Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.
"The Last Day" seemingly answered a lot, but it also sort of created more havoc in its own strange way. Most notably however, the episode provided us with an unexpectedly sweet Melinda May storyline. As we began to see snippets of everyone's time in 2018 and beyond, including the collapse of humanity post-cataclysm and the survival deal with Kree overlords, we learned that May fell into a surprise maternal role with regards to young Robin.
Early on in the episode, May expressed distress over the fact that she couldn't fight or fly - the two skills she possessed that routinely helped keep everyone safe. Her role in all of this, we'd learn, would be key, but not in the way we, or she, would expect. As the one who grew close to Robin, over the years, she became the only one old Robin could confide in before she died. It was a really cool use of May, who hasn't been lacking in fight scenes this year (just wins), and a refreshing exploration of her emotional side. Her romantic interest in Coulson, I feel, was the beginning of this and now her motherly role toward Robin has capped it off nicely.
Wolverine may have returned to life in the pages of Marvel Legacy #1 last year, but readers have yet to learn how the iconic X-Man cheated death or why he's joined the search for the Infinity Stones. Those questions will finally be answered in Hunt for Wolverine #1, a new one-shot comic hitting stores in April.
Fittingly, Hunt for Wolverine #1 will be written by Charles Soule, the man who helped kill Logan in 2014's Death of Wolverine. Soule will be joined by Civil War II artist David Marquez. Death of Wolverine artist Steve McNiven will provide the main cover for this issue, which depicts Logan emerging from the adamantium cocoon that enveloped him in Death of Wolverine #4.
Batman: Gotham By Gaslight is a murder mystery set in a Victorian-era Gotham City that pits the Caped Crusader against Jack the Ripper. While there are some thrills to be had with this attempt at a Batman horror story, the film’s characters feel a bit undercooked, leading to an underwhelming climax. After all, in a whodunnit, the “who” had better be satisfying, and this one misses the mark.
The story is inspired by Gotham By Gaslight, a one-shot Elseworlds comic book from writer Brian Augustyn and artist Mike Mignola. The comic was a brisk 52 pages, more like dipping a toe into the idea of a Victorian-era Gotham rather than fully diving into the concept with a full-length graphic novel. It had only one real suspect, and he wound up being the murderer, so it wasn’t much of a mystery.
Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.
Has Arrow ever been on weaker footing than it is right now? As lousy as Season 4 was at times, at least we always had Neal McDonough’s delightful Damien Darhk to fall back on. Season 6 lacks a compelling, clearly defined villain to make up for it various other storytelling deficiencies. And sadly, if not unsurprisingly, the midseason premiere does little to wipe away the bad taste of “Irreconcilable Differences.”
The biggest miscalculation the writers made with the midseason finale was in assuming that the reveal of Cayden James’ alliance of evil would have significant dramatic impact. It didn’t. The series did nothing to build to that moment or set the stage for this alliance. I’m still not even sure why characters like Vigilante and Nikolai are working with James in the first place. It really feels as though the writers just gathered together every random villain and antagonist currently available and threw them in a room together.
There are very few filmmakers who could reasonably claim to know more about the relationship between melancholy and fantasy than Hiromasa Yonebayashi. His first two films as a director - The Secret World of Arrietty and When Marnie Was There - are masterpieces of loneliness, in which isolated heroes embark upon enchanting larger-than-life adventures and mature into better, more heroic people. And of course, those stories are animated as beautifully as anyone could possibly hope for.
So it’s unfortunate that Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s third film, and his first outside of Studio Ghibli, simply isn’t as magical as the others. (And pretty ironic, considering this one is literally about magic.) Once again, the director has set out to tell a story about a stifled young person whose personal hangups parallel the lessons she must learn throughout a perilous, fantastical journey, only this time she doesn’t appear to learn anything particularly meaningful, and even the plot smacks of familiarity. It’s the same amount of effort for less reward than usual.
Den of Thieves is a litany of undercooked ideas and missed potential but its biggest issue is the fact that it's a laborious slog. It wants to be a mix of Heat and The Usual Suspects but it’s not. Inside, and you get a glimpse of it every now and again, is an action-packed, potentially pretty decent 100-minute heist movie but what is served up is a 2 hour and 20-minute movie with too much filler - it’s right there but you can’t see the wood for the trees.
The idea is a pretty good one. $120 million in cash is taken out of circulation and destroyed by the Los Angeles branch of the Federal Reserve every day and a notorious, elite crew of bank robbers, led by Pablo Schreiber’s Merrimen, has their eyes on it. The only thing stopping them from pulling off the ultimate heist is LA’s most feared division in law enforcement, led by Gerard Butler’s Nick ‘Big Nick’ Flanagan, and they plan to do it right under their noses.
Sometimes, less is more. When it comes to FitBit's stripped-down Flex 2 fitness tracker (See it on Amazon) / (See it on Amazon UK), the saying certainly rings true. The reputable company's entry-level device is less of a smart fitness tracker and more of a collection of sensors you wear on your wrist. It doesn't have a fancy design that you'd want to show off—it doesn't even have a screen—but what it does it does well, and perhaps most importantly, all the feature cutting lets it come in as one of the least expensive trackers you can buy at just $59.95.
Netflix is now streaming the first episode -- "Planet of the Monsters" -- of a three-part animated Godzilla movie trilogy, which was previously released theatrically in Japan.
If 2016’s Godzilla Resurgence was a jump forward, then Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters is a leap. Not only because it’s the first animated Godzilla film, but also because it just oozes video game sensibilities.
Look at the background of the production team. Directors Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita are known for their work on Knights of Sidonia, Ajin: Demi-Human and BLAME!, and between them they have pushed the boundaries of CG animation in Japan, but at the beginning of their careers, they were also involved in the production of a Final Fantasy-related anime series.
Marvel rarely buries the lede or plays it coy when they're planning to kill off a major character anymore. Everything the publisher has revealed so far suggests that Jane Foster is dying in The Mighty Thor #705. Hence the "Death of the Mighty Thor" name. You might think that knowledge of what's coming would diminish the impact of this storyline, but that's been anything but the case. The Mighty Thor #703 is another riveting chapter of Marvel's finest ongoing series.
Even in a series that's seen villains like Gorr the God-Butcher and Galactus wander through, the stakes feel very dire and immediate in this issue. The Mangog is busy cutting a bloody swath of destruction through Asgardia, leaving even mighty gods like Cul and Odin himself quaking and helpless. Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman continuously reinforce the epic scope of this conflict through great character moments and bold imagery, Multiple brave gods make their valiant stand against Mangog, but none can withstand his full might. It seems fitting that Aaron's run began with one villain driven by a hatred of gods, and now this phase ends with another god-loathing powerhouse on the warpath.
Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.
"Talk about flinging dookie."
Whereas last week's X-Files chapter was a trippy, quasi-meta thriller with tenuous ties to background mythology, "Plus One" was a return to basics - with creator Chris Carter crafting a "spooky lethal circumstance of the week"-type tale about nutso twins who cause people to mysterious die at the hands of their own doppelgänger.
Sure, there were a few things to lament here and there. One wishes Scully's perpetual skepticism could be updated a bit to reflect the breadth of all she's experienced over the course of the series, and the actual hows and whys of the murders seemed to get swept under a big rug by the time our heroes began seeing their own shadowy killer doubles - but all in all this episode was solid.
Over the past year, Star Wars has become the single most frustrating comic in Marvel's lineup. The stories in this series are strong, even more so since Kieron Gillen came on board as writer. But almost invariably, those stories are being held back by awkward, poorly executed art. At some point, it's enough to wish this storyline were being told in the form of a prose novel rather than a comic book.
Gillen continues to impress as he moves "Ashes of Jedha" into climax mode. The stakes are plenty high at this point, with Leia's Rebel group and Benthic's Partisan faction uniting to take down the Empire's latest unstoppable super-weapon (which itself, ironically, is being used to further the development of the second Death Star). The conflict feels appropriately desperate and one-sided.
I've been looking forward to the "New Age of DC Heroes" line with equal parts excitement and trepidation. On one hand, this is exactly the sort of push DC needs to be making right now, showing that they're willing to embrace new characters and new ideas as readily as they've embraced the classics in DC Rebirth. The fact that this line is taking such a creator-focused mentality and actively rewarding creators for their contributions is just icing on the cake. But for all the emphasis on "new" with these books, the early preview art hasn't always done much to establish what's so groundbreaking and different with the "New Age of DC Heroes" titles. Damage in particular offered cause for concern, and the first issue does little to assuage those concerns.
When it comes to the final chapter of the Venom Inc. crossover, potential readers need only ask themselves one question. Do I like seeing Ryan Stegman draw Spider-Man and Venom? If the answer is yes (and it should be), then this issue is worth a purchase. Just don't expect a very deep or complex wrap-up to this crossover.
If Stegman hadn't already cemented his status as one of the greatest Spider-Man artists of the modern era with books like Superior Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, Venom Inc. should clinch it. Stegman has honed his style in recent years, combining the best aspects of Marvel's '90s era with a dynamic, manga-esque quality. Stegman's figures are muscular and extraordinarily detailed, but they also move across the page with a real sense of grace. Stegman crafts some truly epic panels in this issue as Spidey and friends confront the oversized Maniac and struggle against a physically overwhelming foe.
Batman ended 2017 on such a high note thanks to Batman Annual #2 and the two-part "Superfriends" story arc. Unfortunately, the series has been struggling to recapture that momentum in the new year. Even returning to the "Superfriends" formula and spotlighting the Batman/Wonder Woman dynamic doesn't help Batman #39 recapture recent glories.
This "Superfriends" redux storyline takes a more high-concept approach to Batman and Wonder Woman's team-up. The gist is that a lone warrior named The Gentle Man is waging a never-ending battle against endless demonic hordes, and he wants a vacation. Honoring an old promise, Batman and Wonder Woman agree to fill in for him while Catwoman shows the Gentle Man all the sights of Gotham.
Garmin is one of the heavy hitters in the fitness tracking industry. Trusted by the professional and casual audience, it offers a number of products in its Vivo product line, from the entry-level Vivofit to the hybrid Vivomove. The Vivosmart HR (See it on Amazon) / (See it on Amazon UK) sits closer to the lower end of its lineup and is able to be purchased for less than $100, depending on where and when you shop. Does it deliver on its promise as a fully-featured tracker at a reasonable price? I put it through its paces to find out.
First of all, whatever side of the political aisle you may be on, it has to be said that we can’t thank the men and women of the armed forces enough for what they do to protect the freedoms of all Americans and those that ask for America’s help.
12 Strong tells the story of the first Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. Under the leadership of a new captain, Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth), the team must work with Afghan warlord General Dostum (Navid Negahban) to take down the Taliban. It’s a true story that remained classified for a number of years before being told in Doug Stanton’s book, Horse Soldiers.
It’s a fascinating story but ultimately, 12 Strong is a medium-rare cheeseburger of a movie. It’s got America oozing out of it, it’s meaty and bold but the texture is inconsistent, it’s slightly undercooked, it’s not quite as full of flavor as it could be and it certainly has a few moments that could be considered cheesy.
The Maze Runner movies have been an enjoyable outlier in the 21st century YA fantasy genre. For two films now they've focused more on action and bizarre mysteries than anything resembling serious melodrama. The heroes of The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials barely have time to catch their breath. Taking a break to pontificate about their feelings is a luxury that none of them could afford… until now.
The third film in the series, The Death Cure, has all the exhilarating action we’ve come to expect from this trilogy but, because it has to wrap everything up, it also gets more personal and dramatic. And that's a problem. The story is ending - heck, maybe even the whole WORLD is ending - and the good guys and bad guys are both wondering about what impact they’ve had and whether or not they’ll ever get closure with the people they love, and none of it works because for two of these films all these characters have been total mysteries. Most of them are amnesiacs, for crying out loud. Amnesia was the perfect excuse to have them run headlong into the next deathtrap without thinking about their personal baggage, but now, too late, they're looking behind them and worried about where their baggage went.
Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.
One of the common threads with the Arrowverse this year is that all four shows have had problems with payoff and follow-through. Arrow failed to build on its incredible Season 5 finale. The Flash seemingly wiped away the fallout of Season 3 in a single episode. Even Legends of Tomorrow didn’t entirely make good on the promise of Season 2’s finale. Given where The Flash’s midseason finale left Barry Allen, the series has a second chance to make good on some of the wasted potential earlier in Season 4. And fortunately, this time it looks as though the writers will make an honest go of it.
It’s interesting to note how quickly the lighthearted, happy-go-lucky tone of Season 4 has receded now that DeVoe’s master plan is underway. Any hope Barry had of being a happier, more well-adjusted hero is basically out the window. His present circumstances speak to just how strong a villain DeVoe has become with time. In seasons past, Barry’s enemies were all speedsters who could think of nothing more clever than killing Barry’s loved ones to get to him. DeVoe, by comparison, has cut Barry off from his family in a much different way. In the process, he’s made Barry become his father in a way he never imagined would be possible. The closing scene of Barry coming to terms with his new “home” hit pretty hard, especially with the “Henry Allen was here” tag to hammer home the irony.
Warning: The following review has full spoilers for the episode.
One of the many things that made Cardcaptor Sakura unique is that it didn’t have a true antagonist; the two people positioned as enemies were only there to help Sakura grow her magical power. Interestingly, Sakura’s dreams in Clear Card feature someone that actually seems like a villain, rather than someone trying to help her out. Though this week featured another charming look at Sakura’s middle school experience, Episode 2’s structure slows down the momentum built by the premiere.
Warning: The following review contains spoilers for the episode.
With time running out, things are looking worse and worse for Universe 7. New and interesting ideas come into play to try and remove the mighty warriors from Universe 11 as Universe 7 gets more desperate. While their attempts were unsuccessful, they made for quite the intense episode as lives were risked in dangerous maneuvers, and Vegeta, as persistent as ever, manages to push himself to a new level of power.
Following up on Episode 122’s success, Super again impressed by merging three ongoing battles into one episode. It’s helped make the fights feel far more connected than earlier in the tournament, even if they rarely directly interact. It’s also been nice to see the banter between the various spectators now that they are forced to sit together. Although it hasn’t led anywhere meaningful yet, I’m hopeful this will lead to some intense interactions when things get more heated.