JP On Gaming

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

[Kinda Book Report] X-Men vs Avengers/Fantastic Four

Another book I drew from the bargain bin. This trade book includes the X-Men vs Avengers and X-Men vs Fantastic Four (FF) along with the issue where the two groups first meet. The oddest thing is that the more modern series is FOLLOWED by the first meeting, when it seems the other way around would be more natural.

The Fantastic Four vs the X-Men series comes first. Here we have Reed Richards having a personal battle with his demons, doubting himself and his capacities are he is challenged by the X-Men to find a way to save Kitty Pride who is phasing away following the mutant massacre (a cross-over event I really loved at the time when I began secondary school). After Richards refuses to help, the X-Men turn to the next brightest mind: Doctor Doom.

This is Chris Claremont at his best. Everyone of the characters gets to shine here. Reed Richards' crisis is not trivial and understandable. His relation with Sue and Franklin are strained. On the X-Men side, they have to deal with internal conflicts, their alliance with Magneto and working dealing with the coma of both Colossus and Nightcrawler, and Kitty Pryde's condition. They come of as very stressed and some of their decisions are rash but not foolish. The two teams clash multiple times but the pace and story keep moving on.

Easy 4/5 with re-readability.

Next we have Fantastic Four #28 where the X-Men are sent to kill the FF because the Puppet Master took control of Professor Xavier. This is a classic early hero vs hero issue serving as a way to expose FF fans to the X-Men. It's serviceable yet it's greatest value is its nostalgia of seeing these early X-Men before they became the accomplished characters Claremont later gave us.

4/5 (rounded up from 3.5) with good re-readability.

The third series are X-Men vs. the Avengers. The line-up of both teams is one I'm familiar with and timewise happened before the FFvXM series. Here, we have Magneto recently turned good guy with the Avengers trying to arrest him, the X-men protecting him, and the Soviet Super-Soldiers (SSS) trying to kill him for his crimes.

After fighting on and off for three issues, the two teams eventually join forces while SSS exit because the Crimson Dynamo manipulated them to go after Magneto. It's a little wonky, but works. I must say that I really like how Captain America, Captain Marvel, and Doctor Druid (who they are really trying to push) are pivotal to the plot.

The final issue has Magneto put on trial for his crimes. In the end, he is found innocent which only seems to fuel more anti-mutant sentiment. In a way, it's a very bittersweet ending, yes he is released but things are not going better.

The biggest downside I have with this is that there is a LOT going on, as does not feel as refined as the FFvXM. Still the final issue is absolutely reveting as Magneto tries to find if one of the judge is crooked and whether he should influence the judges. It really add gravitas and keeps his character intact: he may have decided to reform but he's not suddenly a goodie-two-shoes. He is still willing to do some underhanded actions. Claremont knows Magneto and this series advances him and the X-Men.

4/5 with high re-readability (5/5 on issue #4).

The final issue is X-Men #9 when the X-Men first meet the Avengers. Again the hero vs hero formula, though this time the X-men are going to deal with a problem when the Avengers show up and effectively tell these kids to stay out of the way. After beating up the X-Men, the Avengers decide to leave when Professor Xavier tells them he needs the X-men.

The villain is creative if his name (Lucifer) is not. He has a nuclear device that will destroy America if he is damaged. The Professor and Cyclops finally disable the device.

This is the weakest of the stories in this book, and my rating may be biased from nostalgia but I'll go with a 3/5 with some re-readability.

Overall, this book rates a solid 4/5 with the biggest issue I have with it is the odd order the issues are in the book. I would've preferrred a chronological presentation with FF 28, X-Men 9, X-Men v Avengers, and finally FFvXM.

Monday, November 29, 2021

[Review] Doctor Who Flux: Survivors of the Flux

As the season keeps crashing down, I keep watching this ever-growin trainwreck of a season, we continue fitting a house boat, a car, and all the garden tools we can on this 10 square feet shed and wondering why things aren't going well.

So the lead-in at the end of the previous episode with the Doctor turning into an angel turns out to just fizzle out. ANOTHER let-down. So in turn, we got nothing new about the angels, nothing interesting.

Most of the episode were a series of monologues where the NPCs speak with the Doctor about their masterplan. Again, Dan and Jericho (another NPC we keep from Village of the Angels) are the only people who have normal reaction. Dead fish Yaz is never affected, surprised, curious, or scared by anything, so she's a waste of screen time.

Add to that Dog-Guy, Cute-Asian, Kinda-Black-Dude, and the blue guy and gal.

The joke-pushing Himalayan hermit was just... BAD. He's making modern-day jokes about gossip. I mean does Chibnall have any concept of time travel or how long paint stays on the group if untended? Nope. When you are trying to set the tone for something catastrophic slapstick and Disney-Channel humor does not help.

Did I forget the many scenes with some other villain we never heard of before. And Kate Stewart, whom I was happy to see whose appearance had gravitas.

Oh yeah, half that time, we get back to the Timeless Children person and keep trying to showhorn that arc into the overall story. To be honest, I expect that to be retconned or simply abandonned later.

So this over-plot is just bad. A mega conspiracy that includes everyone that only the Doctor does not know about. Oh wait, her memories are locked away. Pffff... Everything about this is just BAD.

I cannot wait for the season to end and Flux gets forgotten. This is another episode that should be 2 or 3 and that does not want to drop any character for any reason, or allow the Doctor to experience and discover what is happening and piece together for us in a Sherlock Holmes-like fashion. Instead she looks confused with her upper lip curled as if someone farted on set (that is also Yaz' usual face).

The only survivors of the flux are us, and after watching this, I'm not sure if I don't want to just disappear in it.

1/5 with no care for a rewatch.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

[Review] Doctor Who Flux: Village of the Angels

After an episode that I rather enjoyed the previous week, we now jumped into "Village of the Angels". Now, I will say a few things... I think the angels are overdone and have little interesting that can be added to them and their mythology. Well... At the same time, they have not been a direct enemy of a story for year (though they were mentioned or shown briefly throughout this season).

So although I thought I suffered from Angel fatigue, I really dug the idea of them coming back.

So here we get a story of a crazy village in 1967 and 1905 with a missing girl. The story is convoluted, with the angels sending the NPCs to the past. Again, the only person who has human reactions is Dan. Yaz is still a dead fish, and when we find the young girl, she is even calmer and more stoic than a cyberman.

So the girl's family are mere caricatures: neither of the two old people have any redeeming quality about them: they are bad to the girl, they don't really care what happens to her. Then later when they get killed by the angel, we should care? No. No, we don't. If they have been sourly, disciplinarians, and even annoyed that she misbehaved, they might've garnered some sympathy or even a reaction from the cyberman-girl. No one cared but Dan and Yaz (whose eyebrows lifted).

The Doctor now has psychic powers she can use like Spock, and it just gets too much. Why not give those to a companion and give them something more to do. Pfff.

The big reveal at the end, that the angels are minions for a yet-defined group. This feels like a conspiracy that wants to be the Pandorica but less interesting and with too many people sharing the screen.

Again, Cute-Generic-Asian-Girl appears. Just stop. Focus on the essential. Drop Yaz.

All right, after some initial interest and curiosity, that quickly dropped as the story unfolded and I just felt like someone wanted to give me twelve thread at the same time thinking they are all equally important and interesting. But they are not.

So my score? 2/5 with no re-watch. I could not wait for the end of the episode. I dread the ultimate reveal will not be worth the wait.

This one sucked but differently that the previous episodes of this season, while still having too many characters.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

[Review] Doctor Who Flux: Once, Upon Time

Well, it had to come. The 3rd episode of Doctor Who Flux came by. and this episode, Once, Upon Time. After the previous episode left me with positive thoughts about the possible direction for the show, now we go into a confused mess of scenes and subplots that are boring and simply uninteresting.

Eye rolling occured frequently throughout.

Again, the episode is filled with too many people with too little to say or do while trying to do too many things all at once. Like a "Buddy Cop Sci-Fi Time Travel Historically-Accurate RomCom with nod to 70s and 90s Horror." You understand that it is just too much to create something interesting.

Except Yaz who looks as interested as I am in eating a bowl of tofu with no seasoning, no sauce, and no way to hide that I'm eating Play-Doh. That girl just phones it in. She has the emotions of a dead fish and the only sequence involving her where she makes a difficult decision is done off-screen. I'm thinking that may be because seeing her act through the

Compared to Whitaker's attempt are coming across as interested or that she understands what's going on (she does not). I'll git it to her that she tries but the material is a confused mess of guh. Again we have Jo Martin (who unlike Whitaker understands what she's trying to do and comes off as a competent character).

Again Dan is the one character who would be interesting in developing but he's drowned in the noise and pointless side-stories of the the useless characters.

Now we have extra black-guy with a subplot to join cute-traveling-asian-girl-with-tamaguchi. I just do not care for these random characters.

CUT OUT THE EXTRAS. Explore these characters with us AND the Doctor, not in an ensemble cast, which Chibnall is incapable of writing and giving us a coherent story. It was as if you had so many random ideas and you flattened them all together... Pfff.

For a score, I will give this ADHD-filled delusion of an episode a 1.5/5, which rounds out to 2/5. A little strong, I think. A clear "NO" on the rewatch.

Monday, November 15, 2021

[Review] Doctor Who Flux: War of the Sontarans

Time for the second episode of the Doctor Who Flux, and an opportunity to see where this plot is going. So let's get into it.

The story begins interestingly enough with the Doctor, Dan and Yaz all appearing in the Crimea (1854-55). And meeting Mary Seacole who is the only level-headed person here.

One of the things this episode really excited me was the return of the Sontarans. Not the bumbling comedy Moffitt gave us. I like the Sontarans and their over-the-top militaristic tough guys approach to everything. It is funny but at the same time terrifying that people may actually think that way. A good point for the villains!

Now what most people remember of the Crimean War is NOT Mary Seacole, but the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade. No reference to it here. Not a word.

All the man are bumbling fools who do random things without concern with repercussions. Pffff... I am so tired of these predictable plots where token characters can be described as "dumb old white guy," or "tough calm intelligent black woman." Lazy writing. To give you an idea, the episode did not spend any time telling us who Mary Seacole is, what she accomplished, why she is important. Nope. You, dumb viewer, SHOULD know who she is. No. Tell me. Use this in the story.

But no. we just get the same preachy bullcrap where the woman is right, good, and intelligent while the officer is completely idiotic, listening to no advice or intelligence from anyone.

Now after a trip to Wikipedia informed and now I'm actually even MORE disappointed in how she was used in the story. Rather than have the Doctor ask her to catalog and merely look at the Sontarans, have the diary. In case you did not know, she kept an extensive diary complete with illustrations that was turned into an autobiography.

I will say that at the end, when the Sontaran ships exploded and the officer claimed the credit for it, I cheered. "By Jove, you saved your world!" Then the Doctor chewed him out and I just wanted her to STFU. Instead of just displacing TIME-TRAVELLING SHIPS, he destroyed them.

Yes. Destroying TIME-TRAVELLING SHIPS is the only way to ensure they won't come back (in time) and take you over.

Good work, Dumb Old White Guy!

Dan on the other hand, gets an interesting subplot where he travels to modern-day Liverpool where the Sontarans are building time ships. He does some sneaking around. All the while trying to convince himself that this is crazy. You know, a real person's reaction. He is truly the high point.

Yaz is a talentless actress without any range of emotion who always looks confused or disdainful. Don't care about her. Yaz is just surplus at this point. She adds nothing, has no meaningful arc and will not evolve, change, or mature before the camera. She is "tough cop Indian woman".

I love the fact the his aging parents are the ones who teach him how to take down the Sontarans. It is just so funny. I really like Dan and what little we have seen of his girlfriend, family, and subplot overall so far. A high point.

The space-guy Vinder is window-dressing. Just someone else to steal away screen time. He's "fine" but really provides nothing of interest.

So despite all my moaning and griping about what I did not like about it. This episode is actually pretty decent and fun. The pacing is good, the side-stories advance the overall plot. We learn more about Dan. I will definitely rate this one a re-watchable 3/5.

"By Jove, you saved your world!"

Monday, November 8, 2021

[Review] Doctor Who Flux: Halloween Apocalypse

Okay so I decided I would watch and review Doctor Who's thirteenth season called "Doctor Who Flux." I giggled when I saw the name but Flux can mean diarrhea in French. So let's see if this proved to be prophetic.

Quite frankly, the episode, call "The Halloween Apocalypse" opens on a bad CGI scene where the Doctor and Yaz are hanging from a flying thingy. It is pretty obvious neither actress cared for the situation because they both looked bored, jaded, and unimpressed. And no surprise, they escape through some shenanigans that left me unimpressed and bored.

The rest of the show goes at a break-neck speed introducing villains we should be afraid in spite of us not known who they were. Truth be told, I got the impression that I was watching the introduction to a long movie.

Highlights: John Bishop is a breath of fresh air. He comes across as genuine, for his reactions are "normal" as he is curious, worried, afraid, intrigued, and his thick accent is just fun and interesting. In just a few scenes, he comes out as fleshed out and interesting. He's "one of the lads" and a Liverpool boy through and through.

- The Dog People. I think the basic idea of their relation to mankind was a really funny trick and I'll admit that I smiled at that reveal.

Low-Points: Well... Let

- In an effort to present Mandip Gill as a rough and tough character, she comes across as a jaded, uninterested bitch whose only expression is one of contempt. Whereas before we had three companions of which Graham was the (potentially) most interesting, now Yaz gets no on-screen development. She is the "tough" chick who is the equivalent to the Doctor. Heck, she even helps fly the TARDIS, something which some better, more developed companions like Rose, Amy and Rory, or Clara didn't do, or very little of. I can't wait for her to go.

- The Doctor is just neurotic, providing exposition, but not really. She now is hit by psychic powers/ premonitions on a constant basis.

- Too much foreshadowing in one episode, which makes this episode a gathering of too many short scenes to let us know the Sontarans, the Weeping Angels, and Gem-head will be antagonists. I thought the foreshadow by John Barrowman was a MUCH better way because it was concise and gave all the details in a few short sentences.

- Other than a few lines about "Trick or Treat, Doctor", it had very little to do with Halloween.

- The Dog People joke went on just a tad too long here without resolution.

So what are we stuck with in the end? A big block of random scenes and characters that make little sense so far. From the moment I decided this was the start of a big long movie, I began to appreciate it more. Knowing this season will be six episodes, we can guess:
- 1 Sontarans
- 1 Weeping Angels
- 1 Dog People
- 1 Gem-head
- 1 Fixing the Tardis/Flux

... and that's a season.

So the reason this felt like all of this was crammed together almost feels like Chibnall did not have enough material for one episode so he added scenes.

Frankly, I would've like to have some character development for Yaz, but token "tough Indian chick" is about all she will ever be from now on.

So my rating... I waffled on this one. It is a solid 2.5/5, worse than a 3 and better than 2. The final rating will depend on following episodes. So for now, I will round up to a 3. Against myself, I found myself surprised and smiling (the Dog People, I really liked).

Would I watch again? Maybe. My answer is not a "no".