Samurai Jack Season 5’s Trailer is Here

I’ll be discussing the return of Samurai Jack in greater detail later this week’s ‘Geek Out’ show on WPPJ 670AM but for now I wanted y’all to start getting as hype as I am about this.

It has been too long since we 90s kids have seen Jack and Aku on screen.

 

Listen to ‘Geek Out’ on Thursday nights 8 to 9p.m. and 11p.m. to midnight via the TuneIn app

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Latest Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild trailer doesn’t disappoint

One it comes to nostalgia and trailblazing in RPGs few franchises do it better than Nintendo’s “Legend of Zelda.”

The latest trailer for the newest installment in the thirty year-old franchise does not disappoint.  Nintendo has been teasing”Breath of the Wild” to fans for a few years and for the first time fans gets to see a better look inside this universe’s Hyrule along with the artistic graphics behind the game’s cut scenes. Looks like the crisp style is accented by intensely fluid game play and of course, Zelda’s notoriously beautiful score.

One thing is for sure, if there’s ever a franchise that will encourage old-school RPG and Zelda fans, like myself, to go out and buy a Nintendo Switch just for one game and one game only – Link might be the ticket.

What’s your thoughts on the ‘Life in Ruins’ trailer?

 

Q&A With Comic Book Legend Tom DeFalco at Pittsburgh Comic Con

Former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief visits the Steel City for this weekend’s Pittsburgh Comic Con.

Legendary comic book writer and former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief, Tom DeFalco has worked on such prolific titles as  “Dazzler” and “Thor” but is most well-known for this time on “The Amazing Spider-Man” series.  I was lucky enough to catch up with him and discuss comic books, the stress of being a Marvel Comics editor and the impact of superhero films on the industry.

**Editor’s note: the questions and answers have been edited for clarity**

Q: How’d you get started in comics? What was the initial motivation?

Tom DeFalco: As a young child, I was fascinated by newspaper comic strips. I actually use to cut them out and make my own books. And somewhere along the line a cousin showed me a comic book and I thought, ‘Oh, they stole my idea’ [laughs]. But I was fascinated by the concept of comic books and comic strips and was always interested in the medium. Growing up, I knew right away I couldn’t draw. I liked telling stories and planned to just be a writer, but always planned to be a pro writer. When I was growing up there was just a handful of really good comic book writers. It just never occurred to me that I’d ever do comics, so I just concentrated on all sorts of other writing. I think after I got out of college – I don’t know what was the motivation – my goal was to do a comic strip and I got in touch with Archie Comics and they offered me a job. So, I started working at Archie Comics and got involved in comic books. I did get involved in comic strips over the years, but comic books are more fun.

How much have conventions changed over the years?

TD: They’ve changed tremendously over the years; now they charge for signatures which we never used to do back in the day. When I started, conventions were a place to interface with the fans and more to promote things. The promotion angle is gone. Although some publishers still think the promotion angle still functions—I don’t believe it does anymore. I think everybody who rakes us in here to make their big announcements are just wasting their big announcements.

What was it like taking over [Marvel Comics] after Jim Shooter as editor-in-chief? Following the way he promoted comics and then when you took over, any troubles you had to go through during that process?

TD: Well I had to reorient the way people were looking at things. When Shooter was there he took everything very personally. In many regards, he thought he symbolized Marvel. And I didn’t think I symbolized Marvel. I thought, I had enough trouble being Tom DeFalco, I wasn’t going to be Marvel Comics. And I didn’t take things personally and I owe a lot of that to Larry Hama. When you were in a position of power in those days, in the comic book industry, you’d have a lot of fansies that would just rip you apart and write the most horrible things about you. And when there wasn’t a controversy they’d make one up. And Larry, my good buddy, would sit on my couch and read whatever horrible thing they had written and laugh hysterically as he read it. As a result, when I think about bad reviews or bad things people are saying I think of Larry laughing and I’m light-hearted about it. He did me the greatest favor in the world – and knowing Larry he did it on purpose – because he didn’t want me to feel bad. So, I never took things personally. So, that was a major change. And also, Jim really knew what he wanted, he really wanted a specific thing. I’m a lot flightier. As a writer, I have a very wide net and do a lot of different kinds of material. And as a result, I was much more spread out and fascinated by all sorts of different kinds of material.

tom-defalco-signing-spider-man-for-fan-at-pittsburgh-comic-con

Tom DeFalco signs an issue of “The Amazing Spider-Man” for a fan at the Pittsburgh Comic Con

What was your favorite project you worked on as a writer?

TD: As a writer that’s really hard to say. Me as a writer, when I’m going to be working on a comic book character I have to fall in love with the character because I intend to be there for years. At any given time, I was in love with Spider-Girl, I was in love with Thor, in love with the Green Goblin. When I think of it I’m always torn between Thunderstruck and Spider-Girl. It is always hard to figure out which of your children you love more. But those two were very special to me.

When you were editor-in-chief in the mid-90s with the success of the Spider-Man and the X-Men cartoon shows, did you feel any added pressure as far as pushing those titles out at a quicker pace?

TD: No, no. We always had pressure pushing out the Spider-Man books and the X-Men books because those were the most rabid fans. The X-Men fans just wanted more and more X-Men material. We could never satisfy them. No matter how many books we produced it was never enough for the fans and the marketplace. Same thing with the Spider-Man books. We were constantly running just to keep up with the demand that we had. There was a time with G.I. Joe too. When we were doing three or four G.I. Joe titles and could’ve been doing six or eight if we had the people who could do G.I. Joe and it still wouldn’t have been enough at that time.

With the current success of the Hollywood blockbusters [comic book films] did you ever think it would blow up like it has over the last decade?

TD: Absolutely not. When I was there [at Marvel Comics] we were struggling to give the rights away to the films. We kept figuring if we could ever get a movie it would help sales, it would help this it would help that. I wasn’t sure they’d ever be a Spider-Man movie ever filmed. I use to tell people I worked on every version of the Spider-Man movie expect the ones that actually got made [laughs]. I probably worked on about seven to ten Spider-Man movies, none of which ever got made.

I think I was just trying desperately to be Stan Lee and there’s only one Stan Lee, I should’ve known better [laughs]. -Tom DeFalco

Do you think it is good for the comic book industry now, the success of comic book movies?

TD: I think it is good for the fans. Certainty the Marvel movies are a lot of fun. They do a lot of the same hoo-haw material guys like me and Ron Frenz loved doing. It was the same material we were doing in the 80s and 90s as opposed to the grim and gritty stuff that they’re doing now. So, I think it is wonderful for them. Back in the day I thought, if you do a movie sales will go up. Today I look and sales are horrible. So, I don’t know if that’s a reflection that has anything to do with the movies or if it’s a reflection to do with the distribution or if that’s a reflection of the kind of material they’re putting in the comics.

With Dazzler, did you have any fun working on that particular title? I know that was somewhat of a promotional title at first and a lot of mishaps happened with delays [in publication] at first.

TD: Yea delayed for a couple of years. Yea I had a lot of fun with Dazzler. I think I was basically chosen for Dazzler because I had worked for Archie Comics and they were thinking of something for the mass market and maybe something for the Archie audience and that sort of stuff. It didn’t quite go in that direction. But like I said you fall in love with every character as you’re doing it. And I really had a lot of fun. I forget how many issues I worked on, seven or eight, but I really enjoyed each of those issues. I was just starting out at Marvel and this was my chance to make a mark. I look back at some of those things and think, ‘Wow what kind of dialogue was I writing, what was I crazy?’ I think I was just trying desperately to be Stan Lee and there’s only one Stan Lee, I should’ve known better [laughs].

I know you said you fall in love with your characters, but at a certain point deadlines are deadlines. Was there any pressure while you were writing?

TD: There was always pressure. There still is pressure. That was just the name of the game. Back in the day the book had to be done by a certain time because if you missed shipping it almost wasn’t worthwhile publishing that comic book anymore because it wouldn’t get distributed properly. We just accepted that as our lot in life. If you had to pull all-nighters, you pulled all-nighters. You just did whatever you had to do to get that book out. I don’t even consider it pressure – it was the nature of the beast.

Did you enjoy writing more or your time as editor-in-chief? I could see that as a more responsibility more problems, sort of thing. What were the pros and cons?

TD: I always considered myself a writer who was masquerading as a staff person. And I always knew that being editor-in-chief was a temporary job and I always considered it a temporary job. I think it’s like being a football coach. When you have a winning team, you’re the greatest guy in the world. You lose a couple games it’s like, get rid of this bum. I knew it was something I’d only have for a few years. I figured I might last two or three years. I lasted longer. I did have fun as editor-in-chief, but my true love has always been writing.

Do you think fans are too harsh on writers, creators and even now just Hollywood movie producers and directors? Do you think they have knee-jerk reactions far too often?

TD: I don’t know if they have knee-jerk reactions. The fans like what they like. I think that what they like today might not be what they like two or three weeks from now. I can tell you that from when I was on Spider-Man that basically people would tell me they liked Roger Stern better. And I’d agree with them because I liked Roger Stern better too [laughs]. You know when I was on Thor people would say, ‘Ah you suck, we like Walt Simonson better.’ And you know, I liked Walt Simonson better too.

Any advice for comic book creators or writers trying to get into the business?

TD: My feelings about writers is you should just be a writer first and do a wide variety of things. And let comic books be one of the things you do. Because if you’re going to create stories, be able to create stories in different kinds of mediums.

DeFalco is currently working on “Reggie And Me” a title from Archie Comics. He will be at the Pittsburgh Comic Con, presented by Wizard World, which runs through this weekend, November 4-6 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh.

 

 

Pittsburgh Comic Con Preview: Q&A With Kevin Sorbo

Former “Hercules” and “Andromeda” visits the Steel City for upcoming Pittsburgh Comic Con

The Minnesota native, author, and television/movie star will be visiting Pittsburgh this upcoming weekend for the Pittsburgh Comic Con at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The second annual Pittsburgh Comic Con, sponsored by Wizard World, which host over a dozen celebrities, writers, illustrators and geekcentric personalities including the cast of Netflix’s hit series Daredevil,  Nichelle Nicols of Star Trek and WWE Superstar Finn Balor.

I was fortunate enough to speak with the former star of USA Network’s Hercules: The Legendary Journey and SyFy’s Andromeda via a phone interview last week. Sorbo, whose wife is a South Hills native, shared his thoughts on life at conventions, how he overcame health troubles and shared some advice on the industry.

**Note some of the questions and answers have been edited for space. Listen to the interview in its entirety through the link below. Original article featured for the Point Park News Service.**

Q: When you go to conventions, what is it like for you? Do you have more of the Hercules crowd or more of the Andromeda crowd?

Kevin Sorbo: You know between Herc and Andromeda– if it’s between those two shows – it’s probably Herc seventy percent, Andromeda thirty percent. I find that kind of interesting because Andromeda was the first show ever created by Gene Roddenberry. He wrote it way back in1969 after the original Star Trek series finished. You know I shot Hercules in New Zealand from 1993-2000 and I shot Andromeda from 2000-2005 up in Vancouver, B.C. But since then in the last eleven years, I’ve shot 51 movies, but now more than half the crowd comes up more to talk about one of my other movies then those other two. It’s sort of a crossover crowd now, not just a fantasy and sci-fi crowd. It is a crowd that appreciates whether it’s a faith-based movie, a psychological thriller or an action movie, whatever it might be. I bring quite a variety of pictures now because it is amazing how people want different shots not just the two shows that I did for such a long time, so it is quite a mixture now.

 Any convention horror stories?

KS: No. You know people are pretty cool though. I realize there’s a lot of other actors there and stuff, so people are going to go to the shows they want to go to. There’s a lot of television channels, right? So not everybody has watched my stuff and I get it. So the people that come to your table really are people that want to meet you. You do those Q&A sessions – they give you Friday, Saturday or Sunday – you do the  Q&A, you go to a private room and there’s anywhere from 50 people to 2,000 – it really depends on how big the con is. And they’re there because they like you, they’re not there to heckle you or give you a hard time. That doesn’t really happen. You know I think if you get more of a hard time, it’s really just out in the general public. Certainly when I was I doing Hercules. You know I couldn’t go out to any pubs or bars to watch a football game without some drunk guy coming up and wanting to pick a fight with me. It’s like ‘Dude, it’s just a T.V. show I’m not half-God, okay.’ But you know it’s the male ego we all got problems with that.

I know you had the health issues and everything else, which I’ll get to but what was it like coming down from 90s T.V. star, a household name to then kind of reinventing yourself?

KS: Yeah, I suffered three strokes back in 1997 at the end of Season Five and an aneurysm in my shoulder that was congestive of a problem something we didn’t really know what was going on. But it took me three full years to really get back to feeling normal again. But we kept the show going with Hercules those last two years the best we could; we passed “Baywatch” just two years prior to my strokes as the number one show in the world, we held that spot for five years. You know it was kind of cool to be part of something like that. You know and then I had Andromeda and I think Andromeda was sort of a way to reinvent myself in a different way. Instead of becoming the Gilligan of my show with Hercules, you know I became a completely different character with Andromeda with Captain Dylan Hunt. And since then I’ve shot 51 movies and been very busy with my own production company. I just directed a movie in Alabama that will come out next year; I also did the lead acting in it. I’ve been very fortunate to keep my career going and through the independent world. You know I’ve done some bigger movies…but the independent market has been very good to me. I’ve got three movies lined up already for next year, I got three more movies coming out next year that I shot this year, so knock on wood I’m still staying alive.

 

I know you mentioned the health problems before, how’d you manage to overcome that adversity and stay positive through it all?

KS: You know a lot of that had to do with my wife. You know I’m a pretty strong willed person to begin with, but when I got sick like that she made me write this book ‘True Strength’[True Strength: My Journey From Hercules To Mere Mortal] and you know I didn’t want to write it. You know I guess it’s once again that insecurity and the male ego thing because I didn’t want people to see how weak I’d become. You know you’re playing a part like Hercules and you’re cruising along, you’re in great shape and then you get an illness like that that could’ve killed you. It does a lot to you on the inside as well. I just had to find a place where I’m not going to let anyone set my limitations and certainly myself. So she helped me just push through it. She’s a Pittsburgh-New York girl and she’s got a tough personality and she just said ‘You know what? It happens, stop being a freaking baby about it. What are you going to do now to make yourself better?’ And you know I think that was huge to let me look in the mirror and go ‘I can beat this.’

So you take it somewhat of a blessing in disguise?

KS: You know it was in a way, it sort of slowed me down in a way. I was burning the candle at both ends. I mean I was working fourteen hours a day in Hercules; lifting two hours a day and driving to set anywhere from a half-hour to an hour a day – so a typical day for me would be seventeen to eighteen hours, door-to-door. And that was for the first five years before I got sick. So it kind of put things into perspective what’s really important. It really came down to my family, my kids, my friends and stuff like that. You know it sounds corny, but that’s kind of true. You know it is being with people you care about and love that make it all worthwhile.

I kind of have to ask, any advice for aspiring actors or any creative talent in the cinema industry?

KS: You know I go speak at some of my old acting classes and some of my old coaches are still coaching out here in L.A. I go speak once every couple of years at these classes. And I tell these guys, you know you’re going to get a lot of doors slammed in your face. There’s a lot of reasons why you’re not going to get jobs and you know they’re stupid and they’re petty – you’re too tall, you’re too short, you’re too old, you’re too young, you’re too fat, you’re too skinny – it’s all about rejection in the industry. You get involved in this business because you love the craft of acting. Get into because of that don’t get into because you want to be Johnny Depp and be worth $100 million every movie and be super famous. If that happens, that’s just a bonus. Do it because you want to be an actor. It’s a simple as that.

Sorbo’s films “Let There Be Light” and “The Reliant” are due out next year. He will be appearing at the Pittsburgh Comic Con, present by Wizard World, November 4-6. Guest can purchase tickets on site or online through the resource center.

 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore 

My Top Ten Anime Picks On Crunchyroll Right Now

I’ve always had a guilty pleasure for anime. Growing up with Dragon Ball Z, Cowboy Bebop and Ronin Warriors I developed an affinity for it, but anime is still in many ways considered to be the elephant graveyard of nerdom. Once you go there – once you dive completely into the deep end – there is no coming back.

Regardless whether you have completely submerged yourself into the world of anime or not there are a ton of good series currently out there, especially on Crunchyroll. No disrespect to Netflix’s selection which bodes some gems (I’m looking at you Knights of Sedonia) Crunchyroll is prime real estate for your anime fix.

Now keep in mind (if my initial anime listings haven’t given it away) I’m partial to action-adventure series, so this list is going to reflect that. I am also excluding any anime that is available on both Netflix and Crunchyroll (i.e. Attack on Titan and Hunter x Hunter) along with highly popular shows like Bleach and Naruto Shippuden. I’m making a list of my ten Crunchyroll recommendations currently streaming or have recently finished their seasons within the year.

**Note the first five are currently airing mid-season the rest have recently finished their first seasons within the last year**

Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World

Won’t lie this one is a bit trippy at first. The main character Subaru Natsuki is mysteriously transported to a Feudal Aged world filled with magic, cults, royal knights and of course demonic creatures. The twist comes in when Subaru realizes every time he dies he’s brought back to life and forced to make amends for his disastrous decision making which has more than just a few ripple effects on the story. The barbaric death scenes will likely make you cringe as you try to figure out what exactly is the end game to Subaru’s torturous butterfly effect?

Biggest Flaw – Subaru – The main character is the show’s weak link. His selfish decision making and lack of strength can sometimes be agonizing to watch.

Biggest Draw – Suspense – Despite the protagonist’s shortcomings the show will keep you on edge largely because each episode is completely different. Despite reoccurring themes and obstacles each episode introduces a brand new twist that keeps you hooked.

Twin Star Exorcists

This one took a little warming up too. The story focuses on two 14-year-old exorcists (Rokuro and Benio) who are chosen to become the fabled ‘Twin Stars,’ a couple whose child will bring about the end of a century old battle against ‘Kegare’ (demons/incubi). While the arranged marriage between the two is odd considering their age the show still has a good rhythm to it between action, comedy and of a slow-building plot. I don’t consider Twin Star’s to be a knockout by any means, but it is surprisingly entertaining. It does a great job creating suspense and in many ways is an intriguing take on a romantic coming-of-age tale.

Biggest Flaw – Initial episode structure – The first half dozen episodes or so are entertaining but until they start introducing the larger portion of the plot each episode is essentially the same: Opening scene, introduction of new character/obstacle and ends with a battle against a Kegare.

Biggest Draw – The antagonist – I’ve always believed the villain makes the hero. Without a great villain the hero/story isn’t as strong. Once the show finally revels who the real threat is in the series and why there is so much Kegare corruption you’ll want to stick around to find out how it ends.

Berserk

The show’s gorey no-holds bar approach is just what you’d want from a show about demons, warlords and a corrupt militant authority hiding behind a delusional sense of divine right. The animation may turn a few fans off, but if you need a little excessive violence in your life than Berserk is just what the doctor ordered.

Biggest Flaw – It might be the animation for some, but for me it is the lack of backstory. I enjoy the action and the fact they throw the audience right into the thick of things, but to really enjoy this anime you’ll need to read some of the magna or at least watch the movie prequels (available on Netflix/YouTube).

Biggest Draw – Unsolicited action and violence.

91 Days

I’ll keep this short and sweet, 91 Days is essentially Coppola’s The Godfather as an anime. If you love old-school mobster movies you’ll love 91 days. The animation, the story’s pacing and the music manifest into one of the best anime I’ve watched this year. By far and away my favorite anime on Crunchyroll right now.

Biggest Flaw – Predictability – There are quite a few twists and turns, but if you are a mobster movie aficionado you might see a few coming.

Biggest Draw – Story structure – This anime is a perfectly done vendetta story, which plays to its mafia-centered theme strengths.

Taboo Tattoo 

Like Berserk this is another ruthlessly violent anime, but one that reminds me a bit of Darker Than Black. Characters in the show yield tattoos that give them unique powers rather similar to DTB’s ‘contractors.’ The main character Seigi is forced into a battle between the ‘Kingdom’ and America over control of these tattoos and the four sources that they’ve been derived from. Taboo’s greatest asset isn’t so much the insanity of some of its action sequences but its lack of fear towards killing off characters. It combines the best qualities of two of my favorite animes – DTB and Akame Ga Kill – it’s a fantastic recipe for success.

Biggest Flaw – Lack of continuity – The most recent episode withstanding (episode 8: Creator) the show doesn’t fully explain each characters powers’ origin nor does it explain why they have that particular ability.  It can be a big frustrating especially when it comes to understanding the entirety of the show’s story arch.

Biggest Draw – Action – Not just action but this show’s ability to create first-class action sequences in each of its episodes. It is a high octane anime that will keep you interested despite a few (current) plot holes.

Ushio & Tora

Ushio & Tora is a hell of a roller coaster ride. It will have you laughing on minute then tearing up the next. The story centers on Ushio Aotsuki who stumbles upon a tiger-like demon named Tora, who just happens to be pinned against the wall Ushio’s cellar courtesy of this mystical ‘Beast Spear.’ After Ushio removes the spear and frees Tora the two realize that fate has pulled them together. The two form an unlikely partnership to fight against the most ferocious demon Japan has ever seen – Hakumen no Mono. The show does a phenomenal job building up the suspense throughout the show about Hakukmen’s sinister power; constantly reminding the audience how powerful Hakumen is and the fact the end of the world is unavoidable if the demonic monster isn’t stopped.

Biggest Flaw – Filler episodes – The show is fantastic, but sometimes the show can drag with a slight abundance of ‘filler’ episodes en route to the anime’s grand finale (aka the final battle against Hakumen no Mono).

Biggest Draw –  Ushio & Tora – This show will pull at your heart strings. It blends action, comedy, and character development beautifully with the two protagonists at its center. Watching the relationship between human (Ushio) and demon (Tora) unfold and mature is easily the best part of this show.

**Note fan-made trailer**

The Asterisk War: The Academy City on the Water

This show reminded me a lot of Sword Art Online with its animation and its main character being a bit OP out of the gates. However, unlike SAO (which despite the haters I absolutely love) the show does introduce a limiter on its main character, Ayato Amagiri’s powers. The show focuses on the ‘Phoenix Festa’ battle which pits rival academies against each other in a battle royale where the winner is essentially granted any wish they want. The show does a fine job avoiding the redundant ‘school versus school’ theme trap we’ve seen in many amine. Instead, it uses the ‘Festa’ battles to introduce new characters and uncover a much larger plot towards the end of the season.

Biggest Flaw – OP characters –Ayato is not the only character who suffers from a mild case of excessive power. There are a few characters that are introduced who seem completely unstoppable. This can be slightly annoying and lead to less than stellar battle sequences.

Biggest Draw – The intricate storyline – At face value this is a run-of-the-mill battle royale anime. However, as the anime progresses the audience learns each character has their own agenda. The nature of character powers’ are introduced and it breaks away from the mundane academy differences and migrates itself into a larger global plot giving importance to large and small characters alike.

Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers

Enjoy a good thriller? Rokka’s got you covered. Six ‘Braves’ are chosen by the Goddess of Fate to defeat the Demon God who was banished centuries ago. Seems simple enough, but as the story unfolds you realize that seven heroes/heroines appear meaning one of the six chosen warriors is a fraud. The show initially focuses on vigilante Adlet Mayer but it is tough to call him the sole protagonist. Rokka is wonderfully animated and its plot is fantastically designed. The show constantly keeps you guessing on who’s the real threat in the show.

Biggest Flaw – The characters never actually fight the Demon God. Instead, the show is focused on discovering who the ‘fake’ amidst the group is. Albeit it works it can be a bit off-putting in the grand scheme of things (especially since the second season isn’t confirmed yet).

Biggest Draw – Plot twists – Unlike many of the animes I have on this list Rokka doesn’t have all that much action. Instead it constantly flips the script with subtle uses of dialogue, facial expressions and the occasional chase scene. It is a show that keeps you on your toes and most of all it keeps you enthralled.

God Eater

The show’s CGI animation might turn a few fans off, but this is a show that was created based on a video game after all. And make no mistake God Eater is superbly entertaining. The show’s comprised of great action, a noble hero and an impressive supporting cast of characters who are all fighting for the survival of humanity before all humans are eradicated by monsters known as ‘Aragami.’ Only soldiers who wield weapons known as ‘God Eaters’ can stop the Aragami epidemic. However, the curious case of these Aragami’s evolution is the true heart of the show.

Biggest Flaw – Short season – The first season is only thirteen episodes and left the audience with a major cliffhanger. If the second season does arrive be forewarned new episodes can take up to 10-12 days before their release. The lack of weekly content is arguably the show’s biggest drawback.

Biggest Draw – Aragami origin – You might get invested with some of the cast considering each one has an intriguing backstory, but once the show reveals the entire backstory of the anime’s main antagonist you’ll be completely invested.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?

If the show’s name wasn’t enough of an attention-grabber then the actual anime most certainly is. In a world inhabited by Gods and Goddess people can pledge allegiances to a particular deity then enter the town’s Labyrinth where they battle orcs, minotaurs and numerous other creatures. The interesting part is warriors who enter the dungeon’s Labyrinth level up and gain new powers the farther they advance. The show combines Greek mythology with the premise of a RPG/action-adventure game in the most entertaining way possible.

Bigget Flaw –  Cast size – Even though Bell and his Goddess Hestia are the two main characters the show has a pretty large cast of characters which can make certain elements of the show mildly confusing.

Biggest Draw – Production – The show blends comedy, action and the idea of being a ‘gamer’ (in a non-gaming world) seamlessly. It has just the right amount of each turning the show into a must-watch rather than just an anime for niche tastes.

‘Suicide Squad’ Review: It Should Have Been R-rated

Before I start let me say that for DC comic book fans I recommend seeing the film no-question. For non-comic book fans you might find a little harder time enjoying this one.

I’m still a bit perplexed on how to gauge DC’s latest installment in Suicide Squad. I absolutely loved Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and I went into SS with equal enthusiasm. However, after leaving the theater early this morning I wasn’t nearly as amped as I was after watching two hours and change of Bats vs Supes (with a splash of Wonder Woman). Instead, I was left thinking what if.

What if this movie had been R-rated? How much better would it have been? And that’s how Suicide Squad left me – half satisfied. Not a bad film. An entertaining one to say the least, but even as a comic book fan and a DC movie universe believer I felt this movie missed its marked largely due to it playing it safe with a PG-13 rating.

The first half of the film is phenomenal. The introductions for each character is one of the most riveting portions of the movie and home to the most enjoyable scenes. This is in large part due to the killer soundtrack (pun intended). Arguably the most impressive score of the summer and the first movie since Guardians of the Galaxy that left me thinking I should download the soundtrack ASAP. The opening scene with the ominous melody of The Animals “House of the Rising Sun” completely sets the tone for the movie.

However, that tone is often times riddled with hiccups and miscues. This isn’t cause so much by a lack of plot development (this is an action movie after all) but rather tittering on the line of adult humor and teen-approved violence. It is difficult to fully capture the insanity and brutality of these characters without copious amounts of bloodshed and cussing.

The film tries to humanize the antiheroes too much. While a good idea it conflicts with the dialogue in the movie. The characters often speak to one another with a light jailbird, ghetto-like lingo that gives the film a little edge. However, with the training wheels on (courtesy of the rating) this comes off as stereotypical and forced rather than natural conversation among lunatics and sociopaths from various criminal backgrounds.

In addition I believe the absence of complete unfiltered violence is what turns this film into a marginally liked blockbuster rather than an instant cult classic. There are far too many scenes where a line is forced or an action sequence just doesn’t have the same influence over you it would have if blood spattered across Katana’s mask as she sliced and diced enemies.

I’m not a mega-supporter of ultra-violent movies, but there are certain films that are better off being such. Suicide Squad is one of those films. It is a movie about thieves, murderers, and gangsters. Most of which are barely known outside of the comic book world. Instituting a filter was the film’s biggest flaw.

Keeping the action and the dialogue PG and then suddenly having Harley Quinn curse at the end of a fight comes off strange. There’s a lack of fluency in the movie because of this. It doesn’t do the character’s justice, it doesn’t do the fans justices and it certainly doesn’t help DC’s case to win the uphill battle against the Marvel movie-making machine.

This movie’s cast is filled with crude, violent and uncompromising villains it needed to come off the same way. Unfortunately, Suicide Squad missed its mark.

All this withstanding I still would recommend seeing it especially if you love yourself some Harley Quinn, but be forewarned I have a feeling you’re going to have the same thought I did when I left the movie theater – how soon until the director’s cut is available?

Overall: 7.5/10 – I can’t knock the soundtrack nor the memorable performances put in by Margot Robbie, Viola Davis and Will Smith. The trio carries the film and there’s plenty of one-liners that leave you chuckling.  The soundtrack is there; the action is there it just falls flat on execution. I think fans will appreciate it, but that will be the extent of its success. I can only hope the director’s cut has an R-rated version that releases the true potential of this film and its characters.

 

***SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT. I REPEAT SPOILER ALERT. Here’s my breakdown of each of actor/actress’s portrayal of their character(s) in the film. If you’ve seen the movie I recommend reading on if not best not push forward until you do***

 

Will Smith – Deadshot

Not going to front here, Will Smith was the ace of the film. His one-liners were some of the most memorable in the film and he does a brilliant job portraying Deadshot who’s about an 80/20 split between deadly assassin and family man. I was nervous the movie would sympathize too much with his character being a father. But they do a employ a nice hybrid of both; leaning mostly towards the killer inside him rather than his consequential title of Dad. He does a good job acting as the non-official leader of the group, but his best scene was easily when he stood on top a police car gunning down dozens of Enchantress cronies as if it was just another day in the office.

Margot Robbie – Harley Quinn

Big Willie might have been the ace, but Robbie stole the show. Both her Harley Quinzel and Harley Quinn are spot on. I”m not a huge Harley Quinn fan, but she does a fantastic job with the sadistic wisecracks. And she tackles the difficult task of blending the sex symbol and mentally unstable facets of Quinn’s character that have made her such a favorite among fans brilliantly.  Similar to how Hugh Jackman owns Wolverine and how Heath Ledger’s Joker has become the standard, I believe Robbie just set the tone for Harley Quinn for decades to come.

Jared Leto – The Joker

Speaking of the Joker…honestly I thought this film could’ve used a lot less Leto. That isn’t anything against Leto’s depiction of the Clowned Prince of Crime but rather the film’s constant need to ride the tormented relationship between Harley and the Joker. In my opinion the film would’ve been better off leaving Leto’s appearance in the film to two scenes; the flashback in the beginning of the film and his reappearance at the end. These two moments for Leto’s Joker  would’ve sufficed. The constant screen time of the Joker wasn’t organic to the film. Robbie puts on a heck of a show as a capable Harley and I felt the movie would’ve been fine with the initial intro of the couple’s backstory,  (possibly) her flashback with him, and the closing scene. Everything else in-between made the movie feel like the Harley-Joker show rather than the Suicide Squad movie. All that being said, Leto’s gangster-heavy rendition of the Joker will likely anger a few fans, but it goes with the movie’s vibe. It has a criminal-heavy tone, so naturally the Joker is going to be crime lord more so than criminal mastermind. Personally I didn’t mind it and I can definitely let it slide since Leto’s jester laugh rivals Mark Hammil’s.

Viola Davis – Amanda Waller

Amanda Waller in the comics is utterly ruthless. And Davis’ portray is spot-on. Waller is hated by villains and readers alike for her apathy. It makes her one of the most interesting characters in Suicide Squad’s story with her ability to constantly be a step-ahead of the squad and her uncanny knack for one-upping them in terms of unfavorable actions. She undermines everyone and everything. The scene when she kills her entire unit after telling them to wipe the hardrives clean and “destroy the evidence” sums up Waller in a nutshell. She doesn’t care about who or what dies. She does her job on her terms and her terms only. It’s what makes Waller detested. It’s what also makes her the best choice to organize a team of killers, she shares the same warped sense of morality. Needless to say Davis absolutely nails the character.

Karen Fukuhara – Katana

Didn’t mind her role as a support specialist for Waller and Rick Flag but as I mentioned before the movie loses a lot of luster for Katana’s slicing and dicing without the gore. Her scenes in the comics are flooded with brutality. I mean she has a cursed blade and to not show the unadulterated extent of her abilities as an assassin was a huge disappointment for me. Nothing against Fukuhara’s performance here, but rather the studio’s direction to play it safe.

Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje – Killer Croc

I was skeptical of Killer Croc going into the film. But Akinnouye-Agbaje does about a good enough job as he could with the limited scenes he had. I wished the movie had a few more fight scenes with Killer Croc especially underwater, but his role wasn’t too shabby. Although the bar scene where he calls Harley “shorty” was a bit comical, the movie does a good job showcasing Waylon Jones early transformation. He isn’t completely reptile and predatory yet – he’s still a human dealing with his transformation and I felt the movie did about a good enough job as they could highlighting this.

Jay Hernadez – Diablo

At first I loved the involvement of Diablo. The movie slowly brings him on as troubled ex-gangbanger who happens to be a highly powerful metahuman. However, when Diablo finally shows off his powers I felt his actions scenes didn’t quite match the hype the movie built up for him. They put him on a pedestal in terms of firepower and his abilities don’t quite live up to the expectations.

Cara Delevingne – Enchantress

I’m still very surprised that the movie went with her as the main villain. In many ways I think that’s a large reason this movie is falling flat with a lot of its audience. Villains make heroes. The stronger the villain the more potent the film’s punch. Enchantress’ powers are more than capable, but she’s not well known enough to take over the role of lead antagonist in a movie of this magnitude. A large portion of the audience can’t relate to who she is or the full scope of her powers. That withstanding, Delevinge does a great job of playing both the Enchantress and the possessed body of June Moore. Although I loved the ghostly, demonic imagery of the Enchantress much more than her post-reincarnated form. The early ghoul-like Enchantress truly captures her role as a witch hundred times better than her appearance as a Mayan sorceress later in the film.

Jai Courtney – Captain Boomerang

I definitely wished Cpt. Boomerang would’ve had more lines, but his comedic relief was one of the more entertaining portions of the movie. Nothing tops his introduction in the movie. Seeing Barry Allen capture him in the beginning half was one my favorite parts of the film. It was definitely nerdy Easter egg heaven.

 

Cover photo courtesy of Wiki Commons

10 Cents: Steve Rogers Was A Friend of Mine

Steve Rogers aka Captain America was created by two Jewish writers, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon as a slice of good-old fashion Nazi-beating American propaganda.

Now the Cap has changed slightly over the years, but one thing has remained the same – he’s the paladin of the Marvel Comic Universe. The virtuous Steve Rogers, legendary leader and one of the most sacred and trusted heroes in the Marvel Universe.

That was until today’s release of Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 written by Nick Spencer.

Now comic book fans come to find out their herald hero has been a sleeper cell for Hyrda all these years. Yes, the same Hydra that was aligned with the Nazis way back when Kirby and Simon created the character.

Turns out none of that matters. Maybe up in comic heaven Kirby is putting out a cigar in disgust as Simon shakes his noggin’ in disbelief. Or maybe they could care less. Unfortunately for Marvel today’s living fans aren’t too thrilled about this sudden change.

And rightfully so, Captain America is as traditional and wholesome as pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. There’s just some things you can’t – no you shouldn’t – change.

Maybe Spencer, who was described by current Marvel executive editor, Tom Brevoort in a Time Magazine interview as being “very politically active,”  and Spencer plans to add a little life to Captain America comics. Perhaps he’s looking to bring a little political edge to Steve Rogers circa what Chris Claremont did for the Uncanny X-Men during his first run with the mutants in the mid-1980s.

After all Captain America has never been a heavy seller by himself. Sure, he’s well-known, but for most of us comic fans the Cap’s fondest memories have been with the Avengers or universe-wide crossovers like 2006’s Civil War.

Capt. America graffit - John Piercy Flickr

Steve Rogers has a lot to his hang his head about Photo Credit: John Piercy, Flickr Creative Commons

So, maybe Spencer plans to flip the script. To bring in some of his ideologies on today’s government by changing the face of Marvel’s greatest nationalist. I mean starting today Captain America has been a secret agent for the bad guys all these years. Meaning, he’s been working with Nazis, Commies,  and supervillians – you name it. He’s been playing both sides all while rubbing shoulders with the U.S. government and the “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” Heck of a storyline when you think about it.

Not to mention, this concept (which Brevoort alluded to in the same interview as being in the works since 2014) blends nicely with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest installment, Captain America: Civil War. Makes a lot more sense why he was so adamant about saving Bucky in the film. It wasn’t just about saving a childhood friend, was it now?

Now, I’m not defending Marvel’s decision here. I’m rather just rationalizing it. If anything I’m a bit shocked at the news, but I’m not furious.

Fans constantly forget something that comic book writers (especially Marvel’s) have none for a long time, the unspoken rule: nothing is permanent in the comic world.

Every character in the Marvel Universe has undergone catastrophic changes or mindbogglingly absurd story arches. They die, they come back. They turn bad, they go back to being good.

Anyone remember when Bruce Banner, one of the most brilliant minds in comics turns into an inbred hillbilly in Old Man Logan? Or how Emma Frost started off as a Hellfire Club hooker before turning into one of the leaders of the X-Men? Heck even Doctor Octopus took over Peter Parker’s conscious and became the new Spider-Man, the Superior Spider-Man.

The point here is nothing in comics is ever sacred. Not even Steve Rogers’ morality.

Fans are allowed to curse the heavens and create hashtags like #WTFMarvel. We have a right to be mad. Yet, let’s not be mad for the wrong reasons.

Rogers’ new ethical take will draw criticism, but it may also very well sell a couple million comics. Heck, it might even create a few new fans. Then once Spencer and Marvel are done running their current series the ideology of Captain America will likely evolve once again.

What fans should be upset about is Marvel’s inability to create new characters. Something I’ve been adamant about for a few years now. In recent publications, Marvel has turned Thor into a woman, piggybacking off old Thor fans; instead of creating a new female character who in return could create her own fan base and identity. They took Sam Wilson and gave him the Captain America mantle rather than producing better comics starring The Falcon, an African-American hero. Heck they put Miles Morales in the Spider-Man outfit rather than creating a new Latino hero (or heroine) in hopes Spidey fans would jump ship.

Marvel’s biggest flaw isn’t shockers like Steve Rogers working with the Axis of Evil it is their lack of true creative ingenuity Stop changing the common character rhetoric in hopes it becomes ‘edgy.’ If you want to shake it up, give us new characters or give characters like Sam Wilson and Jane Foster their rightful five minutes of fame – with their own character’s comic series.

They should create anew or give lesser known characters better series. For example, after this weekend’s X-Men: Apocalypse debuts I’m sure they’ll be a lot more Psylocke fans out there (thanks Olivia Munn), but whens the last time any of us read or saw a standalone Psylocke series?

Fans shouldn’t be upset by the change even as surprising as it may be. We should be upset that we’re still seeing the same old characters being recycled again and again and again.

Personally, I’ll always remember when Steve Rogers was a patriotic friend of mine. I guess, I’ll just have to wait until he comes back around. Sure it will only be a matter of time anyways.

Cover photo credit: Phillip Lenssen, Flickr Creative Commons