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Classic Collection Leonardo – Out of His Shell

While it seems lately I have waaaaay too many figures that have remained in their packaging (I need to work on a shelving system to display ’em), the Classic Collection Leonardo is one that I almost immediately opened up (He’s currently on display at work above my cube).

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One of the first things I noticed–and the MAJOR disappointment–is the shoulder joints on mine are STUCK, and do NOT move up and down–though they look like they’re supposed to. So the arms are stuck being held outward at a rather awkward pose, rather than being able to have them down closer to the character’s sides. I felt like I was going to break the arms off trying to get either joint to move, before giving up and settling (for now).

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I do like the stand the figure comes with, as well as the hands’ ability to actually grip the swords. Not the best grip ever, but satisfactory, especially in the face of the shoulder-joints’ issue.

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I like the coloring and shaping of the figure overall. While not a huge fan of the mask’s rigidity on some of the figures, the shaping on this figure is much more to my liking. This image also shows that shoulder-joint: it’ll swivel, but won’t actually move up/down.

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I like the detail on the scabbards, though I don’t remember the character ever having the blue strap in the cartoon. It works well enough with the general color scheme here, though, emphasizing that this is indeed Leonardo. The scabbards are one piece, but “plug in” to the shell, and the piece is easily removed, though thankfully doesn’t seem QUITE “fall-out” easy to remove.

The shoulder issue really limits the playability and posability of the figure; I very quickly lost interest in playing with posing due to that, as the character is quite limited with arms stuck straight out perpendicular! I intend to “research” the issue before I’ll buy any more of these–if it’s a common issue, I probably will hold off. If it’s just a glitch on the figure I got, I might try to work it loose and see what I can do with it from there.

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While–again–I’m not a fan of variants on the figure within the same “line,” here are the “main” Leonardo figures from four different lines.

Superman Unchained #1 [Review]

Superman Unchained #1The Leap

Writer: Scott Snyder
Penciller: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Cover: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair
Assoc. Editor: Chris Conroy
Group Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

So…$4.99 for this Superman Unchained #1. It’s functionally a 20-page story with a 2-page “epilogue” or “backup” or “extra feature.” 22 pages for $4.99. BUT there’s what was billed as a “tipped-in POSTER” included. This poster is just a double-sided foldout allowing for two single images roughly 4x the size of a normal-sized page, the most “poster-like” loaded with caption boxes. Maybe technically this counts as an extra 8 pages…but that STILL only brings the pagecount to 30…for $4.99. Removing this so-called “poster” involved peeling it off a bound-in piece of tagboard–something which I would assume complicated the printing/binding process in itself to put in, plus the folding, placement of the glue, and the placement of the “poster.” And the “poster” itself had a couple dots of this glue, keeping it from flapping open.

All this hassle, and it’s basically for one side of a “poster” being this huge image of Superman crashing through a satellite, and then an extra-large image of him narrating the situation on the other side. Hardly something that would really make sense on the wall as a poster, more just some comic page pulled out of an issue and stuck on the wall.

$4.99. Five dollars. And while I read the first arc of Superman when the New 52 began–so have a BIT of context of Lois, Perry, and Clark’s relationships…I’m not even that clear on what things are here. And the issue’s big “reveal,” the thing that’s such a big deal, isn’t. Not to me. It doesn’t fit. It doesn’t interest me. It doesn’t change things.

So, objects are falling to Earth. Superman’s trying to stop them, letting one go since he sees it’ll fall “harmlessly” while he stops this huge “Lighthouse” satellite that’s gonna hit like a gigantic nuclear bomb. He confronts Lex Luthor, who has an alibi, and as he seethes over this, learns someone stopped that object he’d let go–but if it wasn’t him, Wonder Woman, or Green Lantern–then who, exactly, WAS it that stopped the thing? We learn of General Lane’s involvement, and of a secret weapon against Superman that goes back to the beginning of things.

Visually…the art’s good. It’s Jim Lee, whose art I’ve tended to almost always enjoy. Maybe I’m just irked about the “poster,” and/or the price and/or my own lack of context for not keeping up with Superman the last 15 months, but the art doesn’t blow me away. It’s good, but it’s not the “great” that I’d’ve hoped for. It’s not the Jim Lee art that a decade ago prompted me to NOT drop the Superman titles but rather keep up a few more months until Lee‘s run on an Azzarello story would begin.

Story-wise, I’m just not interested. I know a lot of people are loving Snyder‘s work, and will consider this to be great Superman…but unfortunately, this is NOT “my” Superman. Perhaps the collected volume(s) will end up being my thing, if I myself hear enough good about it to warrant checking them out. But for now…this issue just doesn’t do anything (positive) for me.

I have no intention of grabbing the next issue, and it’ll depend on others’ reviews whether or not I even bother returning to this title in any form, outside proper bargain bins. For your page count, you’d be better off grabbing the first Superman: Earth One graphic novel and reading that, especially if you’re looking for a specific tie-in to the Man of Steel film.

Man of Steel: Initial Thoughts

manofsteelwalmartpremierenightfrontI’ve said for awhile now that based on the trailers alone, this film looks far better to me than “the last one.” While Superman Returns has its place, I never cared for the costume or the weirdly-stylized “S.” And the film was long, kinda dragged, and seemed too much like it was trying too hard to BE the ’78 Donner film.

And this new film?

There’s plenty of homage; I thought of a bunch of other films at different points throughout watching this. I saw what I interpreted as a number of influences–from Alex Ross’ art to The Matrix to Star Wars and Gladiator…some things more subtle than others.

But mostly, I saw Superman. I didn’t see an actor molded to be as similar as possible to another actor playing Superman. And because of that (at least in part) I enjoyed the film a lot more.

alexrosssupermanThere’s a lot of sci-fi to this film; more than I think I’ve ever seen in a live-action Superman film before. And a lot of it–especially early on–put me heavily in mind of Star Wars Episode III. Shortly after I was put in mind of moments from 2009’s Star Trek as well as (for what should be an obvious reason) Gladiator.

In large part due to the broad strokes of the conditions behind Superman’s reveal, I was put in mind of the Superman: Earth One graphic novel from a couple years back. As a fan of ’90s Superman, I certainly missed one character in particular…and yet, the way that gets handled by the end of the film leaves huge potential for the inevitable sequel, and I daresay I’d be highly interested in a comic series set in this film’s continuity.

After the film’s opening, I was a bit put off by what I imagined was the route the story was taking…and braced myself for a long off-putting film. This concern was quickly put aside as the story unfolded and things were presented contrary to my expectations.

manofsteelwalmartpremierenightbackI was honestly surprised by a couple of deaths in the film–though they certainly fit the story, and definitely leave things ripe for potential…and my own mental tying in of a digital prequel comic I read thanks to the Walmart Premiere Night ticket code makes me wonder at the possibility of even a loose adaptation of the first “current” Superman story I ever read (parts of) back in ’89.

You want out ‘n out spoilers? Plenty of those out there. And I’ll likely have other thoughts once I see the film at least one more time; to say nothing of how others’ thoughts will rub off on me and give me different perspectives to come at this with…as well as the simple passage of time. (I’ll be particularly looking forward to hearing what Michael Bailey and Raging Bullets have to say on the film!)

The Obligatory “I Just Saw ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’!” post

I just saw The Amazing Spider-Man.

Definitely a much different creature than the 2002 film from just over 10 years ago (end of my junior year! Where HAS the time gone?!?).

And yet, this film was a heckuva lot more enjoyable than Spider-Man 3 from just a few years ago.

In fact, this was the most I’ve enjoyed ANYTHING Spider-Man in a number of years.

I got to thinking, during a scene in the high school: THIS is how you go back and re-live the spirit of the early Spidey comics by Lee & Ditko & co. Other media. Not constantly restarting stuff in the comics or waving a magic wand (er…devil) at stuff and resetting things to the status quo from 20+ years ago. You get your movies, and video games, and cartoons and such to revisit that old stuff “reimagined.”

I also found myself trying to decide if this film “could” fit in-continuity with the 2002 series (nope, just gotta enjoy it as its own thing). I suspect if you’ve seen the earlier films, some elements of this one will have a bit of familiarity in a way…and I liked that.

There was a certain amount of “echo” to me from the 2002 film in this–so long as I’m not crazy, you’ll recognize a Lizard/Goblin parallel. And there’s another scene that reminded me of that “you mess with him, you mess with us!” from 2002.

Given this is a movie, I had zero problem with the costume (but doggone it, WHAT is with that mask not staying on?!?). The costume simply “is” Spider-Man; I couldn’t even tell you offhand if it’s more one version or another, though I’m sure you’ll find that around online.

While I much prefer Mary Jane, didn’t have any greater problem with Gwen being “the love interest” in this film than I did this being a reboot. Different series, different supporting characters…works for me.

For having only seen this once, and less than an hour ago at that–I’d have to say this was on par with 2008’s Iron Man and 2004’s Spider-Man 2. Well worth seeing, especially in the theatre.

Highly recommended!

Smallville Finale

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[Note: I do get into spoiler territory in the bottom half of this post for the finale. You should be “safe” up until the spoiler warning line later in this post.]

I remember when I figured a summary of Smallville could be spoken in three words: Clark Kent’s Creek. Another high school drama but instead of new characters, it would plug in names from familiar Superman characters. Add to that assumption the fact that I was in college, with no TV in my room and having largely gotten away FROM watching TV in general…and despite having been a Superman fan for over a decade, it didn’t bother me one bit that I didn’t see the pilot. Or the first season.

I’m pretty sure it was during the show’s second season that Christopher Reeve showed up in the role of a scientist who revealed to Clark his alien origins. By this time, I did actually have a tv in my room, and though I used it mostly for watching stuff on VHS, or cartoons, or CMT…a good friend told me about Reeve being on Smallville, so I watched it. Cuz hey…one Superman to another, and all that.

I never kept up with the show. A few years later when I was in grad school, I found myself intrigued by a commercial for a specific episode, and wound up watching it. That a friend from class was a fan and we chatted via IMs about the show helped–I think I MIGHT have seen as many as 3 episodes around then, as I had someone to talk about ’em with. (And it’s always cool to find another Superman fan in-person).

Another several years later, my roommate had Smallville on, and I recall there being mention of some Doomsday weapon. Come to find it was reference to THAT Doomsday. But altered for the show. Also some supposedly fan-favorite actor playing Brainiac (I realized earlier this year that it was the actor who played Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer…so I may go back and watch these episodes on DVD just to see the actor in another role).

And of course there was that Legion episode written by Geoff Johns. I don’t recall knowing about it ahead of time, but I do recall seeing Johns’ name in the credits while my roommate had it on, so I made a point of watching the episode, too. But again never really kept up with the show; missed the big finale with Doomsday and “Jimmy” and all that.

But when Season 9 came around, I decided to jump aboard, see what it was all about at this point. Seemed the show had actually gotten kinda good, in my estimation.  Plus I was frustrated with the comics, and finally decided Smallville was just some alternate reality and rather than seeing it as some definitive re-imagining of Superman’s past, just settled in to enjoy this alternate history for a character.

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TMNT Forever? [Movie Review: Turtles Forever]

Though I largely lost track of the TMNT animated series the last several years, I’ve tuned in here or there to see where things are. I’d thought the series was nothing but re-runs at this point, and with the sale of the TMNT to Nickelodeon, hadn’t expected anything new to be aired. Thankfully, I was wrong, as this ‘Turtles Forever’ tv movie aired this morning.

The purple dragons find themselves under attack as they seek to rip off some high-tech equipment. Splinter finds his soap opera interrupted by news of four green individuals caught on camera–apparently turtles. However, his sons are all home and haven’t been out. Cue Hun, responding to the Dragons’ having captured the Turtles. Sure enough, four Ninja Turtles have been captured…but they’re not any Hun has ever seen before. Determining they’re of no worth, he orders them killed…but that’s when the “real” (2003) turtles burst in.

After a fight, the two teams of teenage turtles size each other up. One group–pudgey and goofy, the other taller, leaner, and more serious. Before long, the time-tossed turtles from 1987 are introduced to Splinter–who, notably, looks much different. The Technodrome is brought in, as is the bumbling Shredder, Krang, and even the robotic foot soldiers. Bebop and Rocksteady make their requisite appearance.

Realizing that there are other-dimensional versions of the turtles he knows, Bumbling Shredder (1987) uses the Technodrome tech to locate this dimension’s Shredder–not in the USA, Not on Earth, but significantly further away–and beams him into the Technodrome. This dimension’s Shredder, however, is not the human Oroku Saki, but an evil Utrom Ch’rell. The Ch’rell Shredder wakes, makes short work of Bumbling Shredder, Krang, & Co., and implements a new plan–retrofitting the Technodrome with Utrom upgrades, transforming it into a far deadlier, more effective “ultimate weapon” than any previously seen.

The two groups of turtles survive an attack by a mutated Hun (remember the pink mutagen that changed someone into whatever creature they were last in contact with?), and with a dimensional-portal-stick find themselves back in the 1987 world–reversing the groups’ disorientation. The 2003 turtles meet the Hamato Yoshi Splinter, who offers a calm, serious, yet compassionate air to the time-tossed teens.

When the turtles check back in with their home (2003) dimension, they see Ch’rell’s upgraded Technodrome causing loads of destruction, withstanding the best the Military can throw at it…and they realize the box of anti-Technodrome gadgest they have isn’t gonna cut it.

Upon returning to rescue Splinter (2003), the turtles are all captured, held to particular points in a massive chamber, their essense to play a role in locating “Turtle-Prime,” the SOURCE of Ninja Turtles in the Multiverse. (And reminding me a great deal of Alexander Luthor’s tower from DC’s Infinite Crisis).

The Ch’rell Shredder shares what he’s learned, displaying images of virtually every other incarnation of the turtles out there–The 1990s movies, various incarnations from Mirage, and Archie, the newspaper strip, the 2007 movie, and so on. All are branches coming from the source being sought–destroy the source, and all the others will cease to exist. (Destroy a branch and others will continue to flourish).

Before the turtles can be completely dismantled by the device, Karai beams them away, saving their lives, as the Technodrome fades away to this Prime dimension. Another encounter with Hun as the world turns to black and white and then whites out of existence leads the turtles to modify their dimensional stick and they, too, fade out to the Prime dimension.

Arrival there introduces black and white turtles–the ORIGINAL Mirage TMNT. Accurately, the “source” of every other incarnation of the turtles.

The three groups team up to face the threat Ch’rell now poses to the multiverse.

As the story draws to a close, the other turtles return “home,” and the Prime-turtles are left to reflect on what they’ve just been a part of. Finally, they leave with Leonardo’s narration seeing them out. “We are the Teenage Mutant Ninja TUrtles. We strike hard, and fade away…into the night.”

I wasn’t sure what to expect of this when I first discovered it. A friend posted a link to the wikipedia page on my facebook, and I researched a bit from there, ultimately recording the movie and watching it this evening. A blending of the old and new/current cartoons was interesting as a concept, but I figured it would be some goofy, hokey thing that wouldn’t really be much more than “fanservice” or such.

However, goofy as it was at points, I really greatly enjoyed this. The movie REALLY accentuates the differences in the turtles’ incarnations. The “classic” 1987 turtles are goofy, hokey, and not very serious on the whole. The 2003 turtles are far more serious (though Mikey remains a bit of a goofball–but not nearly on the level of all the ’87 turtles). And of course, both incarnations are significantly “lighter” than the original 1984 Mirage turtles.

As far as I could tell, the voices of the 2003 turtles are the same as the long-running series. None of the voices for the classic turtles seemed at all familiar–which was disappointing, though I’d’ve been shocked if they could reassemble those regulars 20ish years later. Still, the attitudes of the characters showed through.

I did feel that the Splinters, as well as April and Casey (2003) got shortchanged…though I could’ve done with a little less than the brief bit we got with the 1987 April. I must admit it was sorta cool seeing Bebop and Rocksteady again, though they, too, were really shown to be the goofy caricatures they were.

Though brief overall, the Prime-turtles were rather cool to see–and it may just be my own prior comparisons of the incarnations that made it stand out for me–but they seemed all the more dangerous and deadly appearing alongside the colorized counterparts.

The movie ending with these turtles first striking the pose on a building that should be familiar to anyone who’s seen the covers to the original TMNT #1, TMNT #50, and so on. Then the thing closed out with Leo’s narration from the ending of that original TMNT #1…

Which truly brought things full-circle. Even though mere glimpses were provided of the numerous versions of the turtles through the years, that technically means they were included here. And so this capped off–“series finale”-style–the animated series that’s been running since 2003, as well as referencing/capping off the 1980s-1990s series, and everything that’s come before in the extended multiverse of TMNT.

I loved the references to past elements of the series. The classic lines were all there. Familiar nuances to voices were present despite different voiceactors–from Bumbling Shredder’s frustration to Krang’s gurgling/burping. The visual styles were consistent at least with what I remember of both series. The Prime turtles seemed a bit off, but the visual cues were absolutely unmistakeable.

This whole thing reminded me a bit of that Batman: The Animated Series episode with the kids relaying their different versions of the Batman, that included the various visual styles of the silver-age Batman, Miller’s Dark Knight, and so on.

All in all, it’s hard to capture every last detail or every last thought and such from the movie. Suffice to say that there are a number of other specific touches that pushed all the right geek-buttons for me.

I sincerely hope this gets released on DVD, whoever puts it out (provided it’s not vastly over-priced for being only about 75 minutes of content).

One of the commercials indicates it’ll be airing again over the next 3 weeks, so if you have not had a chance to see it, and you’re a fan of (particularly) either of the animated series, this is incredibly worthwhile.

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