Uncanny X-Men The Draco: Review

In my journey to read Nightcrawler focused arcs, I decided to read this kicker of a story. Going into this, I knew that this is a bit of a controversial/hated title and got the writer blackballed by Marvel and DC. I wasn’t sure when I would get to this, but since I got a copy via my library, now is as good a time as any.

Why Read it?

Some of you may be wondering, “if you already knew who Azazel was and how hated this story is, why read it?” Well, my curious reader, I actually have a few reasons for checking this out. Some of which are directed at how bad this story is perceived, and one seemingly reasonable rational.

The main reason I decided to jump into this, is for Nightcrawler himself. You see, when I get into a series (tv shows, movies, etc.) or conglomerates like DC and Marvel, I will typically latch onto/be drawn to a certain character or characters. For example with DC, it was Nightwing and later Red Robin (Tim Drake). For Marvel, and by extent X-Men, it’s Nightcrawler a.k.a. Kurt Wagner. As such, when I get interested in a character, I will want to read stories focusing on them, be it a solo series or in a team. So I was going to check this out eventually anyways.

Now, for the poorly received perspective, I kind of narrowed it down to three main reasons. They are reasons that I felt anyone could or would have when read something that’s considered bad. And for each reason, I will use an example of a poorly received X-Men movie as a comparison for uniformity’s sake.

Firstly, I wanted to read it to see how bad it is. While whether something is good or bad can be subjective at times, this seems to be a title that is almost unanimously hated. Especially with media (comics, video game, shows, etc.). I haven’t seen a lot of people, if any, defend this arc, and I don’t think I blame them. Think of it like X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Someone might decide to it despite being told it was so bad (e.g. *insert comment about Deadpool*).

Secondly, to see if all the hate is really justified. Criticism is all fine and dandy, but sometimes, you may get a piece of media that maybe unjustly hated. Outside of Marvel, I would say it’s the 2009’s Watchmen. Was it a perfect adaptation? No, but I feel it did do a lot right. For Marvel, I’ll go with Dark Phoenix in this case. I have yet to see it myself (I’ll get to it since I am binging the X-Men movies), but from what I’ve heard, it’s one of those movies that certainly got a good amount of hate. Something it, and the previous Dark Phoenix movie (The Last Stand), have in common. This would probably be an example of a movie being justifiably criticized.

Lastly, it could be a case of a story being hated when it first came out, but maybe not as much today. Either because it’s bad in a dated sense (or what have you) or maybe it wasn’t as bad as you remembered, maybe being good for the time (but maybe not by today’s standards). Let’s go with The Last Stand in this case. Like Dark Phoenix, The Last Stand is considered the worst of it’s franchise. Both were also about Jean Grey and the Dark Phoenix entity. And both were a sort of conclusion to their own timeline/universe (TLS for the first three movies, TDP for First Class onward). Which one is the worst will depend on who you talk to, but while looking around at reviews and the like, it seems like The Last Stand is the least hated of the two. Maybe still bad, but between it’s release and now, it seems more people prefer it over Dark Phoenix (excluding how The Last Stand may have done Scott dirty). It may still be the worst of the trilogy, but it’s also had time for the hate to settle, though not completely wane.

My Review

With that little thought process out of the way, onto my review. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Honestly not too much.

I have to agree that this is a pretty badly executed story. I may still be new to the X-Men comic, but I know a faulty story when I see it. For instance, Heroes in Crisis being another poorly received comic I’ve read. And much like Heroes in Crisis, I feel like it had a good idea conceptually, but a terrible execution.

I feel like the idea of introducing Nightcrawler’s father wasn’t a bad concept. (Disclaimer: at one point Mystique and Destiny were planned to be his parents, with Mystique acting as the father via shapeshifting. But due to it not being appropriate for the time, it didn’t end up happening). However, it’s reasonable for people to dislike how they handled it. Be it for what Azazel does for Kurt’s character, how the story handled it, or Chuck Austen’s shaky writing.

I’ll try not to dwell too long on the whole Azazel being his father, but it is a talking point. I know it wasn’t well received based on it giving the mob credence for wanting to destroy the “demon” (Kurt) because now he pretty much is one, or at least the mutant equivalent of one (like how Angel is the mutant equivalent of… well an angel). I’ve also seen the argument on how having Destiny and Mystique being his parents like originally planned would have been preferable (which is reasonable and would be more accepted today compared to the 80’s and 90’s).

For me, I like Azazel as his father, which may be an unpopular opinion. That said, I do respect why he’s a disliked character in some circles. However, with him being such a conflicting character, you may be wondering why I like him. Which is fair. Usually when a character is disliked be it for poor writing (Euron Grayjoy), a character readers are supposed to dislike (Joffrey Baratheon), what have you, it may seem odd when someone does.

The reason I like him is for some of the reasons he’s hated as well as a few other reasons. I think Nightcrawler being a “demon” (or the mutant equivalent) still makes him a great example of not judging someone based on their appearance. Just with an added layer of one not expecting a “demon” to be kind hearted and morally outstanding.

I also feel like it gives an added layer of irony to him. He was already being a “demon” Catholic and this kind of cements that.

Side Note: I feel like, had he been introduced by someone other than Chuck Austen, Azazel would have been better received and developed.

There’s also the fact I’m getting into X-Men comics now as opposed to years ago. So my perception may be different. I know it is a big deal for some (in a negative way) and that’s fine. I just view Azazel as a character a little differently.

My itty bitty positive aside (I can and will go further, jut not here), The Draco was a mess. The art is bad. I compare it to Dexter Soy (one of my favorite artists) but instead of being charming, its a terrible version of it.

While I give it the benefit of having a good concept, it’s the execution is bad. I haven’t read Chuck Austen’s other works, but I don’t think any of it could/would be worse than this.

Having read some reviews on it, I can agree that characters can feel odd/out of character (Mystique for me). I’ve also read a post discussing how it crossed the line of harmless fanservice into gross territory. Specifically with Kurt, why he unnecessarily ogled at by a character, and how it was unnecessary for him to be various degrees of exposed. I agree with the user. Fanservice in and of itself isn’t inherently bad, but there is that fine line between harmless fun and grossly unwarranted.

In Conclusion

Do I think The Draco was worth a read? Yes. Is it good? No. Did it age well? Not at all. Was anything good about it? Conceptually, something was there, just poorly executed, and me liking Azazel as a concept and character.

If you asked for a recommended read, be it of an X-Men title or Nightcrawler story, I wouldn’t recommend it. I would suggest reading it for the sake of a Nightcrawler story, but with the caveat that it is one of the most controversial X-Men stories. And while I like Azazel, I feel like he was done better in First Class (the movie) and Amazing X-Men (2013). Sure, he was unceremoniously killed in Days of Future Past in the former’s case (how one kills an immortal like Azazel is questioned by some people) and the latter lead to Kurt getting booted out of heaven for losing his soul because of Azazel, but Azazel was handled better when not in the hands of Chuck Austen.

Transformers Dark of the Moon: Review

The third movie in the Michael Bay universe and the last one I saw in theaters. This is a movie that I do not see a lot of criticism thrown towards. It still has its fair share, but unlike its predecessor and The Last Knight, this is one that most people may not be as heavily critical of. In fact, it is probably one of the most well received of the Bayformers movies.

The Review

The third movie in the Michael Bay universe and the last one I saw in theaters. This is a movie that I do not see a lot of criticism thrown towards. It still has its fair share, but unlike its predecessor and The Last Knight, this is one that most people may not be as heavily critical of. In fact, it is probably one of the most well received of the Bayformers movies alongside the first movie.

Positive: Music and the Cybertronians

Obligatory feedback for the music and how the Cybertronians look. I could be in the minority with the design in some cases, but I do enjoy how the Autobots and Decepticons look in these movies. The Autobots and Decepticons that return are pretty much stayed consistent in the first three movies. Sentinel Prime looks pretty good, as does Shockwave.

The only Autobot I may have a slight issue with may be Que. Supposedly, he was supposed to be the movie’s Wheeljack. And if you’re not familiar with Wheeljack, think of him as a bot built like Ironhide (a fighter) with an inventor’s brain. They got the intellect, but not the look or fighting prowess. Other than that, the designs are pretty solid.

As is the music. The soundtrack feels like the previous two movies. Not in a generic way, but in an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” way. And of course, Steve Jablonsky does great with the score.

Negative: It Feeling too Long/Like it Drags

In my Revenge of the Fallen review, I mentioned how I felt the movie went by pretty quick. I didn’t count that as a positive or negative since I didn’t think it needed to. And to be blunt, RotF being quick may be a benefit for me since it is a worse movie.

Unfortunately, I am including this as a negative here because it feels like it drags. While this may vary from person to person, a movie that drags is less likely to be enjoyed. Dark of the Moon is certainly a better movie than it’s predecessor, but I did have a few moments through out the movie that felt dull and slow.

This is coming from someone who can enjoy the theatrical and extended editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This isn’t meant to be a flex, so much as a comparison, but these are films that run anywhere between two and a half hours to three and a half-four hours depending on the edition. And I could watch either version of these films without feeling like it drags.

Maybe the film is too long, or just feels that way. Which is weird when you consider the Transformers movies average around two and a half hours more or less. And Revenge of the Fallen, which is only four minutes shorter, goes by a whole lot faster for me. It could be that there was too much filler. I’m sure they could have cut out some of the job hunting or the something without feeling like we lose much.

Either way, this movie has moments where it drags. And while it may not hurt the overall movie for me, I could see how it could bore others.

Positive: The Story

While Revenge of the Fallen had a good concept, I’d argue Dark of the Moon had the better execution. It introduced Sentinel Prime, a Prime who predated Optimus. There’s also a plot about fusing the Earth with Cybertron and betrayal. There’s also Sam, who is trying to move on with his life.

We then find out that Sentinel is not all that he cracks up to be, and that he shouldn’t have been as easily trusted. So when it’s revealed that he is working with the Decepticons, it’s a bit of a surprise. It may not be an Earth shattering reveal, but it is one that I think worked. We are then treated to a large scale battle that tries to prevent the end of the world (for the humans) and a final battle with Optimus, Megatron and Sentinel.

The only thing in the story I may critique is with Dylan (Patrick Dempsey’s character) and some scenes. I kind of get why they had Dylan working with the Decpticons, but I can’t say I really cared for his motivations. Some of the scenes at Sam’s work also felt weird and unnecessary. Like the scene with Sam and Jerry (Ken Jeong’s character) could have been done so much differently. And Optimus’ whole flying shtick could have been ironed out a bit more. Also, I feel like Ironhide could have been kept alive.

Negative: Charlotte Mearing

I can’t complain to much about a number of the newer characters, nor can I complain about Wheelie and Brain since they are not on screen enough for me to find them annoying. Charlotte Mearing, on the other hand, I do find pretty annoying. She feels like a mix of Simmons in the first half-two thirds of the first movie and Theodore Galloway from Revenge of the Fallen: She’s strict and insists on doing things her way, blatantly ignoring anyone who has experience with the Autobots. Nothing against Francis McDormand, but the character was not likeable.

And maybe that is how the character is supposed to be. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to like her, and by not liking her, I am getting the direction they were going with. In that case, I would say, “I see what you did there”. But as it stands, I do not like the character.

Neutral: Carly

Now, with Carly, I wouldn’t say she was a bad character, nor would I say that Rosie Huntington-Whitely was terrible in the movie, I just couldn’t get latched onto Carly. As much as I did enjoy Mikaela, I do understand why she was replaced (whether or not it was in good faith, is debatable). But even so, I would have preferred if Mikaela returned in the movie. It’s water under the bridge now, and again, I wouldn’t fault Megan Fox for not returning, it is more of a preference thing at the end of the day.

Now the Transformers movies did take elements from the G1 series, like the make up of the Main Autobots and the Witwicky’s being an homage to the G1 Witewicky’s (Sparkplug (father) and Spike (son) Witwicky), it did do it’s own thing as far as other characters. And I kind of appreciate that in a weird way. Like the call backs are nice, but it didn’t rely heavily on them. With that in mind, I don’t feel like we necessarily needed Carly, who I believe gets her name from Spike’s wife in the 1980’s show. I feel like they could have gone with a new character.

That said, I feel a bit conflicted saying so. On the one hand, I appreciate the homage, even if not everyone gets it, but on the other, Mikaela felt more complex. Because while Carly was able to get Sam a job, Mikaela felt more proactive in the previous movies. She wasn’t entirely a damsel in distress and knew enough about vehicles and such to feel like she could fit in with the other characters.

I won’t deny that this may be more of a personal preference, but it’s mine. However, between Charlotte Mearing and Carly, I do like Carly more. This is also a change that I am fine with nowadays, but do remember not being too fond of it when I first learned of it (though I did not know the whole story at the time). As superfluous as it may sound including it, I am.

Positive: Wrapping up the Witwicky Story

Dark of the Moon would be the movie to conclude the Witwicky story. And I think this was a good place to end it. Because, while the Transformers movies would go on, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we were done with Sam Witwicky’s character. Keeping him around may have felt draining and I don’t think taking the route they did in G1 (which introduced Spike and Carly’s son Daniel), would have helped.

Dark of the Moon would be the movie to conclude the Witwicky story. And I think this was a good place to end it. Because, while the Transformers movies would go on, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we were done with Sam Witwicky’s character. Keeping him around may have felt draining and I don’t think taking the route they did in G1 (which introduced Spike and Carly’s son Daniel), would have helped.

Conclusion

Overall, I would give this movie a 7 out of 10, much like the first. Despite it feeling like it drags at times, this was one of the better movies in the series. It had a solid plot, some good designs, and concluded the Witwicky Trilogy in a good way.

Seven Sisters: A Review

As the old saying goes, Never Judge a Book by It’s Cover. Covers have a way of drawing people in, and while that may not always mean the book is good, it was what got me into Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sisters series.

Working at a library, I get to see what comes through on a pretty regular basis. A few years ago, someone had returned the large type copy of Moon Sister, the fifth book in the series. I picked it up, not knowing it was the fifth book at the time and was curious. So when I found out that Moon Sister was the fifth book in the series, I decided to give the whole series a try. While some people may argue that you can read them separately (in theory) since each story is about a different sister, I do feel it’s best enjoyed reading it in order. Plus, one book may reference back to a previous one, so reading the entire series certainly doesn’t hurt.

And that’s what I did. I mostly stuck with the large type versions when I could. Because while my sight doesn’t need larger print, I had a preference for reading it in Large Type. The only acceptations were with Shadow Sister (Book 3) since my library did not have a large type copy, Sun Sister (Book 6) since I checked it out when it first came out, and The Missing Sister (Book 7), which I purchased around it’s release date.

Series Synopsis

After the sudden death of Pa Salt, six sisters are reunited. All of them were adopted and each sister is named after a part of the Seven Sisters constellation, with the seventh remaining unfound. Each sister is given some information into their past, including a name and a location.

The Notion of Finding (Blood) Relatives being Problematic

Before I hop into the review, I would like to address. That criticism is one that I have seen with this series as a whole. Essentially, it has to do with the fact that it has these adopted sisters, who spent their entire lives together, going out and looking into their blood family. It may come off as unnecessary as well as it may seem disingenuous for adopted siblings, and by extent adopted families, in general to do so. While I do see where that critique comes from, and wouldn’t dismiss it, I doubt that was the author’s intent. Having read all but the last book (which as of this post is unreleased), I personally never got that feeling. I could be wrong, which I am willing to accept, but I just didn’t read into it that way.

Personally, I saw it as each character looking into where they came from while still being very close to the adopted family they grew up and bonded with. They already knew they were all adopted, with each sister comes from a different race and ethnicity, and loved their family through and through. I read it as each character looking into their family, based on the individual (who for the most part is deceased with living relatives) that Pa Salt wrote down for each sister.

The Review

In The Seven Sisters, our focus is on Maia, the eldest. She is a known translator and is the closest with Aly (Alycone). Her search brings her to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which leads her to finding an elderly lady living in the home Pa Salt gave Maia coordinates to. Along the way, Maia meets up Floriano, a man she has been translating a book for, and they both try to find out more about Izabela. During this time, Maia finds out more about her heritage, family, and love.

Positives

Overall, I feel like this book was a great way to set up what we would expect from the series going forward. It introduces the revelation of Pa Salt’s death, introduces the siblings, and sets up the journey each will be going on when they decide to look into their family history. It also introduces the set up of getting a look into the lives of the person each sister is looking into.

With how it’s split, I do feel like the change in point of view (first for the sister and third for the person they’re researching) is a good set up. While it might always not have to do that when dealing with this kind of set up, it doesn’t hurt the book. I think it is a creative way to separate the two characters.

Out of all the sisters, Maia is certainly one of my favorites. She didn’t seem overly spoiled and was curious. She also seemed to have a close bond with Pa Salt, which given that she is the eldest, it would make sense that she felt particularly closer to him than some of the others.

Izabela’s story was also a pretty interesting read. I enjoyed how she wanted to find love and learn. However, due to her family’s social status, she found it hard to find love that didn’t feel arranged. I also like how her story tied to the house and the elderly lady that lived in it.

Negatives

One critique I do see with these stories is how the dialogue doesn’t always feel good or how the sisters interact with each other. While I personally see where they are coming from, I would say that it was less of an issue for me when reading it. That’s not to say it couldn’t use work, just that other things bothered me more.

While I do get why the elderly lady doesn’t want to be bothered with Maia’s inquiry, I do feel like she was a little harsh/stubborn. It does work itself out eventually, but this was a character who wasn’t that likeable initially when I first read it.

And I can kind of agree with the critique with how Izabela treats the man she married. Because while I know she loved the gentleman who was working on Christ the Redeemer, but I do feel like they could have handled the husband and the constructor situation a little differently. Because, again, while I get the reason for it, it does feel a bit unfair for Izabela’s husband, who genuinely loved her.

Conclusion

Overall, I would give The Seven Sisters an eight out of ten. I enjoyed the concept and some of the characters, but there were areas that I feel it could have done better. This book is one of my favorites, with the Moon Sister being the other. So if you’re looking to check out something a little different, I would recommend giving it a try.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: Review

Here we have one of, if not the most, critically panned Michael Bay Transformers movies. Alongside The Last Knight, Revenge of the Fallen is considered one of the worst of the franchise. Not that everyone was thrilled with the series to begin with, but this is a movie that is considered bottom tier. Released in 2009, two years after the first installment of the franchise, Revenge of the Fallen certainly turned a few heads.

I would have to agree, which I will get into in a moment. I feel like I may have seen this movie in theaters, but I can’t recall, so I cannot say what my initial impression was. I remember seeing Dark of the Moon in theaters, which is why I think I did, but I’m currently drawing a blank.

The Review

While I have a slight nostalgic attachment to this film, I can certainly admit that I am not as sentimental/nostalgic for this movie as I am for the 2007 movie. I am certainly more critical of this movie, and have a lot more issues with this movie, that I am less likely to excuse. And while this may not be the case for everyone, for me, this movie does feel like it goes faster. That’s neither a positive or a negative, but sometimes movies feel like they will either drag or go by really fast.

Negative: Risqué Humor/Content

If you’ve read my review for the 2007 movie, you may recall one of my critiques was how some of the humor didn’t hit because I felt like it was a bit raunchy/risqué. However, I feel like it was a little tamer there than it was here.

Once again, considering that Transformers is a series meant for a younger audience, and can be enjoyed by all ages, these jokes and cues felt like it was dialed to eleven. And not in a good way.

I don’t care if this is a PG-13 movie. Not all PG-13 movies need to be raunchy or risqué. And this is still a movie that parents would bring their kids to, just like they would for the similarly rated Avengers movies. As such, these kind of jokes could be deemed as immature and/or inappropriate for kids.

Whether it be Simmons’ comment about Demolisher’s underside, the whole scene with Alice, or Wheelie’s whole thing with Mikaela when Jetfire was introduced, this movie made some questionable choices in the humor department. While humor is certainly subjective, this is a critique that people will commonly have with this movie.

Positive: Cybertronians and Music

I’m lumping these two together since I don’t feel like there is enough for me to add for either. Because unlike the previous movie review, where I felt it was justified to have them separate, I don’t think they need to be here. The Transformers still look good here. The effects used to create them are solid. Of course Michael Bay’s signature explosion flair is there, but if we’re talking strictly about the Cybertronians, they’re good.

The music is also good. Steve Jablonsky’s score still works great here. As does the vocal tracks. I have no complaints about the music.

Negative: The Plot Device that is the Matrix of Leadership

Something that feels out of place is the whole search for the Matrix of Leadership. They spend a good chunk of the movie trying to find it so they can revive Optimus. And while I do get the reason behind it, I can’t help but think that them searching for it feels like a bad plot device. A cliché macguffin that the heroes and villains both want for their own reasons. One to save the world and revive Optimus. The other, to destroy the world.

Also from a lore perspective, it feels problematic. If you are not familiar with the Matrix of Leadership, you may think that it was just a plot device/macguffin to keep the movie going. However, that isn’t entirely the case. Originally, the Matrix of Leadership was an artifact given to Primes/Autobot Leaders and was what turned the humble Orion Pax into Optimus Prime. It’s said to contain remnants of Primus, the original Cybertronian.

And while it can be removed from one Autobot and passed down to another, it should not have been the case here. It feels like it was something Optimus should have already and maybe have it a) passed to another Autobot (presumably Bumblebee) or b) It stuck with him. That way, if the Decepticons still wanted it and the Autobots wanted to revive Optimus, at least they’d have it to do so while evading the Decepticons.

Granted, the Matrix of Leadership may still be considered a bit of a macguffin/plot device in the other Transformers media, which I won’t argue. It is kind of a strange artifact and its uses could be seen as such.

Positive: The Concept

While maybe not executed well, I’d say the concept for the story was good. The idea of a Fallen Prime seeking out vengeance against Optimus and the Autobots sounds like a cool concept. The revival of Megatron was also a solid concept (granted it wasn’t the Galavtron treatment like we would get later on, but still) and killing Optimus similarly to how he was killed in the 1986 animated movie was a neat touch.

All of these would make for a good story. The drama of losing Optimus, the panic that there is a vengeful Prime out there, and the chaos of reviving Megatron thrown into the mix would make for a solid movie. Certainly a solid sequel. I may dock points for the execution, but a good concept was there. But compared to the movie, I feel like it’s not as much of one given how it’s only ever used when it involves Optimus and death (as well as when he gets it as Orion Pax).

Negative: New Characters (Mudflap, Skids, Wheelie, and Leo)

I considered doing a Neutral point for characters, but since I had a lot of critiques for the newer characters introduced, I chose not to. I enjoyed Mikaela and, while I didn’t quite like the Devastator joke he made, I did enjoy Simmons’ eccentric humor. He was funny, had good moments, and John Turturro is just a joy in these movies (I may be in a minority saying that, but Simmons is one of the few human characters I enjoyed in the series). I also thought that Jetfire was a neat addition and it was interesting to see how they worked Soundwave and Ravage, with Frank Welker returning to voice the former.

That’s about all I wanted to say about the more positive characters (Sam’s neutral to me, at least in this movie, and I never really cared much for his parents). The next few characters are not so lucky.

Skids and Mudflap are a duo notoriously criticized, and I can’t say without merit. It has been stated that they are offensive racial stereotypes. While they certainly are, they also are just down right annoying. Nothing they bring to the table is anything of value. They weren’t entertaining, nor were they necessary.

The same could be said for Wheelie. He wasn’t really amusing. He tries to get an All Spark sliver, provides some exposition, and is a little too attached to Mikaela. Viewers only have to deal with him for like two movies. And while he may have seemed “tamer” in Dark of the Moon, I can’t say he got any better on a personal level in my opinion.

And then there’s Leo. Much like the previous three characters, he did not feel necessary to the plot. He just acted dramatic (for humor’s sake I would assume) and made as the comic relief character. Leo feels like a stereotypical conspiracy theorist mixed with a comic relief character. While I am not implying that all comic relief characters are terrible, how they are written/executed can make them that way. And I feel like that was Leo’s problem.

Conclusion

I would give this movie a 5.5 out of 10. I did enjoy the music and the effects from this movie. It had some good action and the concept was there and had potential. However, the humor, offensive and/or annoying characters and the use of the Matrix of Leadership really drag this movie down.

Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point Review

This was a book suggested to me by a friend. While looking for a book to review, this was one that sounded pretty interesting. Admittedly, I am not the most savvy or invested in Fortnite. It is a game that I never really got acquainted with, nor had much interest in. However, Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point is certainly a curious idea.

This may be a smaller review, given that this is only a six issue event, but I found a few things to discuss. Expect some minor spoilers, but not many.

Review

I certainly wouldn’t expect his kind of a crossover. While Batman certainly could fit into Fortnite as a skin or what have you makes sense, I wouldn’t think that the two franchises would work as a comic crossover. Sure, DC certainly has a lot of weird universes and crossovers (for instance Doomsday Clock, Flashpoint, and Dark Metal), but if you asked me if I thought they’d actually do a Batman/Fortnite crossover, I wouldn’t expect it.

That said, it is an interesting and pretty fun read. I may not be much of a Fortnite player, but I thought it was neat to see how they approached it: a wormhole opening up and Batman, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Deathstroke all found themselves pulled into the world of Fortnite. No one remembers who they are or knows where they are. Every twenty two minutes the time is reset and everything they did prior to it is wiped from their memories.

As Batman tries to figure out what’s going on, and encountering Catwoman (again), he tries to get familiar with the world. And once they figure out the first puzzle, they find themselves trying to figure out the next.

With it being only six issues, I feel like it had enough time to do what it wanted to. It didn’t feel too rushed or like it needed longer. I don’t think it would suffer if it was an issue or two longer, but keeping it at six worked.

Overall, I would give this a 7.5 out of 10. It had some great art and a fun concept that I feel people may be able to enjoy. And while maybe not something on the scale of The Killing Joke or Death in the Family, it certainly was an amusing look into a crossover with two well known franchises.

Transformers (2007): A Review

Being a 90’s kids, Transformers was one of the biggest animated franchises I grew up around. Maybe not the only animated staple, as Cartoon Network, Toonami, and Nickelodeon also great line ups of animation that enjoyed (including Courage the Cowardly Dog, Scooby Doo, Hey Arnold, Sponge Bob, and Dragon Ball Z among others), but it was a franchise that certainly had a growing fanbase sine the mid 1980’s, 1984 to be exact.

While I don’t remember watching Beast Wars and Beast Machines as much (I may have, but don’t remember), I would say the Unicron Trilogy (Armada, Energon, and Cybertron), were staples that I watched. Hot Rod was a favorite of mine, I didn’t mind Energon as much (though looking back, I can see the complaints and agree with them), and Cybertron’s animation was pretty good in my opinion.

Jump to 2007 and the first Transformers movie directed by Michael Bay was released. I remember seeing it with a cousin that summer and really enjoying it. Having never seen the 1984 Transformers (also know as Transformers G1 or just G1), it was the first movie that introduced me to what I called the “G1 Team” (essentially, well known bots of the G1 series). While the Michael Bay Transformers, a.k.a. Bayformers, may not have aged well, nor is it a perfect series in general, the first movie is one that I look back on fondly. So I thought I would do a review for it.

I may do a review for all of the other movies, including Bumblebee, which isn’t technically a Bayformers movie, but I still have to see. But today, I’d like to focus on this movie.

The Review

The Michael Bay movies are certainly a mixed bag and each movie may be a hit or miss for viewers (be they Transformer fans or not). Out of all of them, I would argue that the first movie is the best. It still has it’s flaws, but compared to say Revenge of the Fallen (a guilty pleasure of mine) and The Last Knight, I feel this movie is a much better one.

Positive: The Look and Sound of the Autobots and Decepticons

CGI is a tricky business and there is such a thing as too much and too little. As well as good and bad CGI depending on the technology, time, and effort. Since the Cybertronians (the actual name of the Transformers as a species) require a little more effort, with their vehicle forms being an exception, obviously CGI was going to be a must.

In my opinion, I think the CGI for them worked really well. Each of them look like how you would expect and look very mechanical (as they should). Even with Optimus having to have a slight color change with red areas being changed to flames, it works. And if you’re wondering why they did that, according to some sources, it was due to the red not being a good color to work with (green screen/motion/etc.) and the flames just looking cool.

Each Autobot and Decepticon looked pretty unique. They were all various types of vehicles and builds. And while the Decepticons may have had a more grey/monochrome color scheme, where as the Autobots had a bit more color, there was enough details to differentiate them.

The voice cast also is really well cast in my opinion. And while most might not have been tied to a Transformers property previously (For instance Hugo Weaving as Megatron and Jess Harmell as Ironhide), one Transformers veteran does return to the helm. That being Optimus Prime’s (and one dower Eeyore’s) 1984 actor Peter Cullen. Having not voiced Optimus much since G1, this was certainly a nice return to form and Peter Cullen would go on to voice Optimus in a few more Transformers related titles (like Transformers Prime, War for Cybertron, Fall of Cybertron, and Rescue Bots).

Negative: Too Focused on Human Characters

While having time to develop the human characters isn’t inherently a bad thing, there were times that it felt like it focused a bit too much on them. I don’t think we needed an extended scene for the interrogation nor do I feel like we needed a drawn out awkward scene with Sam and Mikaela when Bumblebee tires to set the mood.

I also feel that, at times, some of the human characters are not all that interesting and/or annoying. For example, while I kind of enjoyed the humor of Agent Simmons towards the climax of the movies (John Turturro was entertaining as the character), I did find him aggrivsting when he was first introduced in the film. Glen, the character who helped figure out that the sound/signal was coming from Frenzy was uninteresting, and Miles, Sam’s friend, felt unnecessary. Quite frankly, I feel like they could have taken out a character or two (mostly Miles and Trent) and they wouldn’t have changed the plot of the movie much if any.

Personally, I would have loved a scene or two that explored the war on Cybertron. Maybe a flashback of how Bumblebee lost his voice (a prequel comic kind of did that, but I feel not everyone would have read it) and prologue showing how The Cube was lost.

Positive: The Action

The action of this movie worked really well. The fight with Scorponok and the climax were the big battles. There were also some good smaller battles too. Like the Bumblebee vs Blackout fight and the Bonecrusher vs Optimus fight on the way to where the final battle took place.

For the fight with Scorponok, I feel it set up how the humans would initially react to such an attack. Not knowing what Scorponok was or where he came from certainly gave it an unknown territories type scenario. As well as setting up the realization that Scorponok wasn’t Earth made from a more casual observer (as Sector 7, the top secret government agency, already knew).

However, I think the battle in Mission City was the better battle of the two. An all out brawl was just what the climax needed. It’s Autobot vs Decepticon with some help from the Autobots’ human companions. Both sides want The Cube for different reasons: destruction vs preservation and not every character makes it out alive, with both sides losing allies (i.e. Jazz is killed by Megatron, Bonecrusher is killed by Optimus, Brawl and Blackout are killed by the human allies). Not even Bumblebee emerges unscathed, having lost both feet.

The action scenes are well done and serve the purpose they need to. Even of they don’t seem great in their entirety.

Negative: The Humor Doesn’t Always Hit

While I feel certain entries in the Bayformers series certainly have worse humor, I do feel like some of the humor here just doesn’t stick. Mostly when it comes to the more raunchy/risqué humor. Yes, this is a PG-13 movie, and this kind of humor can be utilized here, however, for a movie about sentient transforming robots, it doesn’t really fit. There’s also a particularly literal potty joke that, while in certain children media may come off as more tame, may come off as more eye rolling than actually funny.

Especially since this is a movie where parents may take their kids to go see (since much like the Avengers films, these are franchises that can be enjoyed by all ages despite the PG-13 rating). Again it’s worse in other movies than it is in this movie (just wait until I get to Revenge of the Fallen), but this kind of humor is simple flat in my opinion.

While certain humor does land, like the tone of the scene when Simmons, Maggie, Glen, and the Secretary of Defense deal with Frenzy. How Bumblebee handles Bobby Bolivia tries to get Sam into buying another vehicle and the Autobots trying to avoid being caught by Sam’s parents while he looks for his great grandfather’s glasses, where also well humored moments. However, the humor as a whole just didn’t lands, and I feel like the humor that didn’t do bring down the move a bit.

Positive: A Solid Enough Story

While the humor at times may feel off and the focus on the human characters a bit uninteresting, Transformers 2007 does have a solid story. I feel that it is everything you would expect from a introductory Transformers film. It brings them to Earth, shows how some people would react to sentient, unearthly robots, and gave us a reasonably constructed conflict.

Positive: The Music

Much like the look of the Cybertronians, I would say that the music is another positive that carries throughout the series. Between the (instrumental) score by Steve Jablonsky and the various main stream songs (for example several Linkin Park songs) work really well. None of the songs feel particularly jarring and linger as long as they need to.

Conclusion

Overall, I would gives this movie a seven out of ten. While not a perfect movie, and maybe not what people would have expected from a Transformers movie, it did a mostly good job. The designs of the Cybertronians were good and identifiable. The story was solid enough to work. It had plenty of action and well selected music added. And while the humor didn’t stick, and it felt that it focused on the human characters, I do feel that this was certainly an entertaining movie.

A Review of Red Robin

One of my favorite DC Comics reads is Red Robin by Fabian Nicieza and Christopher Yost, alongside artists Ramon Bachs and later Marcus To. It’s a twenty-six issue long Tim Drake run from 2009 to 2011 and is his second solo run starting off around the time of Dick Grayson’s time as Batman and Damian Wayne as Robin.

I will be going over what the pros and cons are of this series, followed by why I would recommend it. However, before I do, I would like to briefly go over who Tim Drake is and why he took up the Red Robin moniker. Because while I know anyone familiar with DC and the Batfamily (the characters associated with and/or members of Batman’s family, by blood or adopted) will know who he is, not everyone will.

Who is Tim Drake?

Tim Drake is the third Robin introduced in 1989. After Jason’s untimely death in the four part Death in the Family story, Tim was brought in. Due to Batman becoming more volatile after Jason’s death, Tim believed that Batman needed Robin. Initially, he tried to convince Dick Grayson, who has been going by Nightwing since 1984, to become Robin. Dick refused, due to some previous tension and Nightwing being his preferred mantel, but agreed to try to approach Batman. At one point, even Bruce refuses the notion of taking in another Robin after what happened to Jason.

Tim would later get involved in a case that Batman and Nightwing. And after helping with getting them out of a tough spot, Bruce agrees to train him as Robin. During this training, he would learn what he needed to and lost his mother due to a business trip gone wrong involving his parents. His father would live, but not his mother, and his father would later remarry.

Tim, unlike his predecessors, was the first Robin who had living parents, and at first bounced between normal life with them and working alongside Bruce/Batman. During this time, Tim would also work alongside Young Justice (a group of young heroes similar to the Teen Titans, but much smaller) and eventually the Teen Titans alongside his Young Justice teammates, including the likes of Conner Kent (Superboy) and Impulse (Bart Allen). Tim would also have to deal with a recently resurrected Jason Todd, who wasn’t fond of Tim becoming Robin, nor all to pleased with Bruce. He and Tim would have a rocky relationship, though Tim never outright hated Jason.

However, Tim’s father would find out about Tim’s Robin duties and have him retire for a time. During this time, Stephanie Brown, then girlfriend of Tim’s, briefly took over. It wasn’t until after her supposed death that Tim returned as Robin, with his father’s approval.

Unfortunately, Tim would go through a slew of loss. After Stephanie’s supposed death, Conner would die during the Infinite Crisis while trying to fight Superboy Prime. His father would also die during this story, murdered by Captain Boomerang. These three characters would be people he would later contemplate reviving with the Lazarus Pit (pools of green water-like fluids that can restore injuries and revive the dead). However, he would decide against it and Stephanie Brown and Conner Kent ultimately returned alive and well later.

Unfortunately, Tim would go through a slew of loss. After Stephanie’s supposed death, Conner would die during the Infinite Crisis while trying to fight Superboy Prime. His father would also die during this story, murdered by Captain Boomerang. These three characters would be people he would later contemplate reviving with the Lazarus Pit (pools of green water-like fluids that can restore injuries and revive the dead). However, he would decide against it and Stephanie Brown and Conner Kent ultimately returned alive and well later.

Why Did Tim Become Red Robin?

Depending on the continuity, Tim Drake becomes Red Robin for one of two reasons. In the New 52, it had to do with him respecting Jason’s memory. However, before the New 52, where the Red Robin comic took place, Tim became Red Robin after Bruce’s supposed death (he wasn’t actually dead, just shot back in time from Darkseid’s Omega Beam). Dick took over as Batman and promptly took Damian Wayne as his Robin.

There are a few things that contribute to it. One being that Damian was made Robin. Tim was not counselled about it, but the reason for this was because of Damian’s history in the League of Assassins and needing someone to lead him in the right direction. Another being because he thought he could do more if he was not Robin. This is a reason that is further addressed in the latter part of his solo Robin run.

In the New 52, it was out of respect for Jason (his predecessor) and I don’t recall if Rebirth went in depth with it, but it may have been similar to the pre-New 52 continuity or a mix of the pre-New 52 and New 52 continuity. Funnily enough, Jason used the Red Robin moniker very briefly before Tim around the tail end of his Robin run. It was also used by Dick Grayson in the Elseworld story Kingdom Come. Neither used it for long, so Tim ended up taking it, and neither used it after the New 52 relaunch/reboot/timeline.

The Review

Now that I have addressed who Tim Drake is and why he became Red Robin, I would like to get into the review. I will go over some positives and negatives, followed by a conclusion. While this series may not be everyone’s cup of tea, nor am I expecting everyone who reads this to read the series, I would recommend anyone who hasn’t read Red Robin to check it out.

Positive: A Solid Tim Drake Solo

Out of the Robins, Tim Drake is probably the most underrated. The same could be said to Jason in the grander scope of the Batfamily, where the more utilized characters in it are, Batman, Nightwing, and Robin (Damian Wayne), as well as maybe Batgirl (barbara Gordon). However, since Jason has had his own series since the beginning of the New 52, and Tim Drake has been relegated to mostly team comics since (up until recently), I would argue that Tim Drake is the more underrated of the two and one that isn’t utilized as much.

With that in mind, the solo series Tim does get, are usually good. His solo Robin runs are some of the more fondly remembered series of the Modern Age and Red Robin is no different. Though a short series, only running for about 26 issues, what this series did for Tim were great.

It continued to develop Tim as a character and let him grow. It gave him cases that suited him and antagonists worth his skills. There were also characters that did really well in here, like Cass Cain (Batgirl and later Black Bat), Ra’s al Ghul, and the Teen Titans. And even Tim himself.

Negative: Some Arcs Weren’t as Good

While this series certainly has some good arcs and action, some arcs are certainly better than others. One area I wasn’t too fond of was the whole reaction to Tim having a contingency plan for Damian. While these two have a history of butting heads, I just wasn’t to invested in this arc. It was in character to a degree and I can understand both sides, fighting about it while on patrol wasn’t the place to have this issue brought to light.

Another arc I thought was weaker, was the Firefly arc. It certainly utilized Tim’s intellect and strategy, and utilized Miss Martian’s abilities well. However, I don’t think it was as strong as some of the other arcs.

Positive: The Art

This series transitioned from one artist to another. The first few issues were done by Ramon Bachs and the rest (for the most part) by Marcus To. Personally, I’m more of a fan of Marcus To’s work in the series. It’s sleek, the colors are bold, and I like the style. His style is what gave the series that added personality, giving each character the look that they needed, and didn’t look out of place.

Art is certainly a subjective area, and just because I like this style, that doesn’t mean everyone else will. That said, Marcus To is certainly a talented artist, and is certainly one of my favorites.

Negative: Some Characters Felt Out of Character at Times

While I do think that the characters were done really well for the most part, I would be lying if some characters felt off or out of character at times. I feel like this is more of an issue in the earlier issues and how some characters approached Tim in regards to Bruce’s “death”. Mainly, Dick Grayson.

On the one hand, it can be argued that Dick was trying to help Tim come to term with Bruce’s death. From his perspective, it could be seen as Tim denying the reality of it and not thinking straight. And in Dick’s mind he wanted to help him accept it. That said, how he approached it could be considered questionable or out of character. He approaches Tim a bit too bluntly and doesn’t seem to want Tim to come to term with it on his own terms. He even has Cassie (Wonder Girl) try to talk to him, but still doesn’t get through to him.

Once again, this could be seen as Tim being stubborn, being in denial, and teenaged angst. However, how it was went about could have been better. It also might have partially contributed to Tim getting in contact initially after he asks Dick to trust him. And when it was revealed that Bruce was in fact alive, there was no apology. No “I should have believed you” or “I shouldn’t have been so antagonistic with you”.

Positive: The Ra’s al Ghul Arc

If you ask anyone who has read the series what their favorite arc was in this series, they’ll most likely say the Ra’s al Ghul arc. I, personally, agree. It was also the arc I first jumped into after being strictly a manga person for years (which I still enjoy to a lesser extent). Bias aside, however, this arc is probably its strongest.

It has it set up where Tim finds himself working alongside the League of Assassins for a brief amount of time. He deals with the Council of Spiders and works alongside League of Assassins member, Pru. But when he goes against Ra’s, the centuries old assassin takes it personally and decides to take it out on everything and everyone Bruce holds dear.

Tim is not about to let that happen, and with the help from a few allies, including Batman (Dick Grayson), Robin (Damian Wayne), Conner Kent (Superboy), and the Teen Titans, Tim formulates a plan. This plan comes to a head when Tim finds himself fighting Ra’s al Ghul, a man he knows he does not have the physical strength to beat. Not that that won’t stop him from trying.

And while Ra’s al Ghul has gone up against the Robins in different ways, I would say that the rivalry/antagonistic role he has with Tim is one of, if not the best. Ra’s respects each of the Robins and is the one behind Jason’s revival and the maternal grandfather of Damian, as well as having an antagonistic approach to Batman (think the Moriarty to Batman’s Sherlock). However, his and Tim’s confrontation is a great one, and I’d even argue that Ra’s is Tim’s best villain.

Ra’s notes how Tim just how different he is from Bruce, Dick, and Jason, once noting how Tim already knew he won a particular fight. Tim also has an underlying respect for Ra’s, noting how Bruce had for how resourceful he is. Tim also knows that Ra’s isn’t one to take lightly, which was why he took Ra’s’ threat so seriously. It’s also worth noting that Ra’s refers to Tim as Detective at the end of their fight (before kicking him out of a window). “Detective” is an honorary term that only Bruce holds, and was Ra’s’ way of showing Tim respect. Because, while not able to beat Ra’s’ in a one v one (physical) fight, the fact that Tim was able to outwit him, was enough for him to respect Tim’s skills.

With this arc also taking up around the first half of the series (issues 1-12, which also tackles Dick approaching him about Bruce’s “death”) it certainly had time to develop the story it wanted to. Ra’s al Ghul was also a pleasure. He’s a villain who never gets used as often as say the Joker, Catwoman, or even the Riddler. So seeing him used was a great addition to the series. I only wish that they used Tim and Ra’s’ dynamic more.

Conclusion

Red Robin (2009-2011) is a wonderful series that appreciates one of Batman’s lesser appreciated allies and is a great title for Tim Drake. While there may be some instances of out of character moments and some arcs that aren’t as good as others, the art, Ra’s arc, character development, and being an overall solid story, makes this series a great read.

It was one of the first series I picked up after an age long stint in manga and was what helped me come to love the character. So, if you are looking for a good Batman/Batfamily read, I would recommend this series.