The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Happy New Year


Season One took so long to air that it actually does feel a bit like five years. Time skips are a gamble. In theory, when they are this big, I do not like. In practice? Well, I take that on a case by case basis. Did I like this one? Well, over the coming weeks I'll find out, won't I?

Of course, this being the internet, a lot of people are already decrying it. I can understand where they're coming from. We missed five years of our protagonists' lives. Superboy and Miss Martian are no longer a couple. Zatanna and Rocket are now members of the Justice League. Robin is now Nightwing. Aqualad, Kid Flash, and Artemis are all unaccounted for. Am I annoyed? Yes, a little. Will everyone be accounted for? I think so. Will we find out what happened in between? I think we'll learn what we need to know, yes. No, the sky did not fall. Of course, what I've found the most annoying are the people who are proclaiming that the series is going to take a plunge in the ratings because kids are too dumb to understand what is going on. Well, anyone who says that is speaking from a position of unbridled arrogance and is even dumber than the people they claim to be speaking for.

So now we have a new Team. Aside from Nightwing, Superboy and Miss Martian, we've got Wonder Girl, Batgirl, Lagoon Boy, Beast Boy, Blue Beetle, and somebody I don't know. I am not a DC guy, and never really have been. So, after months of getting used to and settling into the DC Universe, I am finally thrust back in having to wikipedia most of these people so I know who I'm talking about. I've heard of Blue Beetle, and I am very familiar with Batgirl. I have no idea who anybody else is. But I'm sure we'll get to know them, and I've always been a patient viewer. The production team has long since earned my trust.

Lobo, ugh, Lobo. I know he was introduced in 1983, but he didn't really take off until the 90's and, well, he's not someone I'm ever going to like. I'm not a fan of the overly violent, over the top 90's anti-heroes of comics, and I never will be. From the same era that brought us Venom: Lethal Protector, and Image. So, Lobo was an unwelcome sight here. But he did lead to a great near freak out shot where he tore Tseng in half and we found out he was a Skrull.... er, an alien. A tiny alien in an H.R. Giger robot suit.

In season one, I kept calling the Miss Martian/Superboy relationship shallow and hormones (like Romeo and Juliet). I did not call it that to trash it, I thought it was that by design. Then said I was wrong after the "I always knew what you were scene." Now, it looks my initial assessment was the correct one. But, I will have to see the circumstances behind their break up first. But really, how long do most teen romances survive?

My favorite parts of the episode was when we learned that the Justice League are wanted war criminals all across the galaxy. We all theorized that Vandal Savage had them carry out something like this, but it looks like they caused the galaxy's September 11th or Pearl Harbor. I can't wait to see where this goes. I also loved Tim Curry as G. Gordon Godfrey, all he needed to do to become more like Glenn Beck was cry. I thought it was hilarious.

Overall, did I like it? Yes. Of course, I am also confident everyone will be accounted for. We'll hear from Aqualad, Kid Flash, and Artemis soon enough. The Light is still out there, and still going to be a major element in the series. We'll hear about Red Arrow's mission to find Speedy. We'll find out why Superboy and Miss Martian broke up. The show was not ruined, and while I understand the shock, I think all viewers with an IQ over 70 are at least keeping this in perspective, and know we're gonna get the show we need. Either way it's always better to write up towards your audience instead of assuming your audience is a bunch of brain dead, illiterate nitwits like Jeph Loeb's "Ultimate Spider-Man" does and like the nitwits who are "speaking for" the youngsters in the audience.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Welcome to the Kree Empire


I feel a little out of my element with this episode. I'm a life long Marvel Comics fan, but I've never been too interested in the cosmic corner of their universe. I know who the Kree are, but I never read many stories with them. I've never read a comic with Ronan the Accuser in it. Or Captain Mar-Vell. But, I'm way out of my element with DC Comics entirely, and I review "Young Justice" so I won't take the easy way out and just say that I liked this episode.

A lot happened in this episode. We followed up on Kang's ship, the Damocles for starters. I was beginning to wonder if this advanced star ship from thousands of years in the future was going to be ignored or not. But, hey, S.W.O.R.D. made it into a base. Cool. Henry Gyrich, mostly of X-Men fame, makes his first appearance on the show... and he is exactly as you would expect him. Stiff, douchy, government operative. Gyrich is an asshole, and always has been. We are also introduced to Abigail Brand... a character I never heard of. I hope we get an explanation soon, because the fact that she has powers shouldn't be treated as familiar and ho-hum.

I think Ms. Marvel was the highlight of the episode. We've been waiting for Carol to make use of the powers she gained last season, and I wasn't disappointed. Part of me wishes they went with her more familiar costume, but I'm cool either way. Wasp aside, the Avengers were a huge sausage fest, and I'm glad they have another woman on the team. I'm hoping Black Widow officially joins some time this season too.

The Kree have come to Earth, and Ronan has come to judge whether we would be enslaved into their empire or killed. Of course, since Murphy's Law always applies in such things, he decides to smack humanity with his hammer so hard, you'd think Hank took Jan home to beat her senseless. I'm not familiar with the character, and was under the impression he was a cosmic power... so I was a bit surprised the episode ended with him imprisoned in their Negative Zone prison. Nice cameo from Kang there too.

I wish I could say I feel bad for Captain Mar-Vell, but I don't. Yeah, he was trying to help us... by assisting his people in a peaceful conquest of Earth. Pardon me, but how is that any different than what Kang was doing in season one? The only difference is that Kang was being a jerk about it. The end result would have been similar. In fact, I am reminded of "Transformers Armada" (which I stopped watching after three episodes) where Optimus Prime talked about how the Decepticons would make the minicons slaves, and the Autobots intended to use them as, exact quote: "workers, not slaves." At best, an Earth that was part of the Kree Empire would have resembled Vichy France. We're damned either way. And I for one was glad Ms. Marvel and Iron Man didn't go for it.

Of course, Captain Skrull threw a monkey wrench into any minuscule chance for peace talks. Not shocking. I wonder how long this charade will continue? I'm enjoying it, of course, but I miss the real Cap. I wonder if Skrully here attacking Ronan was the incident that Kang was referring to. Probably not, that would be too simple.

Fun episode, I liked it.

DCAU Bashing?

I want to take a little bit of time to clarify something that I've been seeing quite a bit of since my review for the season finale of "Young Justice" went live at World's Finest. I was not DCAU bashing. Not at all. Do I put the DCAU on a pedestal? No. Do I like it? I like a lot of it.

1. "Batman the Animated Series" started the DCAU and it is my second favorite animated series of all time. It's not even a distant second, it's second by a fraction of a hair. I think it's terrific. It's a flawed masterpiece. Sure there are several episodes of the series I can't bring myself to ever watch again, but when it shined, it shined! And it shined a lot. And "Mask of the Phantasm" is still the best Batman film ever made.

"Superman the Animated Series" didn't do it for me. Mostly because I just don't care for the title character (and those who know me know that's an understatement). But it had some gems. I thought the first appearance of Brainiac and Metallo were pretty good episodes. I thought the one where Clark Kent "was murdered" was great, and I thought most of the Darkseid episodes were fucking brilliant and awesome.

"Batman Beyond" well, before "The Spectacular Spider-Man" came about, I called BB "the best Spider-Man cartoon ever." I like it, I really like that first season. But it did shamelessly steal a lot from Marvel, and from Spider-Man. I tend to think if it wasn't part of the DCAU, a lot more people would have called it out over this. I felt there were many missed opportunities, and I really have mixed feelings about Terry being a clone of Bruce. But I thought "Return of the Joker" was terrific.

"Justice League" and "Justice League Unlimited" is a series I have such mixed feelings about. When it worked, it shined. When it didn't, it landed flat on its face. I know the series is very highly, highly regarded. And I love, genuinely love, parts of it. I'm not trying to say the Emperor had no clothes, I just don't think his robe was made of the finest materials. There are things that could have been done far better. I remember being disappointed that Lex Luthor was trotted out as the main villain again, and felt the Justice League should have someone else to be their Big Bad. I thought the character of Vandal Savage had potential for such a role, even if I didn't think the show explored the concept of an immortal neanderthal as well as I would have liked.... making him mostly a Bond villain with a gimmick.

Well, if you guys want an analogy. The DCAU is the "Star Trek" of animation. B:TAS is TOS with a ton of spin-offs. But, while I respect and even enjoy a lot of "Trek," I prefer "Babylon 5" and "Firefly" by no small margin.

Frankly, I hate that we live in an era where anything but glowing praise is interpreted as bashing. I was not bashing the DCAU and I never will. If you want to see bashing from me, read my "ThunderCats" reviews, or anything I've ever said about a Michael Bay movie. I'm not at all subtle when I bash.

2. I don't think heavy continuity automatically makes a good show. While my preference is towards heavy continuity and character development, like anything else it needs to be well executed. Look at Marvel's animation output in the 90's. I think it all sucks. They did have (or attempted) continuity and character development, but I thought they mostly botched their shows. And I say this as a lifelong fan of Marvel Comics. Despite all my criticisms in the preceding paragraphs, I'd still rather watch any of those DC shows than any of the 90's Marvel shows.

But yes, some shows which I think used their continuity and character development extremely well include "Gargoyles," "Spectacular Spider-Man," "Avatar the Last Airbender," "Exosquad," "Young Justice," "The Venture Bros.," "Beast Wars," "Transformers Animated," and "Avengers - Earth's Mightiest Heroes."


EDIT: 3. Because I just saw someone accuse me of this, and I am annoyed by it. Just because I do not like Superman doesn't mean I don't understand his importance in the DC Universe. I understand it plenty, it doesn't mean I have to like the character. Superman is not a character I enjoy watching. There is no lack of understanding on my part. The character just doesn't do it for me. Period.

I think to accuse me of just not understanding the character is pretty damn obnoxious. I have a friend who is a HUGE fan of the fantasy genre, and gobbles fantasy books like a fish drinks water. But J.R.R. Tolkien doesn't do it for him as an author. He understands Tolkien's importance in the fantasy genre, but his books just don't do it for him. I love Tolkien, but I am not obnoxious enough to accuse him of not understanding Tolkien.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Revelation


"The Legend of Korra" continues and I couldn't be more excited. After a brief glimpse at the Equalist movement and even briefer glimpse of Amon in the pilot, finally we get an entire episode devoted to them. While the overall plot was nothing that we haven't seen before, the execution was stellar.

The Equalist movement was terrifying. I'll be honest, as a "Gargoyles" fan, this is how I always hoped the Quarrymen would have been portrayed in Greg Weisman's third season, instead of the thugs r' us they became in "The Goliath Chronicles." While the brief glimpses we got of the Quarrymen in the comics were great, it didn't last long enough to really gauge where that story arc was going. But the Equalist movement is both terrifying and they have a point... which makes them even more terrifying.

Mako got quite a bit of growth here, moving beyond just criticizing Bolin and keeping his distance from Korra. While he does not hold the highest opinion of his brother, he does love him. The episode both tells us and shows us that he has protected Bolin since the two of them were kids, and he was the reason they survived after being orphaned. But, I will admit, when he mentioned that his parents were mugged and murdered by a Fire Bender in front of him when he was eight years old, the first question that popped into my head was "where is his bat-suit?"

Amon is a terrific villain so far. Supposedly, his parents were killed in front of him as a child too, and his face was burned off when his home was burned down... which is why he wears the mask. Personally, I doubt this story is true, and I think his face is probably fine. Still, the guy is a scary badass who can take on benders and, somehow, remove their bending. A feat Korra calls impossible, and Tenzin later said was only impossible for anyone except the Avatar. We've seen this before when Avatar Aang defeated Fire Lord Ozai. How is Amon doing this anyway? Is he an energy bender? Or does he have other means.

But what I think is really brilliant about Amon is that he is a secular revolutionary in a world with an objectively true religion. He is basically lobotomizing people's spirituality. On that note, I can understand. I am an Agnostic, sometimes Atheist, myself... and even if it were proven to me that a deity or deities did exist, I would not worship them. But Amon is a villain, because while I do not follow a religion, I respect other people's rights to do so. Amon is imposing his brand of atheism on to others, and crippling them.

So, does anyone think Amon was going to let those benders go once the show was over? Or do you think he was going to kill them after he took away their bending?

Great episode. Looking forward to the next one.

EDIT: NEW THEORY! Aang had to learn to energy bend from a lion turtle... and Amon claimed he spoke to the spirits to learn this. Which spirit and why does he wear a mask? Koh the Face Stealer! If I'm right... you read it here first, I called it!

Auld Acquaintance


It's hard to believe that we're finally here. "Young Justice" premiered with "Independence Day" on Black Friday, 2010. Finally, on April 21st, 2012, the show's premiere season comes to a close. Twenty-six episodes spread across three separate years. I don't know if this has ever happened before, but it's certainly the longest time I've ever spent watching one season of a television show. But right now, I can think of no better testimony for this series than to point that despite the constant delays in the airing of the series, and even losing some momentum because of it, the show never ceased to be engaging. Sure, in a perfect world, the season would have aired in less than one year, but we do not live in a perfect world. Neither does The Team.

I loved that cold opening. In fact, it almost feels that on any other DC show, Batman would have been so on top of things that they would have stopped Red Arrow, and subdued Vandal Savage. On any other DC show, Batman would have already known that Red Arrow had been compromised as a traitor. Hell, I've seen people demanding to know how Batman missed this after "Usual Suspects" aired last week. Well, Batman might be the world's greatest detective, but he is not omniscient.

The build-up to this episode started as far back as "Independence Day," everything mattered. Every action taken by every character since the pilot has built up to this. Every action had implications and consequences. It was all a slow burn to a boiling pot. Unlike the overrated "Justice League Unlimited" where you were lucky if anything had even short term consequences, and character development was non-existent unless you were named John Stewart or Shayera Hol. What were the long term consequences of the Annihilator armor created for Ares in JLU's horrid "Hawk and Dove" episode? Um, we got a pretty cool Suicide Squad episode where they infiltrated the Watchtower to steal it, and add it to Project Cadmus' arsenal. Quite a lot of build-up and then... Felix Faust took it on a joyride and it got destroyed in an episode that had nothing to do with their Cadmus arc. Not that I much cared for how the Cadmus arc ended... so much great set-up, and then when it got just a touch too nuanced, a convenient bad guy, without the slightest bit of hint or foreshadowing, showed up for them to beat up and no one again questioned whether the League could go rogue because they took down the big gun on the Watchtower (as if that was really the most powerful thing the League had). I, of course, bring all of this up because the acclaimed "Justice League Unlimited" may have attempted a story arc (something its predecessors never tried), but they didn't really succeed at it. They wanted to have their cake and eat it too, which is why nothing really disturbed the precious status quo. Hawkgirl betrays Earth to the Thanagarians (which was a GREAT story, by the way)? Yeah, she takes a sabbatical and comes back to the League, and the only consequences are an "I Hate Hawkgirl" chat room on the internet.

"Young Justice" knew what it was doing from the word go. Yes, there were times when I was frustrated with it, particularly early on, but it was a slow burn. The seeds were being planted. I was wondering how Red Arrow being the traitor was going to work, and in retrospect, boom, it was there since the pilot. There is not a single episode you can take out of the entire season without really losing something. It would be like removing a chapter from a novel, and that's what the first season of "Young Justice" is: an animated novel. While it did take me a while to warm up to some of the characters, hell it took some of the characters a while to warm up to each other, or in some cases warm up to themselves. But, in the end, it all came together beautifully and we got the best DC series since "Batman the Animated Series."

But how does the episode itself stack up? Pretty damn well. It's sidekick against mentor, and some of us discover whether Freud was right. I was wondering how The Team would be able to take on the League and defeat them in a manner that was credible, and they did it... thanks to the Starro Tech taking 0.16 nano-seconds to control the host, long enough for Red Tornado to arrange to save The Team. From there, it's a series of twists and turns, and all those months conducting stealth black-ops missions really would have paid off.

Vandal Savage was in top form here as we learn what his motivation is for all of this. He believes in survival of the fittest, and as the Justice League preserves the status quo, they also slow down the evolution and development of the human race. The truth of the matter is this, he is not wrong. Evolution is come about through conflict. The United States split the atom to end the second world war. The United State went to the moon to beat the the Russians there. With eternal peace, with an eternal status quo, there is no reason to go anywhere. No reason to develop. Vandal Savage has been around for fifty thousand years, he's seen every human accomplishment, and probably had a hand in at least a few. He wants us to become a galactic power, and in a universe where aliens are known to exist, he's not wrong. Weakness can leave one open to invasion (see what I did there?). However none of this makes him the good guy, far from it. What is the price of the strength he wants to give us? Our freedom. But, I think this is a great motivation and plan for Vandal Savage... and much better than the Bond villain with a gimmick from "Justice League" and "Justice League: Doom." The latter especially, where his plan there was to kill off half of the human race, deprive technology to the other half so the survivors would depend on him and make him ruler. I prefer a Vandal Savage who sees the big picture, not one who is short sighted enough to think the plan from "Doom" is a good idea. This guy is the perfect arch-enemy for The Team... an ancient, immortal against young heroes.

Red Arrow? That poor kid. Yes, he may be a clone, he may be biologically eighteen years old, but eighteen is still a kid. He was probably the biggest victim out of anybody. While he was obnoxious and disrespectful at times, he still wanted to be a hero. He still wanted to do the right thing. He couldn't help what he was, what he was programmed to do. On top of all this, he learns that he is not who he thought he was. But he wants to do the right thing, and find the original Speedy. Speaking of whom, that shot where we see the Light clearing out of Cadmus and we see the original Speedy on ice, missing an arm... talk about high octane nightmare fuel. What did the Light do to him.....

... and it really stops to make you think that this is what the Light would have done to Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad in the pilot.

But, this episode is really about The Team, and this was their finest showing to date. They saved the League and handed The Light a real defeat (or did they?). Superboy finally bonded with Superman, and it looks like Superman will finally become the mentor that Superboy needed. Kid Flash and Artemis finally kiss at midnight, and I was even more amused by Zatanna pulling Robin into a kiss.

It's a small moment, but I loved it when Zatanna tried, but failed to remove the helmet of Fate from her father.

I will say that if any member of the Team got the short end of the stick, development wise, this season, it was Aqualad. But, we're now at New Year's. Queen Mera is due in February, and Ocean Master/Prince Orm is still at large, as is Black Manta. I suspect Aqualad's real shining moments are yet to come.

I suspected that the Light would survive this season as an organization, and I'm glad they did. Things should get really interesting now that the League and The Team know that the Light exists. But even worse, six of the League members are missing sixteen hours while under Savage's control. What did they do? Whatever it was, even in defeat, the Light accomplished something and I suspect the consequences will be dire... because in all great stories, actions have consequences.

Bring on the invasion! Bring on Phase Two.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Alien(s)


I recently re-watched these two movies, and while so many have talked about them to the point of this post being redundant, I love them so you're going to have to live with that redundancy. So, with that out of the way, let's talk about Ridley Scott and James Cameron's masterpieces.

"Alien" is a work of art. A nightmarish work of art with visuals straight out of the mind of H.R. Giger (and trust me, this guy could make H.P. Lovecraft nervous), but a work of art. At the core of it, this is a movie about sex, reproduction, and everything that entails. When you're aboard the Nostromo, it's almost like being in the womb. Hell, the ship's central computer is called Mother.

The dark side to all this is the titular alien itself. The thing itself is the personification of rape. For all intents and purposes; once the egg hatches the facehugger rapes it's victim's face as it plants an embryo inside you. Then the chestburster (which is pretty phallic) bursts out of it's host's chest, in a twisted version of child birth before growing into this biomechanical nightmare (complete with phallic head and tail). This thing is the antithesis of the miracle of life... and, as Ash called it a perfect organism. And despite all this twisted evil, it is frightening in it's purity. There was almost something sadistic in it's behavior. It didn't speak, but it was definitely as intelligent as any human, perhaps even more so.

Ellen Ripley herself is a perfect protagonist. She's no hero, just an ordinary, blue-collar person thrust into extraordinary events while on the job. She never set out to be a hero, and to be honest, in "Alien" she never did become a hero. She just survived. Ellen Ripley was you and I, and that's a big part of the reason why she worked so well. I do believe this element was lost throughout the sequels, but I'll get to that.

In "Alien," Ridley Scott made what I think is the best science fiction film of all time. Despite it taking place in space, is is chilling in it's reality. The artistry in the film is perfect. Every scene, every shot, every line of dialogue has purpose. There are no heroes, just people who do a day job and struggle to survive against... alien. Some people call this a horror film, and while there are elements of horror, I don't think so. All great science fiction explores the affects of science or technology or even what is "alien" on man. It seems easy on paper, but there needs to be that element of reality to it, and it is not in play in 99% of science fiction. This movie is science fiction in the purest essence of the genre, and the horror is here because anything else would be sheer fantasy.

Now, let's talk about the sequel. "Aliens" is a fantastic movie. I love it. I love it very much. This is as good as a Hollywood action movie can ever possibly get. But anyone who says it is better than "Alien" or even just as good as "Alien" is wrong. Now, I know "Aliens" has a ton of critics among Ridley Scott fans, but rest assured that I am not one of them.

I think the reason "Aliens" works so wonderfully as a sequel is because it was so different. James Cameron did not set out to re-create the first movie, or to even try to top the first movie. He took Ellen Ripley, and the alien and made something very different. An action adventure movie with a lot of humanity to it. A lot of really fun characters, and a bad guy who you can't wait to see die a horrible death... and since this is "Aliens," you know that he will.

This movie takes place fifty-seven years after "Alien" ended, and Ripley was in cryo trying to make it back home after the Nostromo was destroyed. She hasn't aged, but her daughter grew old and died of cancer. Ripley is pretty much co-erced into going back to face this thing as an adviser to the marines, after the colony had been taken over by the aliens. Ripley bonds with the colony's only survivor, a little girl named Newt and becomes a surrogate mother to her, bringing back the theme of motherhood.

Taking the theme of motherhood even further, Ripley meets her nemesis in the Alien Queen, the one that has been laying all of the eggs. I think the Queen is one of the greatest movie monsters of all time. The design is great, even H.R. Giger gave it two thumbs up. And it makes a great foil for Ripley in this story. Ripley wants to wipe out the aliens and save Newt because she couldn't be there for her own daughter. Even though the Queen can't talk, it wants to spread the population of the aliens. And, after Ripley torches some of it's eggs, well... it's on!

Let's talk about the Queen for just a moment. This thing was not Ridley Scott's impression. One of the criticisms leveled against the concept of the Queen was that, even though the aliens were still clearly intelligent, James Cameron turned them into something a little more familiar to us with the Queen's inclusion. Not only do I understand where they are coming from but, even though I said the Queen is one of the greatest movie monsters of all time, I kind of agree with them. There is a deleted scene in "Alien" where two of the people captured by the alien are cocooned and mutating into eggs themselves. That is both an even more frightening concept and far more, well, alien. James Cameron took advantage of this scene being left on the cutting room floor to create the Queen, and through the Queen, a perfect foil for Ripley. Did it work? Absolutely. But I can't help but feel a slight preference for the original concept. Thankfully, I don't think the two are irreconcilable, as this thing in both movies has shown an ability to adapt to suit it's needs, so hey, they needed a queen. Why not?

I would also like to add that the aliens themselves, from the creature in the first film to the Queen in the second are the greatest movie monsters of all time, and they didn't need CGI to be pulled off. The Queen is an animatronic puppet, and the alien in the first movie is a guy in a suit. Find me any CGI creation that both looks better and is more effective. You can't! It just isn't happening. I know Hollywood doesn't like to hear this, but these movies are proof that all the best CGI in the world will never be a substitute for the best practical effects. Everything here looks real, and lived-in. There is nothing sterile about it, unlike the utterly lifeless looking "Star Wars" prequels.

So there you have it, one of the greatest movies ever made, and one of the greatest sequels ever made. "Alien" is a perfect movie, a timeless classic. "Aliens" comes pretty close too, I have to admit. Sure it's not what Ridley Scott would have done, but it works beautifully anyway. I guess I would liken "Alien" to a perfect art film, and "Aliens" to a perfect Hollywood blockbuster. Together, we get a great duology, and it's not about which one wins and which one loses... we the viewers are the winners here.

.......

.............

......

Sigh, I suppose I cannot avoid it. "Alien 3" is terrible. I don't know what they were trying to do here, but killing off Newt and Hicks was a terrible idea, not to mention I do not buy an egg making it on board the ship. Did the Queen bring one with her when she attacked Ripley? I didn't see it. While I don't dislike the idea of Ripley sacrificing her life to prevent more of these things from spreading, make that the ending to a much better movie! And no, it's not David Fincher's fault, he did not get to make the movie he wanted to make, Fox interfered from the word go, and to this day he won't even put the movie on his resume.

"Alien Resurrection" was just as terrible. Remember when I said that Ripley was you and I, and that's why she worked as a character. Well, "Aliens" turned her into an action hero, which I am 100% cool with. "Alien 3" took it even farther than that, and by the time we get to "Alien Resurrection" this is all over, instead she is the half-human/half alien superhero clone. I'm sorry, I get angry just thinking about it.

And as far as the "Alien vs Predator" movies go... ugh. Please, don't ask me to go there. Just don't. If I rant about those, it will end with the FBI putting me on some kind of watch list. If you like them, please do not comment. So, I'll let James Cameron and Ridley Scott have the word on those.




"Alien" is a perfect film. If you've never seen it, you're really missing out on something special. In fact, I'll say you're more than missing out, you're depriving yourself. "Aliens" is a great and fun return to the character of Ripley and that world. See that one too. Avoid anything else at all costs. Ridley Scott returns to this world with this summer's "Prometheus" and I have high hopes for it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Acts of Vengeance


We are three episodes into the third season, and "Acts of Vengeance" is about two things: resolving dangling elements of the first season while laying pipe for what comes next. This episode accomplishes both masterfully, proving once again that Chris Yost and Josh Fine were a dream team for this series.

The first season climaxed with an epic battle, when Loki nearly conquered the nine realms. His favorite pawns were Baron Zemo and his Masters of Evil. The Enchantress was manipulating Zemo on Loki's behalf, but Zemo never trusted her and attempted to turn her into his slave. Well, now she's pissed and she wants revenge. Hell hath no fury...

After Chemistro, Living Laser, and Arnim Zola are taken out, Zemo goes to the Avengers, offering to turn himself in if they can help him defeat the Enchantress. The Avengers agree to it, but take precautions. Frankly, they would be idiots straight out of a cartoon from the 1980's had they believed Zemo was serious about surrendering. How many times has Optimus Prime been shocked that Megatron would lie or cheat? I don't care what decade it is, trusting a group calling themselves Decepticons is just as stupid as trusting a group that calls themselves, oh I don't know... the Masters of Evil!

On that note, and while this is by no means a deal breaker for me, I was disappointed when Zemo actually started referring to his group as the Masters of Evil. When they first appeared, he referred to them simply as the Masters... and made use of it as appropriate: "today we become Masters of this world," etc. The Avengers would call them the Masters of Evil. This, I felt, was a nice way around it... and then Zemo started using the full name too. I know it's from the comics, but the Silver Age was a long time ago... there is a reason the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants is now just the Brotherhood of Mutants. And, I love that in "Young Justice" the villainous organization is called The Light instead of the Legion of Doom or something like that. Names like this were fine for their time, but I prefer at least a tiny bit of nuance. I know Baron Zemo is a Nazi, but the Nazis didn't think of themselves as evil, even if they most definitely were. Even the good guys on this show are more a bit more nuanced, even if they are a love letter to Silver Age heroes... hence Hank taking Jan home and beating her senseless again. ;)

My favorite part of the episode was the interactions between Baron Zemo and Captain America, or rather the Skrull pretending to be Captain America. Zemo doesn't care that Iron Man is giving his word to protect him from Enchantress, he wants Captain America's. He knows Captain America is good and noble, and knows he will keep his word... there is so much history here, you know that Zemo used Cap's honor against him back during World War II based on these dialogue exchanges. Naturally, the Skrull pulls a double cross, which was great. Unfortunately, it led to an unfortunate missed opportunity. I would have loved it if Zemo had figured out that Captain America was an impostor based on this, actually tried to say as much to the Avengers only for his warning to fall on deaf ears. But, again, this is hardly a deal breaker.

Wonder Man was the hero of the episode, seemingly giving his life to prevent Enchantress from using the Norn Stone and destroying it. The Avengers managed to convince him that Baron Zemo was a bad person... I suppose that the name, Masters of Evil, wasn't a big enough clue ;). Will he be back? Probably. I'd prefer it if he didn't come back, but I was never a fan of the heroic Wonder Man in the comics.

Finally, we lay pipe as the Twilight sword is stolen, which spooks Odin to no end, and Enchantress finds herself in the clutches of Surtur, in a scene beautifully inspired from "Night on Bald Mountain." I cannot wait to see there this goes.

I know I had some nits with the episode, but they were hardly complaints. I give the episode an A-. It was still very good, and left me wanting to see more. Baron Zemo was always the breakout villain for me on this show, so it's always a pleasure to see him.

Now, to deal with some unfortunate news and rumors. This is spreading across the internet very fast. While I know some people don't want to think the worst, Loeb is speaking classic industry speak. It's beyond clear that "Avengers - Earth's Mightiest Heroes" is over.  Jeph Loeb has been incredibly outspoken over what he thinks animated shows should be like. He wants to turn back the clock to the 1980's, and this is unfortunate. He once said DC's shows suck because they don't look like comic books. Well, duh. These are different mediums. You have to streamline art for animation, otherwise you end up with animators drawing Wolverine's body hairs over and over and over again, and nothing looks good. He's also said that he doesn't like continuity and story arcs in television animation.... these are actually things he's said. Basically, Jeph Loeb is the Anti-Weisman.

And when asked if they would get a new series, or a third season, all Loeb would say is "We have big plans for the Avengers." Now, I've been around a while, I know this biz quite well. This is industry code for "we're killing it and making a new one." I know some people are trying to remain optimistic, but this is what is going to happen. Personally, I think it's a shame. Marvel Animation had finally caught up to DC animation, and now Loeb is undoing all that. The best thing that could happen would be for Marvel to fire him, but I'm not expecting that to happen.

Aw well, this episode was good, and we still have at least eleven more great episodes to come. After that, the remaining episodes of the season were produced after Loeb took over, and Josh Fine and Chris Yost were removed from the series. I'm hoping for the best, but I'm expecting the worst.

Such a shame, because I'm really loving this show.

The USM Drama continues...


I don't want to keep doing this, but this just keeps getting better and better. I've lurked, and the reception to "Ultimate Spider-Man" seems to be lukewarm at best. Although I've seen more and more people turning against it. Now, some people really seem to like it, and they are entitled to. I don't mind people having different opinions as long as they're not stupid about it. However, sometimes a whack upside the head with clue-by-four is needed.

A few of the people who really embraced USM have been hitting back at "Spectacular Spider-Man" in ways that just, well, made me laugh my ass off. Apparently SSM is now "the dark, depressing, moody" Spider-Man show. Yes, you read that right: "dark, depressing, moody." And any kid that doesn't like USM because he needs a "dark, depressing, moody" Spider-Man actually "needs a therapist."

So, because we are fun hating sourpusses, let's re-visit this:



Yes, for truly, "Spectacular Spider-Man" made "Schindler's List" look like a light comedy.

Wait, it gets better. I need to quote this, another reason why USM is "superior" in someone's eyes:

"Venom also wasn't as creepy as he's been in previous Spider-Man cartoons, so younger viewers won't have nightmares (my son was quite freaked out when Venom grew a mouth in his abdomen in SSM). He was 5 when Spectacular Spiderman first came out... He loved the Venom Saga of the 90's cartoon, and saw SM3 in theaters, but for some reason, SSM's Venom with the torso mouth gave him a jolt the first time he saw it... I must admit, I was weirded out by it, just from a "WTF?" standpoint... he's VENOM not Satan in Dante's Divine Comedy!"
Um.... yeah. I don't have anything to add to this. Remember back when 90's fans accused SSM of being "immature" and "kiddy?" We have come full circle.

"Avengers - Earth's Mightiest Heroes" review coming soon.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Vandal Savage VS Vandal Savage



I originally wrote this on a forum where some of us were debating which versions of Vandal Savage were better. The one from "Justice League" or the one from "Young Justice." Well, I sided with the YJ one, and my post also turned into a scathing critique of the three-part "Savage Time" from the end of JL's first season. I'll probably edit this, and expand it a bit from the original post, but here it is.

Let's start with casting. Phil Morris and Miguel Ferrer are excellent voice actors, both sound sinister and carry an air of intelligence and charm to sinister voices. But just listen to Phil Morris' Vandal Savage talk some time. He speaks very fast, like he's constantly in a hurry. Like he's very, very impatient.

Miguel Ferrer, by contrast, sounds very patient and methodical. He's been alive for fifty thousand years, this is a guy who knows how to wait. A true schemer. A real predator who stalks his prey. He's calculating dozens of ways to stick the knife in you.

The design for him is also better. He looks prehistoric. He still looks human, while at the same time looking not quite human, like a neanderthal. The one in JL just looked relatively normal. Being immortal was just a gimmick, but didn't seem to factor in to his mannerisms, the way he carried himself.

That and this Savage's plans actually seem to be working. The one in JL actually got defeated by the time the episode was over, both times. It doesn't help that there was no logic at all to the time travel... okay, so he sends himself a laptop with plans, builds new weapons and gear, takes over the Third Reich and turns back the invasion of Normandy. Then gets defeated when his big jets crash into the water. So the Nazis need someone to lead them and decide to thaw out Hitler.

Let's go into what was wrong with this plot line.

- The Nazis had A LOT of tech left over created from Savage's laptop. There had to be copies among copies of plans and blueprints passed out so all of this stuff could be built. He couldn't conduct a war, run the Axis, and build these things all by himself, as well as keep the laptop a secret... he had people working on these things. Plans and specs were copied and passed around. More of these things could be made without him, and without the laptop... by this point, the Allies could not win.

- "The old Fuhrer may have been a little crazy, but at least he had respect for his generals." Um, anybody who has read a book about Hitler knows this was not the case. Hell, he had most of his generals declared traitors. They got the crazy part right, but not the respect for his generals.

- So, when Savage is gone, the Nazis just happen to decide to thaw out Hitler so he could lead them to victory? At this point, a lot of the higher brass thought Hitler was leading them to defeat. So many of them conspired to kill him. It's far more likely Himmler would have come to power... but considering the circumstances and true history that was going on, they'd have left ol' Uncle Adolf in the fridge.

- History was still irreparably altered. Normandy was still an epic defeat for the Allies. The League didn't change that. Assuming you buy into the notion that history can be changed at all via time travel (I don't), the world the JL would have come to would have been far different than the one they called home. Even if by some miracle the Nazis were defeated, with the advanced tech they still have, you know who would have likely acquired it next? Russia. The Cold War would likely have gone very, very differently. None of the existing tech just vanished when Savage crashed into the ocean. If you're going to write a time travel story where history can be altered, you really need to stop and think about the implications of such things.

"Maid of Honor" is better, but they could have used any wannabe Bond villain for that.

And "Hereafter" would have been far more poignant if Superman and Savage had ever met each other on screen before this.

Granted, we won't find out until Saturday just how well YJ's Vandal Savage arc worked out, assuming it ends next week (which I won't assume). But he was smart, operating from the shadows, and slowly moving his pieces into place and now he has the entire Justice League under his control. We'll see where this goes next, but this Savage is absolutely terrifying.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Usual Suspects


In the early promotion of "Young Justice," Greg Weisman said that the theme of the first season was "secrets and lies." He was not kidding, that theme was a major factor in "Young Justice" being one of the darkest animated series in a long time. Both this show and "Avengers - Earth's Mightiest Heroes" premiered around the same time, give or take a few weeks, and I remember my brother and I remarking to each other that it was kind of funny that the series about the adult heroes was bright and rather cheerful with occasional dark moments, while the series about the teen sidekicks was the dark and rather dire with occasional cheerful moments. Well the secrets and lies are out now...

But what surprised me was that the none of Superboy, Miss Martian, or Artemis's secrets and lies were exposed by villains. They confessed them on their own. This by no means a complaint of mine. One thing heroes are defined by is their courage. What can be more courageous than facing your own fears, which each of them did here.

Superboy came clean about his use of the shields, and that Lex Luthor is his other father. Following that, we found out that "Red Sun" was the only bit of programming Cadmus successfully got into his brain before Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad liberated him. And Miss Martian was able to remove the "Red Sun" command from his head.

Artemis came clean about her family connections, and wasn't shunned by anybody. Her moments were quite cathartic, I think. I did enjoy it when Cheshire saved her life, and even though Cheshire managed to escape, I bet she enjoyed kicking her father in the face at the end. I know I would have.

Miss Martian revealed what she really was to the Team, and they all took it rather well. The big surprise for me being that Superboy knew since the Bialya mission, although in retrospect it shouldn't have. I still am curious if Martian Manhunter knows this secret or not. Well, if he doesn't know now, he'll know soon... if he survives. Honestly, I misjudged her entire relationship with Superboy. In my defense, I was assuming based on what I knew at the time, but I don't mind being wrong.

I thought the Santa Prisca battle scene was one of the best in the series. Everyone got something to do, and while it was fun to see Bane again, I can already foresee some 90's fanboys once again complaining. Personally, I never liked Bane, never thought he was worthy to "break the bat" and was happy to see Robin kick his ass. Let's just say that Christopher Nolan has his work cut out for him to convince me that this character can carry a movie once "The Dark Knight Rises" hits this summer.

Rocket is the new member of the Team, and... while I'm sure there will be much more to her than just a sassy black chick, this is a Greg Weisman production after all, she hasn't made an impression on me beyond that yet. But I can't blame her, this is an episode heavy with lots of material and plot threads coming to a head. I did, however, like her scene at the beginning where she said the other sidekicks were her inspiration.

So, who was the mole?

Red Arrow. Who saw it coming? I didn't. I probably should have, I did narrow it down to him and Aqualad last week, but I didn't. I guess I expected the mole to be on the Team, but really all Ra's al Ghul said was that they had an operative on the inside. Red Arrow was... is friends with Kid Flash, Robin, and Aqualad, so I can easily see them casually mentioning things to him before he tips off the Light. But, considering that Red Arrow had no clue that he was the mole himself, I'm guessing that there is far more to this story... and we'll find out next week.

And what a cliffhanger to leave us on. Red Arrow places the Starro pieces on each member of the Justice League, then they all bow down to Vandal Savage. I love a good cliffhanger, and right now I'm really wishing that this was an hour long special. Well, a week isn't that long a time, and the wait will be worth it to see the Team take on their mentors... while the creative team hits us with one last sucker punch for the season.

Personally, I hope Vandal Savage cuts off Superman's head and chucks it into the nearest red sun, but I doubt that will happen. Aw well, tuning in next week, same bat time, same bat channel.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

God Bless America


"God Bless America" is Bobcat Goldthwait's magnum opus that says... frankly, everything that needs to be said about our sick, sad culture. Good luck seeing it in theaters, because the run is very limited... and this is not surprising, because it spits in the eye of a lot of people while speaking for many of us. It is available on some On Demand services, so if you can see it that way, I recommend it. Still, considering some of the offensive crap that does get released you'd think a little social commentary rolled up with a lot of comedy would be on general release...

Joel Murray plays Frank. A a divorced middle aged man who has a brain tumor. Tara Lynn Barr plays Roxy, a sixteen year old girl with a huge chip on her shoulder. You know how Dexter Morgan kills other killers and pedophiles? Well, Frank and Roxy take out the rest of the trash. People who talk at the movie theater, one of those spoiled brats from "Super Sweet Sixteen" who throws a fit when she doesn't get the right $100,000 car for her birthday from her rich daddy, Fred Phelps stand-ins, anyone who makes a living spreading fear among the masses, people who watch "American Idol." Basically, the rude and the annoying. And don't shed any tears, everybody who got a bullet in this movie really had it coming.

Its exaggerated nature aside, "God Bless America" very accurately sums up how so many of us feel about the culture of narcissism, cruelty, greed, entitlement and general douchebaggery that we are forced to live in. Goldthwait hit the nail right on the head with this script and managed, eloquently and concisely, to give voice to a (thankfully) prevalent outrage and disgust. Everyone should be forced to watch this, especially kids. We live in a world where the cast of "Jersey Shore" and the Kardashians are role models. Damn right, everyone should watch this. No, I don't think anyone who enjoys this movie honestly approves of murder... even though, I admit, part of me wishes that the people who did make a living spreading fear to the masses had to live in fear of someone putting a bullet in them... not for the politics, as Frank made it clear he agreed with some of the O'Reilly stand-in's politics, but because they are just terrible people.

If you liked "Falling Down," see this movie. If you liked "Idiocracy," see this movie. If you liked "Zombieland," see this movie. If you liked "Leon," see this movie. It's the feel good movie of the year.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Alone Against A.I.M.



The second season of "Avengers" continues with an episode that is rather low key compared to last week's introduction of Dr. Doom, and entire last half of the first season. Iron Man, Black Panther and SkrullCap are the only Avengers present in the episode. Thor is probably still back at Asgard, and Hank is probably too busy beating Jan senseless at home to participate... because he is a pacifist.

The basic premise is that a bunch of disgruntled A.I.M. scientists are pissed off and want to take half of Tony Stark's toys and blow up the other half. So they unleash the Technovore to eat his portable A.R.C. Reactor. Hilarity ensues and then Pepper Potts punches the A.I.M. Scientist Supreme (think he was picked on in school?) in the face.

This was a fun episode, and low key is fine. The fate of the entire planet and the nine realms doesn't need to be at stake in every episode. Plus, this episode dealt with Tony shirking his corporate responsibilities in favor of his superhero hobby. It was nice to see Pepper make the point that if Stark Industries goes broke, there will be no one to fund the Avengers. We'll see where this goes, but I can easily see Tony putting Pepper in charge of the company as he did in the movies so he can focus his attention on saving the world, drinking, and getting laid. Like all great superheroes.

Maria Hill played a big part in this episode, and smacked us in the face with elements of "Civil War." Well, if the show must go in this direction, let's hope it doesn't suck this time. I thought it was a great idea in the comics that was ultimately botched by poor execution. But, more frightening than that.... good lord, Tony. Don't do it. Please, please, please... don't do it. And no, I don't mean join the Registration side... I mean, please don't tap Maria Hill. Ever.

Seeing War Machine was great. I had wondered if Rhody had become War Machine yet in this continuity, and now we know. If preview art and press release screen shots are any indicator, we're going to see more. He's more than welcome as far as I'm concerned. Certainly more welcome than Jeph Loeb's Red Hulk abomination.... which sadly is coming too.

SkrullCap is asking questions, and getting answers. Will this bite anyone in the ass? Nah. Can't say I'm a fan of the new energy shield though. I hope they reconstruct the original some time. And while I'm at it, I'm not a fan of the Ultimate Cap costume. I hope when the real Cap returns, he's back in the old Old Glory. Oh, and Skrully (that's my new name for him, I want Gillian Anderson to play him), also has a drive full of Stark tech specs.

Fun episode, looking forward to the next one.

Performance


Another character focus episode, this time on Robin. I will admit, up front, I don't have quite as much to say about this episode as I do others. It's not to say I didn't like this one, because I definitely did. A lot. But, I write reviews, and I certainly won't ignore this one. As Gandalf the White would say, it's the deep breath before the plunge.

Out of all the characters this season, Robin has gotten the least amount of focus. This is forgivable though, as Dick Grayson is the most famous and well known character on the team. Hell, before the press release for this show, I had no idea who Aqualad, Miss Martian, Kid Flash, and Artemis were. My knowledge of superhero sidekicks was limited to Robin, Bucky, Batgirl and Kitty Pryde (assuming they count), and Launchpad McQuack. Hey, Stan Lee thought sidekicks were lame... and I didn't disagree with him. I didn't watch "Teen Titans," but this show has made the concept grow on me. But Robin is the iconic teen sidekick, and you could find a nomadic tribe in the Sahara and chances are at least one of them would recognize Robin thanks to countless TV shows, movies, and pop culture references over the last several decades. But I enjoyed his story, it felt natural. The circus was his home, it was where he grew up. As much as I am enjoying the Light conspiracy, it is nice to take a small break from that as Dick wants to help a man who was like a father to him.

I thought this episode's version of the Parasite was an effective, and sometimes even scary villain. I definitely preferred this version to the one in "Superman the Animated Series" who was content as long as he had a big screen TV in his prison cell, and cable TV. This is a guy who should be terrifying, and this episode did that. Adam Baldwin was a great pick for his voice. Parasite was working for Intergang, who have ties to Apokolips. Was Parasite really trying to destroy Geneva with a black hole, or was that a giant boom tube? I suppose we'll find out soon.

I absolutely LOVED hearing Clancy Brown as King Faraday. As far as I'm concerned, he does good guys just as well as he does bad guys. I loved him as Captain George Stacy, and I loved him here. I do wonder if this was a small homage to George Stacy as the character design and voice seemed to match quite well. Either way, it put a smile on my face.

I really enjoyed the reference to H.G. Welles "The War of the Worlds." If there is one thing you can always count on to appear in a Weisman-helmed production, it is literary references. "Gargoyles" was full of them, it certainly didn't stop at Shakespeare; "W.I.T.C.H." had a few, my favorite being Xanadu. "The Spectacular Spider-Man" had plenty of Shakespeare as well as a classic reference to Dante's Divine Comedy. I'm a sucker for this sort of thing. But, to quote another reviewer named Dread: "I can say the biggest difference between this show and "ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN" is showcased in one detail; this show expects their audience to know who H.G. Welles is, while "USM" assumes kids have never done anything but play video games in their room or watch MTV." It's a sad state of affairs to see a series promoted as much as USM push and cater to ignorance. But, I suppose Jeph Loeb thinks if he caters to children who don't know what a book is and that have parents that won't push them to find out, he'll get more butts in to seats.

Finally, there's Red Arrow coming around and deciding to be more trusting and that there is no mole. At this point, I'm ruling out Artemis, Miss Martian, and Superboy as they are all too obvious, and have seemingly been cleared. There is no chance in hell it's Kid Flash or Robin. Zatanna is too new. That leaves Aqualad and.... Red Arrow himself. I guess we'll find out on Saturday when it hits the fan.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Just To Address Something.



Apparantly, this blog has been garnering a rather large number of hits originating from a website called "Americans Who Hate Obama." Now, I don't have strong feelings about Mr. Barry Obama one way or the other, and I have been unable to find the link when I poked around that site. This is a tad confusing.

In fact, the only mention of Mr. Obama on this entire blog has been as a pretty terrible and stupid joke on this entry: In Zarm's Way. But, I would be interested to see the look on the Tea Baggers' faces when they click on where ever said link is and are greeted by all the rantings and ravings I have about Spider-Man cartoons. Come to think of it, where is Drake Bell's birth certificate? I do not believe he was born in this country! Jeph Loeb is running Death Panels! He's murdering all the Marvel cartoons! Paul Dini used to work at DC! He pals around with Superman and Batman!

New "Young Justice" review coming... soonish.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Retro Review: Crime Wave

The things I do for you people.

Dear, sweet, fucking god...

Some things from your childhood are better left buried. Especially when you hated them in your childhood. Anyone remember "Challenge of the GoBots?" No? Feel lucky. Feel very, very lucky. However, being the spawn of Satan that I am, you are going to be reminded.

In the 1980s, there was a little show called "Transformers". "Transformers" was a big, dumb toy commercial. While it still is, it's since had incarnations of not dumb. "Beast Wars" and the more recent "Animated" being gold. But, the original "Transformers" was kind of dumb, but I loved it. And still have a soft spot for it, but I see it for what it was. However, there was another show on at the same time. "Challenge of the GoBots." If "Transformers" was a big, dumb toy commercial, the GoBots were a retarded, festering, shit pile with AIDS in it.

"Challenge of the Gobots"
Crime Wave

Okay, I'm going to review this as I watch it. Someone better give me a blowjob when this is all over.

We open up with a familiar, twirling star. Hanna Barbera, this can't be good. And here is the theme song. I assume that is their home planet. A much more retarded version of Cybertron. It looks like a tiny testicle between two mushrooms. The Gobots come from Planet Testeshroom... that's what I'll call it from now on, until I get an official name. If we do, and I hate it, I will continue to call it Planet Testeshroom.

The theme song is very... boring. It's two words repeated over and over again. "The GoBots! The GoBots!" I wonder if someone was credited for writing it. Takeo Yamashita was credited for the lyrics of the "Lupin III" theme song, and all that is is "Lupin the third!" over and over again.

And now, we get to the title:

"Crime Wave"
Story and teleplay by Francis Moss

Here's his website, complete with an e-mail:  http://www.francismoss.com/  I am not telling anyone of my readers to e-mail him with a link to this page. Do you understand how I am not telling you to do that. Hey, he wrote episodes of "ExoSquad" and "Mighty Max!" Awesome. Francis, if you read this and anyone of my stupid readers does what I didn't tell them to do and e-mails you a link, know that this review is written with... well, not, love. But... "ExoSquad" ruled.

Okay, so we open with Leader 1 and Scooter flying over The City. Which city, you ask? I don't know. Since this is the 80s, I'm assuming that it is The City, and the Tick still hasn't moved here, and Arthur is in college majoring in accounting. American Maid is in Grenada fighting the enemies we didn't actually have there. Die Fledermaus is still a frat boy somewhere. Sewer Urchin is in the sewers minding his own business. Chairface Chippendale is a newly made man, and not yet the ruler of all crime in The City.

Moving on...

Leader 1 and Scooter are flying over The City. Scooter complains that this is murder on his nerves. ......

....

...... Scooter.

Let me show you a picture:


At this point, I want to look at the kid sidekicks from every incarnation of "Transformers." Bumblebee, Spike, Buster, Sam, Wheelie, Daniel, Cheetor, Proto-Human Kids, Kicker, Koji, Sideburn, and anyone else... I, Greg, apologize for every mean thing I ever said about any of you. I was wrong. I was mean. You have nothing on Scooter.

So Scooter and Leader 1 are upset that the Renegades (either the bad robots on this show, or the some motorcycle gang trying to sound tough) haven't pulled any mischief in weeks. But, as Leader 1 points out, they can still keep busy. The two robots then proceed to foil a bank heist by the most stereotypical crooks in cartoon history. At this point, we learn they are called the Guardians.

Okay, so, let's get this straight

Guardians = Autobots Lite
Renegades = More retarded Decepticons.

Got that?

As the crooks attempt to escape, Scooter echoes with his voice that he is the police, and they are surrounded. And if you can hear Scooter's voice, you'd realize just how stupid and unbelievable that actually is. And then, the crooks actually fall for it! Well, this is The City. Maybe the cops sound like that.

Speaking of the crooks, I have got to show you how badly they are drawn!



LOOK AT THEIR EYES AND MOUTHS! LOOK AT THAT!

The cops show up soon enough to make Scooter's cunning plan pointless, but he is blasted in the ass by Cy-Kill, the leader of the Renegades. Dear god. Cy-Kill is a colorful motorcycle, and Crasher is a transvestite race car. The sad thing is, I'm not making this up. That's what Crasher is.


Leader 1 vows that Cy-Kill will not get what he wants. But, it's too late. The crooks are escaping, which is apparently what Cy-Kill was after all along. The bank robbers. Because what would be more important to a world conquering alien robot than a little grand larceny. Say, kids, remember that time Megatron busted Charles Manson and his Family out of prison? Apparently the murderers of Sharon Tate and her unborn baby were an intricate part of his plan to build a giant purple griffin to conquer the Middle East.


Cy-Kill and the bad guys escape. Leader 1 is as perplexed as we all are, and Scooter throws a fit. He knows he won't like what Cy-Kill is up to. I'm guessing Cy-Kill just wants to hang out at the Bada Bing.

Meanwhile in one of The City's several million conveniently empty warehouses:

Cy-Kill meets with several figures in organized crime, not including their boss, Kincaid. He wants to meet with Kincaid and all the leaders of organized crime in one week. Which leads one to wonder just where Kincaid was. Well, I'll show you where he was...


I'm going to need Dr. Melfi myself before I'm through.

ONE WEEK LATER

Some poorly dressed, Italian Americans meet in a lodge, where they are pissed off by a well dressed Italian slob. Just... go with it. Manchinson introduces Cy-Kill, Crasher, and um... another one. It turns out that Cy-Kill's nefarious plot is to arm the criminals of America with hi-tech weapons into a criminal army. What he gets out of it are loyal criminals to rule Earth for him while he conquers the galaxy.

LOL! I'm just kidding. I made Cy-Kill's plan there up? Do you think an alien Megatron-wannabe overlord would be that stupid??? HUH? Sigh... I'm lying. I didn't make it up.

So, the criminals begin their crime spree, and at one point, some stupid cops confuse a black race car with a low flying jet......... yup.

So, Cy-Kill is working with stupid criminals to steal from stupid cops. I miss Megatron.


Sigh... I wish I were getting killed over and over like Starscream here. It's probably less painful than GoBots

A bunch of criminals in a truck approach Fort Knox pretending to be there to pick up the garbage. The guard doesn't fall for it. FINALLY! SOMEONE WITH A BRAIN! I LOVE YOU, GUARD! But the crooks ram the gate with the truck, and an evil Renegade car gets out, and transforms into a robot with a beyond evil, Nazi-esque war helmet...

... I'm just kidding, he's wearing a top hat.



I am tempted to stop this review now, as I doubt anything else can top the robot with the built in top hat

We cut back to the Guardians. One of them looks an awful lot like Zartan, except he's red. His name is Turbo.

And I am learning something while watching this. Ever had little transforming robots that weren't Transformers, and sucked? That's right, they were GoBots.

So, the Renegades get away with the gold, and their crime sprees continue. Leader 1 decides to send his friend Matt with his 80s mustache to infiltrate the crooks.

Good god, this was back when we had a President with balls. Why can't Reagan just bomb them? You know he would the second they dared him too.

So, Matt dresses up like an 80s glam biker WITH A BIG MULLET and rides Scooter *snicker* to fool Cy-Kill. He's using the name, Leroy Palms. Um... yeah. And the well dressed slob is now a poorly dressed slob. No one can pull off a bow-tie. He tells the slob he wants to join him and he has hundreds of bikers ready to join.

Matt spies on Cy-Kill as we get exposition on how force fields are being provided to make the criminal army invincible. Because the criminals want to militarize. Hmm, how come Michael Corleone never thought of this.

Come to think of it, Cy-Kill, don't you think there were plenty of foreign dictators and terrorists who would have been MORE PRACTICAL TO MAKE THIS DEAL WITH!?

Matt overhears this and is about to escape when is captured by the trannie race car! Cy-Kill pulls of the MULLET!!!!! and recognizes him. Uh oh. Will Cy-Kill kill him now, or do something stupid? I haven't finished watching it, but I think we can all bet on stupid.

So, they lock Matt in a basement, but he is able to talk to Scooter through a window. God, what bad security. Cy-Kill puts two and two together too late once he is told that Matt was dressed like a biker and figures Scooter must be there. Hey, don't blame me, I said he should kill him.

Scooter escapes but the Renegades give chase, but are stopped by THE ALMIGHTY..... log. Yes, a log.

I hate this.

HOLY SHIT!!!!! I SPOKE TOO SOON!!!!

The criminals have militarized with Cy-Kill's weapons. Now they are dressed like... NAZIS! Complete with watered down swastikas too.


Do I really need to caption this?

You know, Lucky Luciano and the Mafia helped us fight AGAINST THE NAZIS! Eh, whatever...

So, the Renegades and the Mafia Nazis are marching on the government. The military mobilizes to stop them. Leader 1 shows up to tell Cy-Kill that this time he's gone too far! I have to say that I agree. The Nazi Mafia is where I have to draw the line.

Remember when Michael Corleone was an American war hero in World War II?

The Guardians try to stop the Renegades and the Nazi Mafia but can't penetrate their force field. Leader 1 goes down, as does Red Zartan. The soldiers are zapped. And finally, Cy-Kill leads a marching army of Nazi Mafiosos.

Manchinson is riding in his limo, standing through the sunroof as if he was Hitler. I am not making this up. I swear to you, I am not.

I think I need something to bring me back to normalcy. Something sane and rational.



The Nazi Mafia arrives at the White House, which Manchinson declares his new home. We meet The Generic President. No wonder these dicks weren't bombed. This isn't Reagan. Ronald Reagan was a badass and wouldn't put up with this. The Generic President would. I'm guessing he's Jimmy Carter. So, let's call this Carter's second term. I always thought an evil alien motorcycle and Mafia Nazis would take over the world if Carter was re-elected.

Manchinson tells the President to get out, but Carter refuses until Cy-Kill breaks his ceiling and tells him to get out. Manchinson sits behind his desk, and declares that he is now the most powerful man in the world. Then he sends for the interns.

Outside, a GoBot helicopter named FlipTop carrying kid sidekicks shows up and rescues Matt from the Nazi Mafia. They've had enough. No Renegades or Al Pacino Nazis are going to spit on the flag. Jimmy Carter is president, dammit! Not Marlon Brando. It is time to bring that force field down.

Oh god, there are six minutes remaining. I don't think I can last. I'll try.

So, they return to the Mafia's hunting lodge where Matt dresses up as a scientist to bring down the force field. While, outside, a good helicopter and a bad one fight for no reason.

Oh god, the scientists all have German accents.

But Matt succeeds and the generator for the force fields come down. YAYE! The Nazi Mafia is easily taken down, and Manchinson is arrested in the Oval Office. No one saw the intern.

With no force field, Cy-Kill runs off like a pussy, only for him and the Renegades to engage in the most unexciting fight ever, which ends with them being thrown in a lake, only to be picked up by a space ship.

Leader 1 is not concerned. Let the Renegades escape, "they'll have painful reminders of the guardians."

Cy-Kill vows revenge. "Those Guardians will pay for this! And the price will be very high!"

The End

Please tell me you will make them watch this show. This show was painful. Beyond painful. It hurt to watch. God... Hanna Barbera and action just don't mix. Johnny Quest, this was not.

Nazi Mafiosos? Seriously?!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Private War of Doctor Doom



It's been almost a year since the first season of "The Avengers - Earth's Mightiest Heroes" came to an end, as the Avengers triumphed over the machinations of Loki. The show had some growing pains, but by the time of "Gamma World" and then "Widow's Sting" it really came into it's own. And, behind "The Spectacular Spider-Man," it is easily the second best Marvel animated series of all time. But season two was a long time coming. It has been finished and in the can for months. This episode premiered at San Diego Comic Con last year! I was speaking to my friend, Donovan Grant last week, and mentioned this hadn't aired. He saw it at Comic Con and was floored. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely!

Let's get the bad out of the way first. The narration added to the introduction is completely unnecessary. Like they don't trust the audience to know what is happening. Narrations in and of themselves aren't bad, but this one feels so slapped together... I am quite certain that Jeph Loeb demanded it be put there. And after seeing how "Ultimate Spider-Man" turned out, I'm dreading the fate of this show after episode fourteen of the season airs and Chris Yost and Josh Fine are removed from the project... that was when Jeph Loeb came in, production wise. But, I am confident in the next fourteen episodes, at least. So I'm going to enjoy the ride and hope for the best.

This show does cameos and guest appearances right. We've seen the Fantastic Four cameo before, and heard references to them even before that. Now they make their first full appearances, and the build up helped. The Thing and Human Torch coming to Avengers mansion to play poker is fun, as is the rivalry between the Thing and the Hulk.

But the real meat of the episode is finally seeing Dr. Doom. He was referenced way back in "Breakout Part One" when Iron Man put a stop to A.I.M. trying to sell weapons to Latveria. Now, the good doctor has been on TV many times before. How does this one stack up? Design wise, he is perfect. Writing wise, he is perfect. Voice wise, Lex Lang does a great job... but I think I preferred Simon Templeman from the second season of the 90's Fantastic Four series (and believe me, that is the only thing I would ever prefer from that otherwise horrid show). Doom's use here was pretty simple. He wanted to find out who the Skrulls among the FF and the Avengers were, and he did... well, he found the FF's Skrull. And he put up a pretty badass fight after making it clear to Jan, in no uncertain terms, that her mouthing off at him was pointless. Hank may take Jan home and beat her senseless, but Doom is not that easy. The way the episode ended, I have hopes we'll see him again sooner rather than later.

I am wondering if this show is in the same continuity as Chris Yost's "Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes." The use of Lucia von Bardas in both shows is very similar. In the comics, Lucia von Bardas is a Latverian woman who used to teach at the University of North Carolina in the United States. After Victor von Doom was deposed as the leader of Latveria, the Americans helped von Bardas get elected as that country's prime minister. She then began publicly mending the ties between the two countries. But she started funding supervillains and Nick Fury led a small army of superheroes into Latveria to take her out, and they succeeded. She later returned as a cyborg. In "World's Greatest Heroes" she was re-imagined as an android assistant to Dr. Doom, and is used in the same role here. Now that doesn't necessarily mean both shows are in the same continuity, Yost could be re-using his old idea. But it does make me wonder.

Solid premiere, I look forward to what comes next.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sigh...



Well, this didn't take long...

I wasn't going to watch it. I really wasn't going to watch it. But I was hanging out with my brother, we were planning to watch the season premiere of "Avengers - Earth's Mightiest Heroes." and there was an hour to kill. My brother had the remote control. You can see where this is going. This is more than a little embarrassing.

My last post was written as April Fool's joke. I had not seen the show yet, and still had no intention of watching it. I said as much, because, frankly, I wanted to save myself the grief and annoyance of people pointing out my biases, which I admit are very real. I love "Spectacular Spider-Man," I am friends with Greg Weisman. Everyone knows this, I admit it, I am biased. So, with that out of the way.... and admit it, some of you were looking forward to this.

Remember all my reviews of "ThunderCats?" I don't know where to start with this show. "Ultimate Spider-Man" makes "ThunderCats" look like "Legend of Korra." This show sucks big, fat, puss spewing, venereal diseased, scab covered, prison inmate cock! Sweet, titty-fucking Moses, this was a piece of shit! Now I know how all the people who went to see "Batman and Robin" (a movie I've never seen myself) felt. This goes beyond being targeted at younger audiences... this is being targeted at the most ADD of younger audiences!

The jokes were not funny. Not a single one. And the style of the humor... if Seth MacFarlane ever made a superhero cartoon, this would be it. Everyone and everything is played for a laugh, and it's not even a good a laugh! It's like an 80's cartoon made for 2012! One of the villains got beaten by slipping on a bowl of jello! A BOWL OF JELLO!!!!! And why does Mary Jane Watson want to be a Daily Bugle photographer!? And Norman Osborn is one of my favorite villains of all time... and they made him so, so... generic! Boring! And honestly, who cares about the Frightful Four and why are they the villains in a debut episode of a SPIDER-MAN SHOW?!? And, oh shit... are they really going for the "I've been in love with MJ since we were four years old" take again... I think they are. Fuck.

On top of all this, the show is so schizophrenic. You cannot be "Family Guy" one minute and try to be "Batman" the next. As another reviewer, Dread, said on superhero hype:

If the show wanted to be a sheer comedy it might work a little better, but it also wants to play certain moments dead straight which clash against it like a ballerina at a death metal rave.

The voice acting was pretty wretched also. Drake Bell makes me miss Christopher Daniel Barnes! He sounds like he has marbles in his mouth! Steven Webber as Norman Osborn is so generic. Tara Strong as MJ is okay, nothing great, but not terrible. Aunt May sounds like she's thirty-five years old. Ugh... well, I suppose I liked Clark Gregg as Agent Coulsen, but even he sounded like he was phoning it in.

Oh, Flash Thompson... what did they do to you? They took one of the best characters in Peter Parker's supporting cast, and turned him into a one dimensional joke. And it's the same joke. He tries to stuff Peter into a locker, and ends up stuck in there himself. They do this twice (Actually, a lot of the jokes get repeated over and over)! You want to see the real Flash Thompson, watch "Spectacular Spider-Man." You know, the guy who would rather see his team lose the championship if they didn't win by playing fair. You know, that guy!

And, lookie... they gave Spider-Man a Spider-Cycle. SHIELD's lab techie, Curt Connors (who has TWO ARMS, BTW!) gave Spidey a spider-cycle! It fires webbing, it can stick to walls, and it can transform a little too! You know, exactly what Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and John Romita always thought Spidey should have! And it can be yours, for only $29.99 at Toys R' Us!!!!

The only upside to all this was the greater appreciation I now have for "Avengers - Earth's Mightiest Heroes" as a result from this. Don't get me wrong, it's a show I enjoy... even if I was very critical of it at times. I nitpicked the dialogue on that show, and quite a few of the contrivances. But it was still clever, it still had heart. And it had a lot more brains than this piece of baboon shit. "ThunderCats" still sucks though.

My brother was a bit more forgiving, but even he thought it was really bad. I gave it an F, he gave it a D-. And I saw Paul Dini's name in the credits, and I could not help but feel very, very sad for him. The best animated series are written on multiple levels. This, most certainly, is not. Well, maybe it's written for different ADHD levels. And if this is a sign of what Jeph Loeb thinks Marvel animation should be, well... brace yourselves for a lot of prison ass.

So, there. There's my review. You have a problem with it? Bring it on! You think I'm biased? Absolutely! I don't fucking give a shit. This show is........!

You know what, let me quote Dread from Superherohype one last time:

"Any mention of "TSSM" sort of seems bittersweet having just watched the start of "ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN". Without getting specific, at no point in it's rambling, incoherent 44 minutes did it come close to a rational thought. I am now dumber for having watched it. I award it no points, and may god have mercy on its soul."

On a much more pleasant note, the season premiere of "Avengers" was a lot of fun. Expect a review of that any day now.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ultimate Spider-Man


It's not every day when I will admit I am wrong, but today is one of those days. Marvel's new "Ultimate Spider-Man" cartoon is great! It's just... perfect! The writing quality is absolutely flawless! The animation is gorgeous, and the voice acting.... I listen to Drake Bell as Spider-Man, and I ask "Josh who?"

I have never seen so much care, love and respect given to the source material before. This is a smart Peter Parker. Very smart. When the Frightful Four burst into the school cafeteria, and demand that Spider-Man step forward... the way Peter just uses his classmates to start a food fight with these dangerous supervillains while he changes into Spider-Man... genius. And it truly exemplifies "with great power comes great responsibility." And come on, who doesn't love seeing "Family Guy-esque" humor anytime, any place?

With only one episode, this show made me wonder what it was I ever saw in "Spectacular Spider-Man." We need superhero team-ups all the time! Why shouldn't Spidey have his own webslinging spider-cycle? I want one too! Hell, this show makes me wonder what I ever saw in many cartoons. "Gargoyles?" Forget about it. "Avatar the Last Airbender?" Oh, for shame. "Batman the Animated Series?" What's that? And who cares about "Legend of Korra," "Young Justice," "Avengers" or "Game of Thrones?"

"Ultimate Spider-Man!" You'll laugh! You'll cry! You'll have an orgasm! And you'll realize that silly old men like Smilin' Stan Lee, Scowlin' Steve Ditko, and Jazzy Johnny Romita really had no idea how to do Spider-Man right.

10,000 out of 10! It's perfect!