What If…? Season 1 Review


Lets take a look at the latest in the series of MCU related TV shows. This one’s a bit different from the rest as it takes place outside of the normal universe although you could probably guess that from the title. The What If comics from back in the day were always a lot of fun. There’s a ton you can do with the concept to the point where there are really limitless possibilities. A single story can turn into 20. Any scene where you might have called for “plot hax” or something can now be rewritten so you can see how it “should” have ended. This show’s off to a good start, lets break down each episode.

The first episode is What If Peggy Carter became Captain America instead of Steve. In this case Steve ended up getting shot and was in no condition to continue the experiment so Peggy went in his stead. Can she still end the war and save the world? It’s a decent way to start off the season but at the same time the reason this was not very exciting is because it doesn’t feel much like a What If. Put it this way, Steve had no real combat experience and was rather scrawny before taking the serum. Carter knows how to fight and has kept in top shape.

After taking the serum they would more or less be equal and Peggy should actually be more skilled initially thanks to her combat experience. So completing the events of the movie is sort of a given. The show tries to add a bit of a change here with a random monster at the end which was fun but for all intents and purposes this is just the first film again. It’s a good story, just nothing that you haven’t already seen before.

Next up we have an episode that really goes out there. The Ravagers head to Earth and pick up T’Challa by mistake instead of Peter Quill. T’Challa ends up becoming the Star Lord and is rather good at it. He ends up being an accomplished Ravager and even ends up convincing Thanos not to snap half of the universe away and gets the guy to join the team. The Black Order is still on the loose though and they could do a lot of damage with the “Embers” so the team has to put a stop to this assuming they can trust Nebula.

Now this is what you would expect from a What If episode. By changing one thing you’ve changed a whole lot of other aspects. Thanos being a Guardian of the Galaxy is a good example of this. It’s fun seeing how T’Challa would work as a Ravager and the episode has quick pacing and a lot going on at all times. It’s an engaging story although it does have some power level issues.

Namely Thanos and this is not the only time he will be clowned in this series. I can’t believe for a moment that Thanos would be having any kind of trouble against these guys. He was actually losing against the Order and it’s like he just became a huge punching bag the instant he turned good. Remember that Thanos was casually beating the Hulk in Infinity War and that was without using any of the stones. Given that, there is no way he would be having any kind of trouble against the Order. This should have been an easy stomp. Still, power level issues aside this was quite solid.

The third episode is one of the highlights of the season as we get a true mystery episode. Someone is picking off members of the Avengers but the trick is that the Avengers haven’t actually formed yet. So someone knows who was going to be on the roster and is taking them out ahead of time. This ends up bringing in some attention from Asgard as well since Thor was one of the targets. Who could possibly be strong enough to defeat everyone?

This is a well written story in large part because I can actually buy a lot of this. At first you may be skeptical as to how this person could take down all of the Avengers and the episode has a pretty good explanation. At most you may just be skeptical with the Hulk. It’s a question of if the radiation and blood would be enough to break through and prevent this from happening or if the skin was strong enough to resist. In both cases I would say there is enough room for doubt where I would buy into it. I had no issues here which is impressive for this kind of story. The reveal at the end also makes sense.

Following that up is a Dr. Strange story. Basically he doesn’t go into a car crash initially and lives long enough to have a good relationship going with Christine. Well, one day she dies in a car crash and so Strange decides to become a magician to bring her back to life. Everyone warns him against this but he correctly decides to go back in time. The problem is that every attempt seems to end in failure so he has to find some way to save her life for good. What depths of power will it take to pull this off?

I definitely like this kind of story quite a lot where we see the lengths Strange will go in order to save Christine. Now where he crosses the line is when he starts to actually destroy other monsters to get stronger. There’s nothing wrong with altering time and going back to make things better as long as you aren’t hurting anyone. The moment time travel is established you don’t know if someone else has been messing with time so it’s all fair game. It does seem as though the universe is rigged as Strange tries to save her many times and I appreciate the effort. You really can’t give up and have to just keep trying until the end. The climax fight with the two Stranges was also a blast. I felt like this episode really fit a whole lot into it.

In the 5th episode we get the big Zombies episode. So what if the Wasp came back but she had the Zombie virus and quickly started transmitting it. Before long the Avengers are infected as well so there is just a small group of heroes left to fend them off. Either they will find the cure and save the world or the entire planet will be covered with zombies before long. It’s a solid thriller kind of episode. Now this one does feel a bit more iffy with how the heroes are infected though. Now granted there are a lot of ways to make the zombies do well here. The way it was shown just didn’t seem right.

So the Avengers fly in and land in the middle of a bridge only to be surrounded by zombies and quickly got slaughtered. There were thousands of zombies by this point so it was impossible to miss them. Why fly to the middle of the bridge? You either blast from afar or if you don’t want to hurt the zombies, then stay in the air. Going to the bridge was effectively a suicide mission. The twist ending I also have a hard time buying because I don’t see how a certain someone would get infected. Unless a bunch of other planets already got infected, I don’t see how Earth would have had time to tag this guy.

It was cool to see the last remnants of humanity banding together here. It was a good team up here and the end of the world always gives a good opportunity to see some team ups that you wouldn’t otherwise have. I’d say this is probably around the middle of the season. It doesn’t beat a few of the others that I’ve mentioned but still offered a good scenario. This is such a famous story that you almost feel like it could and should have been a multi parter though.

In episode 6, what if Killmonger was the one to save Tony from the events of Iron Man 1? This causes him to be promoted to a very high position and he convinces Iron Man to help him build a bunch of armors. The guy is surprisingly quite smart with tech here to the point of it maybe being too convenient. He then decides to slowly start taking control of the world. This one’s definitely quite out there which is good but I do feel like the characters got sloppy at times. There’s no way Killmonger should have made it out of the room once Tony knew what was up. I had a hard time believing he could beat the robot or that Tony’s room wouldn’t have some kind of evidence of what really happened.

Things certainly worked out quite well for Killmonger that’s for sure. It was a good episode although a bit on the unbelievable side to me. You know, come to think of it this has been a rough stretch for Iron Man, seems like he’s died quite a few times in this series. Surprisingly this is one of the only episodes where the twist ending actually gives the heroes some hope as opposed to almost all of the others where it ends with the villains getting ready to win.

Next up is the party Thor episode. What If Loki stayed as a frost giant so Thor grew up on his own and got super spoiled. He decides to throw a big party that’s so powerful it starts to destroy the planet. Fury is forced to call in Captain Marvel and the two have some big fights. It’s definitely the most light hearted episode to the point where you can call it a comedy. There’s more slapstick here, the characters are having fun and Thor’s mom even gets to have some hype.

It’s a nice enough episode. The fight with Thor and Marvel is absolutely the highlight and really why you will be watching this. It’s nice to see both characters blasting each other back and forth. I would say Thor definitely has the edge based on how the fight was going here since he was holding back the whole time and just having fun while Marvel was clearly going all out. Even with her best attacks Thor was just having fun the whole time which speaks to his skills. I think the episode would have benefited from being taken just a bit more seriously though. The next two episodes get quite serious though so I suppose this was a way to brace yourself for those parts.

In this case Ultron ended up getting the full download into Vision’s body and was able to quickly wipe the team out. He even one shotted Thanos (I had a hard time buying into that one) and then proceeded to take over the world. Black Widow and Hawkeye are the last lines of resistance against him and need to find some kind of way to take him down. It’s difficult because of how strong he has gotten though so they may need some unexpected help.

Part 1 is the best episode in the season so far. The fight scene between Ultron and the Watcher is really solid and I like how far the series went with it. We have reality breaking and Ultron even eat a universe at one point in one of the rare moments where we see what a universe buster can do in a practical setting. Now this does come back to haunt the show in part 2 with how powerful Ultron looks here but the whole thing is definitely very impressive. It also shows us what a threat Ultron is and why we will have to band the team together.

The final episode is really a big team up as we have reps from almost every episode show up to try and take Ultron down. It’s nice to see what reality’s final line of defense can do. The only one you can take seriously as a threat to Ultron at this point is Dr. Strange. I liked the show’s decision to have a magic barrier blocking all damage for the rest of the heroes since it at least gives a reason for why they don’t all get one shotted. I still don’t see why Ultron couldn’t just beat everyone a lot quicker though.

Keep in mind that he should be able to destroy the planet in an instant with no real effort that would have put most of the heroes in a bad spot. At one point he even ponders out loud why he is having so much trouble. I don’t know myself, Ultron was shown to be so powerful that he should have easily been crushing these guys. If you can get past the power level angle then you’ve still got a solid end here. It’s naturally fun to see all of the characters teaming up at the end like this.

And that wraps up season 1. There were definitely a lot of fun adventures here. They’re entertaining and the writing is on point here. I may have some power level issues mainly with Thanos in all of his appearances and Ultron at the end but the scenarios themselves are on point. I also like how each of the episodes have a twist ending at the ready. Usually you can assume that the heroes are doomed to be destroyed but if season 2 continues some of these scenarios then we’ll see how they get past them.

Personally I’d rather season 2 is completely filled with new scenarios though. Keep each one as a one and done because there are just so many slots that you don’t want to have to go back and revisit any with such a limited amount of episodes per season. Trust me when I say it would only take an hour or less to come up with a full 10 seasons worth of great scenarios so the more new ones you can do the better.

One thing I would like them to change for season 2 is the animation though. It’s well below average and just doesn’t look all that good. The art style is trying its best to look fairly realistic but as a result it doesn’t stand out and the colors are very faded except for some of the fight scenes. The fights can be quite solid but another style would really do the show some wonders. Give it a more traditional animation style like Spider-Man or the Avengers EMH show and then you’re in business.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Watcher keeps claiming that he won’t interfere during the pre episode narration in season 2 now that he has broken his vow. Hopefully he doesn’t so we can acknowledge that now he is ready to step in if things get too dangerous. I’ve never been much of a fan of the Watcher because of how slow he is to act. At least in this show he can fight rather well so I give him some props there. It is his best appearance in all of Marvel but he needs to start interfering to save these universes and then I would really start liking the guy.

Overall, Marvel’s What If is a solid show and it’s a great premise for a title. This is a good way to really bring up some fun scenarios that you couldn’t do in the main universe. As the seasons expand I like to imagine we can expand the character roster too and really get in some more characters like the X-Men, Fantastic Four, etc. If you’ve been curious to see how things could quickly go off the rails then you’ll want to check this out. Hopefully season 2 doesn’t take too long to come out.

Overall 7/10

Upgrade Review

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

When you think of getting an upgrade you’re probably thinking of going from cheese fries to loaded at Checkers or maybe trading in your PS2 for a PS5. Well, here we take a more violent approach to the upgrade. The film tries a little too hard with making this as edgy as possible so while it’s a pretty good premise, it’s definitely not a film that will have you singing its praises by the end. Not every film can hit the winning home run though.

The movie starts with Grey finishing a car he had been fixing and Asha returning home from work. He wants her to see the eccentric house of the guy whose car he had fixed. It’s definitely an interesting one but on the way home her electronic car malfunctions and both of them crash. Asha ends up being murdered by a group of bandits while they sever Grey’s ability to move his arms or legs. Fortunately, the guy whose car Grey fixed allows Grey to try a piece of experimental new tech. This allows him full control of his arms and legs again except that it is through the program STEM which even talks to him now. Is Grey really in control or is STEM pulling the strings? Grey doesn’t have time to think about it though because while the cops have been unable to find the guys who murdered his wife, STEM has some ideas.

The film clearly takes place in the future with all of the crazy gadgets that are everywhere. You have automatic cars that are incredibly advanced and even the buildings look high-end. Technology is moving pretty fast and Grey resents that a bit because all of the practical hands on kind of tasks have been removed. A.I. control everything now so there is really no escape. However, as Grey notes, criminals still get away with everything so it’s like the extra surveillance doesn’t even matter.

Of course the main plot of the film is about Grey trying to find the murderers and then take them down. Grey isn’t much of a fighter but that’s why STEM is here. STEM is able to temporarily take control of Grey’s body and then allow him to fight at full power. Basically Grey can go on auto pilot mode and let STEM do everything. It’s pretty handy but of course then Grey is actively surrendering his body to something else so is the price too high for this success? That’s the kind of question he has to ask himself.

STEM makes for a pretty interesting A.I. He sounds a whole lot like Hal 9000 so I think from the start everyone is meant to be wary of him. He can certainly fight well though I’ll give him that. He has absolutely no mercy for anyone who is in his way. STEM is the kind of character who figures that straight up murdering the opponents is most efficient so that’s never particularly surprising. These kind of A.I. villains are always interesting so I was on board with this.

As for Grey, he’s not quite as likable a main character. I can see why he wants to avenge his wife so going on the quest to stop these guys is a good start. He does have a habit of throwing up a whole lot though. The film has several scenes of this which is always pretty gross. While STEM does all of the hard work, Grey effectively signs off on most of it by not telling him to stop. Even when he does tell STEM to back off, it’s usually once it’s too late to do much of anything either. So he’s either all in and willing to help STEM murder the opponents or he’s not but the character can be a bit wishy washy about the whole thing.

The character cast is fairly small here as you’ve got the scientist, Grey, STEM, and the murderers. That’s pretty much it. For supporting characters you do have Grey’s mother though and the police agent Cortez. Cortez means well but she is definitely messing with forces that are a little too powerful for her at the moment. Grey is effectively a super soldier with STEM active after all and she would have died instantly upon entering if Grey wasn’t fighting back. Her options are rather limited though since how do you even know if you should take a guy down when he is being controlled?

Where Upgrade falters though is in how unrelentlessly violent the film is. We get a rather long scene of STEM torturing someone to death and all of the fights are pretty brutal as he snaps limbs and destroys everyone he comes across. Get ready for a lot of headshots and other such moments. Even the vomiting all over the place is probably another way to be rather gritty as Grey represents the audience reacting to this level of violence. The fight scene between Grey and another one of the upgraded humans was definitely good though. At least that had a lot of good choreography the whole time and made for a good back and forth battle.

It was like a comic book fight which is good. Whenever you leave that part though and get back to the murders then the film dials it up once again. That aspect definitely should have been toned down. As for the ending, I can see that one being rather mixed. It’s definitely a pretty bold way to end though and could lead the way for some sequels. After the initial shock value is over though, you may have some questions on exactly how this plays out. I think all of the questions can be answered though as you just realize that everything was a lie. With that knowledge in place, then everything does even out. After all, it just comes down to acting.

Overall, Upgrade has a pretty interesting plot. It’s a classic revenge story with Grey being willing to loosen his morals a great deal in order to secure a decisive victory. That being said, the film goes too far into edgy territory. This film could have absolutely been executed well without going so far over the top. In particular I’m never on board with the main character torturing someone to get what he wants. Grey allowing that to happen at all was definitely a shame. The film has its share of funny scenes as well although for the most part it is quite serious. If you want a film with a better blend of the two genres…then go watch Venom. You can see similarities between the two of them but Venom just handled all of this better.

Overall 3/10

Superman: Red Son Review


It’s been a while since I saw a Superman film so it’s good to be back. When I read the comic a while back I was definitely a pretty big fan of it. The same is true of the movie. It does a good job of keeping in all of the big events and so you’ve got a complete story here. It’s a little ironic that one of the best Superman titles is one that’s actually a what if but it shows that the story of Superman can really be shown in many different ways.

The story starts off in an alternate timeline where Superman crash landed in Russia instead of the USA. He grows up under the reign of Stalin where he fights for the USSR. Gradually Superman realizes that the regime isn’t living up to the ideals that they had claimed to be so he decides to take things into his own hands. Superman desires a pure world where everyone can be happy. Unfortunately real life isn’t quite so easy and he gradually has to make small sacrifices here and there. Will these concessions eventually add up to drive him on the wrong path or will Superman find a way?

The problem Superman faces is that world peace is basically impossible. There will never be a situation where the whole world is at peace. There will always be people who don’t like the status quo or a shortage of resources that lead to people being unhappy. Superman can always strive to make the world better but once he seeks perfection, that is where he starts to get really frustrated. One of the things I really like about Red Son is that Superman keeps his core ideals. At the end of the day he will help anyone whether they are allies or not. He does want to be a symbol of hope and will do whatever he can in order to make that vision a reality.

Superman’s beliefs on how to help the people are just different growing up under the USSR but at the end of the day he comes to the same answer, it just took longer than usual. He’s definitely a standout character here to be sure. Then it’s also fun to see alternate versions of the rest of the Justice League as well. The Green Lanterns look good for example. They were actually doing really well against Superman in the fight and it’s impressive that Lex was able to reverse engineer the GL Ring.

Then you have Batman who grew up in Russia and so he is quite vicious as well. It also continues the impressive record Batman has against Superman. It seems like he always tends to win the majority of these contests. Prep time is just too good to pass up. Of course this Batman is not a hero by any stretch as he openly murders a bunch of people if it means that he will get closer to his goal. He’s as ruthless as can be.

Next up is Wonder Woman who gets a solid role here. She is trying for peace as much as possible but is very disillusioned with man’s world from the start. She sees Superman as the exception for a little while but ultimately he becomes too extreme. She has a good scene where she blocks his punch and appears as a good ally of justice. Her role may not be large but it was a fun one to be sure.

Lex gets a great role here as you would expect. His genius is what gives the US a chance against Superman as otherwise they would be in a completely unwinnable situation. He isn’t afraid to use underhanded tactics like intentionally allowing a satellite to nearly flatten Metropolis though but he calculates the future really well based on how he expects everyone to act. It would be nice to have more direct interactions between him and Superman of course but they do meet up near the end.

Lois also looks good in her screen time as she gets some important information to Superman and in general is a consistently strong character. Finally there’s also Brainiac who looks good here and gets a lot of respect. He just comes out of nowhere but then has a presence for the rest of the film. There are more characters of course but these are the big ones. Red Son juggles the cast really well. It’s not a particularly long film so it has to make the most of each scene and I would certainly say that it succeeds at that. Something is always happening here after all.

It adapts the comic material really well. Naturally there are a lot of things that need to be trimmed as otherwise the film would likely be over 2 hours but we get most of the big things. The one change that I wasn’t a fan of was in the original comic, the American Superior Man went out as a hero as he sacrificed his life to stop a nuke and put his hopes on Superman. In comparison he didn’t really get to have a big hero moment in this film. He just got overloaded and kind of melted. I thought the comic gave him a more fair portrayal.

Beyond that of course you can always have more detail in a comic since you can use up as many issues as needed and include a lot of great inner dialogue. We had a scene in the comic where Lex is so impressive that it was said he could have even defeated Superman by just talking to him for a few seconds. The core of the story is the clash of ideologies and seeing this alternate world though and the movie really executes this wonderfully. The ending to the movie is also perfect and really wraps up the movie in a way where you feel satisfied. Even if we don’t get a sequel, this tells a full story.

The animation here is pretty solid. The character designs are on point and it looks like the comic. The battles are solid and so I definitely have no issue with the visuals. There can be some violent scenes like one character blowing up or some dead bodies on the rise but the film has a lot of restraint and doesn’t go too far with any of this. You get just enough to further the plot and show what Superman has to go through without just dwelling on it the way some films do.

Overall, Superman Red Son is definitely a great film. If you like Superman or just want a good story then you’ll definitely be on board with this one. It’s just a very interesting take on Superman to be sure. It was also nice to see the other heroes appear even if just for a bit as it shows that at least some parts of the world still happened as usual since their timelines shouldn’t have all changed just because Superman grew up somewhere else. I’d actually question why we don’t have a Batman in Gotham but I suppose for alternate universes they don’t have to mirror the normal one exactly so these can all be creative changes.

Overall 8/10

Spider-Man: Fake Red


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

Overall 7/10

It’s A Wonderful Life Review


It’s A Wonderful Life is an iconic film that most people have either seen or at least heard of. I definitely remember seeing it as a kid although my recollection is pretty broken. I remember the main character getting his ears slammed but then I thought the climax was similar to Sleepless in Seattle. I certainly did not recall the Angel helping him out or the reality warping aspect of the film. It’s a movie that definitely holds up pretty well in some aspects while faltering in others. The main character is quite terrible for example which is one part that doesn’t age well.

So the film starts off with a few Angels wondering what they should do about the main character. He is on a course set for self destruction at the moment and must be saved quickly. Clarence decides to learn a bit about our lead before making a move so the rest of the film follows Mr Bailey from his days as a kid to an adult. He is essentially stuck in an old town working a job that he doesn’t like. Bailey doesn’t like this but it’s hard to get out. Unfortunately his partner loses 8000 dollars to the main villain, Mr. Potter. Bailey will now be arrested and left penniless if he doesn’t do something. That’s when he remembers the Life Insurance.

The opening is also a pretty powerful scene as a lot of people pray for Bailey to be okay. It’s not often you see anyone praying in a film, much less a bunch of people. It is definitely nice to remember a time where many people were openly Christian and there weren’t so many social taboos against it. It’s also a scene that shows the power of prayer as the Angels decide to act on the and that is ultimately what saves Mr. Bailey. Don’t doubt the power of prayer in real life either. Your prayers are always answered and God will see to it that you get the right answer to your prayer.

Naturally Bailey’s plight is a sad one but he doesn’t handle it well at all. Take early on in the film, he is about to leave town but then he lets Mr. Potter’s speech get to him so he yells back and the board decides to keep him on. Bailey should have dashed for the train before anyone even had time to tell him such a thing but he was already having doubts. See, I think Bailey was actually not as thrilled about leaving as he suggested or he would have done so. His next opportunity was even easier as his brother returned to take over the family business as promised in Bailey’s place. He ended up getting a fiancée while he was gone and she wants him to run a different business. Bailey quickly folds here, but he could have acted oblivious and just left. The brother would have taken over the business and it would be golden. Even at the end when Potter offers Bailey a deal the lead declines. Now you can’t really blame him too much on a moral angle since it’s only natural that he would never want to work with him. On the other hand, this would have been his best chance to fix their code of ethics and to make things better in the whole town. In the end, Bailey is the one who trapped himself in the town.

The romance is also pretty bad the whole time. He is just so mean to Mary the whole time. He wrecks her big return to the city. She works really hard to make things better for them while he consistently makes things tougher on her. Despite this, she never complains while he always does. So I couldn’t get behind this romance because as the saying goes, I think she could do a lot better than get together with this guy. Let’s also consider the fact that he was going to jump off a bridge and leave her to take care of the kids on her own.

I think the only reasonable characteristic of Mr. Bailey is that he reminds me of Nicholas Cage. The facial expressions and the voice are just really similar which is pretty interesting to see. Watch enough old movies and you eventually start to see these older counterparts. As the final nail in the coffin, Mr. Bailey is also very slow on the uptake. Even once Clarence tells him many times that he has been erased from time and nobody will remember him, Bailey is shocked every time. You’d think after the 2nd or 3rd guy didn’t recognize him that he would realize something was up. Seeing his wife working at a library now is also something he should have considered. The guy is just pretty annoying and cane very close to wrecking everyone’s Christmas.

Clarence was not really my kind of character either. While the other Angels were all on point and very professional, he felt the most Earthly. Clarence came very close to drinking beer at the bar and that wasn’t really a good moment for him. His way of helping Bailey was also very roundabout and risky. There were so many ways the whole thing could have backfired. As slow as Bailey was on the uptake, Clarence was really slow at giving out the details. He seemed shocked whenever Bailey didn’t understand something as well. They probably should have sent one of the Angels with wings if you ask me since this one also didn’t seem to understand people very well.

The best character in the film was definitely Mr. Potter though. The guy was really intense and didn’t mince words when he was on screen. He’d do anything for a profit and didn’t suddenly have a change of heart at the end either. He stuck to his guns from start to finish and got some of the best lines. When Bailey shows up at his throne and desperately asks for help Potter finally relents. You see him soften up and think for a split second that subs he isn’t so bad after all. Then Potter admits that he will help see that Bailey gets the Justice he deserves and issued a warrant for his arrest with the powers given to him as a stakeholder in the company. The money is what matters to him and seeing 8000 of it just vanish was unacceptable to him. Not to mention that he also ends up holding grudges. He’s a very complete character and one that you can root for as a villain. That’s not to say you want him to win over the heroes because of what that would mean for the town but at the very least he is a fun villain to watch.

If Mary was the main character then she would be easy to root for against Potter. Unlike Bailey, she actually seems like a nice character and makes all of the reasonable choices throughout the movie. Without her to keep Bailey in line, he’d probably still be whining about his job, but not doing anything about it. That’s just the kind of man that Bailey is. She’s a lot better at reading a situation and even offers the money to the townsfolk before Bailey even thinks of the idea. Her generosity is on point as well.

Overall, It’s a Wonderful Life is a good Christmas film with solid Christian themes at work as well. It has a good premise and it’s always interesting to look at a world without yourself. The ripple effect of you not existing would definitely be quite massive when you think about it. That being said, the execution isn’t always on point and some parts of the film have not aged well like the romance or the main character. It’s certainly more of a hit than a miss though and I’d recommend checking it out. You should see for yourself why the film is so well known and remembered.

Overall 6/10

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Homura’s Revenge! Review


It’s time to check out another Madoka Magica manga title. I wasn’t crazy about the first two because the art wasn’t so good and the plot wasn’t the best. This one has a much better premise and the artwork has certainly improved, but it feels like the author is worried about doing anything too drastic. The series ends up feeling like a cop-out for several reasons and while the ending is mostly satisfying, there is one element that holds it back. That’s enough foreshadowing though, lets get into the review.

The series starts with Homura failing to save Madoka yet again. She’s been through this point in time on many occasions, but no matter what Homura does differently, it all ends up being futile. This time, she decides to take Madoka back in time with her. This way Madoka will remember everything that is going to happen as well as Homura so their chances to change the future should be drastically increased. Theoretically, this plan should be foolproof right? Unfortunately, Homura made the mistake of also bringing Kyubey into the past so he knows what is going to happen as well. It’ll be a battle of wits between them and being witty has always been one of Kyubey’s strengths.

Honestly I don’t think that Kyubey should have come along for the ride. This is where the cop-out part happens. The whole point of the series is that Homura and Madoka are going to try and change things so that they can save the future this time right? Well, they fail at every turn. Mami is still murdered by the demon, Sayaka is still turned to a witch, etc. They really didn’t change anything except for at the very end with Kyoko. They did beat the monster which at least made the future a bright one, but it wasn’t good enough for Homura or for myself. What’s the point of a what if story where only the ending is changed? I was expecting more drastic changes all around, but the heroes let Kyubey mess with them the whole time.

He was constantly messing with them and tricking all of the side characters. Everyone was unreasonable which ensured that nobody listened to Madoka or Homura. I also find it a little suspect how Mami was beaten twice. Surely she would have kept her guard up after almost being eaten the first time right? Mami is supposed to be super tough and all so she really shouldn’t have lost this battle. The manga even gave her some hype as usual by giving her the edge over Homura. I still say that Homura should be able to defeat her with time hax, but Mami’s abilities are certainly better when in close quarters combat.

The other iffy part was the ending. Homura explained that even though she saved the world and Madoka this time, she would go back in time because Madoka turned into a magical girl. That seems a little extreme since she actually managed to save the day after such a long period of trying. It seems to me like she would have been content to stay this time. Ah well, it was still a good ending though. For a while there is looked like the ending would have been another failed attempt and then Homura would have to head home by her lonesome.

As mentioned earlier, the art is definitely a lot sharper this time around. It feels more like how you’d expect the show to look in manga format. The fight scenes are a lot more engaging and it was fun to see some fights that never happened in the show like Kyoko and Sayaka vs Homura. Both of their battles were pretty fun and their plan actually wasn’t half bad. Overwhelming Homura with speed is the only way to really neutralize her time stop ability and preventing her from leaving is another good strategy. Of course, Homura could have stopped them easily if she was using fatal methods, but she couldn’t since she is technically a hero. The others never gave her much of a chance to explain herself though.

I have to say that Homura and Madoka’s plan wasn’t really well thought out. They should have approached Mami together as allies instead of allowing Mami to see Homura as an enemy. Their reasoning was that they should try to get everything to happen the same way so it’ll be easier to know when to diverge, but this reasoning didn’t make sense. It was an excuse for the author not to go down a very different path. The whole point of this manga is to try and go a different path so the series should have embraced this.

You can probably tell that I was less than pleased with how this was executed. Still, missed opportunities don’t make up the whole story in this adventure. It’s still a well written title on its own and the plot is engaging. It has some pretty good action scenes and the characters are likable enough. At the very least, I’d say that Homura and Kyoko are good. Mami comes across as a little arrogant and Sayaka is just gullible. Madoka isn’t all that helpful either the whole time and Kyubey makes for a good villain with how he pushes everyone around. At only 2 volumes long, the series goes by in a flash. The pacing is never a problem and the series gets from point to point with ease.

I also just enjoy the Madoka universe so seeing the characters was fun. The atmosphere was pretty tense and the characters were all pretty serious. I could definitely see this being turned into an anime or maybe some kind of OVA. I’d take it, even if just to see Homura wreck Kyoko and Sayaka. We really needed that fight in the anime, but there’s only so much you can do in 12 episodes.

After reading the manga, it’s safe to say that the power levels are: Madoka>Homura>Mami>Kyoko>Sayaka. Now, Homura and Mami are debatable I suppose since Mami does have a lot of experience and her abilities are a nice counter to Homura’s, but they only work if she is able to land a hit before time is stopped. I don’t see that happening. Meanwhile, Kyoko’s abilities are just a poor match up for Mami’s to start with and Sayaka is just the weakest by far. She doesn’t have a lot of experience and while her regeneration is great, it does consume energy so she can’t keep it up. Each member is pretty strong in her own way though which is what makes the team so formidable. What I really want is a series where we can see the whole group team up against an enemy. That’s what I need to see and that’s why we need a manga that introduces Dark Magical Girls. The other manga title came close, but didn’t go all the way. (I’m sensing a trend here eh?) Bringing that in could make for a definitive Madoka Magica series someday.

Overall, It’s a clear improvement over the last manga. There aren’t any new characters this time around, but the TV show was already interesting enough where a What If story is certainly welcome. There are many ways that the show could have gone after all even if this one didn’t actually step into any of those paths. I’d definitely recommend checking this out if you want to read a nice little action story. If you haven’t watched the TV show then you may not really get what is happening at some points, but you should be able to understand enough. If anything, the added mystery could help make the series more enticing to you. At this point, we just need a season 2 so there will be more material and these spinoffs can think up more adventures for the main cast. It’s been quite a while so there is no excuse not to have a second season by now.

Overall 7/10

Puella Magi Oriko Magica Review


Well, it’s time to take a look at a short Madoka Magica What If story. Since Homura went back and forth in time to save Madoka so often, it makes sense that sometimes things would turn out very differently. This manga plays out like that as this universe has a new magical girl who can see the future and she decides to do something about it. Unfortunately, while the plot/concept are fairly good, the manga really fumbles the ball with the poor dialogue and really bad art. What should have been a home run knockout instead turns into a manga that just barely breaks even.

The plot involves three new characters who were made up for the series. Yuma is a girl whose parents were destroyed by a witch. Kyoko was able to vanquish it, but not in time to stop Yuma from being an orphan. As a result, Yuma tags along with Kyoko for a while and eventually becomes a magical girl with healing abilities. She makes for a good support fighter to have on the battlefield. Unfortunately, Kyoko then hears that someone is going around destroying magical girls so she sets off to stop this.

Meanwhile, Mami is actually the one who gets in on the action as she does a lot of sleuthing so Oriko deems her as a threat and sends Kirika to dispose of her. This will be a tough fight for Mami, but luckily Homura is also around and Kyoko manages to enter the fray as well. Can the classic Magical Girls defeat this pair of evil fighters or are they doomed in this timeline!?

Everything about this manga is a little off. Let’s go back to the art first since that’s probably the biggest issue here. It’s incredibly hard to see what’s happening during the fights. The art is all over the place and the character proportions don’t have any consistency. The facial expressions are downright crazy like one that I attached to the bottom. Homura’s face just makes no sense considering that she just blocked Kirika and is poised to win the fight. This is an issue that affects all of the characters throughout this two volume series. It’s so chaotic that it’s actually a lot clearer to read the series online since it is just one page at a time on a white canvass so everything is a lot easier to read through. Of course, this should never be necessary for a manga and still doesn’t make the actual quality any better. This is certainly a contender for worst artwork in a manga.

The pacing is also very odd. The first volume focuses almost completely on Kyoko and Yuma as they bond and fight witches together. It’s even mentioned by Kyoko that there are no other magical girls around since they’ve all been destroyed by the Magical Girl hunter. Then we cut away to Madoka’s town where there are Magical Girls everywhere. Mami just shows up out of nowhere and instantly becomes the main character for the second volume. Timeline-wise, this basically gets us to the start of the TV series except that Kyoko and Mami already know each other and Homura is a lot meaner than usual. In this timeline, Homura decided to be Madoka’s friend right from the get go and threatens anyone who even gets near them.

The tragic backstory for Yuma was also pretty unnecessary. She had bad parents which traumatized her as a kid so now she feels like everyone is going to abandon her. Yuma does a good job of coping with her powers and becoming a dependable ally at least. She ends up giving the heroes the pep talk that they needed to continue the fight. That being said, only having healing abilities is definitely a pretty big liability in a fight and I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of her design. Nonetheless, she’s not a bad filler character I suppose.

On the other hand, Kirika is a fairly underwhelming villain who isn’t really likable. She really wants to please Oriko and doesn’t really care to think about anything else. She forgets all other details because they apparently take up too much space in her mind. As a result, she’s the perfect killing machine for Oriko to use. Her abilities aren’t bad as she can slow down an opponent and has a lot of magical knives to use against her opponents. She nearly defeated Mami so that’s definitely a pretty impressive feat. It’s not enough to make her a good character though.

We’ve also got Oriko, who is the main villain here, but she’s no better either. She saw the future and immediately pulled a Bruce Wayne from Batman V Superman, but takes it to the next extreme. “Everyone has to die!!” is basically her view as all magical girls are far too dangerous since they can turn into Witches. I’m assuming that after she destroyed them all, she would end up destroying herself and Kirika as well. She’s very unhinged as the manga shows. Her power is basically precog and she has some exploding energy balls as well. She’s certainly not that great in a fight. I also don’t get why she encouraged Yuma to jump into the fray as that just adds another target for her to destroy, but maybe she just has fun this way.

As for the real characters, Madoka and Sayaka don’t really get to do anything in this version. Neither one of them has powers after all as Homura has gone to great lengths to ensure that they never get them. At least Madoka realizes that Homura isn’t helping the other heroes out and is only protecting Madoka so the heroine calls her out on it. This doesn’t work all that well though and then Madoka just walks into the battlefield to help out. This wasn’t her greatest plan, but she was a solid character as always. It’s certainly in character for her to try and help out.

Kyoko gets a rather large role as you would expect. She looks pretty good. Unfortunately, Kyoko never really gets to test her mettle against the villains, but I’d say that she would have held her own quite well. It’s definitely hinted that Mami and Homura are stronger, but being the third best isn’t all that bad. Getting depressed for a few pages after learning about the Witch revelation felt rather out of character though. It was pretty forced in there. While Kyoko isn’t good at being a nice person, at least she tried with Yuma.

I didn’t care for Mami in the TV show because she cracked under pressure and tried to murder the whole cast, but she did a good job here. As always, she also got depressed towards the end, but at least she was just willing to let her friends die and didn’t actively expedite the process. I know that strength shouldn’t really affect how much you like a character, but it really did help her case a lot when she was able to defeat Kirika. If she had lost that fight, I definitely would have been a little upset. As it stands, she did a good job of using strategy to claim victory and proved to be the second best character in the manga. The franchise really loves to hype her up as one of the strongest fighters, but I’d definitely say that Homura deserves the number 1 spot.

Naturally, Homura was my favorite character in the manga. She got a lot of hype from the villains since she already knows the truth about the Witches and has seen the end of the world multiple times. To Homura, this predicament is nothing new as she’s been through a lot over the years. Homura’s time stop ability is still super useful as well and I dare say that she probably would have been able to beat both villains on her own. I was hoping for more of a direct win without any help, but the end result was fine. This version of Homura definitely doesn’t mess around as she goes for the kill shot the instant that she sees the two villains and even tries to trick them by pretending to negotiate. Homura was really handled well although she was a little too drastic when Mami just tried to talk to her. Seriously, Homura spends about 90% of her time threatening or trying to destroy someone in this manga.

Unfortunately, the ending is quite bad. It’s not horrendous in part due to the fact that Homura is here so the ending has no real stakes. Had the series been longer or Homura was not in the equation, then I think the ending would have hurt the manga more. As it stands, it just doesn’t make much sense and I don’t like how it allowed Oriko to get one last laugh. There’s no way that this plan should have worked to even the slightest degree. Even Kyubei wasn’t too thrilled with how things played out and usually he’s grinning from ear to ear.

On the bright side, since this manga is only two volumes long it has to move at a very rapid pace. Volume 2 in particular feels like an abridged series as all of the characters just quickly meet up and get ready to rumble. It’s a lot better than the first volume if you ask me and if the series had kept going on for a while maybe it could have redeemed itself. Of course, the pacing may have been slower so the whole thing could have backfired instead.


Overall, This manga spinoff wasn’t very good. There have been several titles that have come out for Madoka Magica and this one technically has one of the cooler sounding plots. Hopefully the others are better at the actual execution of it. Some of the other manga out there definitely sound promising and it wouldn’t be hard to top this one. The art is just so bad for this manga and the writing was sub par as well. Throw in the aspects that are Yuma’s random tragic past and the only thing that really keeps this manga together are the characters from the TV show. They’re still a lot of fun to follow and the action scenes were fun/hype even if they were hard to read at times. If you’re a big Madoka fan then I recommend this title since it’s great to see the cast in anything since the show was so short. It makes titles like this a lot easier to swallow since you’ll jump at anything. It’s why I want a big Madoka fighting game to help fill in this void. Ah well, just don’t go in expecting anything too good or you’ll be gravely disappointed. Keep your expectations tempered and you will have some fun with this manga.

Overall 5/10

Justice League 3000 Volume 1 Yesterday Lives Review

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Booooooooooooooo. Okay, Justice League 3000 wasn’t terrible, but it was certainly pretty bad. This is a plot that had a lot of potential and it was a little similar to Future’s End. Unfortunately, the series couldn’t live up to its potential and you can tell that things are going south right from the get go. I just don’t understand why the writers made some of the decisions that they did.

It has been ages since the Justice League formed. The year is now 3000 and the universe is essentially ruled by The Five. They are super villains who did what no other ever could, they conquered everything. If a hero tries to rise up, they just blow up his/her planet and move on. The only thing that stands in their way is Cadmus and they aren’t much better. Cadmus is basically what’s left of the government. The only problem is that they have no real heroes and there are spies everywhere. Nowhere is safe from them! Cadmus decides to change this by bringing the famous Justice League back to life. They do this by placing their DNA in normal humans, so that the DNA takes over the vessel and essentially becomes the hero. With the exception of Cyborg, The New 52 Justice League roster is back…with some changes. Can they defeat The Five and liberate their future?

The plot should have been good, but it just didn’t work out. The main reason is the twist that the heroes have lost some key memories so they are not acting as they once did. Superman is now much meaner than usual and he’s about as likable as the average horror film protagonist. He’s extremely unintelligent and he basically acts like a cave man. Wonder Woman is back to being extreme in her views on how she strongly dislikes all men and likes to slaughter any foe she comes across. Green Lantern, Batman, and the Flash are mostly like their usual selves although Batman doesn’t mind cracking a joke once in a while. It essentially plays out like a fanfic and that’s the last thing that I could have wanted here.

Superman is also badly nerfed to help move the plot along. He can no longer fly and his physical abilities seem to be a lot worse as well. Wonder Woman and Superman were getting crushed by a goddess, one of The Five, and that’s something that I can’t see happening to their true New 52 selves. This lady may be strong, but one simply doesn’t take out the top 2 Justice League members so easily. The humiliation doesn’t end there as the strongest member of The Five, a Reality Warper, defeats the League with ease. Already, you can tell that this is going to be the kind of series where the heroes are on the run for the whole time and that can certainly get old rather quickly.

Towards the second half of the graphic novel, Firestorm joins the ranks and the sad thing is that he’s the most likable member of the team. It’s just sad because he’s essentially a villain here as his mind is even more corrupted than the other members. He wants to slaughter anyone who gets in his path and luckily he has the power to do it. His abilities come in handy against the villains, but it’s too bad that he couldn’t have kept his moral compass along the way. Ah well, at least the Justice League has one member who can fight.

Let’s talk about The Five. One of their members is named Locus and she appears to be the strongest member by far. She is the reality warper that I mentioned and her abilities are limitless. The only way to beat her is to knock her out before she can form a thought Naturally, this leads to plot hax whenever she has to fight and cannot win at the moment. She’s a psycho, but I’m sure that we expected this. Kali is a warrior whose strength seems to surpass that of Superman and Wonder Woman’s. Both of these villains have yet to be on the losing edge of a fight aside from a knockout blow from behind and Firestorm’s impressive debut. Convert is one of the more useful members of The Five even if he’s not a fighter. He invades people like a plague or the Phalanx. He currently controls billions of people across the universe and he can literally turn an entire population against you by controlling them. Finally, we have Coeval who attacks from the cyber world. He seeks to weaken the wills of the heroes by playing on their doubts.

Naturally, to be The Five, those 4 need a leader. He does end up appearing at the end of the graphic novel and it should come across as a decent surprise. It certainly makes things look a little dicier for the heroes as there is not much they can do about the situation anymore. The leader is probably the weakest member aside from Coeval as the average human could probably beat him, but I’m sure that the leader will dig up a robot somewhere to finish the job.

Technically, it’s a good idea to have a supervillain team to face the League. Kali and Locus were good starts even if they were overpowered, but the other members can’t fight, which limits the potential. One thing that hurts the comic is the natural need for it to be gritty. A lot of Superman’s lines revolve around him flirting, making suggestive comments or threatening to hurt people. Locus literally rips one of the heroes to shreds and while the page has a lot of energy and spacial effects to distract you, the scene is much more violent than it needs to be. We have the classic Man of Steel moment as well to make sure that the comic covered all of the bases. An eye stab also happens and nothing Narutoesque happens since the opponent is basically invurlnable, but I always found that to be a rather dirty fighting technique that crosses the lines of justice and injustice.

Really, the comic just isn’t that good. Even the art isn’t up to par with the high level of quality that DC is known for. It helps that the character designs are mostly lacking. Only Batman’s looks good from the original team although Firestorm joins him later on. Green Lantern’s cloak is cool, but without it, he doesn’t have a very good design. The fight scenes are where the art shines, but there aren’t many true fight scenes to see so this is pretty limited.

It goes without saying that the writing isn’t very good either. Meanwhile, it has certainly been a long time since the year 2000, but I find it hard to believe that some of this happened. How could the Five conquer the galaxy and the Green Lantern race was eliminated so easily? I don’t buy it and I don’t see how Earth fell so quickly as well considering that we have such an unstoppable army of superheroes. Locus is strong, but Kali would be defeated by a good fighter like Supergirl or Darkseid and the rest of the team could seriously be beaten by the Teen Titans. Where’s Lex Luthor when you need him!?

This is only the first volume so the series still has some hope, but it’s going to have to move quickly. For starters, the series should not try to be as dark and gritty as can be. Right now, the heroes really have no hope unless they can revive the other heroes, but what then? Even if they defeat The Five, they’re living in a future where just about everything was eradicated. It’s not going to be much of a life. Toning down the dark atmosphere should be enough to tip the scales, but the comic also needs to make the Justice League a whole lot more likable. Superman’s already getting some development, which is a start, but we’re going to need the writers to accelerate the process.

Overall, I currently don’t see the point of this title. The future is grim and the heroes must save the day again, but this kind of story has already been done and with much greater efficiency. Typically, a future story is extremely interesting and that’s what keeps you reading. The new villains have conquered to be sure, but the heroes are still ready to deal out some damage. Here, the writers have stacked the deck so much in the villain’s favor that the heroes really do not stand a chance. Locus just has to think and they’re all dead. So, there’s literally no way that they should win and the amount of plot hax in future issues is going to be immense. Just check out the time travel episode in Justice League Unlimited and you’ll witness what this comic should have been like. Likewise, Hitman Reborn had an arc with this kind of plot that was infinitely superior. The heroes should have definitely been in character and I guarantee that this comic would have been much more enjoyable. Well, if I do check out volume 2 anytime soon, we’ll see if the series will have managed to improve. As of now, I recommend checking out Superman Unchained instead as it’s an epic action story with some guest stars to help you out as well.

Overall 4/10