberg and we quickly learn how skilled a blind lawyer can be when push comes to shove!

As this was in the olden days of Daredevil, he was closer to being blind than nowadays. Currently, Daredevil’s “vision” is so close to sight that he can basically see. He just sees in red or fire. In these classic comics, it’s treated more like echo location so he still has a lot of trouble in day to day operations. Why do you think the Plunderer was so strong compared to Daredevil? That being said, Daredevil still isn’t blind here as the villains use a flash gun, which does end up blinding him. (By hurting his other senses) As a blind man, Daredevil is quickly crushed by the enemies and he couldn’t beat a regular foe. So, we definitely know how well Daredevil would fare in a fight as an actual blind person.

Daredevil’s a nice hero to root for here. He makes a lot of puns like Spiderman although he vows to be more silent and commanding towards the end of the volume. He has a lot of potential for puns thanks to his blindness, but he likely couldn’t use most of them unless he was dressed up as Matt Murdock. I’ve always preferred the other classics like Spiderman, Iron Man, Thor, etc, but Daredevil is a solid hero in his own right. Being a lawyer is a unique occupation in the comic world and I would have liked to have seen more of that here. Daredevil really gets all of the screen time, which doesn’t leave Matt with much to do.

Spider Man’s appearance was a lot of fun. He was probably tricked a little too easily into starting a fight with Daredevil if you ask me, but at least he won. I was worried that the hype factor would result in a tie or with Daredevil winning, but the outcome was satisfying for me. You could even say that Daredevil won round 1 so that will be happy for his fans as well. The villains were underwhelming as they were essentially just average thugs, but that gives Daredevil a better chance to look good so I suppose that it is worth it.

The initial adventure with the Plunderer and Kazar was all right, but not as good as it could have been because Kazar was around. I’ve never cared for that character as the whole “Jungle Man” trope was never my favorite. I prefer characters who talk through long metaphors or puns because the dialogue is part of the fun in rooting for those characters. For Kazar’s dialogue, it simply doesn’t work for me. The Plunderer was a good villain though so he made the comics more fun.

This collection is a little larger than the average one as it is around 200 pages. That sounds like a good deal to me and it comes with the prelude that the Marvel Masterwork collections always contain. Those are fun to read and it is cool to see the behind the scenes story on why things happen like they do in the comics. The Dr Strange prelude was the most interesting, but this one had a good intro as well. A lot of thought certainly goes into each issue.

Aside from the various villains, there are two main supporting characters to be found here. Foggy and Karen, who work with Daredevil on the hero’s cases. By day, Daredevil is a lawyer after all so he needs some teammates. Karen always worried about Matt Murdock (Daredevil) because of how he always seems to be in danger. Her role is still fairly small at the moment. Foggy is the one who gets a big role as he has a subplot, which spans quite a few issues.

To impress Karen, Foggy decides to pretend that he is Daredevil. He even goes as far as to buy a Daredevil costume and convince someone to dress up as a villain. The problem is that the villain means business and wants to destroy Foggy to build a name for himself. Daredevil learns about this and decides to join the fight. This villain was powerful and managed to gain the upper hand in the first round, but Daredevil was ready. The villain went on to team up with another one of Daredevil’s old foes and they were still making plans when the volume ended.

I assume that we will likely see more of them in future issues. I liked the villain who used to be a costume designer so I’m hoping that he wins the battle of villainy with his partner. Daredevil’s array of villains may be one of the blander ones, but he certainly has some decent ones. The guy with the spinning blade and armor is probably my favorite Daredevil villain of all time and I don’t even know the guy’s name!

As expected, the art is spot on and really shows why the classic Marvel style worked so well for each story. Many of them had similar art, but you could still easily tell one series apart from the other. It was simple and made for good action scenes that were colorful and fun. It’s still hard to imagine how the artists were able to draw these pages every week as the amount of detail and effort that went into them is clear as you read the comics. Naturally, this applies to the writing as well, which is also as solid as you would expect. Compared to some of the current writers like Bendis and Slott, you really start to miss the high level of quality in these classic issues.

Overall, Daredevil was a good collection. It essentially captures all of the good qualities that you would expect from a Marvel comic. You could call it the definitive, average Marvel comic. It’s not as exciting as most of the popular Marvel heroes, but it still has the Marvel brand of quality on it. Daredevil is a likable main character and he makes the comics very engaging. Foggy and Karen aren’t the greatest of supporting characters, but at least they help to remind the audience of how much danger Matt is in as that’s usually the only thing that they talk about. New York can be dangerous for a blind man after all. I definitely recommend this to the comic readers out there and especially if you are looking for a new hero to root for. Daredevil is ready for some adventures and hopefully I will be able to read more Daredevil comics in the future. He’s a hero that I really haven’t read about on many occasions. Our paths have simply not crossed much, but perhaps that will change. Until then, you can expect popular heroes like Spiderman to appear more and more.

Overall 7/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Marvel Masterworks Avengers Volume 5 Review

With Age of Ultron among us, what better time than now to check out some of the original Avenger comics? It is always interesting to see this Avengers roster as it is a little under powered compared to the average team. This means that the Avengers will have to rely on their wit if they are going to save the planet. There are no particularly great comics here as the team is mainly up against lightweights, but the issues have the typical Marvel charm that we have come to expect.

The Avengers consist of Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver when the story starts. Hercules is helping them out for a little while because he is in the mood. Captain America is dealing with his own issues and Ant Man/Wasp are pursuing their own objectives. The roster is quickly buffed after the first pair of issues, but the starting line up may have been the weakest Avengers team in history.

No worries though, they only had to deal with Diablo and the tricky Dragon Man. It is neat to look back at Dragon Man and see how he has changed. This is one character who certainly got a lot of development even if it wasn’t all good. I miss the days when he was more of a fighter who would just mow down anyone who tried to get in his way. Landing hits on Hercules is fairly impressive as well. Diablo is definitely not interesting though. I have never been a fan of the guy and I am not starting now. His chemical abilities are not very good so his personality was Diablo’s only chance and it wasn’t quite enough.

After that, we had a few more adventures, but the threats weren’t very serious for the most part. The team banded together with the original three Avengers (Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America) to take on the Mandarin, Living Laser, Executioner, Enchantress, and a few more villains in a fun annual. The heroes were more than capable of taking out the villains there, but it was fun to see the true Avengers once more. I gotta say that Ultimo was given a little too much hype this time though. There’s no way that one blast would be enough to vaporize Thor. It didn’t, but Thor implied that he may not survive such an attack. The Mandarin also chops hard enough to make Cap worried about his shield surviving the blows. It is cool to see how much more respect these villains got back in the day compared to nowadays where they wouldn’t be considered as serious threats.

Another fun pair of comics was when the Avengers set out to rescue the Black Widow and had to tangle with the Red Guardian. He’s essentially a Russian version of Captain America. He looked surprisingly good in the fight as he was actually able to match up against the Avenger in an even fight. Granted that Cap was already weakened from beating up a lot of minions. The Red Guardian saw the light in the end and exited the comic as a decent villain. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing him again.

Magneto also showed up to recruit Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, but his plot hasn’t really ended yet. The Avengers are hot on his trail, but they had to quickly stop to help Hercules stop a titan who had taken down all of the gods on Mount Olympus. It sounds like a great feat, but it just makes the gods look bad. Apparently, they have no guards by the legendary fire, which keeps them all alive. (An extreme deadly weakness if you ask me) It’s a good thing that Hercules had the Avengers to aid him as the fight may not have ended well otherwise.

Captain America’s portrayal is decent, but his fans won’t be very pleased. He struggles with a lot of doubts on whether the team really needs him or not and he even opts to burn down his bridges as he leaves. It reminds me of the time where he insulted the Avengers before running off. Is it just me or did Captain America quit the team a lot back in the day? Ah well, he still looks really good when in combat as one of the original Avengers would be expected to be. Thor and Iron Man get smaller roles as they only appear as guest stars in one issue, but they both look great. It must have been sad for readers to see them go back in the day since the Avengers really aren’t the same without them.

Hawkeye still gets his burns in and he is a fun Avenger. He really talks tough even though he typically cannot back it up. Hawkeye has always been an enjoyable Avenger. Hercules is around a lot, but he isn’t quite as likable. He is just a watered down version of Thor. I don’t think that he has developed into his own character yet and he makes the opposite choice when faced with the same situation as Thor. Hercules chooses his planet over Earth and I don’t think that this was a good call.

As for the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver…they’re all right. This was before the Scarlet Witch became a heavy hitter so she doesn’t look very tough, but she tries to keep the heroes alert and ready for anything. Quicksilver is still really mad at all humans and he doesn’t hesitate to remind us of this whenever possible. Towards the end, he makes the wrong call and it reminds us why you cannot always trust a villain who has allegedly switched sides. It is too bad though since he did have his moments. At times, he acts like Hawkeye and we always need another hot head. His speed is also a useful asset even though the Whirlwind showed him up.

Ant Man looks good as well. This was during the end of his Goliath days and I much prefer that form to his more popular one. It is fun to see Giant Man be considered as a very powerful force since he never looks impressive in the current comics. The Wasp doesn’t look too good though as she is constantly flirting and making remarks about the guys. I really don’t know what the writers were thinking here, but their plans did not work out. She became a much better character in the modern era comics, but until then…she was simply not written well.

The art is solid as you would expect. Once in a while, a face may look a little off, but these pages were drawn the hard way so you have to allow for such things. On the whole, the comics still look great and I’ll always love this retro style. Viewing the characters in their original states is a lot of fun and things were certainly very different back then. It will be cool to see how Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver act when compared to these issues. The writing in the issues is also very good, but we would expect nothing less from Merry Marvel. I actually do miss the nicknames and fun letter boxes throughout the comics. I know that some comics like Squirrel Girl still do this, but it’s more of a homage than anything else. (This is why Homages can be so great!)

Overall, This was a good volume in the Avengers series. It was not quite as exciting as the usual collection since I was not a huge fan of the roster. Hercules is the power hitter of the group and he isn’t even on the team officially. Because of this, the team mostly faces a lot of light weights like the Whirlwind. Magneto is tough, but we haven’t had the big fight with him just yet. So, the collection may not be incredibly exciting, but we can’t have world breaking threats every issue right? Perhaps a break for low level crimes is just what we needed to lower the stakes before sending them right back up. This is still a must read for all Avenger fans as it is a well written comic that is a fun read from start to finish. At around 270 pages, the collection is also of sizable length so you won’t be finishing it in one go. More value for your purchase right? I shall likely be reading another Avengers collection soon, but until then…be prepared for a rather large collection in the near future!

Overall 7/10