Marvel Future Fight: Doctor Strange Update & Thoughts

     Yesterday the Marvel Future Fight 2.6 patch hit and added a ton of stuff.  The obligatory 8 new characters, 4 movie tie-in costumes, a film related mode, as well as one huge negative.

     Despite the amazing new character additions, the only one I wanted was Doctor Strange himself.  But in leveling him up (which can ONLY be done through the 46 "Epic Quest" missions) I found he's got one monstrously large problem- and it's one that definitely feels like a paywall.  In order to rank up and master the good Doctor fully, you HAVE to get Baron Mordo, Wong, Ancient One, and Kaecilius to 4 stars, and then get Clea, Satana, and Hellstorm to 5 stars.

     What makes this so awful is the extremely limited way to obtain the biometrics to unlock and rank up the new characters.  Wong, Baron Mordo, Ancient One, and Kaecilius are available through the Epic Quest's "Memory Missions" which only allow for 10 runs for each character a day- meaning a maximum of roughly 10 bios a day (occasionally it'll give you 2 on a run)- and you need 150 total to get to 4 stars.  Whereas Satana and Hellstorm are available in the Epic Quest's "Dark Dimension," and Clea can be found as a Shifter in the same area.  Because each of them need to make it to 5 stars we'd need 310 of each character's biometrics.  Making things even worse is that the only way to get Clea or Satana outside of the extremely limited biometric chances a day is only via the store's Monthly Selector because they will not be available with the regular selectors.  I also don't know if rank up tickets will work for them yet, so that may be a small relief.
     Considering the total number of biometrics rewarded through the Epic Quest is a meager 250, that means either an absurdly long farming task, or a bunch of purchases- making it seem like the trip to Strange is a multidimensional journey through the metaphysical paywalls of gaming.

     Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mind the need to purchase stuff- as I do for extra costumes (including Strange's film one) and characters, and as I did for both Gwenpool and Carnage.  It's just here, they've made Doctor Strange ridiculously difficult to get to his full potential because you need to get all the other new characters boosted.  I mean why couldn't I just buy his character and feed him surplus biometrics as is necessary for the Boss characters like Thanos?  Why force us to obtain and rank characters we may not want just to get the one we actually do want?

     Strange is coming out in a movie and will likely draw in a crowd of potential new players, and what they've essentially done is create a funneled paywall to the in-game store in order to play him.  It definitely appears to be a frustrating limitation for not just us long time players, but will very likely be a reason many new players may give up or quit.

     On a side note, where the hell is Dormammu?  One would think that great Doctor Strange staple villain and fiery-headed mystical arts user would be a wonderful addition to the game instead of the slightly more obscure Satana and Hellstorm.   And now that I think of it, what happened to Enchantress, Sandman, and the Netflix Daredevil costumes for the Punisher and Elektra?

     Related  posts [ Future Fight ]

     Source [ Marvel Future Fight Official ]


Black Widow: A Scarlett Johansson Standalone Film & My Thoughts

     Last week Variety published an interview with Scarlett Johansson about her work with Planned Parenthood, some stuff about her political views on Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton, and a bit about her role in the Marvel Studios film franchises as Natasha "The Black Widow" Romanov.


   To begin here's the relevant portions of the interview:
Will there be a standalone Black Widow movie?
I would like for it to happen under the right circumstances. I think there’s a lot of opportunity to mine that story line. She’s got a really rich origins story. There’s a lot of places you can go — you can bring it back to Russia. You could explore the Widow program. There’s all kinds of stuff that you could do with it. You could really uncover the identity of who this person is, where she comes from and where she’s part of. 
So if it happens, will it be a prequel?
It’s a possibility. There’s plenty of back story. Or not. It could be something else. Where do the Avengers go? They are underground. What happens then? What happens after it all falls apart? There are so many ways you can go. I think it would just have to be very much like its own specific thing. It would have to have its own specific vibe. It would have been totally different than any of the other standalone films.
Are you still talking to Marvel about it?
Yeah, of course. I talked to them about it often. It would have to fit in the idea of where they want to go. I’m invested in that character. Marvel is greatly invested in that character. If I did it, I’d have to do it while I still actually want to wear a skin-tight catsuit. I don’t know how much longer that’s going to be. 

     I think it should be a film full of espionage, action, and intrigue.  Leave out the damn love triangle with Hulk/Banner that was so damned out of place in the Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Leave out the stupid sterility backstory.  Leave out the global destruction tales so many superhero movies lean too heavily upon.  Make it an intimate covert ops mission, a modern cold war narrative going on with lots of cloak and dagger.  It could easily be a political crime story with touches of her past and interactions with the Winter Soldier.  Or an entire secretive special ops sabotage mission taking place in a rogue state.

     There is immense potential for some truly great stories here.  Seriously, this is a case where I really want to see a Black Widow film with a high caliber take on the spy genre.  It's the same principle as when I wanted a Martin Scorsese movie featuring the Punisher.  It should be something handled by a creative team that would focus on perfecting the writing and directing above the cheap action thrills (that's not saying no action, just that it should be substance over spectacle).  Think of films like James Cameron's True Lies, Christopher McQuarrie's Mission Impossible or Jack Reacher, Doug Limon's The Bourne Identity or Edge of Tomorrow, or even the extremely underrated Guy Ritchie update of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  

     In a long Q&A with Deadline, Marvel Studios' president Kevin Feige briefly discussed the possibility of this eventually happening.  They've currently got 9 more films lined up through the end of 2019, and 3 more currently untitled films planned in 2020, so there's definitely an opportunity for her to potentially get a film.
DEADLINE: You’ve got a bunch of characters in this movie from Falcon and War Machine and Black Widow and Hawkeye, who have so far guest starred in movies with another characters title above the fold. Is there one destined to get a solo movie down the line? 
FEIGE: Of the characters that you’ve just mentioned I would say certainly the one creatively and emotionally that we are most committing to doing is Black Widow.
     With Doctor Strange hitting theaters less than a month from now, Marvel will be opening the door for the metaphysical genre in their film universe, so why not continue on the path that Captain America: The Winter Soldier set and allow Black Widow to pave the way for a full-on spy film.  Scarlett Johansson is a tremendous actress, so give her something worthwhile to actually work with.  Marvel has a monstrous opportunity here to break into a genre that hasn't been done with superhero films- a true spy thriller.

     Source [ Variety ]


Red Dead Redemption 2: First Trailer: A Return to Rockstar's Western Masterpiece

     Seven years after the initial release of Red Dead Redemption, the sequel will be coming to us in all it's harsh western glory.  It's beautiful, gritty, and dangerous- this will be a game that will more than likely influence an entire new generation of gamers.

     It's said that the world will be a vast as possible and offer an entirely new multiplayer experience.  But from Rockstar Games, what else would you expect except perfection?

     Red Dead Redemption 2 will be available in the fall of 2017.

Wolverine 3: Logan: First Trailer & Thoughts

     Following hot on the heels of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 teaser we get the first trailer for the 3rd Wolverine film.  It already looks to be far better than the last two movies, though to be fair the second film's trailers made it look much better than it really was.

     It's got mutants dying off or being hunted, Professor Xavier is somehow still alive long after he should've died (maybe there's some 6th Sense stuff going on?), and the introduction of Laura "X23" Kinney.  There's even a quick shot of what looks VERY much like her claws at the 1:29 mark.

     I'm a little more hopeful for this film than the last two.  It seems they're focusing on a smaller story and keeping it intimate.  I just wish they would've filmed it all to look as gritty as this first black and white image of Logan they released yesterday.  Can you imagine a Wolverine film shot like that?  Just that kind of visual would've set it apart as something extremely harrowing, presenting Logan's last film as something special.  But, as it is, I'll have to wait and see how the story goes before I start tearing it apart.

     [ UPDATE: The Red Band trailer looks better than the standard one above.  There's a few extra shots, and some violent deeds that already push the boundaries of what's been done in the series. ]

     Logan hits theaters March 3rd, 2017.


GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Vol. 2: First Teaser Trailer!!!

     Marvel Studios has released the first teaser for the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel, and it looks to be living up to all our hopes.

     We get humor, action, and a tiny, child Groot.

     Everything we could hope for in a sneak peek teaser.

     Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hits theaters May 5th, 2017.


Sunflower: Issue 6 Review (451 Entertainment)

     A decade after her husband's murder and the disappearance of her daughter, Tallulah, CJ received a mysterious postcard with her missing daughter's nickname- written the same exact way she used to write it- "Sunflower."

    This prompted CJ to abandon her life as a recluse and embarked on a journey to find her lost child, taking her on a difficult path.  Encountering cryptic clues, resistant police, townsfolk fearful of cult leader Rush Bridge, and even the ominous Egyptian gods the cult worships, she pushed on.  She wandered into the desert alone and faced her own demons, pressed on through the internal darkness, and finally found the cult- who then beat her and left to die- and still, she would not give up.  Absolutely nothing would stop her from finding answers.

     Now, after trekking through hell, CJ finds what she was looking for, but it is certainly not what she expected.  Neither she, nor Sunflower, are the same people they were a decade ago, and the final confrontation is a bit of a shock.  It's a genuine surprise in a very good way.  We see violent emotions expressed by those suffering greatly, feeling both compelling and authentic, and the bonds that family creates no matter what amount of time or distance comes between.  Frankly, it ends perfectly, leaving the door just open enough for the future, as one story's end is another's beginning.

    If you were a fan of HBO's True Detective, Sunflower is the closest a comic has come to that level of storytelling.  The team has created a masterful crime/mystery drama that few other comic books in the genre can hope to match.  Writers Mark Mallouk and Andi Ewington have presented this story with the heartbreakingly realistic grit and determination that any parent would go through for their children.
     Couple this with the tremendous illustrative talents Lee Carter, whose line work and panel layouts lead readers step by step toward something, giving us time to digest the situations instead of hastily pushing us towards the end.  It really allows for a proper slow-build of tension that truly cements the atmosphere that many similar books tend to fail at.

     It's a psychological horror story, it's a relentless tale of survival, it's about unwavering persistence in the face of loss, and it's all staggeringly well done. Seriously, this book is all-around amazing.  Sunflower is an awe-inspiring series that I'd give the highest recommendation to.

     Sunflower issue 6 hits stands Wed. October 19th.

     Official Sites [ 451 Entertainment ] [ Twitter ] [ Facebook ] [ Youtube ]

     Link to 451's [ Comixology ]

     More 451 comic reviews [ HERE ]

*Review copy provided by 451, Thank you!


NVRLND: Issue 3 Review (451 Entertainment)

     In the first issue they gave us the foundations of the classic story of Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn't grow up, in a modern era completely saturated in the underground music scene of Hollywood High.  It's loaded with sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll- everything a truly good club nightlife story needs to fuel the raver club aesthetic.
     Then in the second issue they cranked up the danger and intrigue by adding some magical elements to the story.  Hook kidnapped Wendy, waged a war on The Lost Boys in their sanctuary at club NVRLND, and he even managed to steal Peter's shadow.

     The writer/creator duo of Stephanie Salyers and Dylan Mulick have ramped up NVRLND's 3rd issue to even greater heights.  Hook is gaining power through Peter's shadow and some black magic.  He's becoming overconfident and giving free reign to his dark appetites.  Peter is suffering greatly at the cost of losing his shadow.  Wendy is lost in her own world and looking for a real connection, while her father, L.A.'s District Attorney, is making progress into finding the source of all the mysterious teen deaths going on around the city as his own daughter is put into the spotlight.

     Secondary characters finally begin to make some headway in this issue as well.  Chief Lily's previous questionable actions become explained, Smee has a wonderfully hilarious moment dressed as a unicorn, and the mute Tinkerbell shows her absolute devotion to Peter despite all odds.  The characters are all becoming more fleshed out, adding a nice depth to the world.

     What makes NVRLND special is the fact that 451 Entertainment's newest series doesn't only focus on the glamour or the fantastical parts of the lavish nightclubbing lifestyle.  It delves equally into the grit and dark side of it as well.  The flashing lights and music of the club are offset by the grim and shady workings of corruption among the city.  They display the aftermath of drugs on peoples lives, the selfish nature of people, which is balanced by some of the small everyday magic in life that many don't notice.  Artist Leila Leiz (and colorist Thomas Chu) capture all these moments wonderfully- from the bright colors of NVRLND to the grimy auto-body shop of a former gang leader.

     This re-imagining of the love story between Peter and Wendy is becoming far better than I had first anticipated, and Hook's taking center stage is handled ingeniously.  He's become even cockier than Peter was, a sure sign of pride before the fall to come.  There's a lot of answers we still need to see, such as where is all the magic coming from and what are the consequences of using it?  Will D.A. Darling solve the homicides case?  Will Peter explain to Wendy what the hell is going on?  And I eagerly look forward to finding out what spawned Hook's vendetta for Peter.  NVRLND's finale can't come soon enough.

     NVRLND 3 is available now.

     Official Sites [ 451 Entertainment ] [ Twitter ] [ Facebook ] [ Youtube ]

     Link to 451's [ Comixology ]

     For more 451 comic reviews [ HERE ]

*Review copy provided by 451, Thank you!


Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariandel: New PvP Trailer: Choose Your Allegiance

     As we inch towards the release date of the Dark Souls 3 DLC, Ashes of Ariandel, more hype should be expected.  Today we see the release of a trailer hinting to something that feels pretty broken in the core game- PvP.

     This take on the newest Souls' Painted World offers us the typical DLC fair of weapons, armor, bosses, and a new locale.  But this particular trailer focuses primarily on the PvP battle experience in what appears to be an arena devoted solely to destroying each other.  It sounds awesome.

     What might not sound so awesome, however, is the fact that this is the second to last Dark Souls release we may ever get.  To be fair, we do know they are working on another dark fantasy series, that Director Hidetaka Miyazaki hopes will surpass it.

     Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariandel will be available Oct. 25th.


Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today: PS4 Review

     Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today is a great post-apocalyptic point-and-click adventure blending post-apocalyptic science fiction peppered with religious elements to tell a harrowing story.  This is the tale of Michael, an amnesiac man waking in a dystopian future after a cataclysm called the "Great Wave" has destroyed much of the populace of the world and left a scar across the sky.  What remains is a ruined society plagued by a sickness of a dying world.  With many of its inhabitants coming down with a disease that causes people to dissolve and those with power (such as guns or fuel) use it for dark intent.


     The puzzles of the game can be a bit frustrating at times, but for the most part they are decently balanced and the game has a kind of dual hint system.  One is by holding L2/R2 and anything interactable becomes marked, and the second is Michael will make a remark that assists players as to where they should go.  When I said some puzzles can be frustrating it's because they don't follow a logical pattern or the challenge is so absurd you'll rely on pure trial-and-error of using items on anything you can.  In one notable case you need to fix a machine with a piece of a tooth.  Of all the possible things you could fix it with, why a tooth?  Or another requires you shred a cloth for a bandage instead of just using the cloth.  No reason other than adding an additional step in the process.
     Though, this is a problem with many point-and-click games.  Often confusion takes first place in attempting to figure out what you are supposed to be doing.  Finding a good balance between difficulty and creativity is extremely difficult to manage and is really an issue of the genre and not the game.


     What the game gets right, though, is the atmosphere.  They got it very right.  The sound design and score are extremely effective in evoking the dark tones of a gritty decaying world.  They compliment the distinctly comic-bookish art style perfectly and together act as a large redeeming factor for playing this game.  The visual art designs work hand in hand with the sound and music to create a suspenseful and grim ambiance.

     This world they've built is intriguing in that it gives you no happy endings.  Many characters in the game are given disturbing or unsettling story arcs.  There's a family torn apart by a sick child, a young woman forced into service, and an entire park overflowing with corpses.  Your choices and decisions don't alter the endings at all, each leads to the same bleak despair laden conclusions regardless of what you say or do.  The main thread itself comes to a very sudden end, which feels very rushed and out of nowhere- like there might be something extra, but there wasn't.  It is foreshadowed, but the way it's done could've been worked towards and not just dumped on us all at once.  The game could've used a bit more work on the end to make the journey really pack an emotional punch at the end.


     Overall, Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today on Playstation 4 is a game that is both really good in many ways and has some serious flaws.  It has a very fitting and unique art style with fantastic world building, but that is offset by some of the confoundingly strange puzzle designs.  That being said, if you are a fan of point-and-click games, or of psychological post-apocalyptic horror stories, this is worth playing because despite its problems there's still a lot to appreciate.

*Review copy provided, thank you!


Netflix's IRON FIST: Trailer & Thoughts

     A week after Danny Rand's bromance partner hit Netflix (Luke Cage), the trailer for Marvel's Iron Fist has arrived.  It's got quite a few nods for fans of both the comics and the Netflix-Marvel universe.
K'un-Lun saved him. 
Lei Kung trained him. 
And now, Danny Rand is back to fight for what's his. 
     Netflix's Marvel shows are great, but I really hope they don't over-saturate the televised superhero show market.  To be fair, the Netflix series' are far better than anything else comic book related on TV.  We already have DaredevilJessica Jones, and Luke Cage and they were all tremendous- culminating in a Defenders series coming next year, as well as adding a Punisher solo series.  We might be needing a break soon.

     Well, despite what I said above, I am still looking forward to this show.  We are now getting powers with true special effects, and they look pretty damn good.  And I seriously can't wait to see the blossoming of the Luke Cage and Danny Rand partnership.  It could to be as be as magical as Turk and J.D. from Scrubs or Shawn and Gus from Psych.

     Iron Fist premieres 17 March, 2017