Friday, January 15, 2021

DRAGON BALL SUPER VOLUME 8

Story by: Akira Toriyama | Art by: Toyotarou


The eighth DRAGON BALL SUPER installments opens with a focus on Freeza battling Caulifla and Kale, two of the Saiyans from Universe 6. Caulifla, having learned from Cabba how to go Super Saiyan, puts up a strong showing against Freeza, until the villain changes to his ultimate form -- Golden Freeza. Interestingly, however the RESURRECTION "F" storyline went in the manga (remember, we have no idea since it was inexplicably skipped with the weak reason that readers should just go watch the movie instead), it's clear that it was at least partially different from the anime -- because while Freeza revealed his Golden form in both the movie and TV versions of that story, here everyone (including Goku) is surprised by it.

When Golden Freeza gains the upper hand on Caulifla, her friend Kale steps in, revealing a "new" Super Saiyan form no one has ever seen. This is, famously, the first canon version of the "Legendary Super Saiyan" power-up achieved by Broly in the 1990s DBZ movies -- all of which existed outside of the official continuity. Kale begins beating on Freeza to the point that Goku has to step in and save him, and the pair briefly battles her together until she zips away from the fight on a rampage.

Kale singel-handedly completes the elimnation of four universes, but her mindlessness takes a toll and Universe 11's Pride Troopers work together to subdue her. Caulifla, meanwhile, reveals that she stole the Potara earrings from her universe's Kaioshin. When Champa sees this from the stands, he orders Caulfila to put on one earring and get the other on Kale. With the help (and sacrifice) of Cabba, an earring is placed on Kale, and Caulifla dons the other. The pair fuses into a being called Kefla, who promptly wipes out the majority of the Pride Troopers -- then Gohan steps in to challenge her, resulting in a double knockout which eliminates Gohan and sees Universe 6 wiped out.

Monday, January 11, 2021

AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES S1x015

"459"
Story by Ciro Nieli | Written by Joelle Sellner | Directed by Vinton Heuck

The Plot: Ant-Man and the Wasp arrive at a remote deeo soace observatory manned by Carol Danvers and Doctor Phillip Lawson, who believe they've spotted an extraterrestrial vehicle approaching Earth. The UFO attacks the facility's radar tower and then lands in the forest. Carol leads Wasp ant Ant-Man out to search for it, while Lawson stays behind. Out in the forest, after some brief investigation, the trio is confronted and attacked by a large robot.
Carol returns to the observatory to warn Lawson, but the robot, having deafeated Ant-Man, follows with Wasp in pursuit. As Carol and Wasp battle the robot, a machine explodes, irradiating Carol with energy and revealing that Lawson is no human, but an alien warrior named Mar-Vell. Mar-Vell tries to deactivate the robot with an order, but it ignores him and destroys the facility's power core. Mar-Vell rescues Carol and Wasp, and as Carol recovers at the hospital, Iron Man, Thor, and Hulk arrive. Mar-Vell explains his origin as a member of the alien Kree race, and describs the robot as a Sentry drone.

Having learned from Mar-Vell that the Sentry possesses a last resort, planet-destroying nega-bomb, the Avengers set out to stop it. The group engages the robot and stops it, but the bomb is active. When Mar-Vell's superior, Yon-Rogg, contacts him, the Kree hero tries to convince him to spare Earth, but Yon-Rogg refuses. Mar-Vell tries to fly the bomb into space, but is unable to make it until Thor and Iron Man aid him. The nega-bomb explodes outside Earth's atmosphere and the Avengers regroup at Carol's hospital room, which is now shared with Hank Pym, who was injured in the fight. There, Mar-Vell says goodbye and departs to try and convince his people to spare Earth.

Friday, January 8, 2021

DRAGON BALL SUPER VOLUME 7

Story by: Akira Toriyama | Art by: Toyotarou


The Tournament of Power begins in DRAGON BALL SUPER volume 7, as the ten best fighters from six of the twelve universes gather for a battle royale from which only one universe will emerge intact. After a few pages of the various fighters scoping each other out, the rules are explained: no flying, no killing. If you're knocked off the ring, you're eliminated from the tournament and teleported to the stands to observe the rest of the fight alongside your universe's gods. The last universe standing -- or whichever universe has the most fighters left after 48 minutes -- wins it all.

With all that out of the way, the tournament begins. Universe 9 is quickly eliminated by the other fighters' combined efforts. Meanwhile Freeza makes a deal with his Universe 6 counterpart, Frost. If Frost will go all-out first and eliminate as many fighters as he can, Freeza will "tap in" for him when he's exhausted to continue the fight. Frost abides, taking out several fighters, including Krillin and Tenshinhan of Universe 6. But he eventually tires, and Freeza reveals his true colors, taking Frost out of the fight.

We then move to follow Goku and Hit as they battle Universe 11's greatest warriors, the Pride Troopers -- led by Top, who Goku met and dueled in the previous volume. Eventually, Goku and Hit move their attention to the strongest Pride Trooper, Jiren, and despite new techniques developed by Hit since his last fight against Goku, Jiren makes fast work of Universe 6's greatest warrior. With Hit eliminated, focus switches to the rest of Universe 7's fighters, jumping around between Vegeta, Gohan, Piccolo, Seventeen, and Eighteen as they battle the various universes' other warriors. By the end of the volume, Eighteen and Piccolo have been eliminated, leaving Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, Roshi, Seventeen, and Freeza as reprsentatives against the remaining fighters.

Monday, January 4, 2021

AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES #1 - 4

Writer: Christopher Yost
Production: Taylor Esposito & Irene Y. Lee | Editors: Michael Horwitz & Nathan Cosby
Editor-in-Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley | Executive Producer: Alan Fine

One thing that bugs me occasionally with tie-in comics is the chronology. Folks who read this blog regularly are quite aware that I take timelines very seriously. I like to know exactly where stories are taking place in relation to one another, down to the day if possible. And while this mini-series, published by Marvel in 2010 to tie in with the TV show, doesn't go quite that far, it does slot very neatly into place among the show's episodes. In all likelihood, that's due to the fact that the comic is written by the series' showrunner, Christopher Yost -- which gives this particular tie-in the distinction of being an official part of the series canon, unlike a lot of other such comics.

Each of the first three issues features one lead story and one backup, with the final issue being a book-length adventure. The timeline is a little weird, though: issue 1 obviously takes place after episode 13, "Gamma World Part 2", due to the fact that Hawkeye is among the Avengers. Issue 2's placement is nebulous, as Hawkeye doesn't appear, but it definitely takes place after episode 10, "Everything is Wonderful", by virtue of a cameo appearance from Wonder Man, and before episode 14, "Masters of Evil" since it depicts Baron Zemo recruiting a member of his team. Issue 3 is set after episode 11, "Panther's Quest", as Black Panther is among the Avengers, but it also precedes episode 12, "Gamma World Part 1", as the Hulk is still on the run. Finally, issue 4 is clearly set after episode 19, "The Kang Dynasty", because it features the full lineup (i.e., Hawkeye and Hulk are among the team), the Avengers are familiar with the Masters of Evil when they show up, and Cap makes refernce to Kang's invasion of Earth. Not sure why Yost went with a mostly chronological setup aside from Hawkeye's weird inclusion in issue 1, but what are you gonna do (aside from read #1 between 3 and 4 whenever re-reading the series to assuage your anal-retentive tendencies*)?

The backup stories jump around a lot more. Hawkeye and Black Panther are the stars of the first issue's backup, so it's clearly set after "Gamma World". Hulk is among the Avengers in the second story's backup, setting it either prior to episode 8, "Some Assembly Required" (which is possible since we never see Captain America, Hawkeye, or Black Panther in the story) or subsequent to "Gamma World". Issue 3's backup stars only Captain America and the Wasp, so it can be placed anywhere after episode 9, "Living Legend".

Now, without further ado, on with the show -- err, comic:

Friday, January 1, 2021

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

As is tradition, the time is upon us for the annual Year in Review post, with a glance at what's upcoming. And I don't think I need to mention that it's been an... interesting and unusual year in the real world. But fortunately for all of us, this blog is about as far divorced from reality as is possible! So with that in mind, let's recap the past year's worth of posts.

It's been no secret that I had trouble keeping up my normal twice-weekly posting schedule beginning the middle of 2019. So 2020 started out with (mostly) one post per week, on Mondays -- and as I try to do every year, I opened things up with some manga, looking at DRAGON BALL SUPER and a couple of other DB items of note. That was followed with a "Springtime Grab Bag" consisting of a European comic series called LADY S and an assortment of items from DC, Dynamite, Dark Horse (by way of Marvel), and IDW, running a gamut of characters such as Conan, Red Sonja, Wonder Woman, He-Man and the ThunderCats, and the Transformers and the crew of the starship Enterprise.

Then we looked at Joe Casey's AVENGERS mini-series from the mid-to-late-00s, EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES I and II, and AVENGERS: THE ORIGIN. After that, we stuck with Marvel, but went a different direction, examining several years worth of Spider-Man newspaper strips by Stan Lee and a variety of artistic collaborators.

The newspaper strip motif continued as we moved into the adventures of SECRET AGENT X-9 by Alex Raymond, and then checked in on that strip again decades later after it had become SECRET AGENT CORRIGAN by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson. That strip wrapped up last month, which led into a Monday hiatus for the final few weeks of the year as I geared up for 2021.

And around the same time I started looking at X-9, I also finally brought back Friday posts, looking for the first time ever at a TV series on an episode-by-episode basis -- and in keeping with the subject matter of this blog, it was a comic book-inspired show, AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES. In fact, that run of reviews is still ongoing (we haven't even finished season one yet), and should contnue well into 2021. But beginning next week, when we look at the comic book tie-in mini-series, I'm moving it to Mondays for the rest of the run, which should free up Fridays for other posts, assuming I can keep the twice-weekly schedule going.

As far as that schedule goes, my plan is to start off with a repeat of the year we just looked back on: that is to say, we'll continue DRAGON BALL SUPER and get through all volumes available to date, which should take us into February -- and then I want to look at another European series. I have a few in my digital backlog, so I just need to choose one (or maybe two). After that it will be springtime, and I think I want to get back to looking at a comic series issue-by-issue, after more than a year of not doing so. But rather than a specific run from an ongoing title, I'm thinking maybe I'll just cover the entirety of a series that only ran a couple years before being cancelled. I have a few candidates in mind, all Marvel, but I haven't settled on which to look at just yet.

After that, who can say? Though my time is more limited than ever before, I still enjoy running this blog, and I look forward to another year of whatever I wind up posting about. Thanks to everyone who reads along, and I hope you'll stick with me as we continue!

Friday, December 25, 2020

AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES S1x014

"MASTERS OF EVIL"
Written by Christopher Yost | Directed by Sebastian Montes

The Plot: In Manhattan, Whirilwind leads the Wasp on a wild goose chase to a construction site, where he transforms, revealed as the Enchantress in disguise. When she's joined by the remaining Masters of Evil -- Baron Zemo, the Executioner, Crimson Dynamo, Wonder Man, and the Abomination -- Wasp is easily defeated. At the Wakandan embassy, Hawkeye and Black Panther discuss the Avengers. Meanwhile, the Masters of Evil use the Wasp's ID card to enter Avengers Mansion and subdue Tony Stark in the sub-basement. Upstairs, Abomination and Enchantress transports the Hulk to the realm of the frost giants. In the training room, Executioner and Wonder Man take out Captain America.


In Central Park, Thor is on a date with Jane Foster when he receives a priority summons and heads for the mansion. But there, he's confronted by the Masters of Evil. From outside, Hawkeye and Black Panther (both of whose membership on the team is unknown to Zemo at this time) witness Thor's defeat. The duo sneaks into the mansion and, while Zemo and Enchantress speak with their prisoners, begin taking out the Masters. While Black Panther battles Crimson Dynamo and Wonder Man, Hawkeye goes after Zemo, Enchantress, and Abomination in order to free the remaining Avengers. However the heroes are subdued, and Zemo prepares to execute them.

Ant-Man, who was secretly in cahoots with Hawkeye and the Panther, appears with a weapon created in his lab during the chaos. With it, he disperses Wonder Man and then uses his Giant-Man powers to take out the Abomination. This gives Black Panther time to free the Avengers while Thor summons his hammer, which he uses to bring back the Hulk. Wonder Man reconstitutes himself, and a battle royal begins between the assembled Avengers and the Masters of Evil. When the Avengers gain a clear upper hand, Zemo orders a retreat and the Enchantress teleports the Masters away.

In the battle's aftermath, as the Avengers puzzle over what the Masters of Evil were up to, the villains appear in Arnim Zola's lab, where Enchantress reports to a mysterious master.

Friday, December 18, 2020

AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES S1x013

"GAMMA WORLD PART 2"
Story by Christopher Yost & Joshua Fine | Written by Michael Ryan
Directed by Sebastian Montes

The Plot: A satellite beams gamma energy into Las Vegas, mutating the people there. The gamma field speads out past the Cube, mutating the SHIELD agents and Avengers there. Doc Samson is knocked out, and Thor finds himself alone against the gamma monsters. Meanwhile, Hawkeye and Black Widow, who were en route to the Cube, land in the desert. Hawkeye knocks out the Widow as the Leader makes a broadcast to the world, describing his plan to mutate humanity with gamma radiation. Hawkeye sets out to find the Hulk, leaving Black Widow alone as the gamma field expands toward her.


The mutated Avengers bring Doc Samson and Thor to the Leader. Samson is dragged away, while Leader sets the Abomination against Thor. Elswhere, Hulk battles against against the Hulkbusters in Canada. Hawkeye arrives to interrupt the fight and save the Hulk. Hawkeye convinces Hulk to change back into Bruce Banner, and the duo heads to Banner's cabin to make plans. And in the Leader's Vegas lair, Thor gets the villain to begin a monologue, allowing him to regian his strength and summon his hammer. At the cabin, Banner prepares a way to counteract the Leader, then turns back into the Hulk and leaves with Hawkeye.

In Vegas, Mjolnir returns to Thor, but the Leader realizes this was part of his plan. Absorbing Man appears and takes on the hammer's physical properties, then double-teams Thor with the Abomination. Absorbing Man and Thor move outside, but Hawkeye and Hulk arrive a moment later in the Leader's control room. Abomination attacks Hulk while Hawkeye goes after the Leader, but the mutated Avengers come to the Leader's defense. Hawkeye begins hitting the Avengers with special arrows devised by Banner, which changes them back to normal. But the Leader transforms his control dais into a mech with which to fight back.