Comics, Movies, Video Games, and More

"Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

~Ephesians 5:16

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ultraman Manga: Chapter Two Review

The Ultraman Manga is an interesting thing. Instead of making a whole new Ultra in a whole new continuity (which would be the route fans would expect) it instead decided to go a more favorable path. It's set in the 1966's show's continuity, so you get references galore, Hayata, Ito...all great stuff for longtime fans. The opening chapter was light on the action, but remained an engaging read. It set up the whole Ultra-Gene thing with Hayatya, whom had passed it down to his son. We have a mysterious threat, who makes landfall here. While the first half of this chapter was pretty average, the later part makes up for it.

Here we have Shin, a teenager in high school whom is seemingly depressed. Hayata tries to talk with him, but he's not having it. Later he runs into a scary scene, three bullies about to attack a teenage girl. Shin steps into action and accidentally twists a foot on one of the guys, and flees the scene. It's there when things get interesting, when the alien reveals himself. First off, I should mention Shin. He was pretty cheerful as a little kid in the first chapter, but once the time skip came, he did a 180. I was going to reserve judgment until this chapter, he doesn't really improve. He's emo and depressed...and we don't get any real reason why he's those two things. He's so far not the greatest protagonist. It's the later half that makes the chapter.

This alien whom resembles Ultraman a bit is making for a pretty cool antagonist. Hayata claims he battled this guy 10 years ago, sadly I can't piece him with any of the classic aliens. Still, the dialogue is great and Hayata's appearance was interesting, I'm looking forward to seeing somethings explained. The art actually improves a bit. The opening pages does a great job showing how depressed Shin is and his father in vain trying to talk with him. The alien is drawn with a sleek design. I can now officially say this is good art and I'm looking forward to seeing how it will do big action sequences.

Overall, Chapter 2 of the Ultraman Manga further establishes Shin and our alien antagonist.  Shin has yet to impress me at all, we're given no real reason why he has a very depressing outlook on things. Of course, this is only Chapter 2 of the first volume, so I would imagine he'll get character development in the coming chapters. The later half is truly exciting. The alien is by far the best part, and Hayata's emergence. I'll be looking forward to seeing how things play out in Chapter 3.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Ultraman Manga: Chapter One Review

Believe it or not, Ultraman is a bigger thing right now in Japan than Godzilla. We just had a film released last year and on top of that the US got an official release of Ultra7. This guy predates Power Rangers by over 20 years, first making landfall in 1966. Since then, the 'Light Giant' has had over 20 TV shows and over 20 movies! Surprisingly, as far as I can tell, there haven't really been much manga. Godzilla has quite a few, but I've never seen an Ultra one. Recently, there has been a brand new manga that is, get this, set after the Original Series. There's not too much action in Chapter One, rather it sets up a few things. It's definitely something fans (especially those whom have seen the Original Series in its entirety) can enjoy.

Set 20 years after Zetton was destroyed and Utraman left for Nebula M78, the story follows Shin, son of Hayata. (The human host of the original Ultraman.) This kid likes the hero a lot, even having a little action figure of him. He's a pretty happy kid, then one day he falls off a platform. But get this...he isn't even scratched. Turns out this kid has the Ultraman Gene, and he's going to need it since an alien invasion is on the rise. First off, I think it's great that the story builds off of the Original Series. It could have gone the route of making a whole new Ultraman with whole new characters, that's the route people would expect it to take. But nope, here we have Hayata, Ito, references to the past...all that good stuff. This first chapter mainly focuses on Hayata and Ito. It has some interesting stuff, we see that Hayata despite no longer being a host for Ultraman has the gene. And he's passed it down to his son. Ito is also aware that he was the Ultraman, and he reveals the others did too, which is quite intriguing. But the action really heats up when Ito shows him a clip of something destroying an aircraft.

This first chapter doesn't try to be epic with big explosions. It sets up the story, showing us what the Ultraman gene is and slowly introducing us to Shin. It also does a nice, subtle job of establishing the incoming threat. Non-watchers of the Original Series won't enjoy it as much, cause there are plenty of references, especially to that last episode  (It's nice to see how well this manga connects to it, from the Zetton vs. Ultraman display to a photograph of the whole Science Patrol, there's a lot to like.) The art is pretty standard. I won't call it average because it hasn't gotten a chance to show how it can do Ultraman and fights. I will say that the opening colorized pages were truly cool. The new Ultraman design is what you get when you combine the classic look with a Gundam and Iron Man. In short, it looks like a very high tech futuristic version. It may look a little too 'out there,' but I'm always open to new takes, it'll be interesting to see it in action. There's a 12 year time skip later. We see Shin as a teen now, fully aware of his powers. So far he isn't anything special, but we've only gotten a few pages of him, so I'll reserve judgment until I read a few more chapters.

Overall, the Ultraman manga is off to a pretty good start. I love how it's part of the Original Show's continuity, using its characters to build a story. I'm indifferent on Shin so far, we'll see how he does in the next few chapters. We also get the hint that an alien invasion is on the way. Ultra fans, especially watchers of the 66 series, should check this out.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

It's a Spongebob Christmas Review

Does this special breath new life into Nick's most popular show?

Spongebob Squarepants is one of the most well-known cartoons of all time, and Nickelodeon's most popular. Pretty much everyone has seen at least an episode, it's something people my age grew up with. The earlier seasons are the ones I know, seen those episodes well over a thousand times. Sadly in recent years, the show has decayed in quality greatly. After the movie came out is when the decaying process started. The plots became mindless, Spongebob got dumber and the writing got to a point where older viewers were like "Just what the heck happened?" Spongebob was once one of the funniest cartoons, now it's just a dud. Every now and then you might find a clever new episode (such as The Two Faces of Squidward) but overall the series has gotten very bad. This new special was designed to be a brand new thing thing for the Sponge, to breath new light. The first thing you'll notice is that instead of the normal animation, it uses stop-motion. After watching the show for so many years, it's truly nice treat to see this. Underneath the pretty graphics is where the truth remains of course, whether or not the writing would be good. It surprisingly is, It's a Spongebob Christmas is definitely the greatest thing to happen to the Sponge since the movie.

The story is rather simple, but much different than the other Christmas episode we all know. Spongebob is all set for merry holiday, but Plankton has big plans. His latest scheme to nab the Krabby Patty Secret Formula involves using 'Jerktonium,' which when consumed it turns the user into, well, a jerk. So once Santa sees that all of Bikini Bottom has turned into jerks, he'll reward Plankton with the Secret Formula. Can Spongebob save the day? To do that he'll have to beat his mechanical duplicate Plankton built, the Robot Spongebob. With that said, this is definitely one of the best Spongebob adventures. I haven't seen any episode in awhile, so this was like watching a piece of my childhood come back. Spongebob is at his finest, displaying his really happy outlook on life with his naivety. (Thankfully the latter isn't overplayed like in the newer episodes.) One of my favorites lines was when he said "That wasn't very nice" when a citizen tells him off due to the Jerktonium

All the characters get to appear, Squidward, Patrick, Sandy, Mr. Krabs, and no-talking appearances for Pearl and Mrs. Puff. It's really cool to hear all the familiar voices in the stop-motion animation. Speaking of which, the main thing about this special is the animation. Rather than go the usual route, they decided to go the Corpse Bride route, and it's gorgeous. This animation could easily pass for something in the theater. The episode would have still been good without it, but using stop-motion makes it something special. Interestingly, Sandy gets more of an important role than either Patrick or Squidward. I think that's a good thing, out of all the characters throughout the show, she's the most underused. Plankton's plan of turning everyone into jerks is clever enough to pass. It doesn't work on Spongebob, due to his love for the holiday, but gets everyone else. Even with all this happening, somehow a robot Spongebob gets a role here, and it's awesome. It even transforms and has a climatic fight with Spongebob, great stuff. I've never been a fan of the Patchy segments, but they were admittedly funny here.

It's a Spongebob Christmas is the best thing to happen to the Yellow Sponge in awhile. The stop-motion is just wonderfully done and fun to look at. The humor is back to being actually funny and smart, something older viewers like myself could enjoy. The characters are once again cool, and Spongebob even gets a little catchy song to himself. I don't know if future episodes will have quality like this, but at least it was such a great watch. Definitely give it a go, especially if you haven't seen Spongebob in years.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Top 4 Background Ponies of Friendship is Magic

Usually when you watch a cartoon you'll spot numerous 'background characters.' They for the most part don't get any lines and are just there to say people (or animals) are walking about. That doesn't apply to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Yup, a lot of these background characters actually do get lines and, get this, become fan favorites. Here I list what I think are the top 4 best of the bunch, but they're all cool in the end.


Lyra may have one of the greatest names of the entire series. She is easily one of the most recognizable background Ponies, thanks to her unique misty green color and Lyre Cutie Mark. She also has the honor of being in the center of the mind-controlled Bridesmaids.

Bon Bon

Bon Bon might just be the most recognizable background Pony, thanks to her curly mane and colors. I wouldn't be surprised if she appeared in almost every episode. She's always there in the background, whether she be walking or hanging out with Lyra. Now what puts her ahead of Lyra besides being more recognizable are her appearances in The Last Roundup. When Applejack is departing, she is the only background Pony there seeing her off, everyone else is Mane 6 and family. Then in the surprise party, she's the only non-Mane 6/family member there, that's pretty cool, that must mean she's good friends with Applejack. Her and Lyra are best pals in the show.

Amethyst Star

Amethyst appears throughout the show. Yes, she is a color palette swap of Lyra, but do you know why I rank her so high? Her only speaking role is in The Mysterious Mare Do Well, and she's awesome in it. Her voice is awesome, her attitude against Rainbow Dash is awesome, she is awesome.

Like a boss.

And finally the one and only...


Were you expecting someone else? Of course not! It all started with a simple error on a gray Pegasus, that error transformed her into the fan favorite background Pony. She has quite a few appearances throughout the show, (even taking on the mayor!) you can always tell by her yellow spiky hair and of course her derped eyes. It wasn't until The Last Roundup where she got her a speaking role, which erupted into a controversy. Still, there's no denying that Derpy is the greatest background character ever.

Friday, January 11, 2013

STAR WARS #1 Review

I remember many years ago when I was in my dad's car. I could have been maybe six...but everything gets fuzzy when you think back. It was in Staten Island sometime in the early 2000s. I'm not sure why I brought it up, but I said, "I have never seen a Star Wars movie" or something like that. My dad then called my mom saying, "He's never seen Star Wars." At that moment we drove to Blockbuster and rented A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. Starting off with The Phantom Menace was an option, but in the end we stuck with how my parents watched them years back, the original trilogy. It was definitely very cool seeing them, I don't think I'd seen any science fiction movies besides the Godzilla films. From Darth Vader's awesome breathing to Yoda's "Do or do not, there is no try," there are many moments that have stood with me. Of course, it's been over ten years since I've last seen them, they've blurred into one big adventure. Me and my family did agree that Return of the Jedi was the best, nothing beats the scene when Vader picks up the Emperor and throws him into the pit, I consider that to be one of the greatest movie scenes of all time. Now with backstory aside, let's move on to the comic. Dark Horse has been the masterminds behind the Star Wars comics for years, expanding the universe. We've had stories from all over the place that predate the films and even take place after. From Dawn of the Jedi to Knights of the Old Republic, it's pretty crazy for people wanting to jump in. This new series is the perfect one for new readers, and fans of the classic films. Taking place after A New Hope but before The Empire Strikes Back, STAR WARS #1 is a really good comic fans should pick up. I've never been a reader of the comics, but once I heard this one takes place in the era of the old trilogy and uses characters from it, I couldn't pass it up. The comic rights revert to Marvel soon, so this looks to be a fine 'final' Ongoing. And what better way than to have Luke, Vader, Leia and all the classics?

It starts out with Luke and Leia talking in space while riding in X-Wings. It's interesting to note that since this takes place before The Empire Strikes Back, Luke doesn't know that's his sister and also doesn't know Vader is his father. The Death Star had been destroyed in A New Hope, this issue references it quite a bit. A lot of readers are like me whom haven't seen the films in years, so this was a fun nostalgic trip. Brian Wood's writing matches that of the films. Luke, an unsure but ready hero and Leia, a caring and confident senator/princess, they work so well together. We also get appearances from Han Solo, Darth Vader, C3PO, Chewbacca...but surprisingly no R2-D2, despite being on the glorious cover. Star Wars has been called 'a very epic space opera,' and in many way that's true, the comic emulates that wonderfully. Character personalities are lifted straight out of the theater, from Han Solo's brashness to Chewbacca being, well, Chewbacca, it's all here. Obi-Wan Kenobi is referenced a lot during the issue, which makes sense since his death wasn't too long ago. For die-hard fans of the movies it could be a bit tedious seeing the many references to A New Hope, but I personally like the references.

Carlos D'Anda handles the interior art, it doesn't disappoint. There's plenty of detail and compliments how the films looked back when it all began in 1977. The definite highlight is Darth Vader, he's drawn with such fantastic detail. (The above image is the main highlight, great stuff.) The cover is one of my favorite parts, it could pass as an official poster. I hadn't realized that Alex Ross had done it, now it all makes sense. it's just gorgeous. I think we already have Cover of 2013 material. As expected, the highlight of the story comes from the Darth Vader scenes. In A New Hope he's portrayed as this evil, very cool-looking commander. It wasn't until Empire when his character was fleshed out. The scenes with him and the Emperor here are truly interesting, and the parts later on compliments this guy's rather emotional background. Another one of my favorite parts is when Leia was talking to Mon Mothma, the dialogue is just fantastic.

STAR WARS #1 is a comic I recommend to fans of the films, the original trilogy specifically. There's plenty to like, the art, the story, the characters, it's a really great comic in the greatest science fiction saga of all time. If you've never read a Star Wars comic, this is the one to pick up. There's plenty of narration boxes and dialogue bringing readers up to speed. With Episode VII coming out in the near future, Dark Horse made a wise decision revisiting the classic films with this series, I'm looking forward to the coming issues.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

On the Recent GODZILLA News and Manga

I will admit that Legendary's GODZILLA is my moat anticipated movie ever. (The record holder use to Spider-Man 3.) Last year was a pretty good year for updates, at the San Diego Comic Con they showed a teaser (which still hasn't been released for the general public) a poster, and a release date of May 16th, 2014. (Can you believe this film was originally meant to come out last year?) 2014 technically makes sense for marketing, it is the big G's 60th anniversary after all. Since then updates have been scarce, but this past week was full of them. Warner Bros. is committed to a March start date, which is just in two months. Casting has begun, no one has been picked yet, but the shortlist includes Henry Cavill (hey maybe Superman will come and try to save the day) and it looks like Aaron Johnson is being sought after now. (Believe it or not Joseph Gordon-Levitt was in discussions but he declined sadly.) All that is minor to these pieces of news...

Frank Darabont of THE WALKING DEAD has been hired to do a 'final re-write.' It's really quite scary seeing how many re-writes this thing has gotten, it definitely shows that TOHO isn't fooling around. It makes perfect sense, they've learned they can't fully put all their trust in us Americans when it comes to the big G. (And we all know why right? 1998 was an interesting year...) With Darabont re-writing, you can tell this film is going to put an emphasis on the gritty part. Now, we already know that Godzilla will fight another monster, but it looks like they'll be a second monster. And the key word here is 'new,' there will be two 'new' monsters. One of the age old questions for this movie was whether or not G would battle another monster from the TOHO universe. Well, it looks like we'll be getting two new monster creations. While I am disappointed that we won't see the likes of Rodan or Anguirus, it'll still be cool to get some new guys. I can't wait to see their official designs and names. 

The other piece of news and arguably biggest is the story will be about a soldier and that the film will be 'really different' than the TOHO movies. When I heard about the soldier part, Half Century War instantly came to mind. That mini-series follows a soldier as he narrates Godzilla's destruction over the years. This soldier will most likely narrate Godzilla's destruction too I would imagine. Now the second part, where it says it'll be 'really different' than the TOHO films is interesting. It might not have been the greatest thing to say, but I understand it. I do think this film should be its own unique thing, I'm not sure if it should be too different than the Japanese films, because we longtime fans still want to see the true Godzilla on the big screen. When they say TOHO they're most likely referring to the late 60s and 70s movies. They really want people knowing that this will be a very serious movie. With Gareth Edwards directing, I have a feeling we'll also have a strong human character. Unlike MONSTERS however, GODZILLA has to be about the title character, not just a plot device or an obstacle, but a character. I hope we'll see that.

While all that could be considered as good news, the bad news is that two producers have left the project, Dan Lin and Roy Lee. Now here comes the interesting part...they're actually attempting to stop the film from going forward. I've read the complaint and it doesn't look like they're going to win, but still a pretty intense thought. As you can see it's really all about the money, forget about the fans whom have been waiting since this was first announced four years ago. The case hasn't exactly happened yet, so it'll be interesting to see how much this sets back production.

Remember the Godzilla manga I talked about not too long ago? The one where it's set five years after Terror of Mechagodzilla? Well it turns out that it's actually a fan manga. It's a little un-surprising, since TOHO would probably never want to revisit the Showa timeline. Still, it's pretty impressive for a fan manga and shows there are still dedicated fans out there.


"From now on, my name is Peter Parker. From this point on--I am Spider-Man." ~Otto Octavius

The Superior Spider-Man was by far the most anticipated book from Marvel NOW, followed by the upcoming AGE OF ULTRON event. Why? Well, Peter Parker is dead. (They didn't put #700 in the death polybag!) The Amazing Spider-Man ended with its 700th issue last month. In it we saw Peter Parker in Otto Octavius's dying body battling Otto whom was in his body. In the end, Peter's plan of switching failed but he managed to shoot his saddest memories of when he couldn't save some people, convicting the Doctor. Peter died, and Otto vowed to be the new Spider-Man, the superior Spider-Man. It was a pretty big shock for the comic world, getting plenty of hate beforehand, but once it came out, that hate died down. Avenging Spider-Man #15.1 was the perfect 'epilogue' of #700 and 'prologue' of Superior #1, it established just how Otto was going to work as the new Spidey. I was intrigued, there's something really interesting about it, plus Otto is just funny. Peter Parker is my favorite character of all time, so I wasn't exactly welcome to this, but sometimes things have to be shaken up for a new story. Superior Spider-Man #1 is a great opening issue with an awesome yet kinda hypocritical ending.

Let's start off at the beginning. We have Otto paying his respects to his body's grave, a great character moment. After so many years of constantly battling Peter, it's really interesting to see this. Soon he hears on the police band that there's trouble. This trouble comes in the form of..are you ready for this...the New Sinister Six. Not the most original thing since the team just appeared not too long ago, but they'll do. The roster is what's interesting, having Shocker, Overdrive, the Beetle, Speed Demon, the Living Brain and...Boomerang? Probably the most diverse version of the Sinister Six. Once Spidey swings in, things get interesting. There is something definitely 'dark' about this series, Otto is definitely what you get when you combine Peter with the Punisher. Dan Slott writes him well for the most part. In the beginning he sounded like a carbon copy of Peter, but in some scenes such as the dialogue with Max Modell and his referring to the Horizon team as "Dolts" are spot on. Mary Jane is quite clueless though. She knows Peter more than anyone...yet in #700 and here she's not the least bit suspicious. There's something wrong with that, right now she's one of the worst written characters of the book. Some parts of the dinner scene were just...not good. I do like Ryan Stegman's art. Even though Otto is using Peter's look, the art succeeds in making him look different than Parker. One particular scene in the lab when he refers to the team as "Dolts" (I know that's the second time I brought it up, it's just funny) his face looks so 'high and mighty', it's good stuff. This brings me to discussing the biggest thing about the issue, the ending...

So Otto finds the Sinister Six, beats them, but decides to really give it to Boomerang. In fact, he's about to kill him when a ghostly hand stops him. That ghostly hand belongs to Casper the Friendly Ghost and...well, actually it's Peter Parker. The ending was leaked a few days ago, I managed to avoid it, so this came as a shock. This is definitely very cool for fans, because the Peter Parker ghost says "I don't know how, but I am still in the fight! I am Peter Parker. And I swear I will find a way back!" It's good stuff, but also kind of hypocritical when you think about it. The whole point about the Superior Spider-Man was for Otto to become the hero, to be the new Spider-Man. Stephen Wacker even commented last month saying, "Peter Parker fans will sort of fade away over the months and years." So to see this happening makes the whole thing moot. Why? I read an interview today that Peter will be a "very strong presence" in the book, which is great, but at the same time this doesn't leave room for Otto becoming the new Spider-Man. Let's look at it this way...if readers see Peter throughout the story, then they're just going to want him back, it just doesn't make sense. But, these comic surprises keep I guess we'll see where this goes.

The Superior Spider-Man #1 is a very interesting start. Otto makes for a very funny title character, I'm looking forward to seeing how other heroes and villains react. Mary Jane sadly is not written well at all. The ending is...intriguing to say the least. Where it goes I do not know, we'll find out as the issues go. Superior? Not quite yet.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

So Godzilla is Getting a New Manga

Whenever Godzilla gets something new, I always consider it to be a big deal. Right now the King is enjoying a revival in the IDW comic world...and that's pretty much it. We have the Monsterarts releasing, and not too long ago that Kaiju World Wars board game released. But, it is impossible to find any type of merchandise within stores. Once Legendary's film comes out next year, the ball will start rolling once more. Now this is interesting news I discovered on the TOHO Kingdom forums. Godzilla is getting a brand new, official manga series. he cool part is that it actually takes place in the Showa continuity!

What I can gather is that it takes place five years after Terror of Mechagodzilla. Now here comes the interesting part, Godzilla isn't the main character, it's Minya grown up. The story is that humanity has caused a nuclear war, leaving the Earth in a state of vulnerability. Intergalactic forces (aliens!) come, but Godzilla and the rest of the monsters of Monster Island force the threat to retreat. Apparently they get them to retreat at the cost of their lives. That's right, Godzilla, Anguirus, Rodan, among a few others die! (Godzilla is the only truly confirmed one, I'm just making an assumption since those other guys are part of Monster Island.) Ten years later, the same threat returns. Now Minya, whom has grown up to be the new Godzilla, and a whole new generation of monsters (?) rise up. So will Minya, now Godzilla, help the world or hold a grudge since they are the ones that started this mess to begin with and inadvertently caused the death of the only thing he could truly call family?

Technically this should be taking place after DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, since Minya is in that film. (DAMM takes place in 1999, while Terror takes place in 1975.) So I'm going to assume this will be an alternate timeline, unless they somehow explain things. First off, it's really quite interesting that this will actually take place within the Showa continuity, doesn't seem like something TOHO would do. This is pretty obscure news, I haven't been able to find out which magazine it's going to be in. I assume an official press release will follow soon. In the second picture which I'm most certain is Volume 1, the word 'Psychic' is there. I'm guessing the girl will be able to communicate with the monsters, or at least understand them. (Like Miki from the Heisei series.) I do wonder exactly what the 'new generation of monsters' is. If the old ones die, then will we see some new guys? Mothra appears as you can see, which makes sense. She is a timeless monster, there will always be Mothra. I think she will be the force that convinces Minya not to destroy the humans for revenge, with perhaps the girl. Of course, if we don't get an official announcement soon, this manga could just fade away from American news. It wouldn't be the first time, cool manga like these I and American fans will never get to fully read.

I don't know the full story behind these, but see how cool they are? (Biollante + Ghidorah = Biodorah? Ghillante?) I mean, Mechani Kong and Mechagodzilla teaming up? Godzilla with a samurai sword? Lots of good stuff we'll never see here. But, in today's day and age, I wouldn't count out the possibility of it coming to American shores. Maybe with the upcoming film it'll create interest? You never know. But, if I don't hear anything in the next few months, we can assume it'll be another manga Americans will never truly get to read sadly. (Unless you somehow import it through Ebay or something.) Still, the fact that Godzilla is getting a new manga that is set in the Showa continuity is astonishing.