Thursday, May 28, 2015

X-Men '92 Infinite Comic #1 review

*Click here for obvious yet appropriate music*

As someone who was born in 1985, I absolutely loved the X-Men animated series back when I was growing up. It doesn't hold up all that well now, but when it originally aired, it was a total blast and left me feeling in love with the X-Men and their mythos. It was fun, colorful, and embraced the mutant team's world with open arms. In fact, this cartoon - along with the Spider-Man and Batman animated series - is the reason I became interested in comics. So, when it was announced that X-Men '92 would be one of Marvel's Secret Wars titles, I was beyond excited. There's plenty of lighthearted titles out there for readers to enjoy, but nostalgia is such a powerful force and the thought of returning to this universe filled me with joy.

While this first chapter does sort of feel like "X-Men '92 and Secret Wars 101", it does also feel like it's made by people who have a lot of love for the animated series, as well as the comics. I mean, Jubilee says, "Bang. You're dead!" to Wolverine! How awesome is that? (In case you're unaware, that's totally a nod to the time Gambit defeated Wolvie in the Danger Room and said, "Bang. You dead!") This comic is just a mere $1.99, so honestly, how could any fan of the animated series possibly resist?
Seeing as there's no intro/recap page, co-writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers have to assume some readers aren't familiar with the former show and have no idea just how much Secret Wars has changed the Marvel universe. That means there's a lot of details they need to dish out. Each character receives a caption that says who they are and what their powers are - an effective way to educate readers and it utilizes the digital format well - but once Robert Kelly enters the picture, that's when things begin to slow down for a heavy dose of exposition. This is why it would have been great to have this stuff covered in a recap page. So, when the comic does take a turn to blatantly teach us about the world these X-Men live in, it does feel more blunt and informative instead of entertaining and natural. It's not "bad," but it does feel like they're just getting some basic facts out of the way before we can get to the good stuff. There is some fan service with one page and they do attempt to give one character more depth, but the latter doesn't really feel all that compelling because it's tough to swallow that it'll actually happen. But hey, maybe they'll make me eat my words!

The way the co-writers begin the story feels like such a warm welcome to this nostalgic universe. While some may say the dialogue is cheesy and the drama feels forced, I think it's totally fitting considering the show it's based on and that makes this an organic addition to the animated world. It just wouldn't be the animated X-Men without Gambit blatantly hitting on Rogue and getting rejected, Storm loving to monologue as she uses her powers, and Wolverine and Cyclops arguing because they both love Jean. While the second half does slow down a bit too much, the opening is just oozing with happiness and throws you right back into the '90s. Look, I'm not saying you're a coldhearted monster if you don't have fun watching the X-Men play "extreme laser tag," but I do most likely disagree a whole lot with your definition of "fun."With the way these characters are written and the way the scenes play out, I was absolutely hearing the respective voice actors in my heads and all of the sounds the animated series provided for the powers and Sentinels. It's tempting to give this issue an automatic zero out of five stars simply because Cyclops never screams, "JEAN!" but I just have to assume they're saving that for later. That said, Jean Grey does exclaim Scott's first name a few times. Oh yes, I see what you did there, creative team! Oh, and the cliffhanger? That has quite a bit of potential and I was honestly surprised by it. I thought the use of a certain word meant we'd see that villain in the end, but man, I was totally wrong.

Artist Scott Koblish's work has impressed me plenty of times over the past year or so. The way he can change his style to fit any atmosphere is seriously impressive, as is the amount of attention and work he manages to pack into some truly crowded pages. Thanks to the addition of Matt Milla's bright display of colors - which are of course beyond perfect to remind us of the animated series - this is a consistently animated set of visuals that give off the right tone. Part of me hoped it would be a little more similar to the show's style, but their handling of the classic looks and how the characters interact is hugely enjoyable. I really can't get enough of Gambit's dramatic reactions or the body language between Wolverine and Cyclops. And that one page of Jubilee? Priceless. (Trust me, you'll know which one I'm talking about.) The opening sequence is without question the highlight for both the story and visuals. The digital format really thrives in the first half of the book, too. The way characters are eliminated is amusing, as is the way a Sentinel is defeated. Even something simple like Logan putting on his mask is appreciated. This is based on an animated series, so the extra effort to breathe more motion and life into these scenes is definitely appreciated. Any fan of the show is going to adore a specific page of heroes and villains as well. Pure fan service! My only small criticism of the visuals is some of the bigger pages feel like they could have done more with the space. It almost seems like the pages have extra room just so more dialogue can be crammed in there.

It's simple: if you watched the X-Men animated series, you're really going to enjoy this digital comic. The first half is such a fun way to throw us back to the era, and while things do begin to slow down and get a little too focused on exposition and drama, the cliffhanger is really strong and has a great amount of potential. Put on a trench coat and then give this comic a read. (Or just read it. Whatever works for you.) It's a really good time, especially when considering it's only $1.99. Let's hope the creative team does the obvious thing and begins the next issue with a "previously on" recap.

4/5

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Old Man Logan #1 review

There are many great Wolverine stories and writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven's Old Man Logan is absolutely one of them. Despite this new follow-up having the brilliant art team of Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo, it's easy to go into this one with a bit of skepticism. While McNiven's artwork in the original arc was nothing short of stunning, it just wouldn't be as good without Millar's compelling, emotional, and interesting story. Now, Brian Michael Bendis has the difficult task of writing the next chapter in Old Man Logan's life. No pressure, right? Thankfully, he's off to a terrific start and, as totally expected, artist Sorrentino and colorist Maiolo's pages are absolutely breathtaking.
First and foremost, there's no reason to worry if you're not caught up with all that's going on in the Marvel Universe or if you haven't read Millar and McNiven's story. The very first page has an adequate recap of what Secret Wars is all about, as well as a brief and efficient summary of Old Man Logan's tale. Because of the intro page, Bendis is thankfully able to limit the amount of exposition we encounter in this debut issue, and that's a huge plus because Old Man Logan's world is so vast. In the wrong hands, a writer runs this risk of feeling the need to explain everything the reader witnesses in this striking world. But in this case, Bendis does a solid job throwing us into this setting and makes sure the way we learn about this world feels natural and not like it's just infodump after infodump. Whether you're a new reader or a fan of the previous story arc, you're going to get a proper understanding of just how twisted this place has become. He doesn't explore too much of it, but it's just enough to leave us wanting more. And the cliffhanger? It has a ton of potential. Now we just have to wait and see where the writer goes with it. That said, I really, really hope we're not going to spend a majority of time away from this world Millar and McNiven crafted. I can understand the desire not to do "more of the same," but there's still so much to explore and reveal. This is his chance to be creative and add so much more to this place. Here's hoping he does that instead of mostly focusing on crossing over with another Battleworld location.

In addition to this being a story anyone can jump into and enjoy, the handling of Wolverine is great. You can tell the man he once was is still present - the good guy who will fight against all odds to do the right thing - but you can also see just how much this bleak alternate universe has molded him. He's much more violent, harsh, and at times, appropriately coldhearted. It's clear this is a legitimately good and kind person who has been enduring in a vicious and evil place. You'll still root for him, but you can tell this Logan has become far more inclined to let loose and take down any obstacle with some fatal stabs.

Sorrentino's art and Maiolo's colors are incredible. These pages do an amazing job capturing both the beauty and savagery of Old Man Logan's world. One landscape was legitimately gorgeous and it made me drop my jaw. This may be a bloody and dark book, but these two do exceptional work making sure it's also full of beautiful settings and the characters are full of emotion. As for the action, it's phenomenal stuff. Sorrentino's able to put so much intensity into these pages and there's one panel of a truly engaged Wolverine that left me speechless. I simply had to just stare at it and take in just how insanely well this chaotic moment was brought to life. The several close-ups pull you right into the frenzy and allow you to appreciate the brutal and fast-paced nature of the fight. Also, I won't spoil who the scene involves, but there's an entire page from one character's perspective, and the way they reveal who it is and handle how it plays out is especially creative. 

Once again, Maiolo does tremendous work enhancing Sorrentino's artwork with his colors. His tactic of going heavy with white and shades of red during more dramatic scenes still amazes and it brings the moments to a whole other level. No matter what Bendis puts in the script, these two do an exceptional job giving the scene so much depth and they always find new ways to impress our eyes. My only minor criticism of the artwork is that Wolverine's claws occasionally appear to be a little too long. I've always been under the impression they're a foot, but when he's stabbing some people, they appear to go beyond that length. Still, it's a really minor criticism and that didn't take away from just how excellent these panels were.

Old Man Logan #1 is $4.99 and it's worth every single penny. Sorrentino and Maiolo's work is truly phenomenal - any fan of theirs would expect no less from them at this point - and Bendis made sure this issue is exciting yet also informative. It tells us everything we need to know about what makes this version of Wolverine different, reveals just how twisted the world around him has become, and takes some simple yet promising steps towards building a bigger story. A new Old Man Logan comic has finally arrived and it was most definitely worth the wait. Do the smart thing and add this to your pull list.

4.5/5

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Captain America: Civil War - The Best Crossbones Battles

Captain America: The Winter Soldier marked the debut of Brock Rumlow, a.k.a. Crossbones, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Actor Frank Grillo said the sequel was an origin story for his evil character, and recent photos taken from the set of the third Captain America movie, Captain America: Civil War, show the dude is back with a brand new look and he's ready to punch Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, square in the face. The villain's new design puts an emphasis on armor and gives him gauntlets, a decision that makes perfect sense since the MCU's Captain America is a physical beast and it would be tough for any regular human to challenge him without sporting some extra gear. Still, the 616 version of Crossbones, a.k.a. the one existing in the regular Marvel Universe (well, pre-Secret Wars), is just a human who happened to train quite a lot and has an especially high level of pain tolerance. All you really need to know about his back story is that he's a total scumbag who eventually began to follow Red Skull and he even taught people how to fight at Taskmaster's school.

At one point Crossbones inhaled some Terrigan Mist and that temporarily gave him the ability to fire deadly blasts from his face, but aside from that short peroid of time, he's simply a deadly human who happens to be quite tough and very, very good at fighting. It really is a shame he and Punisher never had a big conflict. They did encounter in Punisher's recent run, but Brock was just a small part of a much, much bigger story. Anyway, you're here to see some of Crossbones' best fights, so let's get to it!

vs. Bullseye in Captain America #377
Who would win in a fight between Red Skull's right-hand man and Kingpin's top assassin? Both are badass villains with a love for shooting, punching, and stabbing things, but what happens when the two clash? The Daredevil villain is more accurate, but he has quite an ego. Crossbones is the more brutal one, but he's not as inventive with projectiles. Well, the two finally met in Captain America #377 and it didn't go too well for Bullseye.

Thanks to overestimating his own abilities and underestimating Crossbones' capabilities (Lester figured Brock was slow and unintelligent), the Cap fiend was able to close the gap between the two and put a serious hurting on the accurate assassin. Crossbones' own arrogance plays a bit of a role as well, because when he does get his hands around Lester's throat, Crossbones states it would be easy for him to end things right there. But instead of eliminating Bullseye swiftly, he wants to make his target suffer a slow and painful demise. You know, because he's kind like that. This delay gives Bullseye the chance he needs to spit a fake tooth in Brock's eye, stab him in the bicep, and the make a run for it.

Maybe a second encounter between the two would be more balanced, but thanks to Bullseye's arrogance, Crossbones was able to temporarily humiliate the Man Without Fear's lethal and incredibly dangerous villain.

vs. Captain America (Bucky) in Captain America #36
First and foremost, you need to understand there's some important context here. This match begins with Brock shooting Bucky in the back (he's wearing bulletproof armor, but it still hurts), so the fight starts with Brock having an unfair advantage. From there, we see Bucky give it everything he's got in the harsh melee fight, but unlike their previous encounters, Brock is able to take the hits and send some very painful ones back at the good guy.

In the end, Crossbones winds up throwing the new Captain America out of a window, but thanks to Black Widow and her flying car, Bucky doesn't fall to his death. He actually ends up shoots Crossbones in the chest several times when the enemy takes a look out the widow to see what happened. Crossbones of course lives to see another day, but that defeat has got to hurt his ego.

Even though Brock has given Steve Rogers rough fights, he's had some pretty unlucky encounters against Bucky. From hitting his head against a hard corner to getting knocked out with one hell of a blow, Bucky appears to be Crossbones' kryptonite. This is the one time it wasn't a pretty embarrassing display for him.

vs. Daredevil in Captain America #376
In Captain America's Streets of Poison story, Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil, is having a really terrible time. Firstly, his radar sense isn't even at 100%, so that alone is throwing off his game. Secondly, he's beaten up by a pissed off Captain America. Thirdly, he's forced to fight Crossbones shortly after getting wrecked by Steve -so that means he isn't in top form - and to make matters even worse, Daredevil leaps into action to save his archenemy, Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. Kingpin, from Crossbones.

Wilson Fisk is able to casually stroll away from the scene, but the encounter doesn't go well for the agile hero. It isn't long before Murdock finds himself on the floor and in even more pain. Luckily for him, he's able to escape the situation as Brock attempts to see if he can find Fisk. Brock has no such luck and returns to the room only to find out that Daredevil has fled the scene, too. Crossbones may have not killed either of the people he wanted to, but he certainly gets an A for effort.

vs. Prison facility guards in Captain America #600
Even a terribly despicable man can fall in love and have that passion totally overwhelm his heart. While Crossbones is being held in a H.A.M.M.E.R. facility, the inamtes are allowed to watch television. It just so happens to be the anniversary of the "death" of Captain America, and Brock laughs at just how little the media knows about what truly happened on that day. One especially patriotic guard doesn't take Brock's laughter over the loss of Cap very lightly and proceeds to taser the villain in the back. The guard then threatens to put the bad guy in an infirmary bed "near his girlfriend." Telling Brock that the women he loves is being held in the same facility he's in? Probably not the best idea.

Many of us would do anything for love, and for Brock, that means obliterate every single guard in his way until he finds his lover, Sin, in the infirmary. From snapping necks to simply plowing through enemies, the mercenary is eventually able to find the woman he loves. The two share a kiss before they're both taken out with gas. How romantic, right?

vs. Wolverine in Fear Itself: The Fearless #7
Let's get one thing out of the way: Yes, Brock's violent encounter with Wolverine is downplaying the X-Man's pain tolerance. Logan's known for being able to take a staggering amount of punishment, so having him temporarily out of commission after suffering several shots to the stomach is selling him short. That said, as a Crossbones fan, this is an awesome albeit brief display of Crossbones' own impressive level of pain tolerance and his refusal to throw in the towel, even if he's facing a major uphill struggle.

Wolverine does have the Captain America villain outclassed in terms of skill and physicals. It's a match Crossbones is going to lose unless he has some major prep time on his side, but this short and bloody encounter is memorable because, even after having his stomach sliced open, Crossbones was still able to trash talk and keep attacking. He may only be a human in a world full of super-powered beings, but he has the drive, determination, and skill to give a fair amount of them some trouble or even take them down. Wolverine isn't someone Crossbones is going to drop, but this shows he isn't going to make a run for it, either. Rogers previously referred to Brock as "as rough a customer as any I've ever tangled with!" This showing certainly proves the fiend's no pushover.

vs. Deadpool in Deadpool #25
Brock's big encounter with Wade Wilson, a.k.a. Deadpool, is every bit as savage and hilarious as you'd want it to be. When there was a price on Wade's head, Crossbones attempted to collect the huge sum of money. Unfortunately for the villain, he didn't succeed and the anti-hero left him standard for a little while. While the two are able to have a heart-to-heart in a bar right before fists begin to fly, Crossbones says he just isn't able to forgive Wade for what happened. After the two enjoy a drink, the ridiculously fun slugfest begin!

Wade's heart isn't really in it at first, but as the fight progresses, the two begin to really lash out. Some silly elements are thrown into the mix - this is a Deadpool story, after all - but after a ferocious fight, Wade's able to take the edge and he begins to pummel Captain America's nemesis. Crossbones is turned into a bloody mess, but it's without question an entertaining fight that gives both combatants plenty of love. As for why Brock is in his undies, well, I won't spoil that for you.


vs. Captain America in Captain America #363-364
Last and definitely not least, this is the very first fight between Captain America and Crossbones. The super-soldier's able to restrain Brock after a pretty amusing skirmish, but Crossbones isn't just a villain who relies on direct fights for a victory. The guy had several traps set up - in fact, the battle begins with Cap stepping on a bear trap - and thanks to his tactical mind and dirty tactics, Crossbones is able to escape as Captain America is left to deal with a pressure sensitive explosive trap.

It's not the most intense encounter around, but it sure is a memorable one and it showed us that Crossbones isn't just another generic mercenary who can only throw a decent punch or spam some projectiles. He's not as skilled or as physically powerful as Cap, but his heartless approach to combat makes up for that and allows him to give the Avenger a challenge. Additionally, Brock's vocabulary may not make him seem all that intelligent, but he sure is a cunning foe and that's on display in this classic brawl.


Honorable Mentions:
vs. Captain America (Sam Wilson) in All-New Captain America #2
vs. Young heroes in Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt #2
vs. Werewolves in Captain America and Crossbones #1
vs. Gambit in Gambit #18
vs. Captain America in Thunderbolts #150

Oh, and how could this article be complete without the most brutal, earthshaking blow Crossbones has ever dealt to Captain America? Behold! Crossbones vs. Captain America's foot! Let's hope they have this exact choreography and dialogue in Captain America: Civil War!
Go get 'em, Cappo!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road review

Hey everyone,

I reviewed Mad Max: Fury Road -- a two hour dose of weird craziness and action -- for Comic Vine. Don't worry, the review's spoiler-free!

http://www.comicvine.com/reviews/mad-max-fury-road/1900-4118/


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hawkeye: The Unexpected Star of Avengers: Age of Ultron

*Contains minor spoilers*

In a movie that's full of popular superheroes and teasers about the Marvel Cinematic Universe's exciting future, one of the biggest surprises in Avengers: Age of Ultron is just how much love Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, received. Director-writer Joss Whedon certainly made Hawkeye an impressive archer in the first movie, but this follow-up does an excellent job humanizing the marksman.
How could just one man with a bow and arrows hope to make a difference when his teammates can shatter mountains with their fists, run as fast as cars, fly above ordinary people, and effortlessly humiliate armed enemies with nothing but their bare hands? The character may get ripped on for being just "a dude with a bow," but this movie proved he's an essential part of the team. He may not have fancy powers or armor, but the movie's heartfelt and humorous approach to the hero turned him into one of the standout characters -- and that's saying a lot since this is a movie that's absolutely loaded with spectacle.

Who is Hawkeye and why should you care about him? That's a question the first movie failed to answer. The Avengers showed he has phenomenal aim and some cool trick arrows, but aside from that, he was just Black Widow's friend and the guy who was unlucky enough to get brainwashed by Loki. By the time Avengers: Age of Ultron opened in theaters, he was the only current Avenger to not receive a proper amount of insight. Thankfully, Whedon fixed that by subverting just about everyone's expectations of the movie. Sure, it still has a fast pace and almost always finds a way to throw action and comedy in there, but the look at Hawkeye's personality and his life takes us out of all of the seemingly surreal craziness and makes things far more relatable. Suddenly, we get to see what it's truly like to be a "normal" human on a team full of powerhouses and geniuses.
While Clint may not be the one making the big calls or providing tactical insight, he does prove to be the heart of the team. When everything hits the fan, it's Hawkeye who's able to inspire Scarlet Witch, an incredibly important character to the story and possibly the future of their universe. Someone like Captain America or Black Widow could have given her an inspirational speech, but Clint's words of wisdom were both hilarious and uplifting. He's able to point out just how absurd the situation is, but despite that, nothing will stop him from doing everything he can to save humanity from Ultron. If a man with such a simple weapon can stand against this insanity, why can't Scarlet Witch find the courage to fight using her stunning powers? It was just the kind of talk she needed to get her back out there and battle Ultron's forces.

Hawkeye's role technically isn't "important" compared to Captain America or Iron Man when it comes to the bigger picture, but his arc gave us all such a better emotional connection to the character and it made him infinitely more likable. It's cool he can shoot an arrow absurdly well and has a variety of pretty awesome trick arrows, but now when we see him in Captain America: Civil War, we'll know the guy firing those arrows isn't just some generic fellow who occasionally cracks a joke or two.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mortal Kombat X: Jason Voorhees review

Today, Mortal Kombat X's first Kombat Pack combatant, Jason Voorhess, is available for anyone and everyone to purchase. Back when it was announced the iconic killer would be the first character in the DLC pack, there was a whole lot of negativity. Many were upset it wasn't Spawn being selected, but a lot of people expressed concern over the murderer's move list. "How can a guy with a machete bring anything awesome to Mortal Kombat X, a game that's full of crazy powers?" Some degree of skepticism is understandable, but if NetherRealm Studios is adding a character, the odds are pretty good they believe it's because they can give the character some entertaining moves. Thankfully, they didn't disappoint and Jason Voorhees feels like a solid addition to the roster.

Just like everyone else, the classic movie character has 3 variations. His are slasher, unstoppable, and relentless. My top choice is slasher, a variation that allows Jason to use his signature machete for melee attacks with better range, vicious combos, and a few special moves. Two of the combos -- brooding and machete launch -- are very easy to pull-off and leave your opponent open to additional combos. With Jason, it's very easy landing a combo that could do around 24%, and I say that as someone who really isn't all that good at the game. Two of his special moves, bloodshed and psycho slash, are just downright brutal. The third unique one for this variation, machete toss, just gives the dude a ranged attack as he throws his bladed weapon. It's not a particularly fast or original ranged attack, but it has proven to be useful.
The lumbering guy also has a boost called "killing machine," which is also available in the relentless variation. That move gives you a temporary "armor" that allows you to go unfazed by all of your opponent's attacks. The only downside is you can't jump and at the end of the boost, Jason is left vulnerable for a second or two. So, if you're going to use that boost, make sure you know what you're doing, otherwise you'll end up totally open to attacks. All in all, slasher is definitely the "easiest" variation to use and unleashing combos with that machete is a blast. It may be a "simple" weapon compared to the options other characters have, but NetherRealm Studios made sure using that sharp weapon is a really good time. If you like Sub-Zero's cryomancer variation or Scorpion's ninjutsu variation, then slasher is definitely something you'll want to use.

Relentless seems to be the most advanced variation, one that'll be very useful in the hands of especially good gamers. You know how fodder in movies always attempt to run from killers and totally fail at it? The special move "pursuit" is inspired by that. For around five seconds, your opponent's controls will be inverted and they can't dash or run. If you use this in combination with lake mist, a "teleport" Jason gains in this variation so he can sneak up behind his opponent, then it's pretty obvious a truly skilled player can humiliate their enemy. In this variation, Jason is also "damned," meaning his damage increases as his health gets lower.
Seeing as Jason doesn't have his machete for melee attacks in this variation and the final one, unstoppable, he has plenty of other oh-so-harsh moves to dish out. For special moves, we have back breaker, choke, and tight squeeze. And yes, they're all as savage as they sound. You'd think we'd be used to shocking displays of violence in this game by now, but these are still delightfully cruel. For combos, Jason has two very easy ones called camp killer and final friday. They do 15% and 17% damage -- which seems great for such an easy to land set of attacks --  and man, they're wicked. Seeing this slow and strong killer grab, crush and toss his enemies is a real joy, and I say that as someone who isn't a big follower of Jason's movies. All variations also have a dash attack called temple punch, a basic way for him to close the gap pretty quickly.

The final variation, unstoppable, could be a game changer in the hands of a tactical player or even when a match appears to be a coin toss. This is where Jason can temporarily boost his damage via punishment or slowly regain health via rise. Using the health regen and then using time consuming moves like throws really helps out and, assuming you can juggle, the damage boost can prove to be really helpful. However, what makes this variation really standout is a little feature called resurrection. If you lose the round, Jason will get back up and whatever is in your super meter will be used to replenish his health. This can only occur once per round. So, if it seems like you might lose in a close fight and you believe an enhanced or X-Ray attack is too risky, this feature could be hugely beneficial.
Jason's fun to use, but it is a little disappointing more time wasn't spent on unique dialogue in the match intros. Obviously, Jason doesn't talk, but there isn't much variety here. There's a few amusing ones here and there (Cage and Ferra/Torr), but based on my experience, it seems like everyone only has one line about the character and some are as simple as, "Who are you?" Sure, it makes sense they wouldn't know who he is, but it would have been great to see them use this chance to really make each character's personality shine. Thankfully, Jason's X-Ray attack and brutalities are every bit as jaw-dropping and over-the-top as you'd want them to be. His X-Ray attack, the horror, puts his machete to good use and his enemy's spine is shown no mercy whatsoever. This X-Ray can also be used for a brutality. After Jason damages the person's neck, he has no problem lopping it right off. There's also ridiculously amusing entertaining ones like breaking someone in half with his knee or slicing them apart with his blade. And best of all? They're all unlocked right away. Oh, and his ending is definitely fitting for the character.

As for his fatalities, the one called "Kill for Mother" is easily the most memorable. Fans of horror movies will love how it's handled because it's clearly pulling a ton of inspiration from classic slasher flicks. From a quick close-up shot of the machete to the victim's shocked reaction to the sound effects, it's a blatant nod to the dude's history and it's surprisingly cinematic. Plus, slowly slashing someone apart is a pretty effective way to make sure they're down for the count, right?
His other one, sleeping bag killer, feels like a missed opportunity. As you can tell by the title, he grabs the person by their ankle and then begins to violently smash them over and over. On paper, it sounds gruesome and oh-so-perfect for Mortal Kombat X. But the execution? It's just, well, weird. When Jason smashes his enemy and then drags them, a limb just snaps off during each drag. The implication is he's smashing them with such great force and then pulling them extremely hard, but having the limbs just effortlessly tear off like that feels odd. Having him brutally smash someone multiple times, to the point of them doing that horrifying gargling noise, would have been more effective. Or it would have been really cool if it was environment based and they had him drag the person to a solid object in a stage and then he smashes them against the object over and over again. There aren't that many stages, so this wouldn't have been too big of a task.

If you plan on playing Mortal Kombat X for months and months to come, then yeah, I'd say Voorhees is definitely worthy of your $4.99. His variations can be enjoyed by both casual and competitive gamers and the studio definitely put Jason's strengths to good use. It's too bad one of his fatalities isn't all that stunning and he may not have the most original move list around, but the masked murderer definitely fits right in.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The CW promos need a lesson in spoiler etiquette

We all know the internet can be a pretty ugly and negative place. With so many people having no issue spewing their hate, I often try to focus on talking about the things I love. I'd much rather support what I enjoy than tear down something I'm not a fan of. However, the CW's handling of promos for The Flash and Arrow has been bothering me for several months now and I just have to talk about it. Yes, this article includes SPOILERS for the latest episodes of the two comic book shows.
The point of a promo is to tease an upcoming episode, not spoil big moments and drop reveals. It doesn't matter how obvious the twists may be; it's just not the job of the promo to show us what should be important scenes in an upcoming episode. The job is to promote the fact those big scenes are on the way, make us think about how they'll play out, and get us excited to eventually see them in context. I've been doing my best to avoid ranting about this for quite some time now, but I simply can't resist after last night's Arrow promo. Again, spoilers ahead.

In Arrow, Oliver Queen has joined the League of Assassins and is on the path to become the next Ra's al Ghul. He underwent harsh conditions and brainwashing to erase "Oliver Queen" and accept his new identity, Al Sah-Him. This week's episode revealed a pretty obvious twist: Oliver's been faking it just to earn Ra's trust. After all he endured on the island and what not, it's pretty easy to swallow him holding up to this kind of treatment. Many of us were assuming that would be the outcome or some plot device will be used to break him free of Ra's influence. Then, Oliver locks his allies in a room and releases the Alpha and Omega virus -- something that apparently has no cure. We're meant to believe he was faking faking it and this was all an elaborate trap to kill the strongest ties to his past in one fell swoop. Many viewers won't believe this for a second, but the cliffhanger ends on a note that attempts to make us believe his supporting cast just died. Odds are that wasn't really the uncurable virus or there's some deus ex machina that'll save them. Still, the objective of this episode is to leave us asking two questions: is Oliver still on Ra's side and did his supporting cast really just die? To many of us, the answer is obviously no and no way. I mean, we know one of those characters will star in the spinoff series and to kill the entire supporting cast like that would be absurd. But less than a minute after that scene aired, we received a preview of next week's episode -- one that immediately reveals the supporting cast is not only alive and well, but also back in Starling City. Then it also shows us the scene of Arrow standing up to Ra's and exclaiming, "My name is Oliver Queen!" Did I know both of these things will happen? Absolutely. Is it the job of a promo to show me these key things before the episode airs next Wednesday? Hell no.

I find it very difficult to believe next week's episode doesn't have 20 seconds worth of footage that doesn't blatantly show the supporting cast is just fine and it doesn't show Oliver's big moment as he stands up to Ra's. They should tease these moments. Show us a moment of tension between Ra's and Oliver, or a quick shot that'll make passionate viewers go, "Hey, I totally just saw Diggle! See, told you there's no way they're dead!" A promo should reward passionate fans with great teasers and get them speculating about how everything will play out; not show how things play out. When even a casual viewer can get the basic idea of the next episode's story and key parts, you know you've spoiled too much. It doesn't matter that the twists are obvious to many of us; they aren't obvious to all of us and showing us right away immediately takes away any small feeling of there being actual stakes in what just happened.

The Flash is usually a little better with this. For example, the way it recently teased Barry trying to outrace bullets didn't spoil that twist and the one for the latest episode didn't ruin the story progression with Iris or show us cool parts from Grodd's role. However, the "Who is Harrison Wells?" promo blatant reveals they do indeed find Wells' body and that Barry, Cisco, and Caitlin do find Reverse-Flash's hidden room and gaze at the costume. In a promo, you need to give us fan service that doesn't take away from these major plot points. Show Joe and Quentin, Cisco and Laurel, and the team searching. Show a bit of action. Show a reaction shot of the group looking shocked.  Passionate fans will be able to recognize the setting and put together the pieces on their own. Casual fans won't be blatantly spoiled. It's more exciting for both groups that way. Oh, and seeing as The Flash already showed us Oliver will stand by Flash in a fight against Reverse-Flash, how can anyone question, even for a second, whether Oliver Queen is still a good guy or at least going to be good in the near future? Knowing he'll be fine takes away a vast majority of the drama, tension and emotion that's displayed as people like Felicity struggle with losing Oliver yet again. There needs to be more communication between the minds behind the shows and the promo department. If I was writing for the show, I'd be upset to see the work I'm doing is being spoiled a week before it airs. Now, I'm sure some of you are thinking, "So don't watch the promos. It's that easy." To me, that's missing the point of this article. I shouldn't have to worry about witnessing game-changing moments and having the whole story spelled out for me in brief promos that air right after the episode ends. We should see footage that gets us excited and leaves us speculating. Imagine if the promo for the final episode of Breaking Bad blatantly revealed the fate of the two lead characters? Or revealed the plot device that plays an important role? That sure would have been ridiculous, right?

Do I know Oliver Queen will stand up to Ra's al Ghul and say his true name? Of course. Do I know his entire supporting cast is still alive? Obviously. But just because I'm certain these things will happen, it doesn't mean I want to see them unfold just seconds after the latest episode has aired. Look, I know I'm being repetitive here, but it's not the job of the promo to spell out and reveal big plot points; it's the job of the promo to tease them. A promo needs to build our anticipation for an episode and allow us to eventually enjoy those critical scenes in proper context; not already witness them and then enjoy them a second time as they play out during the episode. Will fans still love seeing Oliver angrily say, "My name is Oliver Queen!" Most definitely. Should we have already seen this big moment? Well, I'll let Dr. Evil answer that one for me.
I still love you, Arrow and The Flash. But seriously, CW, you can promote your episodes without giving away really important and critical stuff. The episodes have more than enough footage to get us hyped, okay? And don't even get me started on how much those sizzle reels spoiled. I mean, finding out Quentin and Ray discover Arrow's identity that far in advance?!

Roche Limit: Clandestiny #1

Seeing as I haven't read the first Roche Limit series, I can't comment on whether any themes have carried over into this sequel or say how this debut issue holds up to the previous run. However, what I can say is the first issue of Roche Limit: Clandestiny is some damn good sci-fi. Not only is this first issue totally out there, fully embracing much of the potential a science fiction universe has to offer, but it's also surprisingly human.
Written by Michael Moreci and with visuals by Kyle Charles (art), Matthew Battaglia (colors), Sarah deLaine (flora/fauna), Tim Daniels (design), and Ryan Ferrier (letters), this first issue throws you into the middle of a pretty intense dialogue. It doesn't hit you with a ton of exposition; it just pulls you right into a mysterious moment and has you wondering what the hell just went down. Everything just hit the fan for two characters and their conversation will have your mind racing. What really just happened? What was the point of this mission? Where are they? She's going to kill what?! Before you know it, we're given a splash page that immediately made me think, "Could this protagonist be the next Ellen Ripley?" I sure hope so.

You can tell Moreci is pulling some elements from quite a few iconic sci-fi franchises, but for me, what helps this standout is how the lead character, Sasha, is being presented. She's not just some one-dimensional and strong lead character. You can tell there's an interesting backstory here and I'm left honestly wanting to see what it is. She's courageous and intelligent, yet you can also see she's somewhat broken -- a quality which is revealed in a pretty clever and emotional way, too.  My connection to the rest of the cast isn't nearly as strong and I can't shake the feeling that at least one or two of them are there just to serve as fodder, but I'd rather not race to conclusions about how they'll be handled just yet. I may not recall all of their names or even be able to immediately tell them apart, but so far, their dialogue feels natural and it leaves me feeling optimistic they're not just there to spew exposition and they're instead there to feel, you know, human.
When it comes to the bigger picture, this first issue sets up quite a few plot points. Honestly, I couldn't even tell what the overall theme was going to be because there's totally different plot threads popping up as we progress through the story. However, once we reach the end, it seems far more clear. It's tough to discuss this part without spoiling it, but let's just say 2015 seems to be a big year for this subject. Last week, I saw two movies posing similar questions. Despite that, this story element doesn't leave me feeling like it's something familiar or unoriginal. The newspaper article in the very end gives us some much-needed information and has me feeling like this story has a ton of promise. Without it, I'd be left feeling very in the dark about the cliffhanger. So, I believe the article was a nice way to give us readers some important information without harming the issue's pacing or making some characters randomly fill in the gaps.

This almost feels like Prometheus in the way it's setting up one big mystery after another. From horror elements to interesting questions, you can tell each one has potential. Now, I know Prometheus is a polarizing movie, but, based on this issue, this feels like it's going to give us a proper amount of insight into each of the elements that were just established. It would be hugely disappointing if that wasn't the case, but given how organically this first issue puts everything in place and teases them, I'm left feeling confident each of these subplots will receive a good amount of attention. Only time will tell, though!

Aside from a few small criticisms (e.g. sometimes eyes appear too far apart; rarely the environments seemed to lack depth), Roche Limit: Clandestiny #1's visuals are a nice mix of humanizing displays of emotion and gorgeous shades of purple and blue. Whether it's a fast-paced crash landing or just a simple conversation, the use of angles always kept me feeling immersed in the story. I may have some small, personal criticisms with some of the anatomy, but these visuals rarely pulled me out of the moment and I was left properly understanding and appreciating a vast majority of what was occurring. I especially enjoyed the occasional close-up shot of the eyes for the more dramatic moments.
Sure, I'm left with a whole bunch of questions, but what good story would reveal everything in the first chapter? A solid sci-fi tale needs to engage your eyes and your imagination. Roche Limit: Clandestiny #1? Yeah, it definitely does that. If you're craving some smart sci-fi, you have no good reason not to check this out. It's just $2.99 and new reader-friendly, people! Man, now I'm left wanting to pick up the first volume's trade. I guess that'll help kill some time before the next issue is released, right?

4.5/5

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Flash "Grodd Lives" review

*Yes, there's spoilers in here. Watch the episode first!*
"I can't believe I'm down here looking for a supernatural gorilla. I'm terrified of regular gorillas!"

CW's The Flash may only be in its first season, but that's not stopping the show from totally embracing the source material and giving us fans a whole lot of love. While the show's been doing an excellent job building up the Reverse-Flash story, this week's episode, "Grodd Lives," brings in a telepathic gorilla named "Grodd." I'm guessing if a casual viewer heard what this episode is all about, they'd probably think it's pretty silly. Comic fans, though? It's kind of surreal this is already happening. Thankfully, the handling of Grodd is far from silly. The foe is frightening and full of promise. Not even a banana joke takes away from this villain's formidability.
Look, obviously the special effects for Grodd aren't going to be on par with the motion capture used over in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; this show just doesn't have the same kind of budget. So, it is blatantly obvious Grodd is purely CGI. But considering just how much we see of the character, I have to say they did a pretty solid job bringing the big fellow to life and they made him look pretty damn intimidating. To top it off, David Sobolov gave the perfect voice to this scary and imposing threat. With chilling expressions and a fitting voice, you can definitely understand why detective Joe West is so terrified when he comes face to face with Grodd. Thankfully, the "metagorilla" also has a pretty spectacular action sequence. It's not the longest one around, but it most certainly delivers. For once, Barry attempts to end a fight before it even begins by dishing out a swift and powerful attack. It's no surprise the fight isn't over with a single hit, but what is a surprise is how Grodd reacts to it. Witnessing the giant enemy catch the hero's hand and then effortlessly toss him away was totally thrilling.

After going through such a rough patch, I really love how it's Iris who technically saves the day. She may not have the technical knowledge Caitlin and Cisco have, but she can motivate Barry like no other and it was a satisfying way to follow-up all of this episode's tension and drama. The shot of Grodd's defeat is really cool, but part of me was left thinking, "What about the people in the train?" I mean, if the subway train hit something like that, I'm guessing the conductor  would stop the vehicle. Maybe Grodd then ran away instead of lashing out? Also, that train came very soon after the other one. Maybe Central City just has a more efficient commuter system than they do over here in New York? Whatever, it's not a big deal and the awesomeness of that slow motion shot vastly outweighs those questions.

Before I talk about the drama, there is one more thing I'd like to mention about Grodd. Technically, he's just a diversion in this episode. I guess some could label him as a villain-of-the-week, but what helps Grodd stand apart is the amount of depth and previous hype he received. When the episode is over, you can tell this isn't the last we've seen of the character and there's definitely more story to tell with him. And let's be honest, Gorilla City would be a little tough to swallow in this world. Even if you can make it work, then introducing it to Central City would be quite a task, especially since it isn't the main story this season. So yeah, I think his origin story was a fine way to introduce him.
An explosion between Barry and Iris has been building for quite some time and, after Iris finally realized who the Flash is in the last episode, the time has come for that overdue and very passionate talk to take place. While the show does get into some heavy and heated dialogues -- I'll get into those soon enough -- what I love about this show is it always manages to sprinkle in some personality. Before and after a big and dramatic talk between Barry and Iris, we get some much appreciated humor from Caitlin and Cisco. They do everything they can to justify why they should listen to the talk and then they do everything they can to act like they totally weren't paying any attention when the talk concludes. Even later on, after a solid heart-to-heart moment, there's a bit of humor as Iris accidentally presses on her father's injured ribs. This show has plenty of character-driven drama, but it always remembers to make sure we're enjoying the experience, too. It never goes overly dramatic for too long and I love it for that.

As for Iris and Barry, I think it was mostly handled well. Like Barry said, Iris has every right to be upset. Everyone close to her has been blatantly lying to her and now she's finding this all out in such a short period of time. Gustin's physical responses felt fitting -- they were often a mix of empathy and a bit of frustration. It's a lot to take in for Iris, but I can't help but feel somewhat annoyed by two of her reactions. Firstly, when Barry opens up and says he finally knows who killed his mother, you can see a compassionate reaction build in Iris, but then she quickly makes it about her situation and never returns to the subject. I understand why that made her question Eddie's safety, but come on, she understands just how important that is to Barry. It's surprising she didn't bring that up again, even when she's in that mindset. Secondly, her blaming her father for Eddie's situation made me say, "That's harsh, Iris." Technically, the logic holds up, but man, that's some cold logic. But hey, I guess we've all said things we regret, right?

As usual, actor Jessie L. Martin offers a powerful performance. You can't help but feel sorry for the guy as he's beyond petrified of Grodd and the final scene with his daughter was legitimately heartfelt. Iris has every right to be upset and hold a grudge, but seeing her father suffer is the wake-up call she truly needed. It allows her to realize they did this because they love her. It's something she of course knows early in the episode, but disappointment and frustration took over and understandably so. Was lying to her the right thing for them to do? Probably not, but it's time to move forward and have the honest talk they need to have. It's an appropriately moving and humanizing conversation, one which puts the drama behind them and allows them to focus on what's now important: finding Eddie and stopping Wells. It makes me so happy they resolved this conflict in the span of one episode. I could see them dragging out Iris telling them she knows until the cliffhanger. Then there's an episode full of drama. Then there's an episode that allows them to resolve it. Instead, this tension gets the attention it deserves, everyone has mostly natural reactions, and then they're able to put it behind them. Thank you so much for not making this conflict last any longer than it needs to!
Wells isn't in the spotlight for much of this episode but he definitely isn't forgotten. As a comic fan, Eddie Thawne's last name immediately made me (and countless others) question the character's future. "How long before he potentially turns evil?" Well, this episode adds a little more weight to that question and leaves me wondering if they're purposely building him towards a more villainous future or if he'll remain strong and end his time on the show as a good guy. Noble, but heartbroken. I hope it's the latter, but we'll just have to wait and see. Oh, and it's also worth noting that Wells had some very amusing dialogue in that sequence. The one about his intelligence immediately comes to mind.

One of my biggest criticisms of the episode is really pretty minor. Joe hesitates for way too long during the heist sequence. I get what they're trying to say there: good guys don't want to kill and Joe is most certainly a very good guy. But to have an experienced detective hold off firing for that long against a heavily-armed gunman -- one who just shot two of his partners and is now taking aim at him? It's just a little too silly and took me out of the moment. Maybe -- just maybe -- you can say that, deep down, Joe was waiting for the Flash. However, as an experienced officer, waiting for that long in that dangerous of a situation is just foolish. Anyway, that's a lot of words for such a minor critique, but I think it was worth noting.
Random thoughts: So, now that Wells' cameras are taken down, I guess they have like, zero security in S.T.A.R. Labs? It's pretty funny how Iris just comes and goes as she pleases. You'd think they'd put something in place now that Wells is out there and knows where they operate. They probably know it won't do them much good, but something is certainly better than nothing at all. I love how Wells is hiding right under their noses. Also, I was left wondering why Wells didn't have Grodd kill Joe, but I'm guessing it's because that would make the team act emotionally and that would make their actions less predictable and potentially far more dangerous. He didn't need them broken; just distracted. Lastly, I'm glad they didn't cheese it up and have Barry and Iris kiss when it was blatantly implied the feelings are mutual. I didn't mind it in the previous episode (they were going to potentially die in a minute or so), but now that Eddie's in trouble? That would have been messed up, so I'm glad they brought it up. Oh, and I can't help but love how Cisco's dropping so many movie references and then Grodd's final scene is a blatant nod to King Kong.

"Everything Grodd did, it was just to distract us." That line probably makes some people think this episode was filler, but I disagree. In just one episode, The Flash handles a major dramatic plotline (something other shows may have dragged across several episodes), properly introduces the world to a major villain, and it makes a few small developments with Wells while also dropping a teaser or two. "Grodd Lives" may have a little too much emotion and drama for some viewers and I do think a reaction or two from Iris was frustrating, but overall, I believe it was all handled in a fairly realistic way. Best of all, it addressed the drama head-on and didn't save the resolutions for another day. Even if you aren't happy with that arc, aren't you at least glad they got it out of the way and didn't make it last for a few episodes? Plus, Grodd was awesome. Man, when he caught Barry's punch? How can someone not love that? This may not be one of my favorite episodes, but it sure is an important one and it takes some critical steps to set the stage for what's to come. Thanks to The Flash's personality, excitement, and heart, you really don't need to be a comic book fan to love this show. 

4/5

Monday, May 4, 2015

Man of Steel vs. Avengers: Age of Ultron - Let's talk about the destruction

Avengers: Age of Ultron is finally in U.S. theaters and comparisons to Man of Steel have already begun. In Joss Whedon's sequel to The Avengers, an especially big focus is placed on the Avengers doing everything they can to make sure innocent people aren't harmed during their explosive and crazy battles. Obviously, this is pretty different from Superman's struggle with Kryptonian forces who sought to terraform Earth -- a process that would kill every single human on the planet. Do I think Superman could have done more in his conflict and he made a few foolish decisions? Absolutely. However, I do think the handling of destruction was used to illustrate different points in both movies. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, it's there to remind us that being a hero is all about saving people. In Man of Steel, it's all about showing the seemingly unbelievable nightmare Kal-El had to overcome in his very first conflict as a superhero.
First and foremost, I feel obligated to point out differences that should be obvious. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the team is mostly full of experienced characters who have worked together and they follow Captain America, a guy who's just oozing hope and he makes you want to be a better person. When a train is speeding through a crowded area, would Quicksilver have saved civilians if Captain America hadn't given the order? If it wasn't for the super-soldier, would the speedster have focused on grabbing his sister, Scarlet Witch, and raced both of them to safety, only to then feel heartbreak as he realizes how many people were killed by that swift decision? With everything happening so quickly, I'd say it's a possibility and it's one worth thinking about. That just goes to show the influence Steve Rogers can have on even an inexperienced individual. In addition to being an experienced team led by a tactical genius with a heart of gold, it's worth noting the Marvel team had prep time and way more resources. As a battle with Baron von Stucker sent explosives into a city, Tony Stark had the means to order robots into the city and had them warn the people to evacuate. They don't listen to Stark's technology, but hey, A for effort, right? In the final conflict, the Avengers had time to warn the authorities about what's coming their way and did everything they can to help people evacuate. And then when everything did hit the fan, they still tried to save people while fighting plenty of Ultron robots. Each of them had their own task and they were often spread out. For many, the balancing act of saving people and defeating the immediate threats was fairly doable. They have experience in the field, many teammates, a whole lot of resources, and they even had time to prepare. DC's powerful hero didn't have any of those luxuries.

It's a pretty common misconception that Superman destroyed most of Metropolis. While Superman does make some errors in his fights -- don't worry, I'll address those in a bit -- it's the World Engine that's responsible for a vast majority of the destruction in the city. Some people called Zack Snyder's handling of those sequences "disaster porn." All of the violent madness didn't have me cheering or exclaiming "awesome!" It's not there to enthrall you; it's there to shock you. To me, it shows just how ridiculously formidable Superman's first challenge is. How can anyone hope to overcome something so disastrous? The movie didn't pull any punches; it showed us Zod's forces are heartless and they had no problem slaughtering humanity. They viewed us as ants and had no hesitation whatsoever crushing us under their absurdly strong and durable feet. This wasn't a threat that had me saying, "Yeah, Superman will obviously win and all will be well." It's a threat that had me thinking, "Superman needs to stop this right away because this is freaking insane and humanity has no chance stopping it on their own."
I would have loved to see a more inspiring big screen version of Superman, but instead what we did receive is one that I believe feels more appropriate for the DC Cinematic Universe's "realistic" tone. They're going for something different and, so far, I'm liking it. Clark spent his entire life holding back and avoiding conflicts. Now, his first day as a superhero is against characters who are just as powerful as he is and they're more experienced in combat. With civilians out of the way in the Smallville battle -- a luxury the Avengers didn't have -- this novice hero still attempted to move the fight twice (he failed both times as his enemies grabbed him). Even though the odds aren't in his favor, he's still able to save a few troops who are unlucky enough to be in the war zone. He obviously can't save everyone when two powerhouses are on top of him, but you can't really say he didn't try to, either.

"Why couldn't he fly Zod out of the city?" That's a question I often hear. It's just a one-on-one brawl, right? Well, I imagine it's for the very same reason that Iron Man couldn't take Hulk away from a populated region. Clark spends much of the skirmish getting handled; he's still new to using his powers against others and he's spent his entire life trying not to get into fights. He's the one who's knocked into orbit! During that encounter, much of the damage is caused by Zod's attacks. I'm not saying Superman didn't cause any damage, but it always baffles me how someone can watch the Battle of Metropolis with an open mind and say, "Yeah, Superman destroyed most of the city." When Zod throws Superman through multiple buildings, are we really blaming Big Blue for that destruction? Or what about when Zod takes down a building with heat vision? Or all of the damage the World Engine unleashed? When Superman does briefly have the edge, he's punching Zod between and around buildings. He's not smashing the villain through anything and everything he can -- a tactic that Zod used just moments later against the hero.

Look, I'm not saying Superman's actions are without blame. Stuff like his punch after the "you die or I do" line is obviously a big mistake. Part of me wonders whether that building was already empty. Seeing as that takes place quite some time after an alien ship started attacking the city, you would imagine most people have fled the buildings in that region. The first building the two go crashing into -- the one that Zod destroys with heat vision -- appears to be empty, after all. Honestly, it probably wasn't completely empty, though. Aside from that punch and Superman smashing Zod's face against glass (which is pretty minor damage compared to what we regularly see in comics), I think a huge portion of the damage done in that encounter is because of Zod's actions, and with the alien general being on top of him, Superman doesn't exactly have time to fly around and pull everyone out of the rubble.
When the LexCorp truck hits a parking garage and blows up, Superman is left gazing at the chaos. I'd say there's two possible reasons for this. The first: the dude is simply staring at the blast and would probably love Michael Bay's movies. The second: he's looking in the structure to see if anyone needs help. I'd like to believe it's the latter and it seems safe to assume so, but seeing as Zod comes rushing in, there's no way to tell for sure. That said, I absolutely think Clark's responsible for taking at least a few lives in the Smallville fight. I mean, I do get what Snyder was going for when Clark lashed out. The hero spent decades holding back, but now, someone who can withstand his punches has crossed a line by attacking his mother. After years of attempting to keep it cool, Clark finally unleashes. He tackles Zod all the way through what appears to be power plants and they eventually plow through a gas station and the location explodes. There was at least one car at a pump and you know there's at least one employee in there. So, Clark snapping (I swear that pun is unintentional) absolutely resulted in killing at least two innocent people in that scene.

While I do think Clark made a few mistakes, it's important to remember this is his journey to becoming Superman and the guy just learned how to fly -- that really goes to show just how new he is to all of this. To top it off, he's on his own against overwhelming odds. I view it as someone doing everything they can to stand up against the ultimate threat and they'll push themselves as hard as they can to make sure the villain doesn't succeed. It may not be a "cheerworthy" action sequence, but that's also kind of why I love it; it's offering something different. He may not feel like the comic book Superman many have come to know and expect, but he held his own against a threat that seemed impossible to overcome. He didn't destroy the city. Because of his actions, much of Metropolis is still standing. (There's several shots that reveal just how vast the city is.) You may not like how he saved the day, but in the end, he did indeed save the entire planet and there were certainly more than a few instances of him putting himself in danger to save others throughout the movie. So, I still view Man of Steel as Clark's path to becoming Superman. Now that he's made his debut and protected Earth from its first alien threat, here's hoping the dude shows more of the qualities you'd expect from him in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The first trailer shows how the world is reacting to him, but we've yet to see how he's responding to all of the praise and hatred. This will be a critical movie for the character.
If there's one thing both movies are guilty of, it's glossing over the ramifications of the destruction. In Avengers, the Battle of New York receives a little bit of follow-up, but it's mostly there to quickly say how the world feels about the team and then goes to offering more humor. In Age of Ultron, we see a statue is built that honors the humans who did what they could to protect each other on that day, but aside from a body count and talk of construction in Daredevil, the Battle of New York is basically forgotten before another large city (and in turn, the world) is put in danger. Tony Stark says he sends aid to the city ravaged by his fight with the Hulk and, in the big finale, the Avengers are able to get a majority of a city's population to safety. However, once the day is saved, it rushes to teasing the Marvel Cinematic Universe's future. We can assume Stark will once again send aid, but I imagine many people are now left without homes. A huge portion of the country was removed, after all. It would be fitting to see something like Stark saying he'll dedicate some of his resources to creating housing complexes and what not. You'd think he would feel a little guilty after his weapons previously caused so much pain and suffering to those people and now so many of them have lost everything they own.

In Man of Steel, we go from one of the most powerful scenes to a more lighthearted sequence. A major U.S. city just suffered a devastating attack and there's no follow-up whatsoever. There's no talk of Superman helping to search for people in the rubble or him helping them rebuild. It just jumps to business as usual. People are back in the city like nothing has changed! It's an odd move seeing as the world just witnessed such a colossal tragedy. Thankfully, it looks like the Battle of Metropolis will play a key role in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice's story. Better late than never, yeah?

Watching Avengers: Age of Ultron and then saying that's how the destruction should have been handled in MoS just isn't an opinion I agree with. They're totally different situations with totally different tones. I do understand why someone would feel that way, though. Could Superman have made a few smarter decisions? Absolutely. Do I think the handling in AoU is more inspiring? For sure. But to me, the horrifying and shocking way the destruction is handled in Man of Steel fits the story's tone. It goes to show just how staggering the alien invasion is and illustrates just how far Superman must go to save humanity. It's a movie that shows us how just one man stands against a devastating, overwhelming, and terrifying alien invasion. If people that powerful are going to clash in a populated area and it's taking a more "grounded" approach, the battle's going to be devastating no matter how much the hero tries to contain the damage.

Avengers: Age of Ultron reminds me why Captain America and his allies are heroes that deserve our admiration. As the world around them crumbles, they want to make sure they use their abilities to protect the people who are trapped in the middle of all the craziness. Man of Steel reminds me that Kal-El went through a ridiculously daunting and frightening experience to save humanity from his very own people. Both movies involve a whole lot of destruction, and both involve heroes doing everything they can to prevent the death of more innocent people. They just go about presenting it in completely different ways.