Top 5 on The Strip: Villainesses

Selene - Marvel

1. Selene (Black Queen – Hellfire Club) – Marvel

Selene – better known as the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club – is at least 17,000 years old and continuously wreaks havoc on the Marvel Universe, mostly by terrorizing the X-Men. She’s featured as the boss of one of Gambit’s stages in Spider-Man & the X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge, so you know she’s obnoxious.

Mutant power: Life-draining psychic vampire, flame manipulation

 Star Sapphire-Carol Ferris

2. Star Sapphire – DC

The original Star Sapphire had several remarkable powers that included the use of a violet Power Ring (like the Green Lantern Corps). The main thing to know about Star Sapphire is that she is a group, a corps just like the Green Lantern. The group is possessed by the Star Sapphire gem, which is attracted to worthy females who are in love with Hal Jordan. Remember folks, stalking and harrassment are crimes, no matter if you are a gem or not.

Super power: Violet Power Ring possession, force blasts, protective shield, flight

 Lady Deathstrike

3. Lady Deathstrike – Marvel

Yeah, so Yuriko Oyama has an adamantium-bonded skeleton similar to Wolverine’s. The reason for this? Because she wanted to have it. It wasn’t that she had it forced on her; no, she asked Spiral to do the process because she wanted to be able to kill Wolverine, who she thought stole the theories and ideas on the adamantium process. Receiving cybernetic implants as well, Yuriko has hunted Wolverine for decades.

Mutant power: Superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability and agility; unbreakable skeleton laced with adamantium and 10 claws made of adamantium; and a cybernetic healing factor.

 Talia al Ghul

4. Talia ah Gul – DC

The daughter of Ra’s ah Gul, Talia has carried on her father’s life of crime and destruction. She’s covertly worked to take over Gotham City, injured or killed numerous people and lead the notorious League of Assassins. Her saving grace is the fact that she married Bruce Wayne and produced an heir, Damien Wayne. Eventually, she disowns Damien after realizing that he would always oppose her after taking up his father’s cause. Motherly love this is not.

Super power: Enhanced longevity, genius-level intelligence, superior marksmanship and swordsmanship

 Mystique

5. Mystique – Marvel

There isn’t much that Mystique hasn’t done. In several realities, she has been the cause of assassinations of key figures that leads to the downfall of that reality (see: Days of Future Past) and has betrayed quite a few people in her path. Given that she’s able to shapeshift at will into whomever she wants, Mystique has used that power to further her own agenda and goals. Usually, those goals are in line with the Brotherhood of Evil.

Mutant power: Shapeshifting

Anime Lounge #09: Kill la Kill Ep. 1-6

Kill La KillAnime-Lounge

Series: Kill la Kill

Episodes: 1 to 6

Premise: A schoolgirl, Ryuko Matoi, goes on a search for her father’s killer — a person wielding a scissor blade — while wearing a specially made suit — Senketsu. Matoi comes into conflict with Honnouji Academy and its leader, Satsuki Kiryuin, who rules with an iron fist. Matoi gains allies in her fight, starting with best friend Mako Mankanshoku and her family, and gains others in the form of Nudist Beach.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. The premise of a living uniform giving a girl super powers is intriguing enough, but the action and the way the animation works is an even bigger reason to watch it through to the end. The dialogue is snappy, and the characters are interesting and unique.

Breakout character: Mako Mankanshoku. Mako is quite weird and plays her role as the sidekick quite well. She’s funny and interesting enough that you notice her almost immediately. She stands out from the crowd of characters introduced.

Funniest episode: Episode 4, Dawn of a Miserable Morning. Mako and Ryuko can’t be late for school, as it’s the one day of the year that requires everyone to be on time or risk being expelled. The route to school is purposely booby-trapped and set up for failure, with the prime objective of weeding out the ranks of the school. The duo make several attempts to get there on time and are nearly killed. What they don’t realize is it’s basically one trap after another, right down to walking in the door.

Where it’s going: Ryuko is going to get some answers in her quest to find her father’s killer. She’ll learn just who she can trust, the reasons for his murder and why working together is such a good idea.

Marvel character highlight #18: Jean Grey/Phoenix

Name: Jean Grey-SummersPhoenix

Affiliation: X-Men, X-Factor, The Twelve, X-Terminators, Phoenix Corps

Special abilities: Omega-level telepathy; telekinesis; Phoenix Force, which grants the ability to travel unaided through space; psionically manipulate matter and any form of energy; create powerful “cosmic” fire; resurrect from death and manipulate life energy in others; and manipulate timelines.

Background: Jean Grey had an ordinary home life with her parents and older sister in upstate New York. That changed when Jean’s friend Annie Richardson died after being hit by a car. Jean telepathically linked with her dying friend, manifesting her powers for the first time. To save Jean, her parents sought the help of Charles Xavier, who connected with Jean and brought her out of her coma. Jean then went to live with Charles at the newly formed Xavier Institute, learning to use her powers. While there, she fell in love with fellow teammate Scott Summers and continued to go on missions. During one mission in space, Jean was exposed to a mortally lethal dose of radiation poisoning. As she was dying, Jean cried out telepathically and the Phoenix Force answered her. The Phoenix Force created a duplicate body — which it resided in with Jean’s essence — and placed Jean in a healing cocoon that sunk in Jamaica Bay. The Phoenix Force posed as her for years, while a clone of Jean (Madelyne Pryor) married Scott and had a child with him. Jean was resurrected from the cocoon and rejoined her teammates. Later, Jean and Scott’s marriage fell apart and Jean was killed again. She then resurrected herself using the Phoenix Force and ascended to a higher plane of existence, the White Hot Room.

Relationships: John Grey (father), Elaine Grey (mother), Sara Grey-Bailey (sister), Scott Summers (former husband), Nathan Christopher Charles Summers (Cable; genetic son), Stryfe (clone of Cable; genetic son), Rachel Summers (genetic daughter), Hope Summers (step-granddaughter), Nathaniel Grey (X-Man, genetic son), Madelyne Pryor (Goblin Queen, genetic clone), Corsair (Christopher Summers, father-in-law), Vulcan (Gabriel Summers, brother-in-law), Havok (Alex Summers, brother-in-law and lover)

First Versus game appearance: Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds

Appearances in other media: Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (television), The Marvel Super Heroes (television), X-Men animated television series (television), X-Men: Evolution (television), Wolverine and the X-Men (television), The Super Hero Squad Show (television), X-Men (anime), Iron Man: Armored Adventures (television), Astonishing X-Men (motion comics), X-Men (film), X2: X-Men United (film), X-Men: The Last Stand (film), The Wolverine (film), X-Men: Days of Future Past (film), X-Men: Apocalypse (film), X-Men II: The Fall of the Mutants (video game), X-Men (video game), X-Men: Gamemaster’s Legacy (video game), X-Men: Mutant Academy (video game), X-Men: Mutant Academy 2 (video game), X-Men: Next Dimension (video game), X-Men Legends (video game), X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse (video game), X-Men: The Official Game (video game), X-Men: Destiny (video game), Marvel Super Hero Squad Online (video game), Marvel: Avengers Alliance (video game), Marvel Ultimate Alliance (video game), Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (video game), Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth (video game), Marvel Heroes (video game), LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (video game), Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (video game), Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (video game)

Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 7

Death Note Vol. 7 digs deeper with shocking results

Brandon-2012-cutoutWelcome to Otaku Corner, the spot of The Strip where we bring you the finest manga and anime. I’m continuing my review of the series “Death Note,” the mystery/supernatural manga of geniuses Light Yagami and L, the legendary detective. When Light finds the death note dropped in the human world by a shingami named Ryuk, he uses it to kill off criminals, hoping to create a crime-free world. When criminals worldwide begin to drop dead, L (Ryuzaki) is called in to find the murder known as “Kira” (Light).

Written by Tsugumi Ohba, drawn by Takeshi Obuta and published by VIZ Media, Death Note Volume 7 continues where the previous volume ended with Light, Ryuzaki and the rest of the task force finally capturing Kyosuke Higuchi, the latest Kira. Upon recovering the death note, Light regains his memories as the original Kira allowing him to continue his main goal: killing L.

Using a hidden piece of the death note placed in his watch, Light — without anyone watching — kills Higuchi, thus focusing his attention to L. In the next set of pages, Light shows how far he is willing to use not only his “girlfriend” Misa Amane and her shinigami Rem, but also to have Ryuk write two fake rules about using the death note. Sensing that there are two fake rules, Ryuzaki attempts to have another country test the fake rules, but he and Watari are killed by Rem, who is also killed because of her actions that allowed Misa to live longer. Before his death, L erases all of the investigative data on the task force computers, but Light is able to recover the information, allowing him to kill Ryuzaki’s associates Aiber and Wedy as well as the remaining members of the Yosuba group who were involved in the Kira killings. Light, during this time, plays the roles of Kira and L while joining the NPA’s Intelligence section, securing his position as murderer and law officer.

Unknown to Light, however, L’s proteges have begun to avenge their fallen mentor. One of them, Near, gathered enough

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

evidence to convince the U.S. government to set up a Kira investigation unit known as SPK. The other, known as Mello, joins up with a major mafia organization to acquire the death note and to also become No. 1 over Near. While Light is enjoying his long-awaited victory, Mello has taken the NPA director hostage and when the director is killed, Mello orders his henchmen to kidnap Light’s sister Saiyu. When Saiyu goes missing, Light deals with two new adversaries who are determined to destroy Kira at any cost.

Death Note continues to be a smash hit, thanks to its perfect mix of mystery, horror and supernatural elements. I guarantee that you will be in complete awe as you witness Light’s complete transformation from a young man who hates evil to a murderer who will kill anyone in his way to create his perfect world. L, while not entirely evil, did himself justice despite his willingness to test the death note among other questionable tactics to solve the case, leaving a legacy for his heirs to fight one of the greatest evils ever known. Viz Media also gets credit as well, as Alexis Kirsch performed excellently with handling translation and adaptation writing duties.

Death Note Volume 7 left me feeling sad and happy about its continuation. Although I’m pleased that the story will continue with new plot twists and nonstop action, I’m saddened that a great main character has fallen at such an early point in the series. Yet, I am confident that he will be avenged thanks to the efforts of his proteges. Keep reading Otaku Corner for more reviews of Death Note as its second act begins. RIP Ryuzaki and Watari. You WILL be avenged.

 

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Property review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

Photo courtesy of IMDB.com

Photo courtesy of IMDB.com

 X-Men: Days of Future Past

20th Century Fox, 2014

 

 X-cellent return to form

Set aside any preconceived notions you may have had at the announcement of a new X-Men film. We’ll wait because we know just how hard that may be to do. Now that it’s out of the way, let’s get down to business.

X-Men Days of Future Past is phenomenal.

Everything that went wrong with The Last Stand (editor’s note: See 2Q2014’s property review) has been corrected. See, the acting wasn’t the problem; it was the storyline and the execution. Days of Future Past manages to take the bleak problems of its predecessor and turn them into bright spots, ironically, because Days of Future Past is a bleak and dark turn of events for the merry band of mutants.

Days of Future Past, while different from the Animated Series and the comic book original, is a solid adventure for the X-Men. The story posits that a single assassination is the linchpin that leads to the extinction of mutants by the Sentinels, aggressive mutant-hunting robots of the future. By stopping the assassination of Dr. Boliviar Trask, the X-Men will prevent the genocidal Sentinels from ever coming into being and, more importantly, prevent the slaughter of millions of humans and mutants, alike. To do this, they send Wolverine back into time to the point of divergence and hope that he can convince estranged friends Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr to work together for the common good once more.

The story takes some twists and turns, but by the end, you realize that this is a story of redemption and broken dreams healed. That’s not just for the characters, but also for the movie franchise. Let’s face it: Last Stand was horrible and a desecration of all that stands in the X-Men universe. Days of Future Past gets everything right and then some, starting with the re-emergence of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. Next comes the healing of story butchering. Events that take place in Last Stand (no spoilers!) are erased throughout the film, but in particular the last five minutes of Days of Future Past quickly place a stake through the heart of Last Stand. Finally, comes the attention to detail, which is a major component of any comic book adaptation. Sure, Days of Future Past takes some liberties with the source material, but we’ll allow it if it means the story will flow better. Here, it does and the changes make sense. There’s no half-baked change for the sake of change.

Something else that Days of Future Past manages to accomplish is a sense of clarity. A time-traveling tale can be confusing with the lack of the right amount of distinguishing features to differentiate between eras. However, the film has a stunning amount of clarity, which makes everything obvious as to which time period is at the forefront. We had no trouble understanding the chain of events of the film — despite a lot of jumping between 1973 and 2023 — and additionally, the powers of all mutants involved were correct and instantly clear. That’s what happens when there is an obvious and immense level of detail paid to the source material, something Last Stand sorely lacked. And, unlike its predecessor, we had few gripes. We would have liked to have seen more Quicksilver and more of the newer mutants who joined the cause. Also, a little elaboration on the answer to the question of how the Sentinels evolved to the future state would have been nice, considering that original version’s answer of Mastermold was left out of the film entirely. However, those are small quibbles and a small price to pay for such a large love letter/apologetic note to fans.

Days of Future Past serves a multipronged purpose: pacify the veteran X-Men film fans; fix the problems of Last Stand; continue the story of the uncanny mutants through the First Class cast; continue the reboot of the film franchise; and serve as the swan song of the original trilogy’s cast. Days of Future Past manages to complete its tasks and usher in a new era of prosperity and promise for one of the most recognizable comic book franchises ever. Days of Future Past is an x-cellent return to form.

 

Like the comics: 7

Casting: 10

Plot: 10

Overall score: 27 out of 30 or 9

 

How we grade

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

Strip Talk #19: Sometimes it’s OK to reserve judgment

Lyndsey-2013-cutout-onlineBefore we even get started, let’s not even question my TMNT legitimacy, OK? I am what you would call a superfan. Check my credentials: I have most of the 1987 cartoon seasons on DVD, have had the theme song of said show memorized since the beginning of 1988, had loads of merchandise and wrote a freaking play about Leonardo falling in love with April. Oh, and that 2011 GI issue devoted to TMNT? My idea. So, when I render a verdict on this new contraption that Michael Bay has dared introduce, you can best believe I do know what I am talking about. Except … that’s just it: I haven’t rendered a verdict and I’m not going to. At least, not just yet.

Yes, I’ve seen the epic original trailer (and I use that term loosely here), and no, I don’t have much to say about the overall film. The trailer is just that: a trailer. You can’t just go around supposing anything from a trailer. From what I saw, it’s supposed to be a retelling of the origin story of the four turtles and their first meeting with Ms. O’Neil. Beyond that, I’m not really expecting much other than the rumbling that I’ve heard over the hills that the Turtles are supposed to be aliens this time around. Not so fast there, Bay. That isn’t canon and that one change? Yep, you guessed it: The fanbase isn’t buying it. At all.

There comes a time, though, when everyone needs to step back and keep a clear head about things. This is one of those magical times. Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the boys in green, even agreed with that righteous statement from Bay. Keep in mind, however, that Eastman isn’t even directly involved with the rights to the Turtles anymore and has only recently gotten back into the Turtle game. So take it for what it’s worth. Meanwhile, other co-creator Peter Laird is telling anyone who’ll listen that the concept is being watered down and probably will hurt the standing of the franchise. My reaction: As if the third movie, subsequent 80 million series after the 1987 cartoon and rampant merchandising didn’t already do that? I mean, let’s not forget that at the height of the series’ popularity, you could find the Green Machine on everything from bookmarks to toilet paper practically. So, what’s another movie to potentially push the franchise again to a newer generation of kids that don’t know the black-and-white history of the Turtles?

I’m no Bay defender or apologist but all of the knee-jerk reactions to the trailer need to descend right back down to the sewers whence the third movie came from.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com