So I’ve been a fan of Whedon’s stuff since the Buffy The Vampire Slayer movie came out (I can’t tell you how many times I rented it from Roses or Phar Mor). That being said I’m not one of those fans who thinks Whedon can do no wrong. I didn’t really enjoy Buffy when she went to college, but still watched until the switch to UPN when I stopped enjoying the show and stopped watching. I really didn’t enjoy Angel enough as a character to continue watching past the first season. When Whedon is on he’s on, but like most creators his stuff can suffer from being too similar. Firefly and the movie Serenity are some of my favorite things ever but when I heard he was doing another show with Fox I can’t say I was too excited. I think Eliza Dushku is attractive and loved her as Faith, but I’ve never really thought she was a good actress by any stretch of the imagination. Dollhouse is a show that should play to her strengths as a pretty bland character actor, but it’s hard to feel anything for a character/actress who seems to have the personality of a piece of paper. That seeming lack of personality seems to be in every bit of this show. There’s really no one to get behind, except about 3 characters. The other characters are either annoying or just frustrating in their oddly short sighted views. I know there’s only been three episodes but I have yet to feel like the show has gotten really interesting yet. I’m going to try and stick it out, hey if I can still watch Heroes (or the boring re-adventures of the X-Men) then I can deal with any boring show. At least with Joss Whedon it has a chance to get better.
I’ve been on a little mini vacation from the site due to a very interesting rental of sorts, but now I’m back to what I do best… Piss off the interwebs with my style of reviews. Since I passed off future Wolverine and The X-Men reviews to Joe (I’m tired of hating on it, so I thought it was Joe’s turn) and I’m taking Spectacular Spider-Man for myself. Episode 2 of the second season is called “Destructive Testing” and features a old favorite of mine, Kraven. So while watching this episode I was really excited to see another classic villain from Spider-Man’s cabal of foes, which to be honest isn’t that great a list. Kraven was always really interesting to me because he was essentially a superior hunter that grew bored of chasing animals and wanted what he considered to be the ultimate prey, Spider-Man. He’s the main villain of my number one favorite story in a Spider-Man book, KRAVEN’S LAST HUNT. So you can imagine I was ready to love him animated like I have in every Spider-Man cartoon over the years. Well, I did and I didn’t.
Kraven shows up twice in this episode, the first time he’s just the usual Kraven. Overconfident and smug is the kinda Kraven I expect. It’s the kinda Kraven I got…at first. After Kraven is bested by Spider-Man he gives his scent to his Lion friend who then goes around the city looking for him. Kraven finally reaches The Conners lab and runs into a pretty jerk off of a scientist who is trying to co-opt Conner’s research(the same research that made him the Lizard) and use it. Well I think you know where we’re going here, Kraven decides that he wants the same treatment that he believes Spider-Man got from this guy and becomes a Thundercats reject. As soon as they made Kraven into a man cat I checked out. I’m getting the feeling that every normal human Spider-Man villain is gonna have to go through some experiment to make them more attractive for childrens’ action figures. The episode overall wasn’t too bad, but the Kraven thing ruined it for me.
CHARLES’ GRADE: C+
PROS: KRAVEN (IN THE BEGINNING)
CONS: KRAVEN (AT THE END)
While I can’t say I was thrilled with all the decisions at Marvel in 2008 I can say that there was one thing Marvel put out that had me feeling like the good old days. That thing was Spectacular Spider-Man. It was a show that did it’s own thing and kept the spirit of the comics in mind. Now it wasn’t all good times, everytime Green Goblin and Tombstone showed up I hated it, but it was more good than bad. I even got Joe to actually listen to me and he started watching it, no small feat indeed because Joe never listens (I’ll be looking forward to your texts during the new Smallville episode this Thursday…lol). So at the end of the 1st season Spectacular Spider-Man kinda blew it’s “load”. They had Venom show up for a two episode arc that left Peter feeling drained and gal pal Gwen Stacy confessing her love. The 2nd season opener takes place right after that. Schools back in from Thanksgiving break and Peter and Gwen still haven’t talked about the kiss. Well Peter hasn’t talked to Gwen, but Gwen dishes to Mary Jane. All that soap opera stuff aside, we have to have a villain show up.
So Mysterio blasts onto the scene, pretending to be a sorcerer who can make people pass out and other such feats. I really like Mysterio, he’s always been a semi favorite of mine. Seeing him animated is always good but there’s some problems. As a fan I know all about Mysterio so the drawn out mystic stuff got annoyning after awhile, something about the constant magic speak grated on my nerves a bit. Also Mysterio is a odd villain in that once you know he’s faking he’s not so threathening anymore, he’s kind of a really annoyning clown. That being said it was still good to see Spidey and him duke it out. Except the part when Spidey thought he was in a kung fu movie, that I coulda done without.
The end showed how much this show “gets” Peter Parkers life. Just when he’s excited about getting a freelance contract with the Daily Bugle, Norman Osborn calls and tells him that he’s back on at Conners lab. The way they pile on the stress to Peter is classic Spider-Man. I have to say I don’t know if I’m going to be able to be cool about the constant need to have them introduce a new big bad over the phone to an accomplice. But as long as it’s a better reveal than the bait and switch they had with Tombstone being the “BIG MAN” then I’m fine. Oh and the appearance of The Tinkerer was great, being that he was one of the first villains Spidey faced (back in the 2nd issue of Amazing Spidey all those years ago) and him being linked with Mysterio, also like in the comics. Good classic Spider-Man, keep it coming.
CHARLES’ GRADE: B
Episode 6 starts out with a quick team up with B’wana Beast and Bats fighting Black Manta. I don’t really know B’Wana, I’m more familiar with his replacement, Freedom Beast. So watching this I had no idea whether it was true to the character or not, I know his design but know nothing of his overall attitude. I kinda questioned having them fight Black Manta, but since I don’t know any B’Wana Beast villains I got over it. B’wana is a very strange character with a very strange power, he can take any two animals and put them together to create a new one.
With the opening team up done we get to see Batman boxing with his old trainer WildCat. Now Wildcat is a old school favorite of mine and I can’t get enough of him. Seeing him in this was kinda weird because his “cat” suit made him look more like a dog in the face. Batman and Wildcat have some quality time until Batman gets a tip that The Outsiders are destroying a mall, so Wildcat and Bats rush off to bash some heads. Now I’ve read a lot of Outsider comics so this is once again a double headed episode for me. I have to admit I wasn’t really feeling The Outsiders being villains(I’ve only ever known them as heroes), but I understood what they were doing and where it was going to end up. I liked that Metamorpho gave them the most trouble during the fights, because truth be told Metamorpho should have no trouble taking out two guys who don’t have powers. I really liked the design they went with for Kitana, because there’s something unnerving about a little asian girl, who doesn’t speak and can slice through just about anything. Overall this episode was pretty run of the mill, you have a group of young villains who are being manipulated by someone and they find it out at the end and they help save the day.
CHARLES’ GRADE: B
PROS: THE OUTSIDERS, WILDCAT
CONS: THE PAINT BY NUMBERS STORY
I still remember the day I watched the THE PRYDE OF THE X-MEN when I was a kid and it blowing my mind that they could take a comic I loved and put it on screen. It was for all intents and purposes the start of a pact I’ve held with comic book related cartoons since. If you make it, I will watch it. Now that pact has had it’s lows (SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED) and it’s highs (JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED) but I usually gut it out no matter what. Well that pretty much explains the relationship I’m having with WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN.
I’ve had many conversations with Joe about how bad this show is and how I, for some odd sense of loyalty, continue to watch it. I think Joe and I are in the same boat as far as our enjoyment of the show. I knew the writting was on the wall when I didn’t even like a episode heavily featuring my favorite X-MAN, GAMBIT. Even in the bad times of the 90’s X-MEN cartoon I stood stalwart knowing it would get better, but Wolverine and The X-Men has shown me no such turn around in the future. The main problems I have with the show are mostly the stories they’re telling and how they’re going about it. The only episode I enjoyed, except the Mystique stuff, was the episode where Nightcrawler is captured by Magneto and friends…but we’ve never really gotten back to it. The show does have some cool easter egg type moments, but that doesn’t make the show good. It seems that in this universe the X-MEN have only fought Magneto and his kids, because they don’t know alot of mutants which struck me as odd. Wolverine and company don’t know Sabertooth, Mystique, Mojo, Spiral, and a bunch of other classic foils to the X-Men mythos. I’ve joked many times that this universes X-Men spent all their time playing Claremont style baseball games. Recently they recognized Juggernaut and Sinister, which was good but it makes the fact that they don’t know mutants that are always teamed with Magneto kinda odd.
Besides the strange stories they’re telling, the weirdest thing about the show is that they decided to take out Charles Xavier in the first episode…and have him speak/guide Wolverine with telepathy through the future. Yes the future. It’s such a crazy idea, even for X-Men. Now the X-Men always seemed to be the only Marvel property that hops throughout the future like it’s a play thing, but that’s a little much. I didn’t go into the show expecting it to wow me, I just wanted to be able to enjoy it for something other than the easter eggs. With the season wrapping up soon, maybe we’ll get a better product when or if it comes back. I made it through the Chuck Austen years of Uncanny X-Men, I think I can make it through a bad tv show I don’t have to pay for.
Back in October I reviewed the first seven episodes of Season 3- Volume 1: Villains and didn’t really care for it. Volume 1 ended a couple weeks back and I wanted to let it breathe in my mind before I reviewed it. Well with the time passing, and honestly not much else to review, I’ve decided to finish up my Volume 1 review. Villains fell flat for me on a bunch of occasions, be it Nathan switching sides like they were pants or the totally pointless venture in trying to make the audience “root” for Sylar because of a new direction. While I enjoyed a few sparse scenes and character moments, overall it was a pointless filler volume. Outside of Hiro’s story the other stories didn’t really matter at the end because everything was pretty much taken back to where we’ve been before. Sylar is “dead”, Claire loves her dad again, Peter and Nathan are doing some kind of stupid dance that only they seem to be interested in, Mr.Petrelli is “dead again”, Hiro’s still squinting and nerdy. That being said there were a few changes, Hiro’s sidekick gets his own “power amping” power, and a few of the no name powered cronies bit the dust. I kept wondering why Peter didn’t just say, “Dude I went to the future and you jacked up everything, Nathan. So stop being a idiot and stop thinking you know what’s best for everyone and actually think out your plans.” I mean Nathan is supposed to be this pretty smart guy, but he is by far the dumbest person on the show. None of his ideas seem like good ones to anybody that actually thinks about it. The next volume seems to be lifted straight out of an X-MEN comic. Nathan rats out all the powered people to the government, but seems to exclude himself in the upcoming witchhunt. This has, more or less, already been beaten into the ground in Marvel Comics. I don’t care about them rounding up the powered people because, surprise surprise, they’re going to win out in the end. It’s Days of Future past and every other X-MEN/Government story ever. So with that I think that when it comes back I’m going to save my time by not watching it anymore. I’ll still probably read about it just to keep up to date with whats going on, which is a time honored comic book nerd tradition on a book you ‘drop’ from your pull list.
CHARLES’ GRADE: D (Episodes 8-13)
CONS: NOT ENOUGH ROOM TO LIST
Well I finally caught up with this past week’s THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD episode and it featured The Red Tornado in the team up. I have to say my enjoyment of this show hinges directly on who Batman teams up with, and I’m not the biggest fan of Red Tornado. I liked him in the YOUNG JUSTICE book being the chaperone to Superboy, Impulse, and Robin but the character never did anything for me outside those situations. Well this episode just made that more clear to me. Invasion of the Secret Santas starts off with Batman and Blue Beetle fighting the Sports Master during a bowling broadcast and it was silly fun. It pretty much served to show that Batman doesn’t even take Christmas off from crime fighting. I noticed that Adam Beechen(current writer of Teen Titans) wrote this episode and I perked up because I really like his stuff. Then the episode started.
At first I thought I was going to see Hawkman but they switched it on me by having Red Tornado teaching a class. I don’t even remotely pretend to know a heck of a lot about Red Tornado but I’ve never known him to teach, but then again he probably has to do something on his off time. Usually the design of the guest heroes makes me curious on what incarnation of hero I’m getting but with the Red Tornado he looks really dumb in this episode. I’ve never really liked the design “Reddy” has had over the years but I know I hate this costume the most. I’m more of a fan of the current look for him that DC Comics is using. Being that this is a christmas themed episode this is filled with enough smaltz to choke a dead horse. We get Reddy trying to find Christmas spirit and Batman thinking about his last Christmas with his parents. In this show, little Bruce received a family Nutcracker and hated it so much that he threw it against the wall. His parents feeling bad that he was disappointed in his gift took him to see THE MASK OF ZORRO, which is straight out of the books and then we go from there. Unlike the books Bruce doesn’t come out of the movie pretending to be Zorro he comes out still angry that his Christmas was ruined, then we get the off screen murder of his parents.
Reddy and Batman team up against a villain I’ve never heard of in FUNHOUSE, who looks like SUPERFRIENDS version of The TOYMAN. This is also the first episode to have any mention or visual of Alfred, although we only see him in the flash back. The end with Batman mentioning Alfred made me smile, but as soon as we’re getting into something other than a straight up Batman story, he gets a alarm and rushes off to another battle. Batman doesn’t take off for Christmas and hopefully he’ll get some better villains and heroes to team up with.
CHARLES’ GRADE: D
PROS: The mention of Alfred and the Blue Beetle and Sports Master cameos at the beginning of the episode, Batman fighting space ships
CONS: RED TORNADO, FUNHOUSE