Top 5 on The Strip: Marvel stuff we’re anticipating edition

Loki series season 2

We’re huge fans of Loki around here, and the God of Mischief’s first season of his Disney Plus showcase was fantastic. Suspenseful and weird, Tom Hiddleston’s delightful Asgardian prince steals the Space Stone during the time heist as depicted in Avengers: Endgame and essentially learns there are variants of himself, and that the multiverse exists. The character development and growth are what did it for us, and we can’t wait to see where the flawed-but-redeemed god goes in the follow-up.

 

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

The upcoming film focusing on Marvel superhero Shang-Chi has the potential to be huge. Featuring wuxia and a comic book correct version of the Mandarin, Shang-Chi looks to be a great mix of action and story, with our beloved Michelle Yeoh in yet another MCU role. We’re interested to see how the Ten Rings plays into the larger MCU and their power and scope as compared to other artifacts we’ve seen. Also, lead actor Simu Liu is hot, as is the esteemed legend Tony Leung.

 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

The sequel to our top-three Marvel movie contender is shaping up nicely. We were initially unsure how the film would move forward with the death of Chadwick Boseman, but it seems that it will be addressed in the opening scenes. Confirming that he will not be recast is a great start, because we wouldn’t watch it if Marvel did. There will be a new Black Panther mantle-holder, and we expect this follow-up will be glorious.

 

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness

We like Dr. Strange around here, and he’s important enough to warrant another few movies. With the end of WandaVision, Dr. Strange’s sequel film will be important in the grand scheme of Marvel’s machine for Phase Four. The events of the first MCU show and Loki made it plain that Dr. Strange will be needed to traverse the madness unleashed by the introduction of the multiverse and Kang the Conqueror, so this is film has quickly become important to the future of the MCU.

 

New squads introduced

It did not escape notice that there were several characters introduced recently that could potentially form other groups outside of the Avengers. WandaVision introduced Wiccan and Speed, Wanda’s kids in Young Avengers; Monica Rambeau, who is a Captain Marvel titleholder; and, Agatha Harkness, who could join any number of villain groups. Captain America and the Winter Soldier introduced Eli Bradley, who is Patriot of the Young Avengers; Val, who is Madame Hydra at some point; and, U.S. Agent, a member of Dark Avengers and Thunderbolts. Loki gave us a hybrid Lady Loki/Enchantress in Sylvie and Kid Loki, who is part of Young Avengers. Black Widow provided Yelena Belova, who becomes Black Widow II, and Shang-Chi’s trailer confirmed Abomination is still around.

Strip Talk #30: Marvel winning war; let me tell you why

It should be obvious by now that we love comics here at Gaming Insurrection. Very obvious. I have been a comic book fan — no matter the company — for a long time. I was doing reading, writing and arithmetic and perusing comic books well before there was a Marvel Cinematic Universe or a DC Universe. But let me be the first to tell you: I love Marvel a lot more than DC, and a lot of that can be gleaned from current happenings.

Boring film writing: There are household names there: Joker, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash. Why is it that none of the DC ensemble movies or versus movies can get off the ground? They have the more well-known superheroes. Their stable is full of interesting stories. But none of this can translate to film it seems. The most interesting film in the past 15 years involved Superman “dying” and then resurrecting to fight the Justice League. Insert sigh here.

Inconsistency: Batman and Superman have been done to death. There have been too many actors putting on the cape and cowl for both characters, and it’s a distraction. I loved Michael Keaton as the bat; my love has been well documented here, and yet, we have another name popping up for the role in the film world. I counted five for Batman alone — Keaton, Kilmer, Clooney, Bale and Affleck. You know who played Iron Man? Robert Downey Jr. for all solo character films and all ensemble films. You know what that tells me? No consistency is to be had, and it shows in the uneven product.

Retreads: Marvel is guilty of this, too. Don’t get me wrong, I’m plenty tired of Spider-Man and his millions of different origin story retreads every time they change the actor; also, I’m not a Spider-Man fan. But this is getting ridiculous with DC and its “Snyder Cut Policy.” Stop remaking movies every time you feel one that you commissioned and spent a lot of time on somehow magically fails at the box office. If they reboot any Batman or Superman, Suicide Squad, Justice League or Teen Titans property one more time, we riot. And, let me state for the record: Allowing the Snyder Cut sets a dangerous precedence that we need not allow. What will be the next movie released that gets the “director’s cut” treatment that should have been the original version to start with?

DC is floundering but the situation can be turned around. The love for DC characters is abundant, and they do have saving graces in their animated and television properties. DC’s television game has always been excellent and strong in terms of cohesive storytelling and rich experiences. In fact, Marvel has traditionally struggled in that area and is just now entering that arena. But DC needs to step it up in the film marketplace; there is enough for everyone to get a bag and come out like robber barons in the superhero movie game. I really need DC to get it together over on their side and give me something to take my attention away from the MCU. Because as a fan, when everyone does well, I win.

Lyndsey Beatty is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at lyndseyh [at] gaminginsurrection.com

Property Review: The Boys Season 1

The Boys are back in town

Amazon, 2019

In your face. Gruesome. Over the top. Raw.

That’s how we’d describe the visceral reaction we had to The Boys in its inaugural season on Amazon Prime. We were familiar with the Garth Ennis graphic novel from many years back, and we were eagerly anticipating the adaptation once it was announced.

It did not disappoint.

Opening the story, A-Train, a speedster like Marvel’s Quicksilver, literally runs through protagonist Wee Hughie’s (a phenomenal Jack Quaid) girlfriend Robin accidentally while hopped up on drugs. Him barreling into her at superhuman speed causes her to explode instantly, traumatizing Hughie as he was holding her hands when the collision happened. Hughie can’t find solace in Robin’s death and the aftermath of receiving compensation for his loss. Wandering aimlessly in grief, he finds like-minded individuals starting with Billy Butcher, played by the breathtaking Karl Urban, who advises him to get his hands dirty and get revenge on the Seven because it’s the right thing to do and it’s “diabolical.”

Spreading the diabolical is the omnipresent Homelander, played brilliantly by Antony Starr. If you ever wonder what mixing Superman and Captain America with a side of Bizarro would create, you have Homelander. Homelander, with his all-American good looks and charm is, in reality, one of the most depraved super beings in the history of super beings. In his capacity as the leader of the Seven, a corporate sponsored superhero group, Homelander keeps the subordinates in check but thinks nothing of murdering a plane full of people twice (!) to achieve his own goals or keep the Vought International name clean.

The twists and turns and discovery of Homelander’s devious fakeout of the general population is equal parts engrossing, fun, gruesome and, well, diabolical. Everyone in the Seven has some sort of issue, but Homelander is the cream of the crop. Or so he says. By the end of the season, you will come to love and hate Homelander enough that if you haven’t read the graphic novel, you will hunt it down just to get the unfiltered version of the super menace.

Everyone plays their role to perfection, just nice enough on the surface but nasty enough on the other side that you know the mass marketing appeal of the characters isn’t going to last long. The story moves along at a nice pace, getting you to know the Seven and their impact on the world around them, and their counterparts in Butcher’s gang. It’s a fun, solid ride that makes you question everything you know about superheroes. What if they weren’t benevolent do-gooders and did stuff like participate in an orgy — the upcoming third season Herogasm arc? Who keeps them in check and how is that accomplished when they have powers that can literally change the world but they’re incompetent and amoral? The Boys aims to understand all of that in the goriest way possible. Season 1 ends on a cliffhanger and sets up future goodness in the already-released Season 2 and the coming Season 3. Expect more diabolical fun because this brilliant sendup of comic book follies is fantastic at judging those who save us.

Like the comics: 9

Acting: 8

Story: 10

Total: 27/30 or 9

HOW WE GRADE

We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 11

The light at the end of the Death Note tunnel is clear

Light, Light, Light. I keep finding more reasons for confining Mr. Yagami to a high-level mental health facility than having him in ANY level of employment in public safety. Throughout the entire series reviewing this manga series, the question of “How can one justify killing innocent people in order to make a better world,” keeps popping back in my head, with no credible answers.

Volume 11 begins with Light, Misa and the task force headed back to Japan to avoid capture by Near, the SPK and Mello. Light’s return to Japan provides him breathing room to set up his plans in controlling the Kira investigation and control Mikami’s movements as Kira. However, Near correctly deduces Light’s escape to Japan and follows suit to capture Kira in his own domain, using Hal Linder as a potential member of Kiyomi Takada’s female security team. At the same time, Misa is asked by Yoshida Productions to perform at the annual New Year’s show. Once Near arrives in Japan, he contacts Light to inform him that he is also in Japan to lure Kira out of hiding. Both L’s decide to use that call to begin preparations for their final plans to battle each other.

Further in the story, Light continues to use Takada to his advantage by exchanging written notes to avoid detection by the task force and communicate with Mikami. Takada is OK with the plan, but she began her own plan to secure her position with Light by asking Misa to join her for a late dinner. At the dinner, Mogi and Linder are present, but Linder was ordered by Takada to stand by in case Misa got belligerent. For the sake of time, I’ll say that the dinner didn’t not go well. Meanwhile, another SPK agent named Gevanni starts his stake out of Mikami and has noticed that he has killed a subway passenger for harassing a female passenger without using the Death Note. Acting on Gevanni’s report, Near and Rester began the final stages of planning to capture Kira/Light.

At the New Year’s show, Takada announces that Misa has not yet arrived, forcing Light and the task force to search for her and Mogi. At that moment, Near contacts Light stating that he has taken Misa and Mogi into protective custody. Light, inwardly enraged, acts concerned in front of the task force by telling Misa and Mogi that they are free to leave at any time they want.

At the same time, Gevanni follows Mikami to a local gym and was able to touch the Death Note that was in Mikami’s brief bag. With Gevanni’s report, Near decides to make a replica Death Note and set the date, time and place for the final battle: a warehouse near Daikoku Wharf in Yokohama. On the day of their meeting, Takada arrives at NHN Studio for her news program when Matt arrives firing a smoke grenade at Takada. While the security team surrounds her, Mello, disguised as a motorcyclist worshipper of Kira, tells Linder to place Takada on the bike. When Takada is on the bike with Mello, Linder has two security units to follow them while the remaining security team goes after Matt. When Takada was out of danger, Mello ignored requests from the security detail to hand her over to them and escapes into a narrow alley with Takada as his prisoner.

This volume is a nice way to setup a climatic end for the series. Every detail from artwork to storyline was strong enough to create their own impact without losing plot focus. I applauded the chess-like moves that Light and Near employed with Swiss clock-like precision in each of their plans giving them flexibility in each situation. Also, the development for each character was not stale, especially for Misa, Takada, and Linder, who all got equal scene time in each chapter. I found the dinner scene with Misa and Takada hilarious when Misa tells Takada that she and Kira will be killed when he is captured, and Takada counters with host authority of the New Year’s show to prevent Misa’s engagement to Light. Also, Linder was featured in superb multitasking as a most trusted bodyguard while being a double agent and referee between Kira’s two suitors. Ohba-san and Obata-san again showed their mastery in creating a worthwhile series. Credit is also owed to Tetsuichiro Miyazi, who performed adaptation and translation duties.

This is it. The battle that we waited for, dear readers, is here. L’s heirs and Light Yagami fighting to the death, not for praise but intellectual superiority. As I ready myself to write the final review of Death Note, I cannot find any reason why I should not re-read this series or re-watch the anime. Do shinigami really exist? Only time will tell. I can offer this analysis, though: A battle of anime and manga’s most intriguing intellectuals will end, with ONLY one left standing.

Brandon Beatty is associate editor of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb[at]gaminginsurrection.com

Marvel character highlight #28: Iron Fist

Name: Daniel Rand-K’ai

Alias: Iron Fist, Daredevil, Daredevil 2.0, Devil, Spider-Man

Affiliation: Defenders, Heroes for Hire, Rand Corporation, Immortal Weapons, New Avengers, Thunderbolts, Midnight Sons

Special abilities: Chi augmentation; peak human endurance, strength, speed, agility, and stamina; superhuman pain and injury resistance; energy absorption; and, a master martial artist and acrobat

Background: Danny Rand was born to businessman Wendell Rand, who once lived in K’un Lun. K’un Lun, situated in another dimension, could only be found once every 10 years through an interdimensional nexus. Through treachery, Rand’s parents were killed and the people of K’un Lun found Rand and trained him. When he was 19, he fought to acquire the power of the Iron Fist, through a fight to the death with Shou-Lao the Undying. Winning the battle, he earned the power and returned to America. Once he returned, he was introduced to Colleen Wing and her father and later learned the truth about his parents’ murders. Rand later teamed with Misty Knight and Luke Cage to form Heroes for Hire and the Defenders.

Relationships: Misty Knight, partner and former lover; Luke Cage, partner; Colleen Wing, partner

First Versus appearance: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Appearances in other media:

Television: The Super Hero Squad Show, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Ultimate Spider-Man, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Maximum Overload, Wolverine: Weapon X (motion comic), Avengers: Secret Wars, Marvel Future Avengers, Iron Fist (Netflix series), The Defenders (Netflix series), Luke Cage (Netflix series)

Video games: Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage (SNES, Sega Genesis), Spider-Man: Lethal Foes, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Marvel Avengers Alliance, LittleBigPlanet, Marvel Heroes, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes, Disney Infinity 3.0, Marvel Contest of Champions, Marvel: Future Fight, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

 

Anime Lounge #20: My Hero Academia Season 1

Series: My Hero Academia

Episodes: 1 to 13

Premise: A young boy, Izuku Midoriya, from Japan lives in a world where at least 80 percent of society is born with some type of extra special ability, called quirks. Quirks are used by a segment of the population to fight crime, and Midoriya idolizes the world-famous All Might, the No. 1-ranked hero. After a chance encounter with his idol, quirkless Midoriya begins to train with All Might to gain his passed-down quirk One for All. Midoriya’s journey to becoming the No. 1 hero is chronicled as he joins U.A. High School and learns the true meaning of becoming a hero.

Is it worth watching?: YES. We love the X-Men, and My Hero Academia is basically an anime version of the Marvel staple. If you love super-powered antics, compelling heroes and villains and tight, deep writing, My Hero Academia is a phenomenal choice. It starts a little slow, but once it gets going, it gets GOOD.

Breakout character: Todoroki Shoto. In the first season, it’s all about the dual-natured boy who wields fire and ice as one quirk. He seems frosty at first but his introduction is nothing short of dazzling, and he quickly becomes a favorite because of his power and stoic expression. Iida Tenya and Midoriya are close in terms of engaging. You want to root for both characters as they grow. All the teachers are top-notch characters as well, but Shota Aizawa aka Eraserhead is our favorite. He stands out from the pack in terms of his cool but basic costume and the sheer strength of his quirk Erasure, which nullifies quirks within his vision range until he blinks.

Best episode: Episode 5: What I Can Do For Now. Midoriya has already entered Class 1A by passing the entrance exam, but now he’s in the big leagues and has to demonstrate what he knows about One For All. The cool thing about this episode is, while Midoriya knows he doesn’t have control over the quirk just yet, he doesn’t give up. In fact, he tries hard enough that Aizawa-san realizes that he’s trying to get the quirk together. Aizawa has enough foresight to realize that Midoriya doesn’t have control because he likely wasn’t born with it like the others in his class. Thus, he starts becoming suspicious but curious enough to allow Midoriya to continue in the class. This shows growth for all involved in just five episodes.

Where it’s going?: As Midoriya gets more comfortable with having the ultra-powerful One for All, look for the stakes to ramp up for Class 1A as they train to become heroes.