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Comics Review

What’s New on Marvel Unlimited – May 22 to May 28, 2016

Every week, Marvel adds new comics to their Marvel Unlimited service. Sometimes it’s new stuff – most series they publish get issues added about 6 months after they are released in shops – and others it’s older comics. But there’s always something interesting and I will point them out weekly.

Starting thing this week is the new Ms. Marvel #1.  Kamala has everything she ever wanted (mostly).  She’s an awesome superhero, an Avenger even, hanging with the likes of Tony Stark, Miles Morales, and Sam Alexander.  But Kamala learns that once you go public, you’re no longer in control of your image.  And sometimes that shady real estate developer using your face to pave over your neighborhood just might be hiding something more sinister.  G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Takeshi Miyazawa, and Ian Herring are your creators.

Next up is Star Wars: Vader Down #1.  If the prequels’ take on Lord Vader depressed you, this should cheer you up.  THIS is the Darth Vader who stomps onto Rebel ships and chokes the life out of anyone in his way.  Just check this out.  Jason Aaron, Mike Deodato and Frank Martin Jr creating based on an overall story arc by Aaron and Kieron Gillen.

VaderDown1

Lastly, you have Spider-Woman #1, starring Jessica Drew…pregnant??  It’s a cliched twist I admit, but it’s handled in a fun way here.  I definitely want to see what’s coming next.  Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, Alvaro Lopez.

Other comics of note:

  • Star-Lord #1 – go back and see how young Peter Quill lied, cheated, and stole his way into space.
  • This week’s 90s nostalgia is thanks to a bunch of X-Factor issues getting added.
  • The Astonishing Ant-Man #2 for more Scott Lang adventures
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Movies Review

Movie Review – Captain America: Civil War

note:  some spoilers

There’s a huge reason Captain America: Civil War works and Batman v Superman doesn’t, and that’s emotional investment.  I know Zack Snyder and DC/WB wanted to do thing their own way and not ape Marvel’s so far successful approach, but when you are rebooting two legendary characters and making significant changes, you need to get the fans used to these new versions.  We KNOW Tony Stark and Steve Rogers.  We’ve seen them overcome numerous obstacles, both separately and together.  They’ve fallen on hard times, been betrayed, beaten, come back stronger.  Mistakes were made, characters have evolved, things have changed.  It’s why we can believe Captain America, the guy who wears flag colors and beat the snot out of Nazis and HYDRA for his country, would now decide “the safest hands are still our own”.  Why we can believe Tony Stark, the rebel genius whose not a team player, admonished for his ‘ready-fire-aim’ mentality, would toe the line this time after never even looking for the line before.  Cap, since being unfrozen, was lied to by Fury, found out SHIELD was infiltrated by his greatest enemy, and then had to bail Tony’s ass out after one of his creations came within a hair’s breadth of destroying the Earth.  Tony for his part, finally has to come to grips with the fact that his first impulse may not always be his best.  And this time, it wasn’t just his own life getting torn to shreds, but the entire planet.

Batman V Superman just didn’t have that weight behind it.  WB wanted us to care about them fighting, and spent a lot of words during the movie hyping it up, and trying to tell us how important it was, but during Civil War?  Didn’t need a word of it.  I felt every punch in that final battle especially.  Tony, GUTTED by the horrific video of the Winter Soldier killing his parents, feeling the sting of their death again, the betrayal that Steve knew about it (remember in CA:TWS it was shown by Zola), lashes out.  The battle, which had so far been over an idea, becomes brutally personal.  I was enjoying the movie to that point, but at that point?  Riveted.

She's got her own fan art already! @marcusthevisual
She’s got her own fan art already! @marcusthevisual

Shifting gears a bit, it’s kind of amazing that I can be this far in and only now discussing everything else that happened in the movie.  We meet Spider-Man!  And it’s a poor, nerdy kid whose quippy yet awkward.  Tom Holland nails it.  BLACK PANTHER, I mean, come on.  His moves are unreal, he dismantles Bucky, but even in the midst of righteous anger over the death of his father, T’Challa can step back from his vengeance to serve justice.  What an example for the two sides fighting, eh?  The Russos made Florence Kasumba’s “Security Chief” (gotta be one of the Dora Milaje) more interesting in one scene with one line than BvS did for 90% of the characters in it.

If you are concerned this sounds too heavy, well, it’s got more weight than a lot of Marvel movies, but rest assured, it brings the funny.  Many of the best lines aren’t in the trailers, including the scene with Falcon and Bucky in the car, or Falcon fighting Spider-Man.  Or Ant-Man and the truck.  Even crazier, there was a character building moment or two for everybody.  OH, and much has already been said about the Vision and his dapper look – his relaxed home attire always slays me in his current comic, and I’m glad to see it here, but it’s his interactions with Wanda that are most interesting.  He isn’t yet to “even an android can cry” territory yet, but the groundwork is there.

Zemo, technically the villain since he really sets in motion the acts that get Avengers fighting Avengers, fares better than some of the recent Marvel villains.  Quite different from the comics but built with real, complex motivations.

As for flaws, I think the movie wasn’t as well paced out as The Winter Soldier.  Considering the sheer amount of content, that’s understandable.  With that, Captain America: Civil War can’t quite dethrone Iron Man and The Winter Soldier as my go-to Marvel movies, but it gets massive, Giant-Man sized points for being to pull off as many heroes and storylines as it did.

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Android Games Review

Mobile Game Review – Marvel’s Avengers Academy

Marvel’s latest mobile game is Avengers Academy, which is one of those thing where they reimagine existing characters (hero and villain) as teenagers.  It works well here, as it seems like there’s some time travel-type shenanigans hinted at as far as the story goes.  It’s by TinyCo, and if you’ve played one of their other games, you’ll get the gist here right away.  Build buildings, recruit new characters, level up, all overlaid with an interface replete with ways to pay to hurry up your progress.

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What makes the game work (mostly) for me is the art and voices.  As you upgrade the heroes (and uncover the truth of what’s happening), they begin to look more like their comic book counterparts, and the animations and designs are sharp.  It’s fun watching a giant Hank Pym hop up and sit on his lab, or Wasp and Falcon zipping around the quad.

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As far as paying for things goes, the key is to treat it like a game you pick up and play a few minutes at a time, and not rushing through.  Some actions take hours, but I just pop in every once in a while and collect everything and start new actions and it progresses (albeit slowly).  Will I stick with it long term?  We’ll see, but it’s a fun diversion for now.

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Movies Review

Lightning Movie Reviews – Ant-Man, Ultron, Minions

I have some catching up to do, so you get some quick thoughts on some recent flicks.

Avengers: Age of Ultron – The first movie was so successful, so it would’ve been difficult to meet expectations here. Ultron definitely was a half-step down but still had some great action and humor. Ultron himself could’ve used a bit more menace – something Spader would’ve been capable of, and in the end Ultron comes off a bit odd. I loved the Vision though, and for all the worry about Quicksilver and the comparison to the X-Men movie version, he and Wanda were great in their limited role. Special shout-out to Hawkeye who filled the ‘heart of the team’ role admirably, and was probably the funniest of the Avengers.

Ant-Man – Okay, I really enjoyed Ant-Man. Thought of as the riskiest project in the MCU after Guardians of the Galaxy, especially with all the turmoil surrounding Edgar Wright’s departure. It didn’t catch fire like Guardians but has performed solidly, tracking to match or exceed Captain America: The First Avenger. The visuals were a ton of fun and seemed to keep some of the Edgar Wright weirdness around. I wish Hope could’ve been Wasp here but I’ll deal as long as they get her in for future MCU movies. I also hope we get to see more Hank Pym – I’d love to see Michael Douglas as Hank going toe to toe with Tony Stark.

Minions – Minions is the classic example of something that is funny in small bursts but drags when expanded out to feature-length. Like how Pinky and the Brain were funny on Animaniacs but significantly less so with their own 30 minute show. There were a few chuckles and it certainly wasn’t so bad as to be painful, but it’s telling that the biggest smile for me came from when (spoiler alert) young Gru appeared at the end. Catch it when it’s on FX or whatever.

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Comics Movies

Ant-Man, Michael Douglas, and YOU

Casting news came down this week that Michael Douglas had signed on to play original Ant-Man Hank Pym in Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man, due out in 2015.  However, this came on the heels of Paul Rudd signing on to play Ant-Man…so who is it going to be?  Both, if they do it right.

EMH Ant-ManLike many hero identities over the years, the Ant-Man name has been held by a few different people, with Hank Pym and Scott Lang being two of them.  Pym created the technology to change his size, as well as the snazzy helmet you see to the right that allows him to control ants (and other closely related insects).  He fought alongside the Avengers, but after a while it got to him.  Hank was a scientist first, and after some setbacks he puts aside costumed crimefighting and rededicated himself to research.  That’s where the second Ant-Man comes in.  Scott Lang steals the Ant-Man gear in order to rob banks.  The reason why has varied in media portrayals, but it usually involves saving his daughter in some way (on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, which Edgar Wright watched for ‘Homework’ and is the source of this picture, Cassandra Lang had been kidnapped by a mob boss).

So where does that leave the movie?  Considering Michael Douglas’s age, the prevailing thought is he’s going to be a retired hero, possibly a SHIELD agent considering the group’s importance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  We know from The Incredible Hulk movie that research into new heroes continued long after Captain America was lost – it makes sense that we would’ve had a few active in the 60s or 70s.  Maybe we’ll see a young Fury, or an older Sharon Carter kicking some Cold War ass in a flashback.  Then, fast forward to the present day, where we have Scott Lang stealing the Ant-Man gear.  The Scott Lang story fits with Edgar Wright describing the movie as a ‘heist’ picture.

Changes are going to happen, when moving a character from comics to the big screen.  Many are wondering about Janet Van Dyne, Hank’s girlfriend/wife/ex-wife (it’s a comic book, it’s complicated).  Will she be in this at all?  She’s an Avenger too, as Wasp.  I can’t imagine them NOT wanting an attractive young woman in the movie – it’s Hollywood – but it remains to be seen if they have Janet involved.  I’ve seen Rashida Jones mentioned for the character, and I think she’s got a great look for Janet (see the comparison below).  Let me know if you have any questions, or comment below!

Wasp