Saturday, June 27, 2015

Your Toy Box: The Face-Off Edition

Have you ever gotten a present on another family members birthday? Neither have I, but it certainly felt that way the pther night when a double header of Your Toy Box packages arrived at our door. One, my eagerly awaited second installment. The other, a byproduct of my brother's (the birthday boy) forgetfulness as he'd wanted to cancel his subscription after the first box. Luckily he didn't cause the two of us got to have an unboxing showdown with no clear winner since both boxes this month were outstanding! How bout we check out the spread.?

My Haul

Quick note: I previously edited my toy box preferences by having comic books & Marvel removed while adding McFarlane in their place.

First up is another small Ultraman figure. I believe this one is Gaea but don't quote me on that. Actually like this one better than the Max figure from last month. He's got a much more interesting pose and the clear plastic boot is less noticeable. They could continue to toss one of these in every box and it'd be fine by me. There's still plenty of Ultras to go after all.
Next we have one of Clive Barker's Tortured Souls. I've read about these before since it turns out they have an interesting reputation. On the one hand, people complain about them being tacky and gross yet they helped prove there was actually a market for adult toy collectors. While I'm not the biggest fan of the Barker gory S&M style, this guy's pretty mean looking and solid as all hell. Seen some other entries in the series that are sorta dumb but I'm more than ok with having this one around.
In case you're wondering, that third figure is not a wookie with a pool noodle. It's an evil kaiju from one of the Ultraman shows. I can't quite peg him down but my sister seems to remember him so he's probably from an early series. Like last month's Nightcrawler wind-up, this lil dude grows on ya over time.
Got another GBA game. This time it's The Sims Bustin' Out. Like Tony Hawk from the last box, it's a well reviewed title and I can't think of a better franchise for portable gaming. I mean if I'm gonna spend all day telling a fake person how to live their life, I should at least get some sun.
My first Sega item has arrived and it's the mascot himself, Sonic in mini form. It's a sweet little figure and my god is the box ever secure. Actually wanted to be nice and keep that in somewhat nice shape after opening but it just wouldn't let the toy go! It died a warriors death as I snatched the figure from it's innards.
Also got a taste of Capcom with Megaman from the Battle Network series. Never had the chance to play one of those entries though I had my eye on em. Guess it was kind of Megaman by way of Digimon sorta thing. Kinda figured I'd get Megaman eventually but I'd forgotten about this particular off-shoot. He's actually really cool though. Can't pin it down exactly, he's just well made and perfectly weighted. It's the kind of item you never really think about but it'll surprise you with how nice it actually is, and that's one of the best parts about this service.
Last on the list is Brain Drain from the Total Chaos series. I should note that sometime after taking the photo is when I realized he can stand on his testicles. I'm still so used to toys from my childhood that couldn't stand for shit, it still throws me off. This freak has ton of articulation with like eight arms, two wings, the aforementioned tentacles. Even his mouth has movable parts. So weird to think McFarlane put this thing out when I was thirteen. Had I known about it then, I probably woulda been really into it. He's the sort of figure you blend in with other series. Like I can totally see him facing off with Godzilla or the Aliens. Might even make a good match for Thor.
I thought it''d be a good idea to try and show the value of this box by giving each item a quick search on Amazon and ebay. Note that this is just quick pricing without any real bargain hunting. Check out the number ranges I found.
Sonic $8-18
the sims $5-25
tortured souls $10-32
brain drain $10
megaman $10
ultraman couple bucks each.
As you can see, the value is definitely there. Hell, Amazon is selling the game alone for the price of this whole box! Like I've mentioned before, this is that rare box where you get some true value from the items. Now let's take a gander at the second package of the day.

Jeff's Haul

I've previously noted that Jeff wasn't completely gung-ho about his first box. There were a few nice items in there to be sure, but it just didn't quite mesh with what he was looking for. As luck would have it, his second box is also a showstopper so I think he's pretty pleased with it.

Starting once again at the left we've got this blue skinned, horny guy from Star Wars. Can't recall his character exactly. I know there were some senators from this race, think there was a Jedi too. Whichever one he is, think he's pretty nifty.
Next is a towering Geordi LaForge from The Next Generation. That Star Fleet emblem a few spaces over is actually his base. There's a stand inside the box that I assume is part of the equation as well. It's a good thing too since he's unstable on his own and he can't lean on green tea forever. My brother really liked this one a lot and I can't blame him. TNG was a family event growing up so anything cool related to it is just gravy for us.
Slightly harder to see than the other items is a Simpsons collectible film card. Looks like it was the promo card for the full series. Actually pretty cool for trading cards. Wonder how well they performed since the early 2000's was a bit late for both cards and The Simpsons.
The Akuma Street Fighter figure may have impressed me more than Jeff, but it's only natural since I'm the bigger game nerd. In case you've never encountered the character before, he uses the same form of Martial Arts as Ken & Ryu except he's evil. Not sure if he's an actual devil or what, Street Fighter lore rarely makes sense to me. The figure is boss and pretty easy to pose. Only issue I have with him is those damn prayer beads refuse to stay in place.
Two Marvel items were included. A mini Wolverine of the Superhero Squad Show variety. And a Spider-Man air freshener. Some people might scoff at the idea of an air freshener in a toy box but considering the amount of Middle-Eastern cuisine we take down, I'll gladly accept the help.
Finally we have what is possibly the crown jewel of all our boxes so far. It's Sebulba! One of maybe three good characters from The Phantom Menace. He comes with a few of those little aliens he liked to eat as well. More than a little jealous of my brother on this one. Just look at it! It's beautiful! If you were to whittle this face off to one item, this would probably be the winner. It's functional, gorgeous, and great for display which basically means it'll make it's way to Jeff's work desk.

So there ya have it. Two great mystery boxes. Loved mine. Think it may have been even better than the first. Still plan to continue my subscription with maybe some more category alterations. Jeff truly dug his haul as well though he still plans to cancel his subscription as a means of saving money and space. That's if he remembers to do it this time of course. If any of you want to give Your Toy Box a try, it's $25 with free shipping and I'll have the link at the bottom of the article. It's a blast.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Happy Birthday CosmicSparky!

Today is all about number two for cosmicsparky! No, we're not having a laxative party, it's the second birthday of this little site. We've done a lot since I first popped up on here to write about wine cork projects and celery soda. The number of posts and regular readers continues to grow and the introduction of cable access TV specials last year made for a fine addition. Usually the thing to do on a birthday post is revisit some of the favorite pieces but instead I'd like to fill in some blanks about myself and the topics I generally don't cover. For instance....

-The above image is what one might call my workspace. Yep, that's where the magic happens. If you believe tv recaps and soda reviews are magic. In truth there are many more attempts at magic than what actually ends up on the website. I'd say at least 20% of what I write never sees the blogger posting page. There's at least a few months worth of articles about beer, candy, and Tales from the Darkside episodes.

-I was in fact born on the forth of July. While this has the advantage of fireworks, barbecued pork, and the day off from many jobs, there are some downsides. One major flaw I've found in the past few years is that all the local bars are closed, essentially blocking me from a free bday drink. This year I plan to pester several of them on the 3rd with my best sad puppy look to see if they'll bend the rules a little.

-One of my absolute favorites objects is cheap little freebie I can got from a case of beer. See, I usually watch My Bloody Valentine every Valentines Day. If you've ever seen the movie you know how much of a presence Moose Head beer has throughout the film. Naturally I like to grab some Moose Head for the occasion. One year the twelve packs contained a bottle opener that fits a credit card slot in your wallet. It has been a vital tool ever since.

-I watch the CW all the damn time. Between pretty monsters, the men who hunt them, and an increasing amount of superheroes, that channel nearly has me on lock down.

-If you were to ask for a list of personal heroes, I'd list guys Vincent Price, Jean Claude Van-Damme, and William Shatner. Not for strictly nerdy reasons mind you but because each of them is a bundle of personality that do what they love.

-Two unique features of my face are a scar (that appears more as a wrinkle) above my right eye. I got that one from doing some awesome wrestling moves at like age 4 only to bash my head open on an end table. The other feature is my deformed left ear. Nothing disgusting mind you. I'm just missing a proper earlobe on that side. I actually have all the tissue but it never unfolded in the womb so there's a lump on the backside of that ear.

-Every Saturday night since May of 2008 has been marked as horror Saturday wherein I watch anywhere from 1-5 horror flicks. The following year kickstarted my October tradition of at least one scary movie every night. Last year marked the beginning of theme nights. Quick tip: Any killer robot marathon requires Chopping Mall, Class of 1999, and Deadly Friend.

-I despise escalators. Absolutely hate em.

-Final Fantasy is one of my all time major loves. I've got a decent sized collection of titles, even a few for systems I don't own. Just know that every time you see whiners complaining about the newest title, I'm usually deep into it with a dumb grin across my face.

-One time, I saw a guy dressed like Naruto pissing in the woods. Such images are usually attributed to being a magnet for weirdness. Barking children, things like that. Once in the heart of summer, a girl dressed as a fairy attempted to place a spell on me. Waved her wand and everything.

-I'm horribly picky when it comes to music. Usually that would earn the title of snob yet I have nowhere near the knowledge base to carry such a label. Really I'm more like Mr. Burns in that I know what I just happens I hate a lot of stuff. Actually got some compliments on my old CD collection from a duchy record store years back though I've yet to decide if that was a good thing or not.

-I've made a point of eating as many different animals as possible. Alligator and Eel are two of the best, even get the occasional octopus craving. Also know what Kangaroo and boar taste like on the way back up. Oddly, bear and rabbit continue to elude me. As you might guess, this hobby doesn't cast me in a positive light with vegetarians.

So what are the plans for the third year of CosmicSparky? The first few bits are simple. Like some content on video games, movies of the non horror variety, music, and maybe sharing some of those cable access shows online. Other than that I'm trying to find more ways to get the site noticed without resorting to facebook, twitter, and other social media deathtraps. One thing I'm working on is mystery boxes for a few people. Also considering redoing the site with a new background, extra features, etc. Probably start rolling some of those out when winter rears it's frosty head again.

In the meantime, I'd like to thank everyone out there who swings by this page. It may not always be the most well written or useful place on the internet but I'm still proud of it and love the idea that someone actually reads my thoughts on comic books and breakfast cereals. You keep coming by and I'll keep writing.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Shuriken Sentai Ninninger Episode 14

Anyone who's ever seen a John Hughes movie is more than likely familiar with the moments where whatever silliness we've been viewing is torn away for a moment of honest drama, usually in the form of a speech. Actually it wasn't a phenomenon reserved for his films as many 80's films would have those surprise dramatic moments. Seriously; just check out the death of Evil Ed in Fright Night or the cassette tape part in Night of the Creeps. It's a very difficult tonal shift to pull off correctly but by god Ninninger did it this week in what was an otherwise goofy episode.

Things kick off with Starninger continuing his efforts to kill the kids, mainly Takaharu. This results in a constant mess at the dojo which has Fuuka rightly pissed. So much that she bans all future assassination attempts within the house. Meanwhile Tsugomori makes a telephone monster he hopes will trick the kids into losing their transformation devices. After a quick battle, Kinji and Fuuka have a conversation where he apologizes for any rift he may be causing between the siblings before sharing the story of his dead family with her too.

Now we get to the part where the episode almost falls apart. The monster calls Takaharu and pretends to be both Fuuka and Gramps while coming up with a story that it stole her changing shuriken and that grampa says they have to gather the others to save hers, oh and that a complete stranger who happens to be helping them will come to pick them up. Taka being a massive idiot falls for it and convinces Nagi, Yakumo, and Kasumi (the supposedly smart one) to give him their shuriken. After he gives them away, they all realize he's been tricked.
The monster then tries a similar scheme with Fuuka but it quickly falls apart since she's smart enough to ask questions and has something called social skills.

After the others meet up with the beast and commence fighting without the ability to change, Fuuka and Kinji show up to take him on proper. During the fight she fakes being a klutz so she can get close and steel the shuriken back. During the next stage of battle the monster tricks everyone by using their voices to make them believe that everyone else is in danger. Guess who doesn't fall for it? If you guessed Fuuka you've earned a cookie. Even during the giant robot fight while the beasts sound attacks prove too much for the others, she has her giant robo dog howl so loudly that it breaks the telephone receivers. Basically if there was a problem, she solved it. Since Kinji helped out, she allows him to attack her brother in the house again, but only during certain hours.

After all the nonesense we get this bizarre ending. Takaharu is doing some solo training at night when Fuuka comes in to join him. She's realized that she still has to look after him (cause he's really dumb) and thous she must become stronger than him. He believes she can do it as they share the same grandfather, She believes she can do it cause Taka is her brother, then they continue to train through the night. It's such an odd and deep scene that's completely different from the rest of this show and yet it works towards improving both characters.

Next time, Kasumi is in the spotlight once again. Will it be a repeat of her shitty performance from episode five? Stay tuned to find out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Your Toy Box Unboxing: Big Brother Edition

We're doing something a little different with today’s unboxing as it's not mine. That's because my older brother was intrigued enough by my first month of Your Toy Box that he decided to try it out for himself. Unlike mine, I can't report on which categories he choose for his subscription though I know he picked out more stuff than I did.

Before we move on to the items, I forgot to mention in my last toy box post that I initially learned of this service from a youtube cat by the name of Johnny Tellez. Guy's an absolute hoot thanks to his boundless enthusiasm. If you ever feel like viewing some unboxings of various subscriptions I highly recommend his antics.

Also on the cool guy front is the head honcho of Your Toy Box, Trevor Taylor. E-mailed him last week to change a few preferences and mentioned my blog coveridge. Within an hour he'd done the changes, read the entry, and even answered a few questions from the blog itself, now that's service!

Let's kick things off with Star Wars. It's not very obvious in the photo but my bro ended up with two SW items. The first is Luke in his pilot get-up from the 90's Kenner line. Didn't have the heart to tell him that I've probably got a boxed version of this buried in the storage room, but what he doesn't know can't disappoint him. Much cooler is the translucent blue Darth Maul figure. It really says something about Mr. Maul that even when you make him look like a candy sculpture, he's still a bad ass.

One of the brand new items were these Marvel Bonka Zonks. They're kinda like a weighted dreidel or if you're old enough to remember, spinfighters only without a launcher. For my brother's part I don't think he found these terribly interesting since he's aiming for stuff that's more display quality. I think they're pretty damn fun though.

There's a rather strange Bart Simpson figure. It's obvious he's in laughing position but it's weird, like he's having an involuntary poop laugh. On the plus side, he's pretty easy to display.

And for the “where did that come from?” item we've got this Harry Potter million dollar bill. I saw another unboxing where someone had something similar but it was Jurassic Park themed. Best I can figure is these must come from the Universal Studios park.

Now for the three heavyweights. First up is a Star Trek TNG figure of Captain Picard in his Dixon Hill persona. Owned a lot of TNG figures back in the day, a few of em are still in a tote downstairs which is why I decided against adding trek to my subscription, but never had this one. If you don't understand the figure, Dixon Hill was an old Noir style detective series that Picard liked to play on the holodeck. It even popped up in First Contact when he goes all tommy gun commando on some borg.
To the left is a go-bot. I freely admit to having almost zero knowledge of Go-bots or their ways. That being said, this one is still very cool and in great shape for something as old as me. It must work out.
On the right is a nice & spiffy Mr. Sinister figure. Oddly enough I've got massive love for this guy dispute only ever reading like one comic with him. It's just something about the look and the name, you just know he's total dickweed. Quick question: Is he left-handed? Ya know, to go with that whole sinister thing.

So how did this box stack up? Personally I don't think it was a good as mine but at the same time,my brother picked some categories that I have no interest in, so it gets a little subjective. With things like the Dickson Hill figure of hologram Darth Maul, it still made for a fun treat. He was planing on canceling his subscription which you shouldn't see as a condemnation of the box because my brother ordering something like this was way out of character to begin with. Thing is, I don't think he remembered to cancel in time which means the next unboxing will be a showdown. Brother against brother in the battle for the best toys. In the meantime I've got a few extra things lined up for CosmicSparky's upcoming second birthday. Stay Tuned.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Gamera Ultimate Collection vol 1 blu-ray

When it comes to giant monsters, if it's really neat and full of turtle meat you've got yourself Gamera. The other big G. A flying fire breathing (and eating) turtle who's starred in a dozen films so far. A couple years ago I watched the 90's trilogy which are actually some pretty solid kaiju fun. They also feature Steven Seagal's daughter who I never even knew about until watching them. Maybe that shouldn't matter but every time I saw the girl, the image of her father hiding his fat gut under a trench coat kept creeping into my consciousness. While those may be decent flicks, what about the older franchise entries? Sure I'd seen em on Mystery Science Theater and TV back when you could find stuff other than reality nonsense, but those were the horrid U.S. Edits with shit dubbing, However; a few weeks ago I picked up the first volume of his classic movies in their original edits. Let's give a quick look.

Note: screen shots are just pictures of the TV while the movies play. Until I can afford a blu-ray drive for this thing, that's just the way it's gotta be.

Gamera the Giant Monster
Not unlike the first Godzilla, this doesn't quite feel like a normal Gamera flick. His role isn't fully developed just yet and there are no other monsters for him to smash. Instead we get a fairly standard issue big monster yarn with a side helping of annoying kid loves giant turtle. Really there isn't too much of a story here. Gamera is awakened by bomb tests and goes on a rampage while scientists and military try to stop him. Over multiple engagements we learn that our beast can fly, loves to eat fire, and is weak to icy temperatures. After repeated failures to slay the creature, the world works together to trap him in a rocket and send his ass to Mars.

Gamer vs. Barugon
A stray comet busts open Gamera's rocket before he makes it to Mars. Upon his swift return to Earth he stars causing trouble and eating fire. Meanwhile a few gents travel to a mystical island in search of immense jewels. One of the dudes is a majorly murderous asshole though who gets one of his teamates killed and leaves the other for dead. Little does he know that his treasured jewel is actually an egg from which we get Barugon, a giant lizard with ice breath and rainbow beams.
The guy who was left for dead returns to Japan alone with a fine native girl who hopes to stop Barugon. Of course we get plenty of monster vs monster/military action along with some people on people action since the dickhead can't quite stop himself from murdering everyone around him.
All said and done, this is actually a pretty fun kaiju tale with it's only big issue being that it's just a little too long for what it is. Still a decent time to be had.

Gamera vs. Gayos
This is where things start to take a turn for the crazy, which can be a good or bad thing depending on who you are but seeing as you're reading my site it's definitely a good thing.
Once again there's very little in the way of story. A construction company is trying to build a highway through the mountains but the local villagers are holding out on selling their land for more money. Little do they know the mountain is home to a nocturnal, laser spewing, flying beast.
Gamera actually gets his butt handed to him in this one until he mans up for the final showdown involving a sit & spin blood fountain. If those details fail to perk your interest than this is not the movie for you.

Gamera vs. Viras
Oh god is this one a trip. We're introduced to Maseo and Jim, two boy scouts who are just the fucking worst. Their whole troop only thinks of them as rotten pranksters which is about right though Maseo has some skills when it comes to electronics.
Some aliens traveling around in a ship that resembles a collection of bee butts are intent on conquering the Earth. First they have to deal with Gamera. Knowing his fondness for children, they kidnap the bratty boy scouts and soon brainwash the giant turtle into doing their evil bidding. It's important to note that part of the brainwashing procedure involves a memory scan which is close to 20 minutes of footage from the previous movies. If you're hungry, behind on some chores, or just need a trip to the can, there's plenty of time to do it. I personally pissed, finished the dishes, and ate a bowl of crispix just in time to return to the actual movie.
Most of the film is just the two kids runing around the space ship trying to thwart the aliens schemes. Monster footage is in short supply and most of the shots where Gamera is destroying cities under alien control are just shots from the first movie which is painfully obvious since everything suddenly becomes black and white.
Only in the last ten minutes do we actually get some new kaiju action when a mind probe free Gamera faces off against a giant space squid. It's an ok battle that along with a few crazy bits of the movie almost make it bearable. Gonna have to put a warning label on this one as it's only for a hardcore Gamera viewer.

So if the temptation ever strikes and you're thinking of picking up this blu-ray, I'd say go ahead so long as you're getting it for ten bucks or less. I've seen people complain about the video quality but considering how cheap both the movies and the release is, they're not too bad, still a nice step up from older releases. Audio is likewise acceptable. Some folks may not be very happy with the lack of dubbed versions so if you care about that sort of thing keep in mind that there's just Japanese with subtitles. That's where my only real issue lies as there are a few instances of the subtitle timing being a bit off. It's not a major flaw as it only happens once or twice but it warrants a mention. On a scale of “oh god no” to “absolutely” this disc earns a simple “why not?”

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Shuriken Sentai Ninninger Episode 13

If the previous episode of Ninninger were a food item it woulda been something like your basic hot dog: tasty, none too filling, with a distinct taste of hog anus. Sure it's enjoyable but nothing much you can report on after the fact. Today's story is more like a chipotle burrito in how it's almost dangerously overloaded with goodies. Of course this show isn't as nutritionally beneficial so maybe throw some Twizzlers in that burrito to make the analogy work. Now enough about food, we've got a lot to discuss.

First on the agenda is further conversation about the former apprenticeship of Kyuuemon under gramps. Apparently the kid had some major potential until self-doubt and second guessing led them down the wrong path. Oh, and we still don't get any solid answers on that whole gender question since gramps uses lingo like “they” throughout his tale. The old man relates this directly to Kinji's current situation as the guy is getting too friendly with the grandkids to kill them. According to oldie, since there can only be one last ninja, they must be willing to do whatever it takes without hesitation. It's very much the nut up or shut up mentality.

Meanwhile. Kyuuemon is busy bring another general back from the depths of hell. This time it's Tsugomori Masakage. He's the strategist and kind of a creepy dude. Like he's a bug with a partial human mask on. According to him the big bad's almost ready to return as well. We get several villain scenes throughout this ep, leading up to the last one where Tsugomori reveals that he knows Kyuuemon is lying about originally being part of their group but he doesn't really care so long as (s)he proves to be useful.

As for the team. They get themselves wrapped up in a ninja competition masterminded by the baddies. We get some light action and comedy bits as Starninger tries to kill them during different challenges. Eventually it all shifts focus to Nagi and Kinji and the show tries to work out one of it's lingering problems. All this time, Nagi hasn't really had a set role or personality but now we finally learn that he's the nice guy whose good at getting everybody to work together. Not the most complicated role to play but at least it marks him as a decent guy. We also get the backstory on that family photo Kinji keeps with him. Seems both his father and older brother were also yokai hunters who died when or cowboy was just a lil shit. That's why he set out to be the best hunter around and learn from the last ninja himself. Getting back to that whole Nagi's good at teamwork thing though. It ends up coming in handy when half the team is kidnapped and the only way to save them is a three legged race against a cheating monster made out of track shoes. This is still sentai after all.

After the token action scenes both big and small we arrive back at the dojo where Kinji stands by his decision to no longer help the team out so much, lest he become weak. Then grandpappy shows up to reveal that with a new evil guy on the loose, the team must find a flying ninja ally. Whoever finds it first will receive the end shuriken as their prize.

Whew! Like I said before, this one was just bursting with content. It's kind of amazing how it served as a main plot line, self contained, and character focused episode all at once and still did most of it fairly well. It would be nice for Nagi to get a story truly focused him for once. Poor kid can't catch a break. Overall, I'd rank this as one of the top episodes so far. Very close to number eight but that one had lots of Fuuka to bump it up a notch. Speaking of which, she's the focus for episode fourteen. Be sure to come back for that one.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Shuriken Sentai Ninninger Episode 12

It's been so long since the last Ninninger recap, y’all might think I'd forgotten about the show. That's not the case at all. Fact of the matter is I hit a bit of writers block when it came to this episode. Not because it's bad. The show continues to make a slow and steady climb toward quality. The block is due to this one being almost entirely spectacle. Sure there's a little story/character development but overall it's a lot of action scenes, good ones too.

Carrying from last week, Takaharu's in recovery from his injuries from fighting Gabi so the rest of the crew steps up their training to take on the big man. In an alarming turn of events, Kasumi continued to be pleasant and useful as she worked on a formula for combing Kinji's robots with their own. Oh and we get an explanation for all that Starninger equipment. Apparently Kinji learned how to make it all from grandpas book. Also on his front were repeated sightings of an old family photo which is left hanging for another time.

With that all out of the way we end up with tons of action. Four ninja take on Gabi and some thugs themselves, then Takaharu joins in soon followed by Kinji. Some very nice moves are put on display including a new finisher that reminds me of the sword-fu in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (a flick I should really write about sometime). Once we move on to the giant robot phase the team manages to combine with Starninger's toys for more flashy fun.

I'm very proud of the ending to this episode when Kinji asks gramps why he's so resistant to take on a student. The old man replies that he had an apprentice once and it went poorly. Most shows would leave us dangling for a good half a season before revealing the identity of the disciple but not Ninninger. It's Kyuuemon. The fox lady...or man..still not quite clear on the gender but it makes for a good revelation all the same.

Time for me to catch up on some more episodes and squeeze in a few different articles as well. I've just started a novel that I think will make for one of the best entries ever. Seriously, if I had a mustache I'd totally be twirling it right now. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Avengers the Crossing Omnibus Review Part 6: The End

It's the end! Complete with technical issues and poor grammar!

There are times in life when you finish a work of fiction be it television, film, or literature and the results leave you awestruck, filled to the brim with new ideas and concepts, a whole new outlook which seemed foreign to you just hours before. Then there's times when you finish something like The Crossing which leaves you cross eyed, achy, and seeking the comfort of pudding. Under normal circumstances those feelings would have been dealt with in part 5 coinciding with the defeat of the villains and the rise of a new Iron Man, but this is the crossing bitches! Normal story structure means nothing here. Instead of cutting their losses and ending this mess Marvel pumped out four more issues in an attempt to tie up some loose threads while creating a few more. Now sit back and watch this narrative sweater unravel.

Force Works #21

It's a somber day at Force Works HQ as the team views a holographic message from the formerly living Tony Stark. He's got some basic platitudes about believing in the cause and how the future is always bright and full of possibilities. Doesn't seem like much of the team buys into it since the final week of his life involved multiple homicide.

The next order of business is much more interesting/confusing. Remember Suzi Endo? The pretty Asian lady who moonlights as cybermancer and turned out to be Tony's evil henchman while also somehow being locked inside a cryogenic chamber? Well she's still around....both of her. Apparently Tony had his own gateway for dimensional/time travel and he employed the Suzi Endo of another time and or place to do some of his dirty work. I can hear you asking, “why did he bother inviting regular/good Suzi to join the team then?” Good question. I initially though we might have a situation where good Suzi was the one who created the tech which would have forced Tony to take her captive in order to gain a power suit for his Suzi. I was giving the story far too much credit as the actual answer is that the suit was made by bad Suzi as well, they just invited the regular one over so they could freeze her, thous keeping her from screwing up the dastardly plan. Why they didn't just kill her instead of bothering with refrigeration bills, we'll never know.

Elsewhere in the building, love is in the air as we learn that Century has fallen for Scarlet Witch. Normally I wouldn't think of a fictional character as lucky but our gray alien friend hit the jackpot when he slipped into obscurity before his dream girl went all crazy pants. Trust me buddy, that's one honey pot you don't want your paws in. Spider-Woman and the teams tech guy, Fisher share a few knowing glances of their own. Now this guy has realistic goals. Single mothers in spider tights make for achievable love affairs.

Eventually all this lovey dovey stuff gets kicked to the curb as Stark's magic doorway opens, allowing two intruders to bust into the joint. One is a bio-organic and somewhat nice version of Ultron and the other is an extra douchy version of Wonder Man, the regular version of which was apparently dead at the time. All these future people claim that horrible war and destruction await us in the future but of course it's all just as vague and meaningless as Kang's talk of a greater threat. Force works tussles with these intruders who eventually free their Suzi. In the confusion, nobody notices that the time gate starts pulling our universe into it. Yeah, it's that kind of party.

Force Works #22

The final issue of Force Works is a tad messy. It kicks off with the team trying to figure out the whole reality eating time gate issue while a trio of temporal intruders run around the base looking for the cybermancer suit. A good deal of this first chunk revolves around developing these misplaced folk. In particular we get the quite unique version of Ultron that's more of a wise cracking sidekick. Guy cares about the environment for some reason and we even see him fear for his life at one point, and rightfully so since his people start to fade from existence. Best guess is that their time-line is being destroyed by.....let's say salamanders (it's more answer than we get in the story), and the trio vanishing like a bad flashback is a side effect. The Force Works team tries to save them, after assaulting them, that is.

Sadly everyone's efforts amount to nothing as the time travelers are scrubbed from reality. The portal they used to enter our world however continues to grow in strength until regular Suzi Endo launches the cybermancer suit into it. Seriously, that was it. They just needed to throw stuff back into the time gate until it went boom. With all that out of the way, the team sits down for coffee (cause that's what heroes do in the crossing) and discuss their future plans. Everyone decides to take a break and maybe reform Force Works later . Spoiler alert! They never do. Spider-Woman wants to check in with her boyfriend from another time line, she doesn't. Century wants to travel, he disappears into comic book limbo. Fisher wants to test out some new technology, also in limbo. Scarlet Witch wants to check in with the Avengers, only to immediately forget this team and cause lots of trouble. U.S. Agent would go on to a few more books over the years and eventually lose an arm...I think...he might have gotten it back. The team never reforms properly but at the very end they run off together to take on one final threat while the A.I. Plato comments on how they'll be better than okey. Poor bastard doesn't realize no one's coming back for him.

War Machine #24

Those of you with good memories might recall several cutaways to a side story about one of Rohdey's lady friends suddenly aging. Guess the writers thought it was finally time to do something with that particular plot thread. Here's the details in short. Before the crossing began, James and Sheva were caught up in something called a time quake which left them both with temporal tissue damage. Cause, ya know, that's a real thing. Said damage has left Sheva in a state of rapid aging. Doctors try to figure out why Rhodes shows zero signs of the condition and he's apparently being safeguarded by his fancy new alien technology. While all this is going on, Sheva has flashbacks like when she first encountered War machine. An event which gives us one final ass shot for the feature, huzzah!

Another woman named Rae who I guess was in a romance with James shows up to check on their aging friend but doesn't miss the opportunity to nag our hero. In the process she drops the bomb that while she was visiting his racist parents they revealed that James has a son with an old girlfriend. He takes the news like a champ.

Sheva magically returns to her actual age long enough for Jim to take his shirt off for her. Then she suddenly ages even more than before and eventually croaks. Oh and Shield wants a piece of the warware suit.

War Machine #25

For a final issue of both a series and an event, this is one sparse little tale. War Machine smacks down the Shield agents who are trying to take his technology, says goodbye to his job and coworkers, hooks up with Rae, packs his bags, beats down Shield agents again, then drives off into the sunset with his lady. Naturally there are a few more details than that but it doesn't matter as all this was soon pushed to the side and forgotten. Gotta point out my favorite bit though where Jame's decides that he can't go in search of his possible son until he finds himself. Guy must have never found himself cause that kid's still waiting for a daddy.

I keep forgetting to note that at some point in the story, think it was back in Stark's Satellite, James learned that he was bonded with the warware until death. Felt that worth mentioning since it didn't take long for him to be free of it and he's still alive & well.

So yeah, that's it. The crossing is an interesting specimen not only for it's poorly plotted antics but for it's historical context as well. In an effort to boost the sales of Avengers and Iron Man titles, Marvel made a mess so bad that the clean-up operation was almost immediate. Force Works wrapped up with little fanfare. That team has never seen a resurgence with several members still floating in the comic either. War Machine faded into the background of other books eventually losing the space armor and never bothering to look up his kid. Teen Tony only lasted for about half a year before the events of Heroes Reborn returned an adult Stark to the pages. Wasp got to be a human once again in just over a year I think. Many of the small support characters like Tuc or Deathunt were never heard from again. As if all that wasn't bad enough, Avengers Forever did it's damnedest to reduce these events to the level of a fever dream.

Seeing as I've labeled these articles as a review, I suppose it's only fair to comment on whether or not any of you should spend your time seeking it out. Depending on your tolerance for stupidity I'd say maybe give it a shot. There are lots of bad comics, and plenty of shitty comic events to choose from, but the The Crossing is special in how it blends greed and laziness together. The majority of it can be blamed on Bob Harris who was Marvel's editor-in-chief for some of their worst years, currently he holds the same position for DC (poor bastards). Terry Kavanagh works with him and as a team write like drunken children. Abnet and Lanning have their parts to play as well but it frequently feels like they're just along for the ride. There's so much melodrama and silly plotting that could still be delved into so if you find my recaps to be entertaining, the real experience will prove to be absolutely fascinating.

I recently got a trade that collects the Iron Man and Avengers issues that follow this mess. We'll be taking a look at those fairly soon in preparation for something much bigger. Soon after the crossing failed, Marvel attempted another rotten cash crab with an event called Onslaught. And wouldn't ya know it's getting an omnibus this summer and I can not wait! Of course recaps will be in order though I plan to do them in smaller, more frequent chunks. Stay tuned folks. The Crossing may finally be over, but we're on this train for the long haul.