My Hero Academia: Season Two, Part One

11702453-8944561249026207In the near future, 80% of the population is born with super human abilities. In a world like this, becoming a superhero is more than just a fever dream. Superheroes are everywhere. Working everyday to keep the world safe. They are respected, and idolised, and none is more well-known than All-Might! The symbol of peace. Students all over Japan dream of getting into U.A. Academy, the number one high school for superheroes in training, none more so then Izuku “Deku” Midoriya. Unfortunately for him, despite spending his entire life studying and trying to understand what it truly means to be a hero, Midoriya is one of the 20% born without abilities. Constantly ridiculed by his classmates and those around him for ever thinking he could be a hero, Midoriya still studies hard in hopes of being the first U.A. Academy student without abilities. It’s during a fateful encounter with his idol All-Might, and his own heroism trying to save a classmate, that Midoriya’s life is changed forever.

The first season of My Hero Academia took the anime community by storm on it’s release in 2016. Based on the manga by Kohei Horikoshi and published in the renowned Weekly Shonen Jump. The same magazine that gave us Dragon Ball, Death Note, Naruto and Haikyuu!!. My Hero Academia found it’s audience almost immediately, to the point that an anime adaptation was practically inevitable. It’s 13-episode first season exploded in popularity both in its native Japan and oversees thanks to Funimation’s simulcast. Now, Funimation is back with a physical release of Season two, Part One!

The first half of season two gives us something all Shonen fans know all too well. A tournament arc! And while tournament arcs can be fun, a lot of the time they end up being set ups to larger story points and major shifts. Such as the Chunin exams arc in Naruto leading to the one-tale encounter and Orochimaru. However, My Hero Academia embraces the fun and excitement that a tournament arc can be and uses it to flesh out not only main characters and side characters, but the world itself.


After the events of season one, our main characters gear up for the U.A. Sports festival. A chance to show off their skills in a televised event. Go up against other class’s such as the previously unseen Class 1-B, the Support classes, Business course and General Studies. As well as try and get the attention of potential recruiters. Going through an obstacle course designed to test their skills, a cavalry battle that sees different combinations of strengths and skills, all leading up to a round robin style battle till only one stands. While there is no big stake on the line, the students will get to take part in these events two more times before they graduate. The 13-episode arc explores the characters in a wonderful way. Character motives and abilities are explored to a phenomenal degree, with the clear stand outs being both Uraraka and Todoroki. A girl who wants to make it big and earn a lot of money for the simple reason of helping out her parents, and a young man torn between his sense of self-worth, his family life, and the pressures put upon him by his father. My Hero Academia does so much justice to it’s characters in this 13-episode arc, that it works almost as a blue print to how to do tournament arcs as stories in themselves, and not just a means to an end.

While the animation in season one was already impressive, season two steps it up beautifully. Adding not only an extra punch to action scenes but in characterisation too. Small and subtle details are added to each of the characters movements that work well to give another dimension to them. Bakugo’s egotistical personality has a whole other level of flair to it with his casual movements. But no character benefits more from this than Iida. The slightly high strung and nervous class representative shows so much more personality in just his hand gestures. It’s a small thing but speaks volumes about the characters.

Both the English dub and the Japanese audio are incredibly impressive. All the actors give it there all throughout in both languages. However, if an all-star had to be chosen, it’s Ayane Sakura as Uraraka in the Japanese dub. Her phone call to her father mid-way through the tournament is sure to bring a tear to your eye.

Screenshot (168)

The show’s opening, ‘Peace Sign’ by Kenshi Yonezu is delightfully infectious and gets you excited for the episode to come. Partnered well with an opening animation of our heroes stretching in preparation, before exploding in a flurry of action as the tempo in the music picks up and explodes. The show’s ending theme, ‘Dakara, Hitori ja nai’ by Little Glee Monster, is rather poppy, and is a take it or leave it song that you’ll either love or tolerate, but it’s paired with a rather lovely sequence following the shows lead girls, highlighting just how well My Hero Academia characterises its female cast especially.

The Blu-ray release of My Hero Academia Season two, Part one also contains episode 13.5. A fantastic 23 minute summery of season one, that works very well for those wanting a bit of a reminder of the previous 13 episodes, or those just wanting to relive it one more time before diving into season 2. Also included are textless versions of the opening and ending credits. A set of 13 shorts presented by the American voice actors talking about their favourite charities in the ‘Be a Hero’ initiative, as well as a fantastic interview with Yoshihiko Umakoshi, the shows character designer and chief animation director for season two.

The first half of My Hero Academia’s second season is a wild ride of fun and excitement that leave you hungry for even more. A fantastic character exploration and intense action pact experience. My Hero Academia Season two, Part one is available for pre-order and due for release April 2nd on Blu-ray and DVD.




Superman #39: Goodnight Moon

Superman 039 cov (2018)Despite being one of DCs, and comic books, most powerful heroes. Superman is above all things the best of humanity. Superman #39 showcases this fact beautifully.

While taking on the Demolition Team in Metropolis, Superman finds himself being cheered on by children in the local cancer ward. With the parents and doctor’s permission, Superman with the help of Green Lantern take the children on a day trip to the Justice League Satellite. Made possible by a Green Lantern construct of a rocket ship. Allowing the kids to experience zero-gravity and ‘fly’ along with him. Upon reaching the satellite, the kids are greeted by the looming figures of The Flash, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and Batman. Superman gives each of them a phone and sets up a scavenger hunt for them including finding items such as Superman’s cape, Wonder Woman’s lasso, and the hardest item of all. A picture of Batman smiling. It’s an absolute delight to watch their progress, as well as their progress on the Batman picture. To round off the day, Superman dresses the kids in space suites and allows them to stand on the moon for a while. Knowing many of them don’t have much time left, everyone writes their name on a rock to leave on the Moon’s surface where they will last forever. The issue beautifully ends with the kids and Superman in awe of the Earth from the Moon.

The issue is filled with so many wonderful moments that are a joy to experience. It encapsulates everything Superman should stand for, particularly in darker times. A symbol of hope in a dark world. That absolute power does not have to mean that it’s used for evil and that what makes us human is how we treat others. Superman never gives up on anyone. That as long as there is life in your lungs, no matter how little time you may have left, you deserve to enjoy it. The Justice Leagues action as well in this issue, may show them at their most heroic. Not just patrolling the streets or smiling for the cameras. But acting as heroes and making the kids who look up to them feel hope and joy.

With Superman #39, Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason prove that they understand the character of Superman once again. A must read for all Superman fans and those wanting to know why we love him.

The Flash Rebirth Deluxe Vol. 01

Looking for a great jumping on point to start reading The Flash? Rebirth has you covered!

As someone who had never read a Flash comic until this deluxe collection, I was more than a little sceptical. When I think the Flash, I think of a guy who beats his Rogues gallery simply by running fast. Where’s the fun in that? Having now sped through the first 13 issues and the Rebirth one-shot by Joshua Williamson, I was completely wrong. The DC Rebirth Flash title is an incredibly fun and energetic read even to a complete Flash novice like myself.

Spinning out of the DC Universe Rebirth one-shot (shameless plug here!), Barry Allen is reunited with the pre-Flash Point Wally West. Setting the tone for this Flash series, and giving us a clear idea of where Barry is in live and where Wally goes from here. The series first 13 main issues give us 4 main stories, with the bulk of the book exploring what happens when a speed force storm grants multiple citizens of Central City Flash’s abilities. The Flash takes on a mentor role, and re-evaluates everything he misses about working with the Pre-Flashpoint Wally, until a new villain explodes onto the scene, Godspeed, and begins killing all the new speedsters. Later issues explore The Flash’s relationship with both the pre-Flashpoint Wally, and the new post-Flashpoint Wally. We see Barry taking on a mentor position throughout passing on what he knows, as well as learning that he can always be better. That there is always more to learn. The two-part story, Speed of Darkness highlights this perfectly, as well as how the young Wally is progressing as a hero in training. Ultimately, the series is about trust, optimism, and using your abilities the best way you can, for the betterment of your city. As well as exploring what justice truly means, and what happens when taking it into your own hands turns sour.

The Flash 001-019

“When you and Kid Flash saved me… I had one last vision. And I saw something in the Speed Force I don’t think I was supposed to see. I don’t know what it was but…. It filled me with hope.”

The art, primarily by Carmine Di Giandomenico, is bright and lively with a number of incredibly cleaver techniques that greatly add to the feeling of speed. During the first issue, there is an incredibly clever moment where Flash is depicted running, and managing to out pace the comics own panel boarders from catching up with him. Giandomenico makes incredible use of their talent throughout to add these minor details, that explode in significance when realised. The energy leaps off the pages throughout with the crackle of the speedster’s lightning becoming almost audible, something that makes the book feel complete along with Williamson’s dialogue.

Dc’s Rebirth Flash is an incredibly uplifting and energetic read. A perfect starting place for Flash novices and those looking for a fun read.

The Flash Rebirth Deluxe volume is available here:


Descender Vol. 1: Tin Stars

271433._SX1280_QL80_TTD_In the far-off future, man has travelled to space. We’ve colonised and live across planets. Our smartest scientists have even created robots. Both in and out of our likeness, working alongside us. Suddenly, without warning, planet sized mechanical beings appear and wreak havoc across the galaxy. Sending humanity into disarray. 10 years later, a Tim model android activates. Having no idea as to what has happened. Where his ‘family’ is. And why the mining base he is assigned to is suddenly abandoned. In the form of a young child, Tim-21 finds himself swept up in a situation he was never designed for. On the run from scrappers, and found by the government and his ‘creator’. There are so many questions that need answers, and how does Tim’s coding fit into all of it?

Taking its cue, and heavily reminiscent of Asmiov’s Complete Robot, and the Supertoy stories by Brian Aldiss. Jeff Lemire’s Descender is a fascinating and captivating sci-fi tale. The mysteries flowing through this first trade, the initial 6 issues, are engrossing to no end. The book is hard to put down once you are engaged. Every thread of the mystery keeps you going, wanting to know more. The characters are compelling, each providing their own voice to the story. Each memorable in their own way, with their own goal for discovering the truth. Weather it’s the answer to their research. Revenge for their mother’s death. Or just the whereabouts of their family. The core cast maybe small, but they play off both each other, and the people that cross their path.

The books use of flashbacks and jumps between pages, provides not only a greater depth to the story. But allows us to see the characters thought process in a more natural and compelling fashion, than simply in a dialogue exchange.

Dustin Nguyen’s artwork is purely stunning to the eyes. A beautiful, and minimalist watercolour approach to what could have been a bland and generic palette. A display of striking colour and warmth, to the cold reaches of space and metallic forms. He plays off Lemire’s story beautifully, to breath incredible life into the characters. Giving even small roles, a memorable presence.

Descender is a wonderful example of thoughtful science fiction, wrapped in a stunning watercolour shell.




Teen Titans Vol 1: Damian Knows Best [Review]

Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artists: Khoi Pham, Jonboy Meyers & Diogenes Neves
Issues: Teen Titans Rebirth #1, Teen Titans #1 – 5 (2016 – 2017)

If the New 52 cemented anything about Damian Wayne, it’s that he doesn’t play well with others. Even when briefly partnering with the Teen Titan’s in the past, it’s clear that Damian wants things his own way, and rarely compromises. Enter DC Rebirth, and Damian’s 13th birthday. Has he grown, or still the same old egotistical pain in the ass?

Bitter at his father absence, Damian celebrates his 13th birthday largely alone. Until a letter arrives from his grandfather, Ra’s Al Ghul. He is summoned to take his place in the League of Shadows. Carry out his destiny, or die at the hands of those he one trained beside. Damian learns of not only the hit out on his life, but those of other young heroes. He brings them together to become the new Teen Titans! Only Damian’s methods, are not what you would call friendly.

“Damian: I’ve lived in the shadows of great men. No longer. I burn too brightly for that. Unlucky thirteen. The moment when life tips toward adulthood. For most, it’s a time of questioning uncertainty, awkward role-playing. But I’ve never doubted who I am… I know the legacy I’m meant to claim.”

Teen Titans (2016-) 005-013

Despite being a Teen Titans book, this first arc acts more as a story of personal growth for Damian Wayne. Making his choice of what he wants his life to be, learning to ask for help, and that it’s ok to rely on others. The book does show growth on the part of Damian, perhaps more so than the Supersons title. However, it’s the other Titans that bring the real entertainment to the story. A mix of personalities and attitudes, playing of the young Robin. Beast Boy is loud and obnoxious, but knows full well when to dial it back, often clashing with the more serious Damian. Raven holds the most sympathy for Damian’s situation, given her own family ties, acting heavily as an older sister figure. Starfire and the new Kid Flash round off the team to create a well-balanced set of characters overall.

The driving danger of the story does feel inconsequential. We know the outcome before even the middle issue. But it works well as a catalyst to bring the young heroes together. When read together with the Teen Titans Rebirth issue, it does work well as an origin. However, it feels as though the character dynamics could have benefited from just one more issue of build-up. While easily justified, the team’s acceptance of Damian as leader, feel slightly rushed. Particularly with Beast Boy, due to his early claims of Damian not measuring up to Tim Drake. Still, the ground work is set for what could be an amazing and fun team moving forward.

“Beast Boy: So Damian… Do you prefer the title of ‘Fearless Leader’ or ‘Ruthless Overlord’?

Damian: How about ‘Work-In-Progress’? That goes for us all. I don’t know what the future holds, but one thing’s for certain… We’re in this together.”

Overall, the story is a fun pass time read, with bright and vibrant art. A visually striking battle, with decent character development, that is sure to build to a great team book in the future.


(Above is the opinion of the writer solely. Everyone is entitle to their own opinion, this is just mine.)

The trade is available here: Teen Titans (2016-) Vol. 1: Damian Knows Best


Should We Listen to Pre-Release Film Reviews?

When it comes to high budget, highly anticipated films, we are anxious to know if all the hype is worth it. Whether to spend our hard-earned time and money, on the next ‘sure to be game changing’ cinematic experience. When first reactions hit the internet, we hold our breath in anticipation of the ultimate answer. Is it good?

As we approach the tail end of 2017, we reach the point where some highly anticipated films, are right around the corner. From Marvel’s Thor Ragnarok, to the star powered Murder on the Orient Express. DC’s long-awaited Justice League, and Steve Carrell and Emma Stone lead Battle of the Sexes. On top of the that, the cultural juggernaut that is Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and even the nostalgia filled Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You? As media consumers, and franchise fans, find ourselves anxious, and primed with day one tickets in hand. Hoping and praying for a film that lives up to our expectations. Often, especially with the likes of Justice League, a few lucky fans will get pre-screenings, weeks, or even months before hand. Followed by the much beloved, and exciting press screenings, a few weeks before the films hit theatres. When coverage hits the newsstands, and the internet at large. We find ourselves scrolling through pages and pages, hoping to learn that we are in for the experience of our lives, on the big screen.

However, should these pre-release reviews be taken to heart? Should we listen to them?

Take for example, the release of Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice in March of 2016. A few days before the films released, the internet was franticly diving from one review to another, trying to discern the truth from biased opinion. Was the film going to be everything we hoped for? While many of the reviews did lay into the film fiercely, there were outliners that praised the film as “an impressive start to a new superhero movie franchise”, commenting on how it’s “genuinely exciting for the evolution of this new DC Comics cinematic world in the coming years”. See Business Insider UK for full review. This divide in reviews, granted, causes greater discussion online before the film’s release. But also brings into question the reviewer’s actual opinion on the film. While it’s 100% possible that those that gave the film glowing reviews pre-release, do genuinely see the film in a different light than the others. It’s also possible that they are doing it for more selfish reasons. Namely, getting their name, magazine, or website into the film’s good books. Creating a favourable connection with the films production company for future releases, or trying to get their name on the films poster or new trailers.

An example from this site, is that of the 2017 horror film, Wish Upon. During the press screening for the film, most people in the room during the film, groaned or laughed at points when we were supposed to feel fear. With one reviewer even walking out mid-way through the film. Brief discussions after, gave the general consensus that while some enjoyed the poorly executed scenes as a source of comedy, and others found the whole thing to be a boring mess. Most people in the room, consisting of a variety of ages and backgrounds, agreed that the film was below average. Many of the reviews from independent outlets echoed this on the day the reviews were due for release. Our review can be read here. However, looking at the well-known, and often trusted film site and magazine, Empire, gave the film 4/5 stars, summing up the film briefly. With Empire being a more trusted site by many, it brings to mind the question as to whether or not this was the reviewer’s genuine feelings towards the film. Or the magazine wanting to keep a good connection with those involved with the film?

With the very recent release of Blade Runner 2049, many news outlets and reviewers, were quick to label the film as a “blockbuster”, or “a modern masterpiece”. While the film is certainly stunning, very well done, and well worth it’s run time. It became somewhat worrying to see how quickly many sites and reviews, jumped to the phrase “masterpiece”. Those that referred to it as a blockbuster before release, maybe shocked to find that the film is in fact underperforming at the box office. Many people rely on pre-release film reviews to shape whether or not they will see an upcoming film. Especially those with a limited income. So, the question still stands. Should we take pre-release reviews with a grain of salt?


Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Starring: Taron Egerton (Eggsy), Mark Strong (Merlin), Colin Firth (Harry Hart), Julianne Moore (Poppy) and Elton John

Release Date: 20th September 2017

In 2014, we were treated to the magnificent fun that was, Kingsman: The Secret Service. Based on the comic by Mark Millar, and Dave Gibbons. Director Matthew Vaughn, brought us an over the top action comedy, of the likes that we haven’t seen since Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz. Full to the brim with over the top violence, extremely likable characters, and a self-aware style that one the hearts of viewers. With the announcement of a sequel, fans were eager to revisit the world of the Kingsman, and see what adventures were next for Galahad, Lancelot, and Merlin. With the release of Kingsman: The Golden Circle, fans have just one question. Does it live up to the original?

In short, no. But not for lack of trying.

Picking up some time after the first film. Eggsy continues as Agent Galahad of the Kingsman. Living with his girlfriend, and trying to impress her parents, he comes back to find the Kingsman destroyed, the shop devastated, and everything he knows in ruins. Attacked by assailants, and alongside Merlin, they find themselves traveling to Kentucky, USA. Seeking out The Statesman, their American cousins. When a plot is revealed by reclusive megalomaniac to kill drug users worldwide, the Statesman and Kingsman team up to save people they care for, and their own interests.

The success of The Secret Service, was unprecedent. A perfect mix of action, comedy, characters and violence. It’s hard to pin down what it was that made us sit up and pay attention. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why The Golden Circle takes a very safe route with its plot. Banking heavily on the most memorable scenes of the original, and that our love for Eggsy, Roxy and Merlin would see the audience through. Add on the inclusion of a fan favourite, thought dead, that was sadly spoiled by marketing. A fact that even the director, Matthew Vaughn, takes great issue with. The Golden Circle comes off as a good knock off of the original. Not as good, but a decent effort at replicating, not continuing. Something that is hard to dismiss when watching the two, one after the other.

It’s hard to top the plot and villain of the original film, though not impossible. But upon meeting, or rather ‘meat-ing’, Julianne Moore’s Poppy, we hope for someone as interesting as Samuel L. Jackson’s Valentine. Instead, we find an almost generic psychopath, with a touch of Martha Stewart thrown in. While Julianne Moore is a fantastic actress in her own right, and she plays her role well, the character doesn’t live up to what we expect from a Kingsman sequel.

In The Golden Circle, death means little. It comes quick and early to those we care for, only to be disregarded by the half way point, with the introduction of the Statesman, and the return of Harry Hart. While both are valid plot points, having both together in the same film cheapens the experience.

With the introduction of The Statesman, we get a whole new crop of characters set to help Eggsy. Heavily publicised was the addition to Channing Tatum to the cast as Agent Tequila. While Tatum’s appeal may split with audience, given his usual demographic. You will be pleased to know that his overall appearance is brief, while still getting in a dose of fan service for those anxious to see him.

While the film carries on with a similar tone of humour, it does little to top the first. Attempting to top the shock and humour of the original’s final pre-credits scene, with an honestly uncomfortable, almost sex scene. The violence and action scenes continue to amaze; however, they feel strung together. Like your wishing the plot would just hurry up and get to the next great fight scene. Certainly memorable, but far from the draw of the original.

While certainly not a bad film, it’s hard for it to stand with the original. Enjoyable, fun and action packed, with plenty of fan service. But falls short of its older brother.


(Above is the opinion of the writer solely. Everyone is entitle to their own opinion, this is just mine.)