Comics, Movies, Video Games, and More

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

~Ephesians 5:16

Friday, May 30, 2014

Ultraman Manga: Chapter Nineteen Review

As the Ultraman manga prepares to enters its 20s, Chapter 19 introduces a few new key plot points. Finally Bemular is back with a substantial role. There's a plot twist regarding his battle with Hayata from way back in the first volume. There's not too much action, and there's a lot of vagueness, but the chapter remains a solid read.

After a pretty brutal opening for a poor human, the story is fixated on two things: the first one being about Endo and his partner investigating another serial killer crime, and Hayata revealing that Bemular wasn't actually trying to him in their battle from way back. Shinjiro doesn't get much page-time. His scenes involve him thinking about life in general. It isn't as bad as it sounds surprisingly, it's quite a subtle and emotional scene.

The biggest thing is the return of Bemular. This guy is the best character, and for now the main antagonist. This chapter however brings to light that he might not be the villain after all. It's an interesting factor and shows that the author is masterful at crating long stories. Z-Ton/Ed is continually written with a great amount intrigue. The reader never knows his absolute true intentions...

Overall, a solid chapter. The story moves along nicely with some impressive splash pages. There's an air of vagueness, so hopefully in coming chapters we start getting some payoffs.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Be a Hero

My personal favorite verse is from Ephesians. It is the sixteenth verse of Chapter 5: "Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." The days aren't exactly chipper. Everyday a crime is committed. Someone gets hurt, whether physically or emotionally. Knowing all of this, a question someone asks himself or herself is:

How can I make a difference?

There's a wonderful song by the band Kutless, and it's called 'Hero.' Here are some of the lyrics...

You could be a Hero
You could be the change in this world
Rise above the Normal
Don’t have to be afraid any more
We are the light we are the hope

You could be a hero. What the world deems 'normal' is not normal by God's standards. I remember not too long ago at work I was faced with a situation. It would have been easy to just keep walking away, but there was a voice inside me saying I needed to go back and make sure there wasn't a misunderstanding. It would have been easy to just keep walking, but I knew I had to go back. Maybe no one would have noticed if I didn't, but I knew God was watching, and that's what mattered.

It's when your mindset changes that you can start to be a hero. When you have that voice inside you saying you need to do the right thing, even if it's uncomfortable or out of the way, you know you're on the right track.

It's easy to just be 'normal' and like 'everybody else.' But in other to "make a change in this world," we have to do things not the normal way, but the right way.

You see someone hurting? Talk to the person. You see someone bullying another? Stand up for that individual. You see someone straying off the path? Help keep him or her on track. By doing these things, you could be a


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Review

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a bit of a surprise announcement. A S.H.I.E.D. movie was often rumored post Iron Man, so it took the place of that. The popular hashtag #CoulsonLives was a part of this. Once it was revealed that the agent who supposedly died in The Avengers would be a recurring star, hype skyrocketed. While it did take a bit for the majority of the characters to become people viewers cared about, the show ended up being one of the most fun ways you could spend a Tuesday night.

After the finale, it's fun to think about the world-building that was established in the very first episode. The show began as riding off the premise that it was part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When it first started you couldn't go one episode without hearing about "New York." While it was a bit jarring at first to hear the same Avengers reference over and over again, looking back it actually made sense. Think about it, the invasion of New York in that world was one the most terrifying things to happen in modern day. Hurricane Sandy even when it was technically over it was talked about for months to come. Realistically, people in that world would still be talking about New York.

While some episodes can be called standalone, (such as 'The Well' and 'Repairs') each of them play into a much bigger picture. The first one introduced Mike Peterson, a nice guy whom eventually is forced into becoming Deathlok. Throughout the season there's the ongoing plot of Coulson trying to find out the details of his rebirth. We also have Skye who is looking for her parents. Easily the most important was the Clairvoyant. This eventually lead into the final arc of the a season, Hydra. In 22 episodes, it's an accomplishing feat to be able to juggle all these plot points. Were they handled properly?

Deathlok was a very cool addition. The sad truth is that the show can't use anyone truly "important" cause it might interfere with the films. (So don't expect Baron Zemo.) It used a lot of obscure characters no one's heard of. (How many knew the Enchantress had a sister named Lorelei prior to watching?) It did however feature Victoria Hand, a mildly popular character. Deathlok is perhaps the most well-known of the comic book appearances. It was definitely a mistake of Marvel to reveal he was going to be in the show prior to his actual appearance. When the big cliffhanger revealing the Deathlok insignia on Mike Peterson came, it was no surprise or big gasp. That aside, the portrayal was good. (It's a shame he didn't look more like his comic book self.) I hope the show uses him more in the second season. With him now officially something of an anti-hero, it would be interesting to see what the writers can do with him.

Coulson's T.A.H.I.T.I. plot was the biggest one driving the show before Hydra entered. It produced a great amount of mystery, with an okay payoff. The conversation he had with Nick on it was perhaps too brief, but still not terrible.

Going into each of the characters now, let's talk about Skye. It took quite awhile for her to become likable. Just when she was starting to, she semi-betrayed the team in 'Girl in the Flower Dress'. But by the finale, she was a well-established character. The season sadly doesn't answer the vital questions abut her. Thankfully, this won't be counted as a negative since season 2 is green-lit and will be airing in September.

-Fitz and Simmons, while somewhat hard to understand at times, remained a nice bubbly duo to have around. They retained a nice brother-sister relationship with hints of a subtle romance. It was only in the finale where Fitz revealed his true feelings subtly. It would have been nice if the finale gave some indication of his condition. Simmons simply stating "He's alive" and then the cast minus him standing for the closing group shot indicates he won't be a recurring member.

-Melinda May right from her first appearance established she was going to be the 'hardcore' member of the group. It's hard not to like her, though admittedly she did come off as unnecessarily mean in some episodes.

-Triplett came later in the show. At first it was hard to like him, primary cause there was a forced romance between him and Simmons right off the bat. (Thankfully it looks like this was dropped.) Later when he officially joined the team he became likable and I look forward to seeing what he brings to the table in season 2.

-AGENT WARD. Ward was established early on as the likable, unbeatable guy who did things by the book and stuck by Coulson's side. One of the greatest things about this show is that it isn't afraid to bring about unexpected plot twists. Ward revealing himself to be a member of Hydra was truly unexpected, and changed the way viewers looked at him. While he probably lost a lot of fans, he made for a great antagonist. While he was somewhat generic as a good guy, as a bad guy that generic-ness can be looked at in a whole new light. I am very happy the show didn't go the cheesy route and had him redeemed by the end. After mercilessly killing Shield agents, that would have brought the show down. Hopefully we'll see him again in season 2.

THE CLAIRVOYANT/John Garrett. The Clairvoyant was the main antagonist of the season. The big question throughout the episodes was his identity. As the Hydra plot settled in, Victoria Hand looked to be the prime suspect. But when she's eliminated by Ward, it turns out it was Garrett, a higher up in Shield and friend of Coulson. Bill Paxton played this character wonderfully, adding a sense of humor and powerful presence none of the villains displayed.

Raina was a mild recurring character. She's interesting, because she doesn't seem to be inherently evil yet far from heroic. It'll be interesting to see what she does in season 2. Po was perhaps the best antagonist aside from Garrett. He was killed off much too early. Quinn was annoying, but a well-written character. Graviton was a bit funny considering he was the complete opposite of his cartoon appearance from way hack in the opening episodes of Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. His story never went anywhere, so I assume it will be expanded on in the next season. Victoria Hand was great, though it's very disappointing she was killed off. She had so much potential, also being one of the biggest comic-related characters. If someone was to be called underused, it'd be her.

It was tricky at first for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to find its footing. It took a bit, but eventually the season found a tone much like The Avengers. It's often light with quippy jokes, but can get very dark too. It's great how it used what happened in the current films. (The Thor: The Dark World tie-in was disappointing though.) The entire Hydra plot originating in Captain America: The Winter Soldier was fantastic and felt like a true espionage comic. While the season's budget offered some bad CGI, it is cool how it remained in the superhero-verse. Some of the beings shot dark energy blasts and could teleport. While most of the guest appearances were somewhat disappointing. we did get an episode featuring Lady Sif, one with Maria Hill, and two with Nick Fury. (The finale's dialogue with him and Coulson was priceless.) By the final episode, the show had developed a perfect tone and delivered a mini-movie every week. With Coulson now officially Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., I look forward to seeing where they go with Season 2 in September!

Sunday, May 11, 2014


When you work as a cashier at the supermarket, you begin to see that a lot of the same people shop frequently. This goes both ways of course, customers see the cashier a lot and sometimes acquaintances can be made. (Sometimes even friendships!) A woman who shops at my workplace came to my line one time and told me, "I always like coming to you, you give off a good vibe." This got me thinking. Giving off a good vibe is important, and it's a very easy thing to forget to do as we go about our daily lives.

Do you give off a good vibe?

That's a question to ask yourself. A few more would be, "Do people like talking to you?" "Can the person you're with expect a genuine conversation?" Vibe is very important. It draws people in. Some might ask, "Why are you so positive?" Some might not even ask, they might just say, "You're so positive!" That's what you always want to strive for. Be positive and cheerful.

In life, being positive and cheerful can be very hard. Everyone has problems; whether it be family related, business related, or health related, we all have things we must deal with. It can be easy to forget that Someone is always with us.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." ~Deuteronomy 31:6

Through God, we can be positive and cheerful through our circumstances. By trusting in Jesus, we have assurance that He is always with us. Once you have the Holy Spirit, a sense of happiness goes into you. Then you start to give off a genuine vibe to others.

Let's face it, no one wants to be around an arrogant showoff, a stuck-up, or downer. If you are or portray yourself to be one of those, it's time to evaluate yourself. Having a good vibe not only draws others to you in genuine way, it also reflects the character of Christ.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

30 Minute Essays: Does Television Have a Negative Influence on Society?

Television is one of the society's most popular ways to relax. After a long day at the job, nothing beats jumping on the couch and watching a favorite show recorded on the DVR. Like all forms of entertainment however, it has received plenty of criticism. Some people become 'couch potatoes' because all they do is watch TV. There's also the popular stereotype of kids who do nothing but watch TV all day. Does television have a negative impact on society? It most certainly does, as with all forms of entertainment.

Back in your parents' day, television didn't have that much negativity. Bloody violence was rare, and everything wasn't as sexualized as it is today. (You can't go a day without seeing a commercial appealing to the latter.) Programs that would have aired at 2 am in the 70's air at 9 pm today. Like all forms of entertainment, television can yield some deadly results.

Television is at heart just a form of entertainment. If a person is wise enough to monitor how much time he or she invests in watching programs, it can be a great way to relax. There are plenty of great programs for all ages to check out. Sadly, while cartoons were once written with care, today most of them are quite mindless. This most certainly can have a negative effect if a child absorbs himself or herself too much into it. A careful parent would be wise to monitor TV watching.

Television is however one of the greatest ways to stay up to date with world news. It has many ways to educate a person, such as the food channel showing the viewer how to prepare a certain dish. It also has channels such as the Trinity Broadcasting Network, a Christian-based channel with sermons and Godly-based material airing around the clock. While it's easy to note all the negative influences television can have, it's important to mention all the positive influences it can have too.

Television does have a negative influence on society. This is nothing new, because all forms of entertainment do. Video games, movies, music, and books all can have negative influences. If carefully regulated however, each of them can yield great benefits. A careful person would want to watch what he sees, and regulate the amount of hours he or she will spend daily on the TV. Only then can a person truly enjoy and benefit from television.

These 30 minute essays are short writings for practice for my College Composition exam, I call them '30 minute essays' because I have a time limit of 30 minutes to write a response to the topic question.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: The Video Game Review

Movie video-game tie-ins aren't as abundant as they use to be. You rarely see any console ones now,  they're usually for the mobile device. (Godzilla is a great example of this.) Perhaps it's for the best, because they have an infamous reputation. Poor gameplay and sub-par graphics are just a couple of the usual complaints. Developer Beenox however is a little different. Having made the fun Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and the criminally underrated Edge of Time, fans were hyped since they would be the ones doing the game adaption for The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012. It sadly wasn't as good as the aforementioned games. Still, its gameplay was leagues ahead of other movie cash-ins. Also sadly, the story was incredibly dull. The Amazing Spidey 2 game received a lot of hype from the developer. Interestingly, they said the game would actually diverge from the movie, becoming its own thing. This was a controversial move, but it could be interesting.The Amazing Spidey 2 suffers in a quite a few areas unfortunately. Despite that, it's still a much more fun game to play than the first.

The story stars Spidey, who is after the Carnage killer, the Kingpin, and trying to help his friend Harry. All of these plotlines for the most part nicely work together. This is a story-based game, but sadly a lot of the writing is pretty poor. The opening scene is the biggest offender. It's a flashback to when Peter walked out of the grocery store in the first film. Sam Riegel, the voice actor for Peter, does a sensationally awful job at this moment. The part where he said in response to the cashier, "Not my problem" was so terrible I was convinced this wasn't actually Peter. Once Uncle Ben was seen however, my greatest fear became realized: the writing of the story was not going to be good.

Thankfully, the rest of the game didn't quite sink that low. A contender however would be Electro. His story is so poorly handled. If the writer wanted the player to sympathize with Max, it didn't work. Electro comes off as one-note, and his lines are so melodramatic it's laughable. While Electro was awful, some of the other villains were nicely introduced into this universe. Shocker, Kraven, and Chameleon were all introduced into their roles very well. The Black Cat also makes a return from the previous game. I really like how her character fits into this universe. It's a shame she was in this story so briefly. That's the interesting thing about this game, it sets itself up for a sequel. So the Black Cat and the Kingpin will surely come back in #3. Sadly like Electro, the Green Goblin feels completely rushed with no build-up. Perhaps the best part of the story is how the Carnage Killer, aka, Cletus Kasady was introduced. It was brilliant how they incorporated him into the plot, and emerging as the final boss. It added some much need pizzazz to the cast, something the first game didn't have at all.

The gameplay is identical to the first game's, with mild improvements. For one thing, you can use Spidey's right arm and left arm to swing, a concept that surprisingly hasn't been used until this point. While the gameplay is still sup-par compared to the more superior Batman Arkham series, it's still pretty fun. Some of the boss fights are pretty innovative. The Goblin fight was unique and interactive, and the Carnage one was climatic. The graphics sadly suffer the movie cash-in syndrome, it looks like a late PS2 game at best. This is not something we should be looking at in the year 2014. The soundtrack is surprisingly very good, you'll be enjoying it as you go through the campaign. One of my personal favorite features is the costumes. Early on you unlock many different ones to play as. From classic to Miles Morales, it's a nice diversity.

Overall, while there are quite a few factors holding back this game, it's still a solid Spidey experience. Carnage is a major highlight, but sadly also shows just how boring most of the other antagonists are. The gameplay isn't anything groundbreaking, but it's still not bad. The story ends on a cliffhanger, so needless to say Beenox has big plans for this universe. While not technically rising too far above the infamous movie cash-in reputation, it's still a fun play.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

30 Minute Essays: Should Governments Censor Material on the World Wide Web?

In recent years there has been a couple of controversies regarding the role of government in the internet. Bills relating to that have not come to pass...yet. Almost all internet users are very much against the government getting involved in the world wide web. If they did become involved, would it truly make a difference? Perhaps in some areas, but overall the question would have to be asked, "Where does it end?"

The internet is the fastest and most reliable entry into what's happening all over the world. It's also a sea of controversies, plenty of bad things have happened on it. Really nasty videos/pictures and dating site controversies are just the tip of the iceberg. True, if the government censored all of this, maybe things would be a little happier. But where does it end? The government would likely censor all of YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter since each of these have been used for evil before. This is true, but they have also been responsible for around the clock news, and in the case of Facebook and Twitter, have saved entire lives. Social media can be a great asset besides keeping up with friends.

Online dating sites have infamous reputations thanks to people using them to either pretend they're someone else, or fool another into sending them money. While this is true, a lot of people have found their spouses through such sites. If the government did censor all of these, perhaps some crimes would be stopped. But that wouldn't stop people with evil intentions from using other sources, such as Facebook and Twitter. The government's response would be to censor those sites too. Really, there is no end.

Some outside governments don't allow free practice of any religion other than their own. You've most likely heard stories of pastors and missionaries who have been thrown in prison for teaching or simply wearing a cross. If governments like that were to censor the web, some people in that country might never be able to hear about the Bible, because any site relating to the Gospels would be censored. How sad would it be if the only way a person can hear about the teachings of Jesus Christ is on the world wide web, and then that's taken away?

The internet is full of evil, there's no getting around that. One could make the argument that governments would just censor the evil. But almost every government has their own definition of what is good and what is not. So in the end, it really should be up to the people navigating the world wide web. They need to have discernment of what they see and and post.

These 30 minute essays are short writings for practice for my College Composition exam, I call them '30 minute essays' because I have a time limit of 30 minutes to write a response to the topic question.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review

It's been two years since Spider-Man was rebooted. While it will always be known as a controversial move, most fans have accepted the change. Director Marc Webb's take on the origin I personally thought was very well done, plus it was a little more faithful to the comics than the Raimi one. Still, the world had already witnessed Spidey's origin on the big screen 10 years prior, so it felt like a rehash. That's why everyone was looking forward to this movie, because we were finally going to see more stories with the character already established. Is The Amazing Spider-Man 2 the best Spidey film to date? Second best? Third? Not quite any of those. It's decent, but not 'amazing.'

The story follows Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) who has to deal with a menace called Electro (Jamie Foxx) who has the power to blackout the entire city. Along the way he has to fight his friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) who has turned himself into a monster, and deal with his complicated love life with Gwen Stacy. (Emma Stone.) It's been said that Sony hopes to make an expansive universe like Marvel Studios has done with their movies. Starting with this film, the universe is going to be its own franchise. This can be considered a problem, because as it's trying to world-build, it forgets to tell a quality story in many aspects.

Andrew Garfield is a great actor, and has nicely solidified himself into the role of the Wall-Crawler. He brings a lot of the signature sarcastic humor Spidey is known for, which somewhat lacked in the original trilogy. He seems to be enjoying the role, as anyone should. Playing Spidey should be fun because he is a funny character. His Peter Parker is also very good. One standout scene is when he 'distracted' the guards at Oscorp from following Gwen. He and Emma Stone have such an amazing amount of chemistry, one of the best comic book movie romances out there.

While the two lead starts are very good, the villains are anything but. Electro gets the most screen time out of all the villains, and sadly he is truly awful. I'm still not sure not sure if the movie meant to portray him as a joke or sympathetic character. His lines are horrendous and extremely unrealistic. The way he breathed after he transformed was a neat effect, but that's really the only good thing I can say about him. Mr. Freeze from Batman and Robin is a better written character, let that sink in for a second.  For some odd reason, Norman Osborn dies early on and Harry becomes the Green Goblin. While I was fine with DeHaan's portrayal of Harry, (it was actually quite good) the Goblin comes out of nowhere and is very rushed. In fact, the word 'goblin' isn't even mentioned. If you thought Venom was rushed in Spider-Man 3, this is that times eleven.

It's not even worth mentioning Rhino, (Paul Giamatt) since he contributes nothing to the story. Aunt May (Sally Field) didn't really contribute anything either, and sadly it shows how much better she was in the original trilogy. Spidey's costume has never looked more fantastic, and the web-slinging looks incredible; it's 'amazing' to see him sling around as if this were a comic book. The two climaxes are decent. The fight with Electro isn't anything special, but it's still alright. The battle against the Goblin is extremely brief and rushed, why they didn't save this last 10 minutes for the third film is beyond me. (At least the final part of the scene had genuine emotion.) The soundtrack isn't anything great, but isn't terrible either.

Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 suffers from quite a few problems. For one thing, none of the villains are great. Electro is a joke, one of the worst cinematic villains I've seen in awhile. The Goblin is one of Spidey's greatest enemies, so it's a crime that he was shoehorned in. Not only that, but his name isn't even mentioned, and the design is awful. (I wouldn't be surprised if people didn't even know that was the Green Goblin!) Despite all of this, it's still pretty decent. Spidey slinging around the city has never looked better, and the action is fun. Sadly though, it's the worst Spidey film to date. Hopefully the third one puts emphasis on the "Amazing" part.