Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Television Review: How I Met Your Mother

It's been a while since I reviewed an entire television series.  This week one of my favorite shows of all time ended, and there were some good times as well as bad times that I'm going to go over here.  Needless to say this particular review will be full of spoilers.

In a nutshell the series is about a man named Ted Mosby telling his kids how he and their mother met...over the course of nine years.  The series focuses on Ted and his friends; Barney Stinson the womanizer, Ted's best friend Marshall Eriksen, Marshall's girlfriend and later wife Lily Aldren, and Ted's former love interest Robin Scherbatsky.

Ted's story begins when Ted decides to stop dating and settle down with "the one".  The first episode has you believe Ted will end up with Robin, until his kids interrupt the story out of shock.  As the series continues we follow the gang through their lives and major milestones.  For example in the early seasons Marshall and Lily date, break up, get back together, and eventually get married.  All throughout the series everyone's careers also progress in a natural way rather than the exaggerated 
trajectories we usually see on television.  For example Robin moves to New York to be a newscaster, she starts off as the late night field reporter, then gets a job on an early morning talk show, then moves to a national news team, and eventually she becomes the number one newscaster in the country.

As the series goes on we see a large, possibly inappropriate number of women Ted dated before the titular mother, I say inappropriate because he is telling his children about all the women he slept with before their mom.  Some of these women we are led to believe Ted will end up with, particularly Stella.  Stella not only lasted the longest, besides Robin, but they were even engaged until she left him at the alter.

One of the biggest things I liked about this series was how jokes often came back.  For example their is a joke where Ted tells his kids how he got his dates mixed up once and as he's explaining the event happened later on, he bursts into the bar in a dress proclaiming "Now we're even".  Two seasons later we finally learn what he was talking about, and why he was in the dress in the first place.  Another ongoing joke was Barney's job.  For the first 8 seasons Barney made ridiculous amounts of money and when anyone asked what he did he would answer simply "please".  Then in the final season we learn his job is to sign forms without looking at them, which is highly illegal, but it's okay because it was all part of a long revenge plot and Barney was actually a whistle blower.  Other notable recurring jokes include; the dopplegangers, Robin Sparkles, and my personal favorite: Barney's history lessons.

Another thing this show did really well was the tone.  Unlike most television comedies, were everything is funny, always works out, and even the bad times are hilarious.  How I Met Your Mother manages to balance comedy and drama flawlessly, making us laugh as well as cry.  The ending is the best example here, but I want to cover it separately later.  Another example is the episode "How I Met Your Father", in this episode after a pregnancy scare Robin is telling her future children how she and their father got together.  The episode is full of jokes but ends with a very sad note, Robin cannot have kids, and the future children don't exist.

Now for a negative of the show, Bob Sagat.  Personally I have nothing against Bob Sagat, however he plays the voice of future Ted, a character who is seen a few times throughout the series, however whenever future Ted makes a screen appearance he is always plays and voiced by Josh Radnor.  Basically it's an inconsistency that always bugged me.

The Final Episode

If you have ignored my earlier warning about spoilers, this is your last warning, I am going into detail on the series' final episode so if you haven't seen it; avoid this section like the kid on the playground  with lice.

The final episode covers multiple decades.  Ted meets his wife in the first ten minutes of the episode and decides to stay in New York.  After that we get to see what happens to the gang between when they meet and when Ted starts the story.  Three years later Barney and Robin get divorced, forever altering the gang.  Robin leaves after the realization that her friends are all moving on in their lives, and nobody sees her again for more than a few minutes every few years.  Ted, who starts the series obsessed with getting married, lives with the mother of his children for years before finally tying the knot.  After a year in Italy Marshall goes back to corporate law, something he hates, until he gets the opportunity to be a judge again, eventually even becoming a state supreme court judge.  Barney finally reforms after having his own child with a one night stand.

Overall the series finale was perfect...until the last 2-4 minutes.  Personally I was fine with the mother's death, sure it was really sad, but it gave Ted a reason to tell the story.  What I had the problem with is everything after the story ended.  Turns out Ted never got over Robin, and the whole story was his way of asking his kids if they were okay with him dating her.  After 9 years of amazing television, and not a single bad episode, it's understandable that the series makes a mistake.  But the very end of the series was like watching your team play the perfect game, only to have the other team score at the buzzer.  Sure it doesn't matter and your team still wins, but it changes how you feel about the game.

In the end How I Met Your Mother is my favorite sitcom to date, and considering I grew up on shows like Friends, Fraiser, Everybody Loves Raymond, and King of Queens this is quite the statement.  Now that it's over there is a huge hole in my life, but at least I got the closure I needed out of the finale.  I give the show a solid A

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Comic Review: Superman Birthright

I've been meaning to read this story for years, and I finally got around to it last night.  In a nutshell Superman Birthright is a modern retelling of Superman's origin story, something that has since been done a lot.  At the time the mini series was meant to be a non-canon story, but was so well received it replaced the already established Superman origin story.  It was written by the Mark Waid, the man behind Kingdom Come and the current Daredevil series.  The art was done by Leinil Yu, who was also the artist of Mark Millar's incredible Superior series.

The Good

This mini-series did a lot of this well, one of the biggest highlights being that they explained the disguise, really well in fact.  Clark refused to use a mask, so his mother came up with the idea for him to wear layers to hide his muscles, bad posture and acting to seem mild mannered, keeping his hair well groomed because flying would mess it up, and very thick, strong prescription glasses to dull his otherworldly eye color.

The next strong point was Lex Luthor, everything about him was perfect.  In this story Lex is a genius in the field of...well everything really.  his origin is that he lived in Smallville, and was an outcast until an accident left him an orphan as well as bald.  After that he started his company in Metropolis, and created truly amazing technology by looking at planets and hypothesizing how something could survive on them.  His hatred of Superman is based on his obsession with alien life, and when he finally makes contact, he is treated as a lesser being.  So he decided to put together an elaborate plan to discredit Superman and eventually kill him as an alien invader.

Superman's power set was slightly altered for this mini-series as well, making him powered by multiple sources; the yellow sun charges him, but the powers themselves stem from the differences between Earth and Krypton's environment.  Basically everything about this mini-series is brilliantly written, well, almost everything.

The Bad

I have a few complaints about this series, interestingly enough it was basically everything I didn't like about Man of Steel.  The "S" shield, something that went from being a simple letter, to the El family crest, but in this series it was made into the Kryptonian symbol for hope, something I found kinda dumb, but not the biggest problem.

My biggest complaint with this series was how Pa Kent acted in the early issues.  Like the Man of Steel film, Pa Kent is responsible for for Clark hiding his powers.  And in the early issues he was very disproving of the idea of Superman, even to the point where he tried to destroy Clark's rocket to stop him.  He eventually turns into the Pa Kent we all recognize, but the whole point of Pa Kent is he helps Clark become Superman.  

The series was a bit slow in the early issues, but by part 4 the pacing got better and I ended up staying up until 3 AM because I couldn't stop reading.  But the early 3 issues were kinda disappointing, I felt like it was just an average storyline and didn't see why it was so well received.

The Verdict

The series was overall great, but it does suffer from the usual origin story problems, and this one in particular suffers a little more because it is such a well established character.  But the series proves itself thanks to the brilliant creative team of Waid and Yu.  Thus I give this mini-series an A-.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Injustice Gods Among Us 2

With the dawn of the new Consoles I've been thinking a lot about some of my favorite games from the last generation of consoles.  This week I started replaying Injustice: Gods Among Us, quite possibly my favorite fighting game ever.  Anyway today I want to express my idea for a sequel.


       Possibly the best part of the original game, Netherrealm chose to not only create a universe, but create a second one as well, and make a story that is actually better than most story based games.  This is really nice for people like me who cannot find people to play with regularly and find online to be not as fun as local play.

       For a sequel I feel the game should stick with the universes it already established, maybe it could expand to a third universe even, which could then explore how the one universe has everything go well for it while the others take dark turns.  As for a plot itself I have a few ideas; the first would be the aftermath of Superman's defeat, with the greatest protector of the planet gone a villain such as Darkseid would be free to move in and conquer with relative ease forcing the heroes and villains to come together to defeat him.  Another possibility could be another event happens that branches the "good" universe again, and the Insurgency Batman learns that all divergent universes stem from the same universe, and exploring why this is.


       The weakest part of Injustice, at least in my opinion was the stage selection.  There was only a small number places to fight at, and some of the stages were identical with very minor cosmetic differences.  What I want to see is a wider array of stages, the DC universe is full of iconic locations, so why are we limited to so few stages?  I want to see places like Oa, New Genesis, the Flash Museum, or even the Legion of Doom's hideout.  I just want more to keep me interested longer.


       Injustice had a wide variety of character to play as, but there were some aspects that could have been better.  First and foremost I feel there were a few too many Batman characters, especially considering the game revolved around Superman.  Sure some of them were important to the plot, but Bane and Grundy simply acted as muscle and could have easily been different characters.  Then there is Batgirl, who was fun to play as but ultimately added nothing to the story.  I also was a little disappointed with the large amount of DLC.  Don't get me wrong I'm okay with some DLC, but Injustice had a large amount, too much for the casual player to pay for.  

       What I would like to see is more unlockables in place of some of the DLC, this could add some replayability to the game as well.  As for specifics, perhaps the game could add a new type of character besides the gadget/power dynamic they have now...say magic, adding a new level of strategy for players.  I also would like to see an expansion on the alternate costumes doubling as characters, for example more Green Lanterns like Kyle Raynor and Kilowag, or Jason Todd as a Deathstroke skin.  I thought his was a clever way to increase the roster, so why not do more with it.  Some characters I'd like to see would be a mimic character, someone who can randomize his play style for those who like that, a character like Amazo, Black Alice (for magic characters only), or Parasite...In fact the more I think about it, the more I want Black Alice.  I also want a character I've grown attached too in recent years, Animal Man, his personal move could be to change up his moveset between speed, strength, and defensive types.  Also as I mentioned in my plot idea, I want a big bad, a REALLY big bad specifically I want Brainiac, a character who can bring an Age of Ultron like story to the game.

Other Thoughts

       The main thing I'm asking for from a sequel is to not simply release the same exact thing again and call it good like some other games out there, or worse yet decline in quality to coast on the title's reputation.  But I think Netherrealm understands this, just looking at Mortal Kombat's history they seem to understand how it works, they even rebooted the franchise after making a game that simply did too much.  So I am excited to see what they have in store, and hope we get to see it in the near future.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Video Game Review: Mass Effect 3

       Mass Effect 3 tends to get a bad rap from fans of the series.  Is this deserved? yes and no, While there is no denying by comparison 3 dropped the ball on important matters, but it also did a lot of things really well.  This review will have some spoilers, so if you haven't played the game yet I suggest doing so, but since it was released years ago I don't want comments about how I ruined the game for anyone.

What Worked


       The controls in this game are really well done, particularly with the Kinect integration.  This game managed to use the Kinect in a way that actually works, and I as a Kinect owner was really excited for more games following its example (but we all know how that went).  Like the previous games you had wheels that controlled powers and weapon selection, but this takes you out of the action, the Kinect made these also controllable through voice commands that actually increased the immersion into the game.  Another fun addition is the strong melee attacks, for most classes this uses an omni-tool to create a weapon, but for Adepts and Vangaurds like me it was a telekinetic blast.  This not only looks cool, but can dish out insane amounts of damage as well.

The Loadouts

       Unlike previous installments, in Mass Effect 3 you were no longer limited to weapons based on your class.  This is both a blessing and a curse however because yes you can carry one of each type of gun, but the amount of weight you are carrying affects your powers.  Because of this you must pick and choose the weapons that best fit your play style.  Then their is the armor, unlike most RPGs Mass Effect's armors don't progress in level, instead each armor piece affects different bonuses and the player makes an armor tailored to them, right down to the color, designs, and material of the armor.

The Story

       This is where I lose everyone, but lets be honest; up until the end Mass Effect's story is everything you expected it to be.  The plot is the Reapers finally made their move, and now you need to travel around the galaxy to gather forces to fight them.  There are some hard choices to make, parts that made me laugh, parts that made me almost cry, and parts that left me speechless.  We get to see what happened to everyone since the last time we saw them, and are introduced to new characters.  The ending however is going to get it's own section later.

What Kinda Works


       I have mixed feelings about the multiplayer.  Yes it was fun, and it plays exactly like you would expect it to.  But I found the unlock system to be a bit broken.  Earning points takes longer than it should, and when you finally have the points to unlock something it is entirely random, I still only have one non-human character and one assault rifle.  It would have been better if it was more like the single player where you can choose what to use points on.  However the biggest problem with the multiplayer is that it is required for the singleplayer mode.  Meaning at some point you have to stop what you're doing in the story, and spend hours in the multiplayer, this simply takes away from the experience.

The Downloadable Content

       Because this is an EA game, their is a lot of DLC.  Personally I only bought the Citadel pack, and only quite recently when it was 50% off in Xbox Live.  However I have seen the other DLC sets and I have to admit they are all rather interesting.  All or them add to the story seamlessly and doesn't feel out of place.  However I personally am getting tired of games releasing DLC the day the game is released and charging obscene amounts of money for it.  The Prothean package was released on the day Mass Effect 3 was released, had a character that contributes a lot to the story, and cost $10.  This pack in particular felt like it should have been included as part of the main game.  

What Did Not Work

The Ending

       Everyone saw this coming, the ending to this game isn't necessarily bad, it's just that we were promised our choices meant something and in the end all the endings were relatively the same.  Not only that but the ending was simply ridiculous; SPOILERS: the Protheans created the Reapers to end all life and start everything over every few thousand years, you get to choose if you want to destroy them, control them, or merge with them.  Either way the result is the same.  What's worse is that in the game you find ways to destroy the reapers and even a creature stronger than the reapers (KALROS!!!), their should have been a fourth option where you drop kicked that stupid kid and continued the fight slowly pushing back and eventually defeating the Reapers...In fact until a new Mass Effect is released telling us otherwise I vote we all adopt this new ending and pretend the other never happened.

The Side Quests

       Shepard is nosy in this game.  Almost 100% of all side quests are given by listening in on random conversations or settling arguments between two strangers.  This makes you feel weird as you do them, but there are those few that do feel natural.  For example finding an item so a guy will sell guns to the police, or stopping a gang war before it even starts.

The Crew

       This is the end of the Shepard Trilogy, so why then is everyone you ever fought side by side with cannot be recruited?  Some of them make sense, like Mordin dedicating his time to curing the Krogans and then dieing, or Thane's medical condition making him unable to travel.  But the others are in the game as well, however they refuse to join in, they even hang out in the Normandy so it's kind of a slap in the face.

The Dreams

       There is no way around it, these were bad.  The dream sequences had you running in slow motion after a kid you watched die on Earth, why? Because, that's why.  Sure watching the kid die was hard, even I was moved by it, but Shepard has seen many die, why must this one affect him more?  Plus thanks to the ending I lost all compassion for the kid.

How It Should Have Been

       I basically already covered this in the individual sections, but to recap fix the Multiplayer, it could have been still tied to single player, but making it required was just a bad idea.  Next bringing back the entire crew, it's the last stand so why break up the band?  Third lower the DLC prices, I'm okay with paying for it, but if you add up the prices for all of the DLC it actually comes out to more than the game itself now, so a discount would be greatly appreciated.  Lastly, and possibly most important, change the ending...Seriously guys adopt my 4th option and pretend the other ending never happened, I for one intend to.

The Final Verdict

       Despite its flaws Mass Effect 3 manages to be almost the game we all wanted.  Sure it isn't as good as Mass Effect 2, but it still is a fantastic game that deserves your money.  If you don't own this game then you should go out and buy it right now, the whole trilogy is only $40 now.  I give this game a solid A with my new ending I made up above.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Comic Reviews: Age of Ultron/Infinity

It's been exactly 2 months since my last post, so to make up for that I will be reviewing two of Marvel's last big events.  But before I do I feel  should explain what I consider "Big Events", a big event has it's own series and multiple tie-ins, where as a small event is contained within a single book or even two, and a limited series is a series that has no tie-ins.  So for today I have two big events, one I really enjoyed, and one I felt was just filler.

Age of Ultron

       Age of Ultron has a pretty basic premise; Ulton, a psychotic robot built by Hank Pym, has finally upgraded beyond what the Avengers could handle.  Honestly considering how obvious of a plot that is, I'm surprised this wasn't written by Mark Millar.  The story takes place in a distopia where Ultron drones go around killing anyone and everyone they can while fighting off a meager resistance.  In a last ditch effort Wolverine and Susan Storm go back in time to kill the one man responsible...Hank Pym.  The story has a few twists I don't want to give away so that's all I'm going to say about the plot, basically imagine the Terminator with super heroes.

       This event is my favorite since the Dark Reign, the villain selection, the distopic setting, even the tie-ins are well done.  Personally I'm a sucker for distopia stories, and what sets this one apart is that everything the heroes try ends up making things even worse, and when they do find the best possible scenario all of reality ends up broken.

        Ultron has rocketed to the top of my favorite villains list in recent years because every time he shows up in comics, cartoons, and soon movies; he is a force to be reckoned with.  But it's more than the shear power he possesses that makes him a great villain, it's also the backstory and reasoning behind his actions.  Ultron was originally created by Hank Pym, one of the original Avengers, as a side project with artificial intelligence.  However Ultron decided humans were disgusting creatures unfit to even exist and he went very evil very fast.  In the years following Ultron did what all technology does, he upgraded, each time becoming stronger and eliminating a weakness he once had.  He also created a "family" for himself as well, but they for some reason always end up siding with humanity. 

       The pacing of this event is handled very well, most comic book events in recent years always seem a bit rushed at the end, as if the writers suddenly realized they now only had 5 pages for a big showdown they have been teasing for months.  Here we get a few issues/tie-ins where we are introduced to the series and everyone is looking for the original Ultron, then an issue where Wolverine and Susan Storm go back in time to prevent Ultron from ever existing.  After that we get a few more issues/tie-ins where we see that without Ultron creating his family, certain events play out completely different and the world sucks even more than before.  Then we get act 3, where they figure out a way to make it all work out for the best, then we get a final ending where all of the fallout is explained in detail rather than teased.

       The aftermath of this event is the introduction of a new character from another universe now being stranded in Marvel's mainstream universe, and the most powerful villain in the mainstream universe being thrown into the Ultimate universe and creating a major event there as well (more on that later).  The new Avengers movie is now Avengers: Age of Ultron, and even the first What-if series since Siege came out a few years ago.  But possibly the greatest of all things to come out of this event is the possible permanent death in comics in a long time, or at least it's set up that way, but since it was a popular character that may change.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this series, and if you ever get the chance I highly recommend you read it as well.  If you enjoy comics or want to get into them, this series manages to hold your hand just enough make this a great jumping on point.  I give the series an A, and again I highly recomend you read it.


       Infinity is a whole different story, to put things bluntly it's a mess.  Up until very recently the assumption was Thanos would be the villain in The Avengers 2, and Marvel themselves even seem to have believed building this guy up comics for years with a secret origin, his return, and especially this event in particular.  

       The story here is there is an attack on a planet that is allied with the Avengers so they leave to help.  Thanos decides to use the opportunity to attack Earth and hunt down one person, his child.  Already the problem should be apparent: there is simply too much going on here.  A 6 part series involving Thanos, a villain Marvel has been building up for years,  is almost entirely told in tie-in.  The majority of the main series is the massive war the Avengers are fighting with to protect their intergalactic allies, which if kept separate could have been an amazing series.  Back on Earth the B-list heroes are fighting off an invasion of their own on the form of Thanos.

       To it's credit the event had the potential to be really good, but the marketing was a little too good and the event itself couldn't live up to the hype it created.  Personally I feel if the Space war and the Thanos attack were two different events then they would be two great small events, or even simply formatting the series different to where the Thanos event we were promised took more of a spotlight and the Avengers absence was a tie-in.  The true mistake of the series is this guy.
       This is Thane, the son of Thanos.  Thane is the reason Thanos comes to Earth, to kill the last of his children.  Where to begin, first if Thanos knew he had a child on Earth, and he wants to kill all of his children, why did this never come up in the decades of prior encounters.  Next is his origin story, he is an Inhuman without Inhuman powers, until Black Bolt sets off a blast that gives all those with Inhuman DNA powers, Thane's appearance is a result of this blast and because of his father...quite the coincidence huh?  His powers then happen to be exactly what Thanos has been trying to achieve for years, and he deprives the readers of the final showdown that has been building up ever since the Avengers movie.

       I believe the true purpose of this event was to set up the Marvel Universe for what I like to call "long events", events that aren't really events but simply are a period of time that resulted from one, like the Dark Reign or the Heroic Age, so it is for these reasons I feel that Infinity only deserves a C, because it felt like it should have been more than it was and can even be skipped.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Top 10: Pokemon who need Mega Evolutions

I got the new Pokemon game last weekend, and I'm really enjoying it.  However the one problem I found with it is the lack of new Pokemon, most are from older games, but their is one new feature that I am really enjoying...Mega Evolutions.  With Mega Evolution Pokemon now have an advantage over their wild brethren, and the right Mega can change the course of a battle.  The only drawback is the Megas end up drawing too much attention and keep you from using some other valid options.  So I decided to make a list of Pokemon that deserve Mega Evolutions in the next generation of Pokemon (or upcoming events and free updates, please Nintentdo).

10) Eevee

Eevee is the evolution Pokemon, and eventually will have a form for every type in the Pokemon world (Still waiting on my Steel type).  However a normal type evolution may not be the best route, a Mega evolution for its original form would make it as powerful as the rest, without the need to come up with a gimmick to evolve it.

9) The weaker Legendary Pokemon

Every generation their are the insanely powerful legends like Mewtwo, Lugia, Dialga, and Reshiram.  But their are even more that are weaker like the Bird trio, the beasts, Deoxys, and even Mew.  The real insult to these guys however is their is a subclass of Pokemon known as Pseudo-legendary; these are Pokemon  you can catch more than 1 of,  are not banned from official tournaments, and are just as powerful as the weaker legiondaries.  It get worse now that Tyranatar, one of these pseudo-legendary Pokemon can mega evolve, making him more Powerful than about 90% of all Pokemon.

8) Dragonite

For those of you like me you may be wondering why an elegant blue serpent dragon evolves into Barney's retarded cousin.  A Mega evolution may be the perfect way to fix this, make him more like his previous forms while still retaining the appearance of an evolution.  Plus if you look at the evolutionary line for this guy, he would be perfect to combine the dragon and fairy types, making a dragon that Jigglypuff cannot destroy.

7) Any Bird Type

In Pokemon Fly is quite possibly the most useful of the HMs, thus you are forced to always keep a bird on your team that knows the move, the catch? Most of them suck.  Sure there are exceptions like Braviary and Pigeot.  But wouldn't it be great if one of these birds could evolve into something more useful?  The same thing goes for Surf but I'll get to that one later.

6) Porygon Z

Porygon is an artificially made Pokemon, much like Mewtwo and Genesect.  But Mewtwo already gets a Mega form and Genesect is covered under my weaker Pokemon  so that leaves this guy.  Porygon is man made, and to be honest once he reaches the final stage is quite powerful.  But because he is artificial I feel it only makes sense that he gets a mega form.  Think about it he is simply data, so why not have a code in him somewhere that allows him to mega evolve? 

5) Snorlax & Sudowoodo

The reason I picked these two is simple, there's not a lot of them, usually just 1 or 2 in each generation.  This means you usually had 1 shot to catch them or else you could never finish your Pokedex.  In fact up until a year ago my brother was convinced they were legendary Pokemon because of how rare they seemed to be in the games.  Alithough if I had to choose 1, then I'd go with Snorlax just because the thing is so cool.

4) Pokemon that Don't evolve

Up until you defeat the Elite Four and can go after the powerful legendary Pokemon your strategy is fairly simple, capture a pokemon and evolve it to it's final form to dominate in battle.  But what about the Pokemon who don't evolve?  Originally I was just going to put Lapras, but I then realized it can hold its own, unlike others like Corsola.  Plus if they don't evolve, what's the point of training them? thus they often end up in your PC never to be used again.

3) The rest of the trade evolvers

X and Y gave us Mega evolutions that required us to work with a friend to achieve.  The problem is, what about the physical Pokemon Machamp and Golem.  As a child some of the coolest Pokemon required me and my friends to all get together and pool our resources to get.  Best of all there was one for everybody's preference, want a strong defense? use a Golem; want to attack mercilessly? how about Machamp.  Fast forward to today and the only friend I have that plays Pokemon lives 300 miles away, so getting these Pokemon is even more of an accomplishment then when someone to trade with was a short bike ride away.  So why not make them all worth having and give us mega evolutions for them.

2) Raichu

A Little explanation on this one, Pikachu has been the mascot for the Pokemon franchise since the beginning.  Therefore it makes sense for him to get a mega evolution.  However Pikachu already evolves into Raichu, so instead give one to him.  The first Pokemon game I ever owned was Yellow version, so Pikachu was my first ever Pokemon, in Yellow Pikachu had the ability to learn Surf, turning his only weakness into a strength.  I lent my Pikachu to a friend to help him beat the elite four and learned he could be evolved so long as he was in someone else's game.  Thus Raichu holds a special place in my heart as the first Pokemon I ever owned, and in X I have one in my team because of how devastating it is to Water types.  Plus giving him a mega evolution kinda ties in with the next list number.

1) The Rest of the Starters

In X and Y we get a new starter, one that I really liked, but then I got a Torchic from Mystery Gift, and then a Charmander from the Prof, and guess what: those two Mega evolve.  Thus my new starter ended up taking a backseat because he simply couldn't compete.  The starters are the Pokemon that you choose at the beginning of any Pokemon game and are supposed to be your partner throughout your journey.  With that logic it only makes sense that they ALL get a new form that is based on the personal bond you have with a Pokemon (at least that's how Mega Evolution is explained in the games).  I chose to start with Fennekin, and in doing so screwed myself with a massive water weakness by having 3 different fire type starters, so why make it worse by making Delphox a weaker option than the others.

Agree with my list? disagree? feel free to leave a comment below, I'm interested to hear what Pokemon you all feel deserve Mega evolutions.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

DCnU: 2 Years Later

It is hard to believe it has already been two years since DC decided to give its readers the finger...I mean reboot everything to reach out to a new audience.  And to mark this anniversary in stupidity I will do my best to give an unbiased review of the past 2 years.

The New 52, seriously we're still calling it that? Was started as a reboot that would modernize the DC universe and allow for new readers to jump in without worrying about 70 years of backstory.  At least that is how it was sold to us.  In practice however their were some problems with this.  When it all started our heroes were redesigned (in matching uniforms for some reason), made younger, and had their origins altered.  It started with Justice League and our favorite heroes were brought together to stop an enemy too powerful for them individually.  I was enjoyable enough, but then the individual titles started to come out, and they were all hit and miss (mostly miss).  For the first moth I saved up and bought everything just to try it all out.  The second moth I dropped about half of them, after the first arcs were done I dropped even more, and after about a year I made the difficult decision to drop all titles about my favorite DC hero, Superman.

As new titles were released I would try them out, usually hate them, and drop them.  Currently I only read 6 monthly titles and 2 weekly digital ones.  To put this into perspective I usually get more than that a week from Marvel.  Of these 6 titles, 1 of them is set in a parallel earth, in fact my favorite stuff DC has done in the last few years are all outside their mainstream universe.

Now onto some of the problems of the New 52, first and foremost the timeline.  DC promised a new timeline for new readers to not be confused by.  This ended up failing because they set this new universe 5 years after the heroes started showing up, and those origins were not revealed for almost a year, and the villains had to wait even longer.  So instead readers were dropped into a world where even long-time readers were lost on the timeline.  Sure there were books set at different times, like Action Comics being set at the beginning of Superman's career, but this ended up doing more harm than good because the different timelines would contradict each other.  Other times we are given multiple books set at the same time, but very different things are going on.  Also we are forced to believe that in those 5 years there has been 4 different Robins raised in Wayne Manor.

The next problem is the reimagining of characters themselves, particularly the villains.  For example Darkseid was always one of DC's biggest Baddies, born of a noble family he became a tyrant by right.  In the New 52 Darkseid was a farmer who was given the powers of a god, got tired of his oppressors, and took power.    A lot of the heroes were moved out of their iconic, albeit fake cities, and moved to one we would all know.  The most notable being Green Arrow, who was moved to Seattle a town I know well.  But Green Arrow's Seattle is more of a tourist destination rather than the hipster rich, rain plagued land I know.  The Space Needle was always present in every issue I did read, which is impossible considering it's location and the fact you lose sight of it only a few blocks away.  Then their is Nightwing, for those who wisely gave up DC before the reboot here is his new origin; Dick Grayson grew up in a circus (so far so good), but this circus was secretly used to recruit assassins for an Owl themed secret society (could be worse), and Dick's parents were killed because he was to be the next one recruited into the order (you're losing me), and did I mention the assassins are all undead zombies? (And I'm done).  The last one I'm gonna talk about is the infamous living sex doll Starfire, way to reach out to female readers guys.  Starfire was a fan favorite character for years, and her popularity skyrocketed with the Teen Titans cartoon.  So why would anyone think it was a good idea to remove all aspects of her personality and make her a character who sleeps with any man she talks to...oh right, the ever elusive horny teenage boy demographic.

The costumes are also an issue with the universe, everyone seems to have the same tailor now.  Either they have a full bodysuit with unnecessary lines and a v-shaped collar, or they have a Tron suit, which is especially weird when considering Tron is owned by Disney, and yet Marvel is staying away from the suits.  There is a small handful of costumes however that I find well made, for example Animal Man, his suit is an updated version of what he used to wear and it manages to set him apart from everyone else.  I also like the Earth-2 line of costumes, all of which are hilariously more eye-catching and original than anything the mainstream DC universe has.

Moving on we have the treatment of characters, I sort of went over this a little bit ago, but this is such a problem it needs be addressed twice.  First are the relationships, in a rebooted universe I'm OK with nullifying some marriages, but don't tell me superheroes work better when they are single *cough* Didio *cough*, sorry I had something in my throaght.  Clark Kent is no linger with Lois, and I can live with that for a while so long as they have some kind of dynamic.  Barry is no longer married to Iris, this is a bit odd considering the whole reason behind Flashpoint was Barry wanted Iris back, but I can deal with it, again, so long as there is some dynamic.  The real problems start when we get into characters like Animal Man, a large aspect of his character is his family but after Rotworld his son is dead, his wife left him and took his daughter, leaving him...single.  Then there is Batwoman, her potentially groundbreaking marriage was called off recently in order to keep her free and available to fight crime, even though her partner was totally supportive and understanding.  The relationship that really throws a wrench in DaDio's single=better theory is Aquaman and Mera, who officially are not married yet I don't think anyone told Johns because he's been writing them that way since issue 1.  There relationship actually improves the narrative and makes me care about the characters more.  So basically DiDio took the one Marvel decision fans are still angry about (ending Peter and Mary Jane's wedding), and thought; "yeah, that was a great move, let's do it to everyone".

Speaking of Marvel, they had a modern reboot as well roughly a decade ago, but they did it in a way that worked.  Not everyone is a fan of the Marvel's Ultimate Universe (personally I am), but they still have the choice to read it, or the classic mainstream universe.  DC didn't do this, they just made the Ultimate Universe the main and did away with the classic.  This honestly makes the reboot universe all that much worse.  Luckily DC does have it's share of "elseworlds" for fan to turn to, including my personal favorite the "Earth-One" line, which only releases a single volume every couple of years, but manages to reboot DC better than the actual reboot did.  Or the Beyond series which comes out weekly and continues where the series "Batman Beyond" left off, only a little more mature to match the age of those who grew up with the cartoon (like me), so DC isn't failing, just the New 52.

The next large mistake made in the new 52 is not listening to the fans.  Since the reboot started fans have asked about their favorite characters, such as Stephanie Brown, Wally West, and Cassandra Cain.  And for years we have got the same answer; wait and see, they may return.  I may not be in charge of a Major comic industry, but wouldn't you want to bring back characters fans enjoy so they buy more comics? 

Lets move on to the Events, oh God the events.  Night of the Owls was decent-ish, if you only read Batman's story.  Then there was the train wreck "H'ell on Earth", then the mediocre "Trinity War", and the abomination that is "Forever Evil".  However I am enjoying Zero Year, so that's what, 1 out of5?  And people say Marvel is having problems.  "Forever Evil" in particular is possibly the worst event I've read in a long time.  It was transitioned into badly by simply tacking it onto the end of another event, the Earth-3 characters are borderline cartoonishly evil, and it was so badly written I stopped reading partway through. 

Now lets talk Batman shall we?  Batman is overused, I understand he's popular, especially after the Dark Knight trilogy, but DC is treating him like he is only hero, he and his Bat family take a majority of the DC monthly titles, 4 of which actually have the word "Batman" in the title.  There was even a brief time when he led 2 different Justice Leagues, when honestly he isn't the kind of person people would rally behind.  One thing the New 52 did get right is he cannot defeat Superman, every fight the outcome was Superman as the victor thus far.  Which makes sense because Superman is the most powerful character in comic books, hell Screw Attack did a Death Battle where they determined just how powerful Superman truly is (Click HERE to watch).  Batman is meant to be the dark brooding hero that invokes fear in others, not the shining beacon of hope everyone rallies behind.

The last thing I want to touch on is this, this isn't the first time DC has rebooted, it's the 1st major one they have done in a while, but every Crisis usually leads to alterations in the continuity, and those happen every couple of years.  So if you're not a fan of the most recent reboot, just wait a little longer DC's track record has proven they don't like to commit.  And even with the crap the reboot has given us, there is still a few titles that are well worth the read, my favorite of which being Earth-2, ironically another example of a reboot done right.