REVIEW: SPIDER-WOMAN: AGENT OF S.W.O.R.D

CAST

Jolynn Carpenter (Stonerz)
Andy Mackenzie (Sushi Girl)
Geoff Boothby (Rocksteppy)

spider-woman.jpgWith Jessica Drew still reeling from the effects of having been sedated and physically replaced on Earth by the Skrull Queen Veranke, the last thing in the world she wants to encounter is another Skrull invasion. But when Jessica is approached by Abigail Brand, a mysterious agent of S.W.O.R.D., she finds that the urge within herself to inflict vengeance upon the Skrulls is too overwhelming to deny.spider-woman-agent-of-sword-20110524003723093-000Now Spider-Woman faces the diabolical organisation of HYDRA, the new Thunderbolts and the suspicions of her new teammates in the New Avengers.spider-woman-hulu1Developed by the legendary Eisner Award-winning team of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, If you have read the comic book then this won’t be for you as it’s just the same, but if you haven’t then it’s worth a look, but only once. spiderwoman01

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12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: MARVEL SUPER HERO ADVENTURES: FROST FIGHT

CAST (VOICES)

Mick Wingert (The Princess and The Frog)
Matthew Mercer (Monsters University)
Travis Willingham (Super Hero Squad)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)
Troy Baker (Justice League Action)
Anthony Del Rio (Bunheads)
Trevor Devall (Batman vs Robin)
Kevin Micharl Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Steven Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)

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Loki and a Frost Giant are trying to gain more and more power, turning a tropical island into an frozen land, with only Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to stop them, The Avengers.  When The Avengers win the battle Loki and the Frost Giant try something else, they plan to find an ancient powerful cross between a Frost Giant and Elf known as Jolnir, but you and I know him as Santa Claus.

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I want all the adults here to remember back as far as they can, if they are close to my age they’ll remember the Saturday morning cartoons which started off our weekends, sadly these are mostly gone.  Remember the adventures of The Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, going back further X-Men, Batman the Animated Series, and the other great cartoons that brought our loved comic book characters to life.  This was long before the high level of cinematic adventures.  Now think about it logically, these were the precursors to our loving of the movies of today, the high adventures and great stories.  We wouldn’t drive these movies so hard without that basis.  So with that in mind, if you have children, you will get them Marvel Super Hero Adventures: Frost Fight.  It’s films like this that will bring the next generation of comic fans to the cinema and fingers crossed to the books.
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Animation wise it’s very similar to the traditional animations that we came to love during the 90’s and early 00’s of this century, with a little bit of modernization to show they are not doing a tribute piece.  Character design is along the lines of the Avengers Assemble series that dropped in the past few years and it’s all very much similar to what we’d expect.   Bringing in Captain Marvel is a clever move, with the live action version coming in the near future, and will introduce those who haven’t heard of this character gently into her presence.  There are funny moments where Hulk and Thor go Christmas shopping, and Hulk explaining Santa to Thor made me smile.  Iron Man’s character here is the wise cracking role that you’d expect.5616cde899678
The Holiday theme of this animation is going to help this film but hinder it too, there is a limited amount of time that you’d play it through the year.  With other Marvel animations you can play them year round, always handy to put on when the kids are screaming and running around, but this one has that two month period where watching it is acceptable.  If this leads your children to read some of the all ages comics that are out there from any company then it serves another purpose.  If your children are interested in comic book characters then buy them comic books, using an entertaining animated film like this one would be another tool to get them to the pages.  A Saturday morning Holiday special from Marvel that the whole family can sit down and just turn off the world for just over an hour.

REVIEW: THE INCREDIBLE HULK (1966)

CAST (VOICES)

Max Ferguson (Spider-Man 60s)
Paul Soles (The Score)
Peg Dixon (Strange Paradise)
John Vernon (Dirty Harry)
Bernard Cowan (20,000 Leagues Under The Sea)
Paul Kligman (Spider-Man 60s)

1280x720-6ImThe Incredible Hulk. Initially aired as three seven-minute segments in the (weekly) animated Marvel Superheroes hour in 1966, this two-disc box set compiles all 39 Hulk episodes into one fantastic collection and provides a fascinating window into the cartoons of old. Lifted directly from the early Marvel comics in which he first appeared, most of what we know and love about the Hulk is already here. Following the classic origin story to a tee, Dr Bruce Banner, missile expert and genius scientist, runs out onto a missile test range to rescue wayward teenager Rick Jones. But in doing so, Banner is caught in a detonation of his own making and blasted with gamma rays. Waking in the infirmary sometime later, Banner feels a change coming on and is soon busting through clothes and turning a darker shade of green.hqdefaultCreated by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby four years earlier, it’s fair to say the character was still in development at this point and, playing more into the monster myth on which the Hulk was originally based, Banner’s transformations are initially triggered more by the sun going down rather than losing control of his emotions. Nevertheless, all the other character traits we associate with the green-skinned one are here – the lack of intelligence, the uncontrollable rage, and the complete disregard for his or anyone else’s safety (with the exception of constant love interest Betty Ross). Other familiar faces play their part, General ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross, Betty’s father, continues his life-long mission to capture and control Banner’s monster, while other Marvel characters, including Iron Man, Thor, The Wasp and Captain America, also make a guest appearance as The Avengers. It’s a shame The Avengers don’t feature more heavily, although a few of them do return individually in later episodes. That being said, this is Hulk’s show and it’s only right that he takes the starring role, and that he does.nick-furyAnd it’s not just the Marvel heroes who turn up, classic villains like the Gorgon, Leader and the Metal Master also take their respective turns as enemies of the Hulk and do their best to enrage the muscle-bound giant. Each of the villain’s are brilliantly voiced, lovingly drawn and serve as suitable adversaries for the Hulk, doing their best to either thwart, capture or kill our favorite beast. Another character to feature heavily, and of some annoyance, is the already mentioned Rick Jones, the Hulk’s guilt-ridden sidekick who blames himself for Banner getting caught in the radiation blast. And while, at first, Rick seems a welcome addition to the Hulk origin story, he soon begins to grate and becomes something of a boy wonder, and proves just as annoying. That aside, the characters, friend and foe alike, really make the journey from page to screen and make these episodes all the more enjoyable for being there. And at only seven minutes long, each episode is easy to watch and doesn’t ask too much of the viewer in terms of investment and commitment, making the stories easy to follow and extremely watchable.untitledIt’s also worth mentioning that while these episodes will hold fond memories for most Marvel fans, the series has received criticism in the past for it’s almost entirely static animation, save for the movement of mouths, eyes and the occasional arm or leg. But such criticism is unfair and unwarranted, especially when you consider the limitations of the time and the quick turnaround required for the weekly episodes. It goes without saying that, when compared to the animation standards of today, that the artwork here seems crude and almost basic, but again it was fitting with the times and served as an accurate representation of what many consider to be Marvel’s Silver Age of comics. So accurate, in fact, that the artwork was directly lifted from the comic books themselves and, through a process known as xerography, printed directly onto the animation cells. This process allowed for the series to act as something of a showcase for the wonderfully nostalgic artwork of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Don Heck, Marvel luminaries themselves and just as deserving of our adoration as Stan the Man himself.

 

 

REVIEW: CAPTAIN AMERICA (1966)

CAST (VOICES)

Sandy Becker (The Beagles)
Paul Kligman (Spider-Man 60s)
Paul Soles (The Score)
John Vernon (Dirty Harry)
Bernard Cowan (20,000 Leagues Under The Sea)
Peg Dixon (Strange Paradise)
Chris Wiggins (Babar)

The graphics during the cheesy but patriotic and memorable opening theme tune are a clue to what to expect from this 1966 cartoon series. Basically it is a cartoon version of several tales involving Captain America taken from the early years of Tales of Suspense and The Avengers.


It was great to see animated versions of several of Cap’s early triumphs, well animated in the sense of moving comic book images. Included here are several tales set in WWII involving The Red Skull who wears a sanitised version of the costume he wore in the original comic and Adolf Hitler’s role in the Skull’s origin has oddly been replaced by some generic Nazi figure. These tales also feature Cap’s sidekick Bucky Barnes. From the 1960’s C.A. takes on Batroc and the Red Skull again with his Sleepers and the Cosmic Cube, featuring A.I.M.


It also includes several tales from The Avengers. There is an edited version of Cap’s silver age re-appearance in Avengers #4 (minus the Sub-Mariner’s role) the other tales involve Zemo and his Masters of Evil (The Black Knight, Radioactive Man and the Melter), the Commissar, Super Adaptoid, Enchantress and Power-Man and ending with the Sworsdman and the Mandarin. Several versions of the Avengers are seen with Thor, Iron Man, Giant-Man and The Wasp, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch….. even Rick Jones and Jarvis. The only downside of the Avengers tales is the daft voice given to Giant-Man. Just watch how the Wasp’s costume changes over even this short period of time. All 13 episodes are included here and I highly recommend it, just don’t expect Pixar quality animation

REVIEW: THE SUB-MARINER (1966)

 

CAST (VOICES)

John Vernon (Dirty Harry)
Bernard Cowan (20,000 Leagues Under The Sea)
Peg Dixon (Strange Paradise)

This is the oddest of the rash of the Marvel character cartoon series that were released in the mid-1960’s.  There are a mixture of tales, some taken from the original Tales To Astonish series, an odd mish-mash from the Fantastic Four and some new tales. My favorites here are those tales involving Attuma, Krang and Byrrah that are taken from Tales to Astonish.
There are some stories that are new to me, Namor in ancient Rome, in outer space on the planet Argon and with the Siren Loralie and the Mud-monster. These may have been original stories created for this series I certainly do not recall them. But by far the oddest one is a tale that features The Avengers and a whole host of classic villains from the early Marvel Universe, including the Mandarin,Mole-Man,Super Skrull amongst others who are brought into conflict with the heroes by Doctor Doom.MV5BODE5OTU3MWYtNTM0Yi00MDE3LTgyMmYtY2EyMjdjMTAxNDBjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTc4Njg5MjA@__V1_The X-Men appear here in one of the most amateur, but endearingly so, pieces of animation of all time. The clue to us old-timers is that it is based on Fantastic Four #6 and FF Annual #3 (The marriage of Reed and Sue) only with the very cunning idea of leaving the Fantastic Four out entirely and inserting the X-Men in their place, the animated Iceman is particularly hilarious.MV5BMTY0MTU5MmQtZTdlYS00MDE4LWE4NDMtMWVlYmI2OTA4NDI2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTc4Njg5MjA@__V1_The last episode tells the tale of the Sub-Mariner’s origin. Apart from a few minor grumbles this is a pretty good package for anyone interested in the early Marvel years.

REVIEW: THE MIGHTY THOR (1966)

CAST (VOICES)

Bernard Cowan (20,000 Leagues Under The Sea)
Peg Dixon (Strange Paradise)
Chris Wiggins (Babar)
Len Carlson (Cypher)

With the big screen adaptations of Thor proving to be both a critical and commercial success, Clear Vision  re-released the 1966 animated series of The Mighty Thor on DVD. The series was a part of a nightly run of programming for Marvel animated series, with five key Marvel characters having their own night to showcase their adventures. Of course, Thor was aired on Thursdays.

Thirteen episodes are collected on two discs and cover a range of Thor’s greatest enemies, although Loki does dominate proceedings throughout, particularly on disc one, where the format appears to be Thor minds his own business on Earth trying to woo Jane Foster, whilst under the guise of Dr. Donald Blake. Of course, Loki can’t leave our hero be and decides to come up with various schemes to put Thor in danger or discredit him. Of course, Thor, often on the brink of defeat, manages to defeat Loki, and with the help of Odin, banishes him to imprisonment he won’t be able to escape. Well, until the next episode at least.

Given that the first disc is rather formulaic, it hardly makes for compelling viewing and much of the enjoyment is gleamed from the fantastic art work. Disc two is where the series really hits its stride, mainly as it breaks from the formula and introduces an array of antagonists for Thor to face off against. Loki still makes appearances, and Odin’s displeasure at Thor’s relationship with a mortal is still evident in every episode, but having the focus on other antagonists is a refreshing change.

The final episode will, no doubt, be the one of most interesting to the majority of the target audience, as it brings together the members of The Avengers as they face off against the Lava Men. The episode itself features a muddled plot and resolves itself a little too quickly for you to really register what’s happened, but seeing all of the characters work together against an antagonist that isn’t Loki is a nice change.

Most of the voice work is great, particularly Thor, Odin and the other inhabitants of Asgard. However, Loki is a weak link.

The series is more like a motion comic than a full animated series, but is still a rather charming piece of work that will surely be of great interest to those who have strong feelings of nostalgia for the series. There are times where mouths move during dialogue-heavy sections and motion is hinted at, but mostly it’s a collection of frames, and once you get used to it, it’s barely noticeable.

REVIEW: ULTIMATE AVENGERS 1 & 2

 CAST (VOICES)

Justin Gross (Texhnolyze)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)
Michael Massee (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Marc Worden (Batman Beyond)
Nan McNamara (7 Films, 7 Weeks)
Nolan North (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Andre Ware (The Banger Sisters)
David Boat (Frozen)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Jim Ward (Wall-E)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Steven Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)

In the North Atlantic in 1945 a squadron of B-24 Liberators transport the 101st Airborne Division. The radio announces that Berlin has been taken and Nazi Germany is expected to surrender. However, there are also claims of a Nazi superweapon that is aimed at Washington, D.C.Steve Rogers, better known as Captain America, leads the mission on an island near Norway where the superweapon is believed to be held. Rogers storms through the fortress and is confronted by his nemesis Herr Kleiser, who is revealed to be an extraterrestrial shape-shifter. The superweapon is launched, leaving Rogers the choice to throw himself onto the rocket and harmlessly cause it to self destruct, while having a final confrontation with Kleiser. The missile is destroyed, but Rogers falls into the ocean and the world believes he is dead.Sixty years later, Rogers’ body is recovered by S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury and thawed out into modern day. Gamma scientist Bruce Banner is working on a super soldier serum for S.H.I.E.L.D., while on medications that keep him from transforming into the Hulk. S.H.I.E.L.D. sends a sattelite into space to track the three ramaining alien ships, but is ultimately destroyed by the invaders, forcing Nick Fury to reluctantly initiate Project: Avenger.Fury and Rogers try to recruit the Norse god Thor, who rejects the offer to continue environmentalist protests. The resulting recruits are Captain America, Bruce Banner, Iron Man, Giant Man, Wasp, Natalia Romanov and Betty Ross. Fury briefs the team about the aliens, named the Chitauri, and the use of the metal vibranium, while Banner struggles to repress the Hulk persona and Rogers is hesitant of leading the Avengers.

The team’s first mission is to capture a Chitauri spy which has breached a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. The Avengers disregard Rogers’ orders and follow their own egos, resulting in failure which allows the alien to escape with all sufficient information about S.H.I.E.L.D.. Fury fires an arrogant Hank Pym, who is followed by his wife Wasp. Iron Man, now revealed to be Tony Stark, resigns immediately. Rogers also chooses to leave Fury, feeling unready to fight the Chitauri.Desperate for soldiers to combat the coming assault on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s New York facility, Fury demands that Banner applies his super soldier serum to all of his candidates, only for Betty Ross to learn that Banner was only using the serum as a diversion to find a way to control the Hulk. Banner steps into a “rebirth chamber”, which transforms him into the Hulk, while still maintaining his own mind. Fury and the Black Widow lead a failing attack against the alien invaders, but each Avenger shows up, now joined by Thor, to send the three ships crashing into the ocean.Banner loses control of his thoughts and the Hulk retains his own childlike and violent personality, brutally killing every last Chitauri and then lashing out against the Avengers. The Hulk proves strong enough to knock out a full-size Giant Man, damage Iron Man’s suit and even, with effort, to lift Thor’s hammer Mjollnir. The Avengers manage to inject the Hulk with a high dose of Banner’s medication, and Betty Ross calms the Hulk long enough to let the drug render him human again. Banner is kept in a glass cell for breaking Fury’s trust, and the Avengers celebrate their success against the Chitauri and praise a wounded Captain America for leading them as a team.The action is spectacular and the storyline keeps you riveted from start to finish. This movie grabs with its cinematic lead in and flashback to World War Two. (Complete with throwback radio broadcast) From there, it’s one big roller coaster ride to the pulse pounding finish. The battle sequences are some of the best ever animated. I think the PG-13 rating really helps. Soldiers die and heroes bleed, that completely draws the viewer in to the feature. I think movie fans of all ages will be stunned at how many levels this movie delivers upon. This is a smart and surprisingly interesting film that really delivers.

CAST (VOICES)

Justin Gross (Texhnolyze)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)
Michael Massee (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Marc Worden (Batman Beyond)
Nan McNamara (7 Films, 7 Weeks)
Nolan North (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Andre Ware (The Banger Sisters)
David Boat (Frozen)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Jim Ward (Wall-E)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Jeffrey D. Sams (Soul Food)

In the fortified African nation of Wakanda, the inhabitants of the small city-nation welcome home T’Challa, the son of king T’Chaka. Members of the extraterrestrial Chitauri race attract the attention of T’Chaka’s alter-ego, the Black Panther. T’Chaka is murdered by Herr Kleiser, their commander who continues to adapt the form of a Nazi commandant. T’Challa inherits the throne and Black Panther technology, swearing vengeance against Kleiser.In the United States, Captain America has become reckless in his missions due to the trauma of his 60-year deep freeze. Bruce Banner remains locked up in his cell after his Hulk incident, tormented and frequently drugged by a disgruntled ex-employee of his who acts as his interrogator. Betty Ross discovers that the wreckage of Chitauri ships has become mysteriously brittle. Hank Pym begins developing sickness for his overuse of his Giant-Man formula, leading to tension in his relationship with the Wasp. Thor sees a possible future where the Avengers are dead and seeks to consult Odin. Finding out that a Chitauri mothership is speeding towards Earth, Thor refuses to return to Asgard. When T’Challa meets Nick Fury and Captain America and reveals that Cap’s wartime nemesis kleiser still lives, he finds that Captain America tried to kill him numerous times and failed. T’Challa turns down an offer of alliance and Fury assembles the Avengers once again.

The Avengers illegally enter Wakanda. Black Panther allows only Captain America into the city, where he reveals that the Chitauri are searching for the “Heart of Wakanda”. The Avengers and Wakandan warriors find themselves fighting each other, with the Wakandans emerging victorious. The Avengers are commanded to return to their ship and T’Challa is stripped of his kinghood for allowing foreigners into the country. Captain America drags an injured Chitauri onto the Avengers’ jet, followed by Herr Kleiser taking T’Challa’s form. He steals Captain America’s shield and destroys the ship. Iron Man’s battered suit protects the Avengers in a force field and Thor teleports the team back to the Triskellion.

The Wasp is left in a coma from her injuries and is kept in the Triskellion. A mothership hovers above Wakanda and etraps the entire planet in a sickly-green bubble. Extraterrestrial invaders attack every major city on Earth and begin a massacre of the human population. Iron Man suits up in the War Machine armour and joins the Avengers as they teleport to Wakanda to battle the invaders. It is revealed they are seeking a gigantic meteorite of vibranium deep under Wakanda, from which the Wakandans develop their advanced technology. Bruce Banner works out that the gamma radiated from the Hulk is what caused the vibranium in the Chitauri ships to become brittle, and lets Betty use a gamma generator to attack the aliens close range. The Chitauri gas Banner’s cell and he promptly dies. Betty and the revived Wasp take a jet to Wakanda and give Iron Man the gamma generator to attack the inside of the mothership. Giant-Man, despite his condition getting worse from his use of his powers, shrinks down to aid Iron Man. Bruce Banner’s lifeless body becomes the Hulk and wakes up to fight the aliens invaders.Captain America and Black panther find themselves in a bloody fight with Kleiser, who appears to be immortal due to his rapid healing factor. The two trick Kleiser into falling into a pool of liquid vibranium and leave him trapped as it solidifies. Iron man and Giant-Man enter the mothership and destroy its core with the gamma generator. However, Giant-Man’s injuries lead him to pass out and he has to be carried back to the ground. Giant-Man makes up with the Wasp before dying. Iron Man travels alone to divert the crashing mothership away from the city, draining his life support. Thor returns and summons the power of the heavens to give life back to Tony Stark, proving his claims to be the God of Thunder to be genuine.With the Chitauri attack ended, the Avengers mourn Giant-Man’s death and T’Challa’s kinghood is restored. The Hulk sees Betty one last time before leaping away. Captain America and Black Widow begin a romantic relationship and the world celebrates victory over the Chitauri. The film ends with Thor and Nick Fury setting aside their differences and becoming friends.

The animation is superb! This movie is a sequel to the first Ultimate Avengers movie and maybe even a better one! They paid more attention to developing characters,but it could have been much more.Because that is what makes these superheroes special! There were nice little surprises in this movie and I don’t know if this is based on actual story lines in the marvel comics. It is nice to see a mature approach of things,just like in the comics. For me the movie is an example of what can be achieved if they take the myths created by Marvel Comics seriously.