Marvel: Avengers Academy – Multiverse Event

Okay, this was a really fun one, and not just because it was basically a big homage to Peter David.

The artwork, for both the new items and the characters, was fantastic. I particularly liked Maestro’s design. He was one smexy, well-equipped villain.

Also, the event brought us Captain America 2099 (the Secret Wars and beyond-era one, not the earlier one who appears to not exist anymore). I love that character, but here she was a bit of a flop. Her story quest wasn’t very interesting and her powers and design were average… but she can do the Charlston 2099! I was especially disappointed by how little interaction she had with Spider-Man 2099, and the very minor impact of their future knowledge on the story.

Thor Noir was a different story altogether. He was really well-designed and had awesome, awesome dialogue. I also really enjoyed how Loki was peeved that somehow this mobster thug can be considered worthy by Mjolnir, but Loki isn’t. He’s a fun character who I hope gets a future major role in the core story.

The original Bucky finally appearing was cool, too. He’s a much more interesting character than emo Winter Soldier (although the latter is sooooo hot) but again, I was a bit disappointed by his story. I would have expected at least some more interaction with Peggy Carter for those who have her, but I think they only spoke to one another two or three times as part of his story quest.

And Longbow sucked. I adore Queen’s Vengeance, but he was just awful. Waste of effort to get, frankly. Give me the real Hawkeye!

But overall? A really fun event that was clearly influenced by a big Peter David fan!

F is for Family Season 2

Bwahahahaha.

This is not what most people expect from cartoons directed at adults. You expect rude or quite sophisticated humour. This is, instead, a drama that happens to be funny sometimes.

The problem is that the humour, while funny, tends to be a little forced. I like the show for the drama and the humour, but as basically entirely different things – i.e., I like the drama, I also like the humour, I don’t necessarily like them mixed. My mum, who normally loves cartoons aimed at adults (like Family Guy) hates this show in general and won’t watch it, but will happily watch clips of the jokes.

Given that it is primarily a drama, it is a shame that all my favourite bits are the jokes. I’ve paraphrased some of my favourites below:

“Take my car! I’d drive you myself, but giving up a gram a day coke habit is a lot harder than I thought it was when I was having a gram of coke a day.”

“You know the saying: can’t is the third cousin of cunt.”

“Ah, and my father hired a nice young soldier who had served in the Great War to paint our fence. He forgot to pay him, but that young soldier went on to achieve many things…”

“This is much nicer than many of the basements I’ve lived in!”
“Cool! You had your own room?”
“No, I shared with many others.”
“Oh, a party house! I bet you rocked all night!”
“No, we were very quiet… most of the time.”
“… oh. Oh! I get it.” Pauses. “It was a shut up and fuck party house!”

Girls in Trouble: Space Squad Episode Zero

Screenplay by: Arakawa Naruhisa
Directed by: Sakamoto Koichi

That was, without a doubt, the best Super Sentai movie I’ve seen so far – but that is a bit unfair, since it isn’t really a Super Sentai movie; in fact, at about 39 minutes in, when it adds the traditional Super Sentai elements, it actually weakens the movie.

The premise is quite simple: the Galactic Union Patrol, under the leadership of new director Sophie, have managed to capture Hellvira. She’s the leader of the Nemesis Avengers, part of the new space crime syndicate Genmakuu, and an advocate of a new cult. Unfortunately, Hellvira has managed to kill her guards and Sophie locked the building they’re in from inside, leaving the two trapped.

Knowing that Hellvira has powers to control men (which is what allowed her to kill her guards), Birdie and Sissy get recommendations for female recruits from the space police to undergo secret Matrix-style training to find a way to stop Hellvira. It is somewhat sadistic, though, as the unawares participants are killed multiple times (at least 17 times) before finding a way to stop the villain. Birdie selects Shelly (Gavan type-G’s partner), Tammy (partner to the new Shaider) and someone we’ve never met before named Maki, a member of the space police.

But when Jasmine and Umeko realise there’s something off about Maki, Doggie Kruger intervenes and has Birdie add them to the mission. It turns out Maki has been killed and replaced by another member of Genmakuu – Benikiba – to get into the building and recover Hellvira. Together, Jasmine and Umeko destroy Hellvira while Tammy, Shelly and Sophie drive off Benikiba.

Sophie obscurely references a new team selection, and praises the girls for their good teamwork. And we all learn that UMEKO AND SEN ARE GETTING MARRIED!

Up until the 39-minute or so mark, the film is really dark, and evocative of Toei’s “pinky violence” past. It is really brutal – Jasmine gets killed by her neck being snapped many times; we see another space police officer torn apart so badly that blood sprays everywhere. It really isn’t your typical Super Sentai fare, but it is actually handled really well. As pretty and nice and lovely as the girls are (and the film really does go to great lengths to show that girls can be traditionally girly and feminine while still being great at what they do) it isn’t a pervy movie, at least no more pervy than other tokusatsu productions.

But that said, some of it is a bit discomfiting. I blame myself for that, approaching it as a Super Sentai movie. Of particular concern was when Vivian, a member of the space police (played by a long-time Super Sentai suit actor, Hitomi Sanae) freaked out and basically tried to use Jasmine as a human shield to escape dying yet again. Birdie didn’t select her for the mission, but there also didn’t appear to be any consequence to that behaviour.

I really loved how Tammy and Shelly were able to kick butt without lots of gadgets and special effects. While Gavan type-G and Shaider need laser blades and stuff to beat bad guys, these two were not nearly as strong, but were much more brave and still very capable using just their natural abilities. In fact, Shelly only used Laser Vision to escape after being badly hurt, once Tammy had already started distracting Benikiba. She could have done well even without it.

I love that overall message: yes, girls in tokusatsu are often portrayed as silly and a bit vacuous, but they’re still just as competent as their serious male counterparts. You don’t need to sacrifice who you are or what you value to be a tough hero. It is a good contrast with the likes of ShinkenPink, who despite being a very capable warrior destined to defeat Gedoushuu really just wanted to settle down with a husband and be a housewife. Just because she could do things other people might typically consider “better” doesn’t mean she wanted to. It didn’t in any way stop her saving the world, but she was quite happy at the end to hang up her sword and move on to a much more mundane life.

Really great stuff. I hope Space Squad does become a whole new franchise with more of this top-quality work.

Secret Empire #8

Writer: Nick Spencer
Penciler: Daniel Acuna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Ewwwwww.

First of all, Daniel Acuna’s artwork in this issue was just awful. The man doesn’t draw masks well; especially the eyes. And people often look unusually fat. So none of the art was pleasing here at all.

But the writing was also… not great.

See, here’s the thing: technically the writing was actually good. What we got here made perfect sense and was interesting. Or it would be, if the last 10 years at Marvel hadn’t fucked it all up. Raz’s explanations of time travel? Spot on. Except for all the stories in the BENDIS! era that showed things working completely differently, for example.

The one bit of the writing that was bad no matter how you look at it, though, was the Kobik revelation. Oh, and the questions of how the plan involving Sam Wilson and a cosmic cube fragment actually worked – surely, since HYDRA has many fragments, they could reverse/block/undo Sam’s efforts…

Whatever. It’s all just a garbage-y mess right now.

There was something hilarious in the comic, though: the “Marvel Legacy” ads. Earlier this year Axel Alonso was spouting off about how great new #1s are, to the point where each arc got a new #1 on the cover. In this comic was a page with a notice by him about how great going to legacy numbering will be. Also, Alonso has been talking about how Marvel won’t be doing any new “events” for at least 18 months after Secret Empire… but there’s a one-page ad that literally says that every Marvel Legacy issue is an “event”, and in context it means an event event.

Marvel is just a really sad joke these days. It’s such a shame.

Robotech #1

Writer: Brian Wood
Penciler: Marco Turini
Publisher: Titan Comics

Okay, that was pretty neat.

I would like to say I “grew up” on Robotech, but I didn’t – not really. Robotech first aired when I was an infant. When I was about to enter adolescence it was repeated on TV, and I liked it, but didn’t watch it avidly. I think I didn’t get much beyond the Super Dimensional Fortress Macross episodes of the adaptation. Part of it was that I just generally wasn’t into anime (Sailor Moon was repeating around the same time, and I liked that but wasn’t too attached) and part was the ongoing storyline. I didn’t get into those longer, ongoing storylines until I was about 13 and discovered Animorphs. Until that point, I liked things that may have been a longer series but where individual episodes, books or chapters could be treated as fairly standalone.

But I did like what I saw, generally.

I went off it a bit more when my sisters’ friends would come over and try to sell everyone on the Japanese original, namely Macross, and its newer sequels and adaptations. That just made it all increasingly confusing.

That said, I do own all of Robotech on DVD, but I haven’t made a mad rush to watch it.

That may change, now. I remember the first episode of the series pretty well, and it is the only episode I’ve seen multiple times, and this series adapted the first two-thirds or so of that episode pretty well and got me excited. My tastes have changed, now, and Robotech should – or at least could – become a new favourite.

I enjoyed this comic quite a bit, especially the art. Normally with mecha stuff I like very clean lines, Don Figueroa-style, but somehow this gritty art really worked for me here.

My one concern is that all this comic will do is adapt the TV series. If it begins with an adaptation but branches off to new or minor characters and allows us to read new events running parallel to the show, that would be good, but if it is just an adaptation I don’t  get the point. I’m definitely sticking in for the first arc, though.

Casey Anthony: An American Murder Mystery

That was a let-down.

Promoted as a major special event airing over three nights, it offered nothing of any great value. I thought I had only a cursory, casual knowledge of Casey Anthony and her crime, but having watched this, I’m now pretty confident I knew just about all there is to publicly know.

There wasn’t much new in this programme, and certainly not enough to warrant making a whole new documentary when there is so much out there already.

The only thing that was really new to me was how far Casey’s defence team went to paint her father as a child molester, and how deeply and long-term that affected him. I thought it had just been thrown out briefly, and with his prior knowledge, as a desperate effort – apparently he didn’t know about it beforehand, it has affected him ever since, and he isn’t too confident about how or if he’ll fully forgive his daughter for it.

The thing is, I don’t know that Casey Anthony’s case is a particularly unique or interesting one. Apparently it shocked America, but maybe because I came to it so long after it happened, it didn’t seem that shocking or new to me. There are far worse crimes, even just in America, almost every day that don’t seem to shock people and don’t get anywhere near as much coverage or other attention.

Just… don’t hype up your new programme so much if you don’t have something new to add.

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Mozzie

Author: P. Crumble
Illustrator: Louis Shea
Publisher: Scholastic Australia

ISBN: 933-0-3030-0311-0

Every knows the kids’ tune “There was an Old Lady who swallowed a Fly” (you don’t know why she swallowed the fly, perhaps she’ll die!). This is an Australian take on that tune, with the animals replaced by “Australian” animals. I’m pretty sure every animal in “… swallowed a Fly” is in Australia so the point escapes me a little bit (except, I guess, exposing kids to more uniquely Australian animals) but it is what it is.

What it isn’t is what the blurb says. The blurb warns Australian animals to beware, because there’s an old lady on the loose with an appetite. The thing is, she doesn’t swallow any of them out of hunger (except, perhaps, the mosquito – we never learn why she swallowed that mozzie) – she swallows them to perform a specific function as a living organism. If she ate them, digested them, they couldn’t do what she wanted, so they would be entirely unhelpful to her.

The artwork really wasn’t to my tastes, but again… it is what it is. There’s some odd tendency in Australian kids’ books to do really bizarre caricatures. I don’t get it, and it doesn’t appeal to me, but I’m not the target reader.

The thing is… I don’t really get the point to this. The original tune is fine, and the writing quality? I’m a teacher, and I’d expect Grade 2 or 3 kids to be able to write this. Give them the original tune and ask them to replace the animals with “Australian” ones, and you’re done. It is hardly fine art.