Month: September 2013

Iron Man 3 on blu-ray

Iron Man 3 came out on blu-ray and DVD this past week.  Since I’ve already reviewed the actual movie, I won’t repeat it here.  Instead, I’ll just go over the bonus features.

Marvel One-shot:  Agent Carter – Way back with the Thor release on video, Marvel started adding a short film.  They were never anything big.  Just something small to add some new content to the releases.  Well, with Agent Carter, that changed.  This short follows Agent Peggy Carter, 3 months after the events of Captain America.  You know, where she had a tearful farewell with Captain America, as he was crashing the plane into the arctic.  So, she’s now stuck in a field office with a chauvinistic station chief, that will not give her any field assignments.  One night, the chief leaves her all of the paperwork to do while the rest of them get drinks, when the office gets an emergency call.  They have a new lead on Zodiac, and the mission requires 3-5 agents.  Agent Carter decides to go on her own.  There’s some action, and badassery, and in the end, she successfully completes the mission on her own.  The next day, the chief is not happy with her.  He’s lecturing her when he gets interrupted by the emergency phone.  This time it’s Howard Stark on phone.  He tells the chief to tell Carter that it is his (chief) honor to tell Carter that she has been chosen to lead S.H.I.E.L.D.  Carter collects her things, and leaves with one final zinger at the chief.

Deconstructing the Scene:  Attack on Air Force One – This was a neat look at this scene.  To jog your memory, there’s an explosion on Air Force One, and 13 people are sucked out of the plane.  Just watching the scene it does look pretty good and realistic.  Well, as it turns out, they actually filmed by having everyone jump out of a plane.  The only CGI used was to put the Iron Man armor on their Iron Man stand-in.  Then, with the splash down at the end of the scene, they were all on ziplines, and then dropped them into the water.

Marvel’s Iron Man 3 Unmasked – This was a featurette that contained some filmmaker interviews, but nothing really in-depth.  You don’t get any behind the scenes explanation of anything.  I like having a documentary type thing in my bonus features.

Behind the scenes look at Thor:  The Dark World – It wasn’t really a behind the scenes look, and more of a “hey, let’s promote Thor 2 because a lot of people are probably going to buy Iron Man 3.”  And I don’t blame them.  A lot of people saw Iron Man 3.  Thor 2 could really use a post-Avengers bump as well.

There’s a gag reel that’s alright, if you enjoy that sort of thing.  Just wish it would have been longer.  There are some deleted scenes.  None of them are very extraordinary.  A lot of it is people improving various lines.  There is a couple of short scenes with Harley’s bully, but it’s good those were cut.  It would draw out the overall scene had they been left in.

In the end, if you enjoyed the movie, then of course you should buy it.  Just, don’t be too hopeful about the bonus features.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – “Pilot”

This week was the premiere episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC.  It should be noted, if you couldn’t tell, that this film is set within the Marvel cinematic universe.  And if you hadn’t figured that out, they remind you several times within the show.  But if you happened to miss the episode on Tuesday, or the repeat on Thursday, here’s what you need to know.

Agent Phil Coulson is back.  We left The Avengers thinking that Loki had killed Agent Coulson on the Helicarrier.  To hear Coulson tell the tale, he had quit breathing for 40 seconds.  (Maria Hill says 8 seconds.)  He had been sent to Tahiti to relax and recover from his injuries.  The show wasted no time in revealing that he was alive.  Of course, his lack of death was part of the marketing campaign.  However, something unknown happened with Coulson that Hill doesn’t think he should know about.  So, anyways, Coulson surprises a new recruit with a hilarious entrance from a dark corner (there must have been a light out).

Now let’s meet the team:

  • Agent Melinda May – Coulson brought her on with the promise of just being the “bus driver.”  Well, what that really means is piloting their giant plane.  Of course, that promise quickly went away as she finds herself getting involved in the action early on.
  • Agent Grant Ward –  He’s the tough, macho, action guy.  We know this because his first appearance was a heist in which he had to take out sever enemies to retrieve some type of artifact from a group called the Rising Tide.  He also gets made a fool of, and saves the day later in the show.
  • Agents Fitzsimmons – These are really two people, Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons.  Fitz is a weapons/tech expert, and Simmons is a life sciences expert.  They’re often referred to as one person, and have very quick, sophisticated conversations amongst themselves.
  • Skye – She’s a hacker, and maybe possible member of Rising Tide that gets brought in and recruited to the team.

S.H.I.E.L.D. is trying to find a person named Mike Peterson, who was caught on video after saving a person from the top floor of a building that had a massive explosion.  Skye has already found him, and is trying to recruit him to her side.  Embrace this new found fame before the “men in black suits” take him away.  As time progresses, Mike becomes more agitated and reckless, going so far as to injure his old boss when he won’t give him his job back.

Coulson’s team is able to recover some security footage from the explosion, and discovers that discovers that it was a person that blew up.  Someone that had been exposed to Extremis.  You know, that thing that was developed by Aldrich Killian and A.I.M.?  Oh, you say you didn’t see Iron Man 3?  Too bad.  The show assumes that you did.  Which is probably my biggest complaint about the show.  Funnily, it’s the exact same complaint I had about the Marvel Now Invincible Iron Man relaunch.  It assumes that you knew exactly what Extremis was.  You should not make any assumptions that your audience knows what happened before.  It’s okay to build off previous things, but you have to give the audience the information about those events.  Like, it would have been silly to mention this secret about Coulson being around, without having mentioned that he was presumed dead.

Coulson and gang easily find Skye, and win her over after allowing her to actually question Ward after Coulson shot him with truth serum, against his wishes.  They work together to find Mike, who has been a test subject in a project called “Centipede.”  They’re trying to recreate the Super Soldier serum, in conjunction with Extremis, in a “let’s throw everything against the wall and see what sticks” strategy.   Skye goes back to her van (HQ) to gather her data, but Mike shows up with his son and abducts Skye.

The agents find Mike and Skye at a bus station, and after a bit of a fight that also included a third group trying to kill Mike, Ward is able to shoot Mike with an antidote to the Extremis stuff inside him.

Overall, I liked this episode.  It wasn’t great, but it was good enough that I’m looking forward to next week’s episode.  It’s just a matter of the show finding a balance between the comedy, action, and drama elements.  And also, will this ensemble stay enjoyable to watch.  See you next week.

Not-so Mighty Avengers

If there’s one thing you can give credit to Marvel Comics for, it’s that they certainly know how to milk a brand.  They have two major team franchises – Avengers and X-Men – and good lord do they take advantage of them.  From numerous teams of overlapping characters to books that have the label just to fool fans into buying it (Avengers Arena, anyone?), Marvel knows what to slap on the title to get fans to pick up the book.

In that spirit, we get the debut issue of a new Mighty Avengers title.  Back before the Avengers blew up huge, there was one Avengers title called New Avengers.  After Civil War, the Marvel heroes split camps and while the New Avengers went underground, the government-sponsored “legit” Avengers got their very own title in Mighty Avengers.  Successful enough, Marvel continued the course and now there are six Avengers books alone (Avengers, New, Secret, Uncanny, Mighty, Assemble), not counting spin-offs and minis that may tie in.  Does the Marvel U need six teams of Avengers?  Hell, are there even enough characters to warrant six teams of Avengers?

With Mighty Avengers, we find out that the answer is a good solid no.

If there is one thing we can definitely take home from Brian Bendis’s tenure with the Avengers it’s that Luke Cage is a big deal in the Marvel U.  Maybe not Captain America or Wolverine level, but definitely on par with the likes of Hawkeye or Storm.  But does that mean Luke Cage needs his own team of Avengers when he’s not doing anything else?  I guess so.  It starts out as the old Heroes for Hire business using Cage, the new Power Man and White Tiger , but of course that falls apart quickly since the Heroes for Hire schtick was never really “heroic” to begin with.

So when the events of Infinity come crashing down to Earth and there’s a WORLD WITH NO AVENGERS to be conquered, leave it to Cage, Power Man, and the two other heroes he happened to run into earlier in the day to band together to save the day!  Those heroes being Photon (Monica Rambeau, former Captain Marvel) and Spider-Man, since Spidey needs to be on three Avengers teams after all.

Excuse me if I don’t jump in excitement over the matter.

Beyond the matter of the market simply not needing (or asking for) yet another Avengers team, this is really scraping the bottom of the barrel and asking us to nod along and pretend that it’s good.  Marvel is cranking out team books like they’re going out of style, and thus we have mish-mosh pile-ups of every conceivable roster of characters all yelling ASSEMBLE because that’s what you have to do to sell five issues before the next crossover. 

And this book isn’t even very good.  The plot rests upon the notion that Luke Cage and his crew are the Avengers when there are no Avengers left.  Yet another Infinity tie-in coming out the very same day has the likes of Wolverine, She-Hulk, Hank Pym and others standing around letting the various kids have a special olympics for funsies.  There are literally HUNDREDS of super-heroes floating around that could come in to help out.  Why does this book try to pretend that this squad is so damn important?  What is the POINT of this book?

And then there’s Greg Land’s art.  In my readings of late, Marvel has defintitely moved from a traditional super-hero style to more of really whatever the artist really feels like drawing.  Greg Land has a very distinctive model style, in which you can usually tell exactly what his model source is for the art.  This time around, we can see that his idea of Monica Rambeau is Halle Berry, because every time Monica Rambeau shows up, Greg Land draws Halle Berry.  And perhaps there was a precendence set for this with the success of Bryan Hitch transforming Nick Fury into Samuel L. Jackson, but it’s happening often, yet inconsistently so various characters no longer have their own looks anymore.  The characters are modelled after actors instead of the actors tailoring themselves to fit the characters.  That’s backwards.  And it’s not just Land doing it.  Everytime Mike Deodato draws Norman Osbourne he gives us Tommy Lee Jones.

So Mighty Avengers is now here, and it’s pretty ugh.  If you’re a huge Luke Cage fan, then here’s your place to see him.  If you just want Avengers action, then go look somewhere else.  This is passable at best, but only because it showed up on time.

How I learned to love Teen Titans Go

A while back, I wrote a rant about how much I disliked the relaunched Teen Titans Go.  If you don’t feel like reading, it essentially boiled down to the argument of “it’s too different from the original.”  And after that, it wasn’t what they were doing with the DC Nation shorts.  They weren’t the short, 60-second jokes, and instead were about 10 minute drawn out jokes.  But unlike Ultimate Spider-man, I kept watching Teen Titans Go.  And then something crazy happened.  I actually started liking the show.

I’m not sure when exactly it happened, or what episode it was, but now I find myself being happy when I see that the DVR has recorded a new episode.  I shall make an easy to follow list of how this transformation happened.

  1. Get over it.

I needed to accept that this wasn’t the original series.  It didn’t need to be the original series.  If I want to watch the original series, I can still do that.  DC and Warner Bros. didn’t confiscate every copy created and destroy them.  Too often we (myself obviously included) rush to judge things because they aren’t what we wanted.  We loved how things used to be, and when they aren’t that way anymore, the tendency is to automatically assume that it will turn out awful.  In the end, we only harm ourselves.

So, the next time you finding yourself judging something quickly, take a moment to ask why you’re not liking it.  Is it truly low in quality or something you’re not interested in, or are you judging it solely based on what you think you wanted?

eXaminations

(Note: WordPress has suggested that I add links to my article.  Click at your own risk.)

So while I haven’t caught up with the Catching Up features, I feel like the launching of Battle of the Atom is a good place to restart my running commentary of all things X-related as to keep this blog relevant for the current comic fan.  Hey,  we appreciate you, fair reader, even when we tend to disagree (looking at you).

So here harkens the return of the eXaminations feature!  Huzzah and whatnot!  This week we’ll be looking at:

  • X-Men: Battle of the Atom #1 in which all the time craziness starts coming to a head.
  • All-New X-Men #16 in which the story keeps going with a big honking reveal.
  • X-Factor #262 in which the series gets its happy ending with the promise of more to come.
  • X-Men Legacy #16 in which Legion finally takes a look at that whole ‘Cyclops killed my dad’ thing.

ALSO!

  • Infinity is going on in the Marvel U, so we’ll take a look at that.  It’s got some X-Characters in it.

The words past the jump have the understanding that you’ve read the books covered.  Thus, any SPOILERS presented are not going to make me lose any sleep.  Just saying,

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