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.

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.

Top 5 on the Strip: Comic book squads edition

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The green crew with attitude shows up on a variety of our favorite lists. We grew up in an era where the Turtles ruled everything for a good solid three years, culminating with the second live-action film. What most of the youngins didn’t know is that the Turtles got their start in comics in black-and-white incarnations in 1984. The comics are highly sought after now because of their rarity.

The X-Men: Charles Xavier’s men have always been our favorite group of superheroes. The merry mutants have always been at the forefront of societal issues (mutantism equals racism to a degree), and the group has always been relatable. We’re excited that the comic book mainstays are coming into the MCU at some point; they deserve to be done justice.

The Avengers: Given there are numerous lineups and different locations for the Avengers, we must narrow down this pick to any squad featuring Steve Rogers’ Captain America. To us, it isn’t the Avengers proper unless Rogers is involved to lead the charge. And, yes, we’re quite fond of the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the group.

Justice League: No list on squads would be complete without the current DC universe lineup. Everyone on the squad is necessary: There is no Justice League without Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman or Cyborg. Despite the most recent movie not being a cohesive flick, the squad represented there is the core experience that is the Justice League. Also, it made Aquaman cool.

The Boys: Relatively obscure until the recently fantastic Amazon Prime show, the Boys are great at one thing: stopping the diabolical supes of their universe. Billy Butcher is cool as hell, and his entire crew is messed up in some way but loyal and awesome. In the same vein, the Seven are amoral and ridiculously lead by Homelander but just as shady and more weird than the Boys.

Marvel character highlight #27: MODOK

Name: M.O.D.O.K. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing)

Alias: George Tarleton (real name), Big Head, Chairman, Damocles Rivas, Gerlach, M.O.D.O.C. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Computing), M.O.D.O.F. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Fun), Mister Potato Head, Moddy, the Saint, Scientist Supreme

Affiliation: A.I.M., Intelligencia, K Sector

Special abilities: Super genius intellect, telekinetic blasts, force field projection, telepathy, mind control

Background: George Tarleton worked as a technician at A.I.M. in Pennsylvania. He was experimented on by the Scientist Supreme, which resulted in a mutation of a large head and dramatically increased intellect. Once the experimentation was complete, George was dubbed M.O.D.O.C (Mental Organism Designed Only for Computing) and placed in a weight-assisting vehicle to support his comically oversized head. Because of his vastly superior intellect, M.O.D.O.K. quickly overthrew his former boss and changed his name to reflect his murderous mindset. M.O.D.O.K. has since been depowered and returned to a normal human state by Amadeus Cho (aka Totally Awesome Hulk).

Relationships: M.O.D.O.K. Superior, clone; Sean Madigan (Head Case), son

First Versus appearance: Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Appearances in other media:

Television: Iron Man (1994 animated series), Iron Man: Armored Adventures, The Super Hero Squad Show, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Ultimate Spider-Man, Avengers Assemble, Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy (animated short), Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers, Spider-Man (2010s animated series), New Warriors (canceled show), M.O.D.O.K. (upcoming animated series)

Video games: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Marvel Super Hero Squad, Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Marvel Super Hero Squad: Comic Combat, Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, Iron Man 3: The Official Game, Marvel Heroes, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel Future Fight, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Marvel: Contest of Champions, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, Marvel’s Avengers

Property Review: Iron Man

The first coming of Tony Stark is one of the best MCU origin stories

Iron Man
Marvel Studios, 2008

The one that started them all. The metaphorical start of Robert Downey Jr.’s comic book-like redemption arc. The birthplace of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The beginning of the beginning. All of these titles are appropriate for Iron Man, the 2008 origin story of veteran Avenger Tony Stark. Another title to throw in there? Magnificent.

It’s not just the tight story telling or excellent acting chops of the main cast. It’s also seeing Stark make his turn into the Avenger we all know and love. Stark starts out super hedonistic and self-serving. Through his wounding and subsequent capture by the Ten Rings organization, little by little, you see Stark have the needed epiphany that he was, in fact, War Machine, not Iron Man. Half of its fun ride comes from this need to see him come to that realization. The other half is, of course, learning that Stark can apply his genius for good and productive ways while still being the billionaire philanthropic playboy he declares himself to be to Steve Rogers in the later Avengers film.

Where Iron Man particularly succeeds, however, is the parallel Stark shares with perfect portrayer Robert Downey Jr. What most new generation Marvel fans don’t realize is, is when Iron Man was casted, Downey Jr. was not the bankable star that he is now. The man’s past is well known to older fans and caused several — including himself — to pause.

But the single most compelling thing about Downey Jr. is his will to better himself, work every day like most others to redeem himself and grow. That indomitable will shows in every second that Downey Jr. is Tony Stark/Iron Man. He is Iron Man. He is the living embodiment of the character who struggled to redeem himself and be a team player. Downey Jr. is such perfect casting that there is no one else that could ever step into the role. He became the character.

And for all that Iron Man succeeds in doing bombastically, it quietly sets up the rest of the cinematic universe perfectly. Iron Man in its stumbling glory is what we now know as the standard for a Marvel movie. It makes Stark relatable, tells his superhero origin story and sets up future films with a deftness that reminds us that there is, in fact, a plan for all of this. Now that we’ve seen that plan unfold, we can come back and praise the beginning for all that it is. The heart and soul of the MCU lives on.

Like the comics: 8

Acting: 8.5

Story: 8

Total: 24.5/30 or 8

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.

Anime Lounge #19: Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi Propose Hen OVA

Series: Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi Propose Hen

Episodes: 1

Premise: This is the OVA follow up to the goings on in boys’ love series Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi. In this short episode, one of the crew working at Marukawa Publishing is getting married and the entire shojo manga department, Emerald, is invited. During the proceedings, Onodera and Takano interact with guests and each other. It comes to light that Takano has a certain thing on his mind.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. If you’ve watched all other seasons of Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi — which you should have — this is a delightful treat. It’s a cute sort of wrap up showing just where everyone is now.

Breakout character: Takano Masamune. He always stands out as one of the main characters but here he is just too delicious in his hinting.

Best episode: N/A

Where it’s going?: Even though it’s not what you’d expect for Takano and Onodera after some time away, it’s obvious that their relationship has progressed. Hopefully, in the future we will see something along the lines of Onodera and Takano getting married as well.

Top 5 on the Strip: Comic book games edition

1. Marvel vs. Capcom series

If there were ever a polarizing yet fun fighting game, it’s probably Marvel vs. Capcom. The first few Versus games are fun yet broken, but you don’t know broken until you get to Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Spending 18 hours at a tournament to watch the same 10 characters fight in teams of three makes you dislike and love a game at the same time.

2. Batman Arkham series

Batman’s run of action-adventure games has quite a few standouts. Rocksteady outdid themselves in letting you become the Dark Knight and immerse yourself in the world of Gotham and the insane asylum that is Arkham. Any entries are classics that shouldn’t be missed.

3. X-Men arcade game

“Welcome to die!” is a pleasant yet infamous greeting waiting for you at the end of the X-Men quarter muncher. Gold and Blue ’90s-era X-Men join and fight in a team of four to take on the Brotherhood of Mutants. It’s a fun romp that reminds you of how powerful the original animated series was in terms of impact on gamers and comic book nerds alike.

4. TMNT 2: The Arcade Game

If there is ever a game on this list that personifies GI and its life in the ’90s, it’s this sequel. Easily one of the best quarter stealers of all time, TMNT2 took everything from the comics, the original animated TV show and the movies and turned it into an ultra-fun excursion in the world of the lean mean green fighting machine.

5. Marvel Ultimate Alliance

An insanely fun brawler that’s chock full of Marvel awesomeness, the first Ultimate Alliance game is fun and full of depth. It’s also co-op and introduced you to the then-obscure Marvel characters that are now household names. I didn’t know the Winter Soldier then or Fing Fang Foom but I bet I do now. This is the Marvel encyclopedia.

Anime Lounge #18: Death Note Ep. 6 – 12

Series: Death Note

Episodes: 6 to 12

Premise: A young man named Light Yagami is bored and incredibly gifted mentally. He’s looking for things to do outside of hacking the national police database and is preparing to go to law school for a career in criminal justice. One day, while in school, he happens to notice a strange book appear outside. He opens it and finds a shinigami, named Ryuk, that’s bound to follow the person who finds it. Light’s discovery and subsequent dealings with Ryuk and his Death Note begin the twisted tale of justice as a means to an end.

Is it worth watching?: YES. This is one of the best anime to be released in the past 20 years. It’s got everything you could want: Suspense, drama, several murder mysteries, a plot that makes you question life choices and characters to root for.

Breakout character: Misa Amane. Say what you will about the second Kira, but she is the breakout star here. She immediately makes an impact on Light, good or bad, and she joins the story permanently at a crucial time.

Best episode: “Overcast,” Episode 7. Light finally succeeds in convincing the watcher that he has always had less than noble ideals as he commits a shocking murder. Not only is the person he murders shocking, but also the way that he kills the person using the Death Note shocking: He causes them to commit suicide with his written command. This was the point at which you ceased to sympathize with Light in any way, but it now makes an interesting mystery even deeper because it’s now a race to see just how long Light will get away with his crimes as Kira.

Where it’s going?: The heat ramps up on Light as Kira, as he will have to juggle discovering there’s another Kira, L’s continued investigation and his life otherwise.

Anime Lounge #17: Junjou Romantica 2

Series: Junjou Romantica 2

Episodes: 1 to 12

Premise: Junjou Romantica is broken up into three storylines: Romantica, Egoist and Terrorist. Romantica is the story of main couple Misaki Takahashi and Akihiko Usami, who are brought together by Misaki’s older brother, Takahiro, so that Akihiko can tutor Misaki for college entrance exams. It happens that Takahiro announces at the meeting that he is getting married. Akihiko and Misaki are upset for different reasons: Misaki, because it means he is losing his brother somewhat after the death of his parents; Akihiko, because he is in love with Takahiro. Romance commences, with a reluctant Misaki along for the ride. Egoist focuses on Nowaki Kusama and Hiroki Kamijou’s developing relationship. Nowaki is considerably younger than Hiroki, who is a classic Japanese literature professor. Thus, their relationship centers on their everyday struggle to be a couple on equal footing. In Terrorist, Yo Miyagi and Shinobu Takatsuki become reacquainted after the end of Yo’s marriage to Shinobu’s sister. Shinobu is in love with Yo, but Yo doesn’t take him seriously. The resulting relationship between the two is interesting and deals with their pasts as brothers-in-law and their age difference. One protagonist in each couple knows of another in another couple. For example, Akihiko was in a relationship with Hiroki and Hiroki works with Yo.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. If you love romantic stories, this is probably for you. A word of caution, though: If you do not like yaoi, do not watch because the series’ relationships are all between men. If you are comfortable with it, you’ll come to love the characters and their relationship struggles.

Breakout character: Misaki Takahashi. He finally starts to come out of shell and become a little more open in his relationship with Akihiko. Instead of super shy and awkward Misaki, he’s a little more comfortable with being in an openly acknowledged relationship with Akihiko.

Best couple: Misaki and Akihiko. Despite their weird quirks, and them being the main focus, they are the most endearing of the three couples. Hiroki and Nowaki are the most serious, and Yo and Shinobu are the most realistic of the three. Misaki and Akihiko also happen to be the most fun of the three couples.

Where it’s going?: The three couples have issues to work on separately, but most importantly, Misaki’s time with Akihiko will be coming to an end now that he’s approaching graduation … or will it?