Comic Review: Mass Effect: Foundation #8 – Thane!

Check out my other reviews of ME: Foundation.

Do you…do you see the cover of Mass Effect: Foundation #8? Do you see that sexy, sexy cover? Garrus is all right, and I know you other ladies love him, but Thane was my one true video game love interest. Seeing him on the cover actually gave me a bit of feels. Especially with the anticipation that Rasa, herself a master assassin, would dance with one of the deadliest men in the universe.

Mass Effect Foundation 8

But he’s in exactly one page of this issue. This cover is a total lie. Is it wrong that I feel cheated? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping he’ll make another appearance in issue nine.

Other than that, this time around the pacing was great, the threat felt real, and the art was quite interesting, with lots of tight face shots.

ME: Foundation continues to be a solid series, with only two low-points, so I look forward to learning even more about the events during Shepard’s death.

Plot

“Disgraced after the failure of her most recent mission, Cerberus agent Rasa receives a chance at redemption from the Illusive Man. But is it absolution she will find at the hands of the assassin Thane Krios—or damnation?”

The Deets

Writer: Mac Walters
Artist: Tony Parker
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
Cover Artist: Benjamin Carré

Click here to purchase Mass Effect: Foundation #8.

[Disclaimer: A review copy was provided for me to review this comic.]

Comic Review: Mass Effect: Foundation #7

Check out my review of ME: Foundation issue #6.

Ahhhhhhh…do you hear that sigh of relief? Within the first two pages, we’re back to what I loved about ME: Foundation. While the art is sketchier and dirtier, the female bodies are back to normal shapes and poses, without all of that big-boobed contortionist thing that was going on in issues 5 and 6.

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Mass Effect: Foundation #7 starts off with Jack pulverizing a door and ends with Kai Leng making a dumb face. If that information isn’t enough to convince you to pick this one up, I have nothing else for you here.

Plot

When elite Cerberus agents are ordered to capture a powerful and dangerous rogue biotic, they are completely unprepared for the fury that is Subject Zero—better known as Jack!

The Deets

Writer: Mac Walters
Artist: Garry Brown
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
Cover Artist: Benjamin Carré

Click here to purchase Mass Effect: Foundation #7.

[Disclaimer: A review copy was provided for me to review this comic.]

Comic Review: Mass Effect: Foundation #6

Check out my review of ME: Foundation issue #5.

Mass Effect: Foundation #6 continues the story of Miranda and Jacob’s quest for Commander Shepard’s body. Again, I have to complain about the way Jacob looks. You can’t just make a character black and give him the same facial hair and call it a day. He’s also several shades lighter, which is kinda crazy to me.
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However, Clark may just be terrible at drawing faces. I showed a friend Miranda’s face and asked him who it was without letting him see the comic. He said “Whoever he is, he looks like Kurt Russel.”
Although #5 still holds its spot as my least favorite issue, this one comes quite close. There isn’t even a hint of Rasa in this issue. And while I’m sure the story was meant to show that Jacob was a cool guy, it just kind of fell flat. The story had none of the hard choices or sad twists of the average Mass Effect mission, let alone one of the issues in the Foundation series.
I highly recommend buying issues #1-4 of the Mass Effect: Foundation series. I’m on the fence about this two-parter.

Plot

Jacob and Miranda’s mission takes a deadly turn as the duo find themselves in the gun sights of a vicious batarian warlord!

The Deets

Writer: Mac Walters
Penciller: Matthew Clark
Inker: Sean Parsons
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
Cover Artist: Benjamin Carré

Click here to purchase Mass Effect: Foundation #6.

[Disclaimer: A review copy was provided for me to review this comic.]

Comic Review: Mass Effect: Foundation #5

Check out my review of issue #4.

Mass Effect: Foundation #5 tells the story of Miranda and Jacob’s quest for Commander Shepard’s body. This is definitely my least favorite issue of the series so far. For one, it’s not a contained story, and ends on a cliffhanger. For seconds…I think Clark or Geraci (taking over for Parker) may not know how to draw black characters.
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Rasa, the assassin whose thread ties the series together, appears to have been whitewashed, with just a touch of darkness to her skin and silky, non-ethnic hair. Also, her boobs grew a few sizes too, improbably, but whatever. Meanwhile, Jacob looks NOTHING like his in-game character. Instead, he looks like the random muscle from an 80s action flick, complete with lighter skin.
I hate to nitpick like this, but the previous four issues were so interesting because we had a kickass, ethnic, female protagonist. Now I’m very put off. The story was also not very engaging.
Although I’m disappointed, the previous four issues were good enough that I’m not giving up on the ending of this neat little series.

Plot

“On the distant, lawless edge of the populated galaxy, Jacob Taylor and Miranda Lawson are sent to search for the body of the deceased Commander Shepard. Instead, they encounter a threat that could lead to their demise as well!”

The Deets

Writer: Mac Walters
Penciller: Matthew Clark
Inker: Drew Geraci
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
Cover Artist: Benjamin Carré

Click here to purchase Mass Effect: Foundation #5.

[Disclaimer: A review copy was provided for me to review this comic.]

Comic Review: Mass Effect: Foundation #4

Mass Effect: Foundation is supposedly the story of a great assassin working for Cerberus, but so far we’ve been treated to back stories for Wrex, Ashley and, in Mass Effect: Foundation issue four, Kaidan.

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I didn’t connect with this issue as strongly as I’ve connected to the other three. The lack of empathy may have something to do with my hatred for Kaidan (I wish I’d left him behind instead of Ashley), but it could also be the plot itself, which is a hero trope (I can’t explain further without spoiling the issue).

I still find the art meh, as faces aren’t really done well. The major battle was also hard for me to visualize, with blue bionic fire just spilling all over the place.

I still think the series as a whole is worth picking up; this just wasn’t my issue!

Check out my reviews of ME: Foundation issues one and two!

Plot

Far away from Earth, on Gagarin Station—or “Brain Camp,” as its students call it—a young Kaidan Alenko undergoes his biotic training. During an exceptionally grueling lesson, Kaidan steps in to defend the lovely Rahna from the brutal Commander Vyrnnu, but his rash actions have tragic consequences!

The Deets

Writer: Mac Walters
Artist: Tony Parker, Michael Atiyeh
Cover Artist: Benjamin Carré

Buy Mass Effect: Foundation #4 here!

[Disclaimer: A review copy was provided for me to review this comic.]

Comic Review: Mass Effect: Foundation #3

Mass Effect: Foundation is supposed to be the story of a great assassin working for Cerberus, but we’re treated along the way to a few old friends, like Wrex, and in this issue, Ashley Williams.

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I love the classic BioWare storytelling, the strong female characters, and the bloody fight scenes. The art is still meh, but the story is so good that I don’t really care.

I don’t want this series to end.

Check out my review of ME: Foundation issues 1 and 2!

Plot

The loss of the human colony Eden Prime was the first in a series of catastrophes to mark the return of the Reapers—a race of sentient AI that would threaten all life in the galaxy. Now, in her own words, Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams reveals what she saw.

The Deets

Writer: Mac Walters
Artist: Tony Parker
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
Cover Artist: Benjamin Carre

Buy Mass Effect: Foundation #3 here!

[Disclaimer: A review copy was provided for me to review this comic.]

Comic Review: Mass Effect: Foundation #2

I really enjoyed Mass Effect Foundation #1, so I could barely wait to read the second entry in the newest Mass Effect comic series.

First, I’d like to say how refreshing it is to see a black (or black-featured…the ME universe is clear that a blending happened in the human race) female lead, especially since that lead’s gender and color are (so far) non-issues in the series and universe.

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Second, the writing continues to be enjoyable, really shining in character interactions. This issue isn’t as twisty as issue #1, but watching characters interact with each other had that priceless mix of humor and danger that the games have.

I’m still not a big fan of the art style. People look a little deformed to me. Krogans, like Urdnot Wrex, look perfect though.

Plot

Urdnot Wrex—one of the most dangerous mercenaries in the galaxy—crosses paths with a mysterious secret agent in this explosive adventure!

Deets

Writer: Mac Walters
Artist: Tony Parker
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
Cover Artist: Benjamin Carre

Buy ME Foundation #2 here!

[Disclaimer: A review copy was provided for me to review this comic.]

Comic Review: Mass Effect Foundation #1

I was rather surprised when I learned about Mass Effect: Foundation. We had multiple comic series pop up in anticipation of and during Mass Effect 3, but the next Mass Effect game isn’t expected for quite a while. I must admit, I’m thrilled at the chance to enter the world again!

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Mass Effect: Foundation #1 kicks off with lead Mass Effect writer Mac Walters at the helm of a new series. The writing has those delicious twists and tough questions that we know and love from BioWare.

As for the art, the cover looks really different to me…not sure why, but it has a much softer feel than the past covers. The art on the pages is fairly standard. I was aggravated, as usual, by the giant breasts and skinny arms of the lead female, but that’s pretty much a given in most comics. They can’t all be Amalas!

Overall, I recommend this series to fans of Mass Effect, because the story is pure BioWare (so far), and I can’t wait to see whether we’re following a protagonist or an antagonist female lead!

Plot

Mass Effect: Foundation starts with a bang, introducing readers to an enigmatic “agent” and revealing the story of her time spent on the violent mining colony of Themis.

The Deets

Writer: Mac Walters
Artist: Omar Francia
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
Cover Artist: Benjamin Carré

Click here to purchase ME: Foundation #1.

[Disclaimer: A review copy was provided for me to review this comic.]

Comic Review: Kiss Me, Satan #4

Kiss Me, Satan #4 again just misses the promise of the first issue. The art is mostly beautiful and twisted. The colors are to die for. The ability of Ferreyra to capture the ‘look’ of mythical creatures in human features is great.

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The problem is in the treatment of the women. Zell goes from a tough-talking sidekick to an all-powerful witch to a princess needing to be rescued and then paying for her rescue with sex. Her breast and butt stances are in full effect, and just look so terrible. Again, my only real compliment is that I love seeing two black protagonists as the focus of the story.

See my reviews of the previous issues of Kiss Me, Satan.

Plot

After a contract-killer shaman ambushes our heroes, undercover demon Barnabus Black takes a group of witches back to his safe house, where he equips them with a massive arsenal to prepare for a final showdown with the werewolf mafia.

The Deets

Writer: Victor Gischler
Artist: Juan Ferreyra
Cover Artist: Dave Johnson

Buy it here!

[Disclaimer: A review copy was provided for me to review this comic.]

Pacific Rim Review: Do You Enjoy Kaiju?

Throughout Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim, if one were to glance over at me, they would see me sighing heavily, frowning, rolling my eyes, and doing the Jackie Chan meme face.

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They would also see me grinning, excitedly looking over at the person next to me, and even fist-pumping quietly to myself while mouthing the word “yes!”

With all the hype the nerd community had for Pacific Rim, I was expecting to write a much shorter review than usual, in light of my preparation for San Diego Comic Con. I was hoping a simple, “It’s amazing, go watch it!” would be sufficient, along with a few lines about plot, special effects, etc.

It turns out, my expectations were set a bit high. But that’s not to say this is a bad movie.

Plot

The plot is mostly ridiculous, mostly recycled, and mostly cliché. However, in a movie that attempts to be taken seriously as being based on science and technology, yet features giant mechs as the best solution the world came up with after pooling all their knowledge and tech, the plot can only be weak.

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I guess for me, the most frustrating part was constantly feeling like “I’ve seen this movie before.” This is Independence Day, an episode of Power Rangers, Top Gun, most Kung Fu movies, Rurouni Kenshin, Godzilla, etc. etc. It was very obviously either influenced by these other movies and shows or it’s lazy in not trying to bring anything new to the genre.

Acting

You know what doesn’t help a weak plot? Weak acting.This is a live-action anime, and the acting is overplayed by everyone except Idris Elba and Max Martini. Ron Perlman overplays his part in the most spectacular way, so he also gets on the “good actor” list. Gorman and Day both create characters who are almost caricatures or archetypes of characters, the crazed, stuck-up mathematician and his rival, the laid-back mad scientist (clearly Jeff Goldblum was considered too old here?). Hunnam kept distracting me with his hands in his belt and his terrible delivery of simplistic lines, and Kikuchi was tiresome as an Asian/anime girl trope.

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Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket

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Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost

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Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori

Charlie Day as Dr. Newton Geiszler

Charlie Day as Dr. Newton Geiszler

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Burn Gorman as Gottlieb

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Max Martini as Herc Hansen

Ron Perlman as Hannibal Chau

Ron Perlman as Hannibal Chau

After venting about the movie, a friend recommended I check out the IGN review. I agree wholeheartedly with everything she said, especially about the main character, played by Hunnam, and main love interest, played by Kikuchi:

“Hunnam plays it mostly straight, which is fine, but he doesn’t necessarily infuse an already thinly-written character with much life. Kikuchi’s performance, on the other hand, is occasionally perplexingly cartoonish. It seems clear that her exaggerated “little girl with big eyes” portrayal is a conscious choice, and likely a call out to some of the mecha anime that del Toro was referencing. However, her choices simply don’t make sense for a living, breathing adult woman – nor for an adult audience.”

Honestly, I recommend reading that entire review, because it pretty much sums up how I feel about the characters and plot. I left the theater feeling like I just watched a movie made for children, a movie that my pre-teen self would have loved and watched over and over again, because I had much simpler taste as a child: kill the monsters and save the world!

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Role of Women

Speaking of my taste as a child, even as a kid I would have been disappointed in the strange absence of women in the movie. And I mean strange, because the movie even pointed it out to me, when Elba gave his speech saying “you men and women” and then you see the crowd and go “…where…are those women?” We have a giant factory that gives the impression of hundreds of workers, and I saw maybe five women total, two of whom were pilots.

It doesn’t help that Mori, the female lead, is so dramatically enamored of Becket. She has literally no reason to like him – it’s just a physical crush at first. Then she kicks his ass in a fight and then he steps in to defend her honor against some other guy instead of letting her fight. It’s that classic Hollywood, “oh we made a strong female character, now let’s make her the damsel in distress and completely useless in the real fights.”

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On the other end of the spectrum for the character of Mori, we have the most detailed backstory and a truly compelling and creepy flashback. It was wonderful! But, in the end, it only served to explore why the two men in her life interacted with her the way they did. It wasn’t a story important to Mori, it was a story important to Becket and Pentecost. On my other, other hand, she was never used as a sexual object, wearing mostly baggy clothes, sporting a short hairstyle, and boasting the best scores possible on her entry exams. They didn’t do everything wrong with her character, just a lot.

There were also no women speaking in the first half hour of the movie, and no women at all in the first twenty minutes. Again, what I knew of Del Toro was coming from Pan’s Labyrinth, so this was a little shocking to me. I looked around the web to see if anyone else noticed, and I found this excellent article that goes into great and logical detail about why it’s so strange. I felt that many of the characters could have been switched out with women, no problem. Why do we need two male scientists? Or no all-female Jaeger pilot groups? Or no female potential Jaeger candidates but Mori? And the one woman in the cliché scene of world leaders DIDN’T SAY A WORD because…why?

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All-in-all, I think it was a perplexing choice and a true missed opportunity. Especially since, as I mentioned to my friend as we left the theater, they could have removed Becket from the film and had damn near the same movie, he was so useless as a character.

Oh, also I’m pretty sure GLaDOS was in this movie.

Special Effects and Action

“But Sarah, you told me this wasn’t a bad movie, but you’ve been complaining the whole time. What gives?” Well, the one part of the movie that most of you nerds would come for is totally badass.

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The opening sequence of the movie reminded me strongly of Cloverfield, as did the part of the movie involving going underground. The camera angles were quick, the scale was massive, and the 3D was used to give an amazing sense of weight to both the monsters and the mechs.

The camera angles were close and the monsters looked wonderfully creative yet realistic. I actually screamed a little during the first fight as the monster leaped towards me from the screen. Yeah, it was as embarrassing as it sounds.

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The fights were everything you’ve ever wanted to see in giant monster fights; each Kaiju was creative and different, and the danger felt real and thrilling.

I only have two complaints about the action and special effects: 1.) Sometimes it was hard to actually see what was going on because of all the rain and debris and 2.) I wanted more creepy parts like the underground bunker and the underwater section.

Final Verdict

Score: B-

Overall, I would say that I felt like this should have been a TV series or a trilogy or something to actually give me time to get to know and care about the characters. The live-action anime style doesn’t work in anything other than the monster and mech fights…but boy, do those fights work! I have never been so very satisfied with the use of 3D in a movie, as towering monsters crashed debris into my face and screamed their defiance into the faces of giant mechs. This is good, expensive B-movie fun, and if you love Godzilla, Independence Day, or giant mechs in general, you will enjoy this ride.

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And hey, let’s give credit where credit is due: the promo info for this movie heavily featured an Asian woman and a black man. This is progress! Now if only one of them were the lead…