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Super-Articulate: Marvel Legends Bring on the Bad Guys!

Hey! I know it’s out of order! And late!

Here’s the deal: I actually got the previously reviewed Iron Man/Ursa Major BAF wave ahead of completing the Bad Guys/Xemnu BAF assortment. Also, I live in Indiana, which is seemingly the last place to get anything that isn’t basketball. At any rate, it resulted in a situation where some venues got their Bad Guys weeks ago, and I didn’t complete mine that long ago. Plus, it’s been a little crazy over here for other writing and life reasons, none of which would interest you that much (except for maybe the inter-company crossover I wrote that I can’t talk about yet). Therefore, with no further delay, Bring on the Bad Guys!

Overview: I previously said that the Ursa Major wave was my favorite of the year. I think it’s now duking it out with this one. Eight (counting Xemnu) classic comic villains, some of whom have never been done before, and a couple of whom that have never been done before in their classic style for Marvel Legends, would have been an automatic get for me anyway. But the design team really outdid themselves here. There are great flourishes for each figure and some excellent accessories.

The Hood: I’m going to start with the much maligned Hood. First off, you guys must secretly love him if you’ve made him the star of memes without end. And I’ll give you, the face sculpt is an odd choice. His expression is that of a man that just stepped in a bear trap. But I’m honestly just happy that The Hood finally exists. Parker Robbins was a major villainous presence in the Marvel Universe for much of the 2000s, appearing in or impacting events like Secret Invasion, Dark Reign, Siege, and the Heroic Age.

I feel like the figure gets a number of things right, but I do think it’s a touch short for the length of the, well, hood. The pistols and their effects turned out really well, and I think that it’s great to have the character alongside members of the crew he assembled in comics. I don’t think it’s bad, but it’s a solid okay.

Red Skull: Okay, there’s no question for me. Of the two heads that come with this figure, it’s the smile version all the way. There’s some serious Kirby/Erik Larsen energy in that leer. I love it. Remarkably, this is the first time that the Skull has been depicted in figure form in the straight-up green Hydra costume. This is indeed a very classic Skull, and the sculptors nailed it.

In terms of accessories, I have to give a hat tip to whomever decided to make the grasping hand big enough to really grip the Cosmic Cube. That makes a ton of difference in posing, and opens up other options. The pistol looks perfect for this version of the character as well. The new Skull is pretty striking, and of all the different versions (including Iron Skull, Red Onslaught, etc.), this is my favorite.

Arcade: IT’S ABOUT TIME. Think of all the times that Arcade has appeared in Marvel video game media alone! That original X-Men PC game, Ultimate Alliance, etc.? And Arcade has figured into some truly memorable storylines; there’s his first appearance, his team up with Dr. Doom (Doombot, whatever), Avengers Arena. It’s crazy to think that there has NEVER been an Arcade figure. This is a huge character choice win. As far as the design, I think it’s great. It’s an extra mile figure, too, in terms of detail. Look at the lifts in his shoes. Check out the number of tiny paint apps here. The extra head (with the Arena look) is a welcome surprise. He looks so good, it makes me want to build death traps for my X-Men. Well done.

A.I.M. Scientist Supreme: This was the figure that I was least sure of, but I love this guy. It’s just a terrific realization of the overall look of one of my favorite costumes in comics: the A.I.M. “beekeeper suit.” But the great bits are how the figure incorporates the modernized elements of the look. The shiny finish, the belt, the joints . . . all look especially good. I really enjoy how poseable the head is, making it easy for the Scientist Supreme to look at his data pad and despair how much repeated Avengers ass-kickings are costing them. Sometimes, it’s just the look, y’know. This one just looks great.

Dormammu: I’ve always thought that the SDCC Exclusive “Book of the Vishanti” Dormammu was well done, and it still looked good when it reappeared as a BAF. However, I’d always wanted the classic look. The first book that I recall owning that included Dormammu was Marvel Feature #2, starring The Defenders. While this look isn’t exactly the same as that one, it’s the idea that I have when I picture classic Dormammu. Like Red Skull, I feel like this is a fairly definitive take on the comic version of the figure. That maniacal face sculpt just puts it over the top.

Lady Deathstrike: The Marvel Legends line had an early Lady Deathstrike and it, well, had some problems. Notably: the arms with the mechanical extrusions which drastically limited poseability. However, this one is just excellent. It’s one of those instances where it looks like it was just peeled off the page. And this is definitely a figure that benefits from updated and added poseability. It’s like night and day to the original version. The billowy sleeves are a nice touch, but it’s the outstanding hand sculpts and the vastly improved face that really make it.

Doctor Doom (Secret Wars): God Emperor Doom! Secret Wars was a sprawling story filled with some memorable scenes (not the least of which was an Infinity Gauntlet-wielding Black Panther and Sub-Mariner teaming up), but one of the stand-outs was Doom’s utter demolition of Thanos. If you’re into Mortal Kombat-fatality homages, this figure is for you. In what has to be one of the grossest and most hilarious accessories in ML history, Doom comes with the spinal column and skull of Thanos. It’s tremendous. As for Doom himself, the look is great, the finish is solid, and the eyes are very well done. However, I have seen some reports that the figure is fragile on the underside, so be careful with your leg posing. I wouldn’t say this is necessary for the casual fan that has other recent Dooms, but it’s a solid pick-up for the deep bench collector.

Xemnu BAF: Never in a million years did I think we’d see a BAF of Xemnu the Titan! The long-time Hulk antagonist was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962, and he’s popped up a number of times over the years, including in The Immortal Hulk. I know that some were disappointed that this BAF was a more obscure character, but not me. I’m a huge fan of the “Universe” aspect of Marvel Legends, so any new inclusion is fine by me. It also makes sense to repurpose parts (like from Sasquatch) when the need arises. And honestly, I just love the look of it. Plus, we can always use more huge bad guys, right? I find this to be an extremely fun figure, and I’m glad they used the BAF slot on it.

Marvel’s Villains Get the Spotlight with Hasbro’s Marvel Legends

MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH DR. DOOM Figure

(HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $19.99/Available: Spring 2021)

Fans, collectors, and kids alike can enjoy this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH DR. DOOM Figure, inspired by the character from MARVEL entertainment. This quality 6-inch-scale figure features premium design, detail, and multiple points of articulation for posing and display in a MARVEL collection. Includes figure and 4 accessories. Available for pre-order at Hasbro Pulse, Amazon, Big Bad Toy Store, and Entertainment Earth.

MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH-SCALE DORMAMMU Figure

(HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $19.99/Available: Spring 2021)

Fans, collectors, and kids alike can enjoy this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH-SCALE DORMAMMU Figure, inspired by the character from MARVEL entertainment. This quality 6-inch-scale figure features premium design, detail, and multiple points of articulation for posing and display in a MARVEL collection. Includes figure and 6 accessories. Available for pre-order at Hasbro Pulse, Amazon, Big Bad Toy Store, and Entertainment Earth.

MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH MARVEL’S THE HOOD Figure

(HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $19.99/Available: Spring 2021)

Fans, collectors, and kids alike can enjoy this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH MARVEL’S THE HOOD Figure, inspired by the character from MARVEL entertainment. This quality 6-inch-scale figure features premium design, detail, and multiple points of articulation for posing and display in a MARVEL collection. Includes figure and 4 accessories. Available for pre-order at Hasbro Pulse, Amazon, Big Bad Toy Store, and Entertainment Earth.

MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH LADY DEATHSTRIKE Figure

(HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $19.99/Available: Spring 2021)

Fans, collectors, and kids alike can enjoy this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH LADY DEATHSTRIKE Figure, inspired by the character from MARVEL entertainment. This quality 6-inch-scale figure features premium design, detail, and multiple points of articulation for posing and display in a MARVEL collection. Available for pre-order at Hasbro Pulse, Amazon, Big Bad Toy Store, and Entertainment Earth.

MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH MARVEL’S ARCADE Figure

 (HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $19.99/Available: Spring 2021)

Fans, collectors, and kids alike can enjoy this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH MARVEL’S ARCADE Figure, inspired by the character from MARVEL entertainment. This quality 6-inch-scale figure features premium design, detail, and multiple points of articulation for posing and display in a MARVEL collection. Includes figure and 2 accessories. Available for pre-order at Hasbro Pulse, Amazon, Big Bad Toy Store, and Entertainment Earth.

MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH A.I.M SCIENTIST SUPREME Figure

(HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $19.99/Available: Spring 2021)

Fans, collectors, and kids alike can enjoy this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH A.I.M SCIENTIST SUPREME Figure, inspired by the character from MARVEL entertainment. This quality 6-inch-scale figure features premium design, detail, and multiple points of articulation for posing and display in a MARVEL collection. Includes figure and accessory. Available for pre-order at Hasbro Pulse, Amazon, Big Bad Toy Store, and Entertainment Earth.

MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH RED SKULL Figure

(HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $19.99/Available: Spring 2021)

Fans, collectors, and kids alike can enjoy this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH RED SKULL Figure, inspired by the character from MARVEL entertainment. This quality 6-inch-scale figure features premium design, detail, and multiple points of articulation for posing and display in a MARVEL collection. Includes figure and 7 accessories. Available for pre-order at Hasbro Pulse, Amazon, Big Bad Toy Store, and Entertainment Earth.

The Marvel Legends Villains wave features a Xemnu build-a-figure.

Arcade1Up Opens Pre-Sales for the Limited Edition Marvel Super Heroes Cabinet

Arcade1Up has opened pre-sales for a special edition of Capcom’s Marvel Super Heroes home arcade machine in celebration of the 80th anniversary of Marvel Entertainment. 

Arcade1Up machines stand at just under 4ft tall, each housing different classic arcade games. The machine comes with an immersive full-color hi-resolution 17″ display and dual speakers, combined with real feel joysticks and buttons configurations that you remember from the arcade.  The machine is easy to assemble, is coin-less operation and includes a clear protective deck cover.

Arcade1Up’s Capcom’s Marvel Super Heroes Home Arcade Game (Limited Edition) features exclusive artwork, a light-up marquee, included 12” riser and Sanwa buttons and joysticks. There are only 8,000 cabinets available, so get it today only through Arcade1Up.com for $399.

Review: Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #6

Hellcat6CoverPatsy Walker AKA Hellcat #6 takes a break from the main storyline featuring Hellcat facing off against the Hedy Clarke for the rights to the romance comics featuring her to have its main character and her best friends Ian Soo, Tom Hale, and She-Hulk spend a day at Coney Island. However, X-Men villain/general annoying nuisance Arcade shows up, and the beach trip is a little less relaxing. Natasha Allegri of Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake and Bee and Puppycat fame turns up the adorableness to eleven while having clever page layouts and outrageous facial expressions. Her colors also add a lot to the story going from sky blues as the gang relaxes with food and arcade games on Coney Island to intense blues, reds, and oranges when they face Arcade. Writer Kate Leth brings the fun and crafts a standalone superhero adventure with plenty of quips, puns, and bisexuality.

Hellcat #6 is the comic book equivalent of a heart emoji as Leth and Allegri as they take the format of the Bronze Age Chris Claremont one and done Marvel Team-Up stories and imbue it with manga and animation influences while featuring a diverse cast of characters. Leth subverts  damsel in distress tropes by making Tom the “prize” in Arcade’s claw machine to be rescued and by having Ian be the only character to fail his challenge. (Of course, the guy who doesn’t have his driver’s license is the one who has to do the trippy driving game that makes Diddy Kong Racing look like Baby Park in Mario Kart Double Dash.) And this makes sense in the context of the story because She-Hulk and Hellcat are veteran superheroes while Ian and Tom are co-workers at a super cool gay bookstore. It’s also nice to get supporting characters in a superhero comic, who break out of the usual “damsel” or guest superhero role, and are just well rounded human beings.

HellcatFit

Leth and Allegri give Hellcat a determined underdog vibe as she takes on the strength challenge as she blows off his insults and puts her Krav Maga training to good use in a test of strength. Allegri draws her like a whirling dervish of energy as she freaks about Ian getting electrocuted by Arcade’s traps or just hugs She-Hulk after the big battle. Patsy cares about her friends and helping superpowered people, and her enthusiasm is infectious. Allegri’s character designs enhance characterization as Arcade looks like a JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure character with his posturing, villainous monologues, and preening even as tries to belittle Ian’s masculinity. (It doesn’t work.) Her Jessica Jones is suitably cool and mysterious and matches Leth’s quickfire dialogue for her as she easily deduces Hellcat’s civilian identity. And Allegri gives She-Hulk the best side eye and a hint of rage as she has to restrain her super strength to play by Arcade’s “rules” to save Tom.

IanBi

And even if it’s a one-off story, Leth packs Hellcat #7 with some great character moments. One that particularly stands out to me is Ian nonchalantly coming out as bi to Patsy after he tells Arcade that men and women can be platonic friends and not just love interests. It’s just one panel, but Leth and Allegri fill it with a nice dash of humor as Ian jokes about secret identities and forgetting to actually rescue Tom in the heat of battle. For years, mutants and Inhumans have been used as queer subtext, and it’s nice to see Leth make it text in Hellcat and for a male bisexual character play such a prominent role and not necessarily be a superhero. (He gets a great foot stomp in on Arcade though.)

With soothing and energetic art from Natasha Allegri and a script filled with friendship and action from Kate Leth, Hellcat #7 is a reminder that superhero comics can be fun sometimes. This issue is also a great jumping on point for new readers as Leth and Allegri deftly establish the main cast’s dynamic and personalities on the really long commute to Coney Island.

Story: Kate Leth Art: Natasha Allegri Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9  Art: 10 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Video Game Review: Dissidia: Final Fantasy ( Japan Arcade)

Thank you Internet for this amazing photo

Thank you Internet for this amazing photo

While exploring the Land of the Rising Sun, I was also present for the release of Square Enix‘s latest installment in their fighting game series- Dissidia: Final Fantasy. Debuting for fans and owners of a PSP (which was probably only around 500 people worldwide), Square Enix made a game that allowed players with pit their favorite iconic Final Fantasy heroes (which for 90% of fans was probably Cloud Strife) against other heroes and villains (once again probably Cloud Strife or Sephiroth) in this 3D RPG Fighter series. Being a fan of the original game, I was pretty excited to try out the arcade version when it debut on Thanksgiving (Because Japanese people don’t have Turkey!). If only the pilgrims had video games 500 years ago…

One of the big things I really enjoyed about Dissidia was the fact that it wasn’t your conventional fighting game. Square Enix tried their best to bring players as original of a title as possible by transcending the second dimension and I personally think it was a smart move. While people learned tips and tricks to bring up their technical game, the game itself was unique enough to keep my attention, which is all I really want in a fighting game. It seemed to do well enough because it spawned a sequel (or prequel if you paid attention to that lousy story.), which in my opinion was much better than the first game.

One of my biggest concerns with Dissidia was the fact that Square Enix never officially released this title onto home consoles, which would have been a brilliant move. Playing an intense fighting game on a handheld definitely didn’t bring the best experience possible. So while the series was good, I felt it wasn’t brought to its fullest potential. So fast forward about 6 years to 2015, where Square Enix decided to deliver fans a new experience by throwing Dissidia into their various arcades.

The game itself seems very familiar to the previous installments. Players control their character in a 3D environment in order to attack their opponents, either from up-close or from a distance depending on the character used. The biggest change to the actual game is the fact that instead of a single player battle, players are now grouped into teams of 3 to battle other teams. You’re forced to work together with your comrades in order to take down the opposing team, with the objective to kill every other member at least once to end the match (Or for some, ganging up on the weakest link).

Adding the 3 on 3 multiplayer battles gives players the ability to coordinate with their teammates to really give the game more a co-op competitive edge. The arcade system actually has a port for a headset so you can keep in contact with your allies while in battle to plan out strategies. With a scheduled port coming out to the PS4 at a future date, this would definitely be a great way to utilize the PS4’s microphone and headset function.

The ability to use the summons was also drastically changed in this installment, as instead of simply manipulating the attack power of characters or “Brave Points,” the summons actually come into battle to wreak havoc to the enemy. And it looks amazing.

Like in the original titles, the characters have completely different styles they focus on. The characters could vary anywhere from heavy melee types (Everyone’s favorite overcompensating blonde) to casters, which gave players a massive variety. No character is the same as another. Unfortunately one of the major drawbacks I had with the title was that there are only heroes playable in this installment. While they added a character from the 14th installment in the franchise, that only gave the roster 14 playable characters, a significant drop from the handheld titles, which usually paired up a villain with a hero.

The controller was another huge drawback to the game as Square Enix essentially cut a playstation controller in half and mounted it to each side of the panel to resemble joysticks with a big button in the middle you had to press in order to build up your summon gauge. The summon gauge button was probably the worst part about it, because to use it you have to take your hand off one of the controllers, which usually meant you were completely open to an enemy attack…

Why they couldn't simply add an extra button on the controller is beyond me...

Why they couldn’t simply add an extra button on the controller is beyond me…

One of the things I really enjoyed was the fact that there was no overly convoluted plot that you got swept up in with this game. Being an arcade title, Square Enix solely wants players to duke it out, and this decision is welcomed. While some might think a crossover is fun, I never cared much for the plot.

Being that this wasn’t on a handheld console, the graphics underwent a massive upgrade moving onto a bigger and better system. Characters not only look fully rendered, but the amount of detail that went into everything was incredible (we all know Square Enix loves their pretty graphics in a Final Fantasy game). Players have alterations on their outfits based on the amount of damage they’ve taken, making them look more battered and bruised the more you go on.

All in all, while the game was enjoyable and the new additions to game were great, I felt like it was very incomplete compared to the handheld titles that came out years ago. I’m hoping that the home console version improves on these functions as well as adds more characters for fans to play with. 14 just doesn’t quite seem like enough. It’s got potential that has yet to be tapped into, and while I look forward to seeing more, knowing Square Enix, it’ll probably be in the form of expensive DLC. (Yay…?)

Any thoughts or questions about this title? Feel free to leave a comment below and thanks for reading!

Gameplay: 7 Graphics: 9 Story: – Characters: 5 Overall: 6.5

Video Game Review: Pokken Tournament (Japan Arcade)

Look at this smug guy. He was a pushover in the anime with all the skirt chasing, but he knew the outcome of the video game match in Yellow Version...

Look at this smug guy. He was a pushover in the anime with all the skirt chasing, but he knew the outcome of the video game match in Yellow Version…

It’s no secret that after watching the Pokemon anime, kids around the world were wishing for a game that really simulated what we saw in the 90’s (Heck I wish I could have a game like that now!). People desperately wanted to know how exactly a Pikachu could beat an Onix. Because he was next to garbage in the Gameboy games when fighting Brock.

So when I heard that Bandai Namco Entertainment was in the works with Nintendo to make a fighting game, you can imagine my anticipation over a whole new way to play Pokemon. (We all know that if there was a Pokemon MMORRPG, that’d signify the end of the world. Nintendo is just sparing us the pain right now.)

So on my trip to the Land of the Rising Sun, I had to try Pokken Tournament out, because how could I not? So after running around through Tokyo like an otaku in a hobby shop, I went over to one of the many arcades to try the game out. While there was a bit of a language barrier, that didn’t stop this fan from getting on the game and button mashing my way to victory!

The game itself is pretty much like a hybrid of Smash Bros. and Tekken in terms of controls. You have a 3D arena you can run around in and the maps are decently sized too, giving players enough room to bait their opponents if need be. The controls are pretty basic too. You have a light combo button, a heavy attack, a special button that lets you use all their powers, a jump button, and a block button in order to withstand your enemy’s attacks. Like Tekken, the fighting mechanics are pretty smooth with plenty of options to take down your opponent with all kinds of strategies.

The characters, while not many, have quite a different range of skill sets and play styles to give players a lot of options for fighting. You’ve got speed types, heavy hitters, combo oriented and technical characters that all have their balances to keep some from being too overpowered. Like Smash Bros, any character is heavily player dependent, so while some appear to have more of an edge, with a little practice, anyone can get good with whoever they choose (With the exception of Gengar. That’s pure cheating all around…).

This guy is pure evil and he knows it!

This guy is pure evil and he knows it!

Players build up a gauge through their matches that can allow them to enter their character’s special stance. For some it’s a mega-evolution that was introduced with Generation VI’s era, while other Pokemon simply enter a more powerful mode with an aura. This also allows you to activate their ultimate attack that enters a cinematic if players are able to hit their opponents with it.

Pokken Tournament also features a support character function that allows you to pick a Pokemon from a list to use a single time per round to help you against your opponent. This can vary from a stun, to an extra hit that can allow you to chain more combos you couldn’t normally do without more time. These supports can easily turn around a match in your favor, so using them with caution is key!

I’ve never been the type to really care for stories in my fighting game and probably won’t ever, because who plays these for the story? So, having a language barrier didn’t really bother me, as I play a fighting game for one thing and one thing only- the action!

The graphics were pretty amazing for this title. Anyone can see that a lot of detail was put into the game, as even the hair textures for the furrier Pokemon are visible. I do enjoy nice graphics to compliment smooth gameplay!

Seeing the videos on YouTube for quite some time now, I came in having some decent expectations of the title. Unfortunately, while the game seemed very impressive, I didn’t find it as enjoyable as I hoped. The lack of a large roster really hurt the game’s performance for me, despite the wide array of styles. When it comes to fighting games, I like having options for playable characters. One of the other things that really bothered me was the fact that despite this game being an arcade title, players had to use a controller to play.

I honestly felt like an arcade joystick/button combo would be been better.

I honestly feel like an arcade joystick/button combo would be been a better choice.

I read a review that stated this title wasn’t generating a huge amount of buzz despite the initial hype, and seeing the machines generally unused while I was there proved to me that this was true. While the game is entertaining and has potential, I feel like it’ll definitely be better suited for it’s home console release later next year. Giving fans the ability to play this title at home, Nintendo can play this out like the latest installment for Smash Bros. and simply add more characters through DLC.

All in all, while the game wasn’t necessarily the highlight of my video game experience, I’m definitely glad I tried it out and would recommend it to anyone who is interested. I have a feeling that despite the arcade’s lack of popularity, the home console version of this game is going to be even better. Especially with the options to play with your friends.

Pokken Tournament debuted in Japan’s arcades July 16th and it’s scheduled to release for the home console March 18, 2016 for Japan, and Q2 on the Wii U.

Any questions or comments about the game? Please feel free to leave your thoughts below and thanks for reading!

Gameplay: 7 Graphics: 8 Story: N/A Characters: 5 Overall: 7

Catching Up on Reviews, Part 5 — Avengers Academy and Captain America

Avengers Academy #9 (Marvel) – I love the storyline here where Finesse might turn out to be the daughter of the Taskmaster, one of my favorite Marvel anti-heroes these days. Less well-done are the parts of the issue dealing with Tigra expelling Academy members for assaulting the Hood. The art isn’t particularly great, either.

Story: 7 Art: 6.5 Overall: 6.75

Avengers Academy #10 (Marvel) – Sean Chen’s art is a step up from the previous issue and the storyline where Leech comes to give Hazmat a day as a normal kid is great. The best part of the issue is Speedball’s growth as a character and the burying of some of his Stamford demons, which is a long time coming.

Story: 8.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8

Avengers Academy #11 (Marvel) – Christos Gage writes a good connection to Avengers past by bringing back Korvac for this story arc. I’m a little annoyed at the flood of Thor movie tie-ins, though this one takes a different route than most. Tom Raney’s art is good, but not spectacular.

Story: 8 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.75

Avengers Academy #12 (Marvel) – There are moments of very strong writing here. The concept of bringing the future selves of the Academy students back to inhabit their present bodies so they can beat Korvac is an awesome device. The story is also fleshed out by one character showing a glaring weakness and two others showing a surprising vulnerability.

Story: 8.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8

Avengers Academy #13 (Marvel) – I guess I get what they were going after with the idea of the “Superhero Prom” for the students, having an issue that focuses more on the characters and the lighter side of their lives instead of action, I’m just not sure how well it works in this case.

Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7

Avengers Academy #14 (Marvel) – I love the way the new incarnation of the Sinister Six is being used and this is another good appearance for them. It’s good to learn more about Dr. Octopus’s character than we have learned in the past, he’s on the verge of being a little over-exposed lately, but certainly not in Deadpool, Spidey or Wolverine territory.

Story: 8 Art: 7 Overall: 7.5

Avengers Academy #14.1 (Marvel) – Ruby is one of the dumbest characters in Marvel history and her presence here detracts from what is otherwise a really good story, focusing on one of the characters who didn’t join the Academy and his tempting offer to the would-be heroes.

Story: 8.5 Art: 7 Overall: 7.75

Avengers Academy #15 (Marvel) – This is Tom Raney’s best art yet and the Fear Itself tie-in works better than most of the others. This story also does a good job of tying in recent themes from the Academy books to Fear Itself, something a lot of the other tie-ins have failed to do.

Story: 8.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.25

Avengers Academy Giant-Size #1 (Marvel) – Cartoonish art (which isn’t my taste at all) and a retread Arcade storyline with only a few interesting elements makes this issue a waste.

Story: 6.5 Art: 6 Overall: 6.25

Captain America #615.1 (Marvel) – Mitch Breitweiser’s art isn’t my favorite, it seems he has a real problem making people’s faces look realistic (even comic realistic). Other than that, Ed Brubaker’s tale is action-packed and compelling, even if, once again, it relies a bit much on World War II elements in telling the tale of Steve Rogers.

Story: 9 Art: 7 Overall: 8

Captain America #616 (Marvel) – This massive 70th anniversary issue is packed with stories, most of the well-told. The best is probably Brubaker and Mike Deodato’s Winter Soldier gulag tale, the worst is the Mike Benson and Paul Grist Baron Blood/Captain Ameica used to be a vampire story.

Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8

Captain America #617 (Marvel) – The continuation of the story of Bucky being put into a Russian gulag is entertaining and action-packed, but I read it after I knew Bucky’s eventual fate already, so I wonder how effective it is considering that context.

Story: 7.5 Art: 8 Overall: 7.75

Captain America #618 (Marvel) – The different artists used here vary greatly in quality, but the overall ongoing story is still a compelling one that has an impact on the future of Marvel comics, so it’s well worth the read.

Story: 8 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.75

Captain America #619 (Marvel) – The art from the gulag section is still the best in the issue, and it takes chances and mostly succeeds. The overall storyline comes to what appears to be a satisfying end.

Story: 7.75 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.75

Captain America #1 (Marvel) – Ah, the good-old Marvel pointless renumbering trick. The worst part about that for this issue is that this really isn’t good enough to be a first issue. It doesn’t break any new ground with the character and simply rehashes things we already know while mixing in a few newly-retconned storylines that don’t let us know anything new about Cap. It is good, I guess, to see Steve Rogers fully as Cap again, but you’d think that for a first issue, they would’ve had more of a point than what this issue has.

Story: 7 Art: 8 Overall: 7.5

Almost American