Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

A Tribute to the Greatness that is Donnie Yen: Part IV – The Real Donnie Yen

A funny thing happened in the 2000’s.

Jackie Chan got old.

Jet Li was tied up doing movies with rappers.

Guess who stepped forward into the spotlight?

Close, but not quite.

That’s right, Donnie Yen, and he was bringing the sexy back!

2005 marked the first collaboration between Donnie Yen and Bio Zombie director Wilson Yip.

The film was called Sha Po Lang, (S.P.L.) and it kicked some serious ass.

See that baton? It's goin' right up your ass.

In the late-90’s one of my brother’s videophile friends screened for me a laser disc of John Woo’s The Killer.

With Jackie Chan having just become the next big thing in the states with the domestic release of Rumble in the Bronx, the climate was just right for me to get into Hong Kong cop and robber movies.

Needless to say, Tiger Cage, Hard Boiled and Beast Cops were old hat in my book by the time I was in high school.

SPL was a throwback to the Hong Kong “hard boiled cop” movies of the 80’s and 90’s, and it accomplished what very few Donnie Yen films had done before it.

With a star studded cast including the likes of Sammo Hung and Simon Yam, SPL presented us with an emotional and dramatic story, populated with characters we cared about, and did it all with a smaller than expected dose of action.

However nobody said that what fighting was there wasn’t some of the best of Mr. Yen’s career.

This brutal fight, between Donnie Yen and, then, up-and-comer Wu Jing, is what I proudly refer to as “The Best Weapon-Based Fight Scene of All Time.”

No fooling, I’ve watched it dozens of times and I’ve never once felt any doubt in my sentiments.

I love how you can read the intent behind every move in the fight just by looking at the intensity in both men’s facial expressions.

I love how the pace of the choreography has a natural and realistic sense of progression and crescendo to it.

I love the energy of the camera work and how it darts in and out like a fencer on the sidelines, hinting to us the perceived openings in each man’s guard from each fighter’s perspective.

I love this movie, and I’m glad it was the one that finally introduced me to the real Donnie Yen.

It was well worth the wait.

Check back for “Part V – All Hail Emperor Yen!”

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The Best Track in the Game #2: Starfox

Yes, the "T" stands for "Trevor." NOBODY was gonna' steal my Star Fox!

Oh Star Fox, how I loved playing you at other peoples houses.

That’s right, many a sleepover resulted in me either: A) staying up all night playing Star Fox, or B) waking up crazy early and waking the whole house at 5 AM by firing up Star Fox.

It’s interesting to note however, that in the case of the latter, it was never the sounds of the game itself that would wake people up.

It couldn’t have been, I was always careful to keep the TV volume down low when I was up too early/late, scouts honor.

No, as it turns out, it was me that would always wake people up.

As a child I was what one would call a “hummer,” and wouldn’t you know it, Star Fox’s soundtrack was one of the most hummable I can recall.

Looking back, aside from being pissed at me for waking them up as I ducked, weaved, and hummed the shit out of whatever stage theme was playing, I’m sure at least one of my friends’ parents must’ve thought I was retarded or something.

Yeah, kinda' like this kid.

Despite the combined strength of the Nintendo hype-machine and the ignorance of my youth, I never bought into the idea of Star Fox being “revolutionary” on the Super NES.

I remember Nintendo hyping the shit out of the Super FX chip, which was the component that gave the Star Fox cartridge the ability to display 3D polygons to a limited degree.

Well guess what?  I was a fucking kid!  I didn’t give a shit about “3D”, I didn’t know what the fuck 3D was!  All I remember caring about was the fact that the manual said there was a DRAGON in the game somewhere called the “Monarch Fucking Dodra.”

MOTHER. FUCKING. DRAGON.

Fuck, I remember being more impressed by the construction of the clay puppets they used for the pictures in the manual than anything I ever saw in the game.

Not the best example, but it'll do.

Graphical jibber-jabber aside, Star Fox was a solid game.

It wasn’t perfect by any means, but humming along with the soundtrack while entertaining the prospect of letting Slippy get shot down always proved enough to keep me coming back for more.

"Dib, Dib! Dib, Dib!" Fuckin' worthless piece of shit...

I didn’t own the game until much later in life, and it took many years for me to actually sit down and beat it, but Star Fox was a game that I just plain loved to play…  at the expense of other peoples’ beauty rest.

Anyway, without further ado…

The Best Track in the Game is…

Intro Stage – Corneria

Why?:

Oh really now, how could I not pick Corneria as The Best Track in the Game?

It’s easily one the most energetic and bombastic compositions in the game, not to mention it flows with the action almost note for note.

Well, provided you aren’t slowing down the pace of the game by mashing the air brake like a noob.

Part of the enjoyment of listening to the Corneria theme for the first time, is the incredible build up leading up to it.

When you first boot up the game, you are treated to an impressive homage to the opening sequence of Star Wars: A New Hope, although with much more ominous background music.

This tune is repeated in many of the various “tunnel” sequences in the game, to much greater effect, most notably preceding the final boss.

After the intro we are taken to the Title Screen.

The tune is bold and dignified, which as a kid was all I needed to get me stoked about saving the universe from a space monkey in a Rubik’s cube.

He killed your father...

From there the game takes you to the Setup Screen and Training Stage, both of which greatly contrast the Title Screen tune in the sense that they are comprised of calm and inviting melodies, the sort of stuff that makes you smile and rock back and forth while humming along… or something like that.

And then they hit you with this:

WOAH!  Shit just got real!

For a game about anthropomorphic space fighter pilots blowing up geometric shapes, Star Fox had some seriously moody and atmospheric moments to it.

Outside of the overall kick-ass, Top Gun-with-a-fox tune of the Corneria stage, I think the Emergency Call sequence preceding it was the biggest factor in making me select it as The Best Track in the Game.

Runner-Ups:

Boss Theme (Corneria Version), Venom-Planetary Base Theme (Route 2 Version)

The Corneria Boss Theme will always stick with me because of one hilariously bad judgment call.

The first time I ever got to see Star Fox in action was when my brother rented it for the weekend.

He fired it up and I quietly sat beside him, taking in the spectacle.

I remember we both laughed at the voices for the characters, imitating them whenever they’re speech windows would open up onscreen.

To us, Falco was always yelling:  “Farther wing damage!”

Anyway, as soon as the ominous build up tones of the Corneria Boss Theme kicked in, and the radio clicked on saying, “Incoming enemy,” our laughter and excitement ceased, instantly replaced with the cold tinges of fear.

“BUM, BUM, BUM!  BUM, BUM!  BUM, BUM, BUM!  BUM, BUM!”

My brother turned to me, and for probably the first time I can recall, asked me:

“What should I do Trevor?”

I was stunned.  My older brother was asking me for help?

“Uh… Go… Go, up!”

With that, my brother pulled up in his Arwing, and was immediately killed by the massive Attack Carrier that flew in from overhead.

My brother’s first life in Star Fox was cut short just before even getting to see the first boss.

Yeah, I caught a beating over that one.

The Corneria Boss Theme is not nearly The Best Track in the Game, in fact its repetitive and dull when heard independent of gameplay, but for me, those ominous opening notes are simply unforgettable.

The Venom Base Theme however, is not one that holds any sort of special place in my heart, rather, it is simply a damn fine piece of music.

The Venom Base Theme is one of the fastest-paced tracks in the game, however it belongs to a stage I rarely ever played in my youth.

Remember when I said I wasn’t very good at Star Fox?  Well, Venom Base is essentially the last level of the game, accessible only when playing from one of the harder routes.

Yeah, fuck that noise.

As it turns out, I didn’t really “discover” the Venom Base Theme until much later in life, largely because of my lack of mad Star Fox skills.

It’s an energetic, kick-ass piece of music, but definitely a little too obscure (from my standpoint) to call it The Best Track in the Game.

That being said, I will conclude this post with an image that haunted my dreams as a child, and always gave me incentive to turn off the console before getting a “Game Over.”

Did they really have to make Morgan Freeman look so damn scary!?

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A Tribute to the Greatness that is Donnie Yen: Part III – My Relationship with Mr. Yen

I first ran across Donnie Yen in 2001.

I had just purchased Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: All-Out Monster Attack on DVD from a mail-order bootleg service.

While the movie itself was great, (leading up to this I was suffering from post-Gamera trilogy Shusuke Kaneko withdrawals) there was an Easter egg on the disc menu (just click on Godzilla’s eye!)that included a number of trailers for upcoming Japanese films.

The first few were for older Godzilla movies that were finally seeing DVD release.

'Bout mother fuckin' time!

The last few however, were some of the coolest trailers I had seen up until then:

Ichi the Killer

and Shura Yuki Hime (2001)

I like the guy with the Fozzie Bear ears at 1:06 in the Ichi the Killer trailer. He’s silly.

Okay, now picture what it’s like seeing those for the first time when you’re a bloodthirsty 14 year old boy who’s only just starting to identify with his racial background.

I watched those trailers more than I watched that Godzilla movie.

And I loves me some Godzilla.

While neither of these movies were all that good in my opinion, (remember, I’m not a Miike fan) I was very impressed by the fight scenes in Shura Yuki Hime.

While he wasn’t in the film, after watching the trailer for Shura Yuki Hime so many times, my limited katakana comprehension at the time allowed me to read at :46 into it, that the “Akushon Direkuta” of the film was “Doni Iiyen.”

That’s Donnie Yen to you an me. Well, me anyway.

Unfortunately, the bootleg service I used only specialized in Japanese films at the time, with only a limited number of Chinese ones, leaving me with no real way of getting a hold of any Donnie Yen films.

Then I discovered that Donnie Yen had been featured in a number of American films.

I promptly looked them up and was treated to stuff like this:

… and Donnie Yen being mysteriously killed, OFF CAMERA, in Blade II.

Needless to say, I felt cheated.

In almost 4 years of searching, I was only able to see Donnie Yen in Iron Monkey, 3 shitty American films, and I guess if you get technical about it, I got to see his choreography in Shura Yuki Hime and Onimusha 3.

Where was all the good stuff?

Almost forgot... In his pants.

I figure you guys are a little sick of having Donnie Yen’s man-package thrust in your faces every day, so I think I’ll give you a reprieve tomorrow.

Check back the day after next for “Part IV – The Real Donnie Yen!”

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A Tribute to the Greatness that is Donnie Yen: Part II – Director Yen

Around 1997, Donnie Yen began directing his own films.

As I mentioned previously, the results were far from stellar.

In most cases, the storylines of Yen’s films were muddled, confusing, and often times just plain tedious, even by Hong Kong action movie standards.

Being as Donnie Yen was, at this point, already a supremely talented performer and fight choreographer, you would think he would put his best work on display in the films he directed, right?

Sadly this was not the case, just look at this example from Legend of the Wolf:

Yikes.

I don’t know how much coke they were on when they edited this, but I know someone had one hell of a time dubbing in the audio.

To be fair, the fight isn’t actually all that bad.

The fight is conducted at an incredibly frenetic pace, and some of the sparring is modestly complex, but the excessive use of confusing close-up shots and exaggerated undercranking result in a sequence that is just plain off-balance.

Although I do have to admit that the numerous “arm fencing” sequences are just plain fun.

Cinematography: It's what's for dinner.

The use of strange and experimental cinematography was rampant throughout most Donnie Yen directed films.

From the strangely artistic colored lighting in Ballistic Kiss, to the over-the-top undercranking in Legend of the Wolf, Yen was not a man afraid to deviate from the norms of Hong Kong cinema.

When you think about it, that’s actually a pretty admirable feat.

Though most of his movies were mediocre at best, (I personally thought Shanghai Affairs was his best, and even then it kind of sucked) they were always different, and never solely relied on his physical prowess to carry the show.

... Although it probably could anyway.

Check back later for “Part III – My Relationship with Mr. Yen!”

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A Tribute to the Greatness that is Donnie Yen: Part I – The Early Years

Okay let’s get one thing straight: Donnie Yen is the man.

Blue Jeans and Donnie Yen... All you'll ever need, baby... All you'll ever need.

Outside of his surgically altered face, and sculpted physique, his perfectionist tendencies and picture perfect form, both in front of and behind the camera, have blessed him with a colorful film career spanning 4 decades… and a super model wife.

Okay, things were cool at first, but now I'm starting to hate this guy a little.

Oh yeah, did I mention that he’s also a concert pianist, as well as a former breakdancer?

Okay, well maybe that whole breakdancing thing didn’t pan out so well, but hey, nobodies’ perfect.

The man is a living legend in the art of cinematic fight crafting and performance, and yet despite this, for most of his career he was regarded as sort of a middle-tier star in Hong Kong cinema.

In some ways its easy to see why though.

At age 46 he is only just now learning how to act, and in the few instances he set out to direct and star in his own films, the results were, how shall we say… ASS.

"Why did I let you convince me to be in this shitty movie? Did you really have to film every fight like it was straight out of Dragonball Z!?"

Combined with the fact that some of his contemporaries just happened to be Jackie Chan and Jet Li, Donnie Yen’s career was largely overlooked early on.

Despite this, he was always busy, turning out solid performances throughout the 80’s and 90’s, in the form of fun flicks like, Mismatched Couples, In the Line of Duty IV, Crystal Hunt, Iron Monkey I and II, and my personal favorite of his 80’s films, Tiger Cage II.

During this time, he often worked under the guidance of the great Yuen Woo Ping, as well as shared the screen with a laundry list of screen legends such as:  Ken Lo, Dick Wei, Billy Chow, Yu Ruong Guang, Michael Wong, Collin Chou, Yuen Biao, Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li, as well as his good friends, John Salvitti, and Michael Woods.

Oh yeah, and he also got to beat Robin Shou’s ass on at least one occasion.

THAT'S RIGHT! GOT YOUR ASS BEAT, LIU KANG!

His pair of battles against Jet Li in Once Upon a Time In China II as the villainous General Lan are often considered the scenes that put him on map among Chinese action film enthusiasts. In fact, the reception for these fights was so high in China, that the public anticipation of a “rematch” between the two figured into the promotion of the film, Hero.

Personally, I felt these fights were technically well crafted, but have never really been considered some of my favorites. Too many camera tricks and fantastical wire gimmickry for my tastes.

As you can probably tell, I’m not really a traditional wuxia enthusiast.

... Although this is pretty fucking cool.

Well, that concludes the introductory segment to my MASSIVE tribute (not innuendo, I swear) to the apex of pimp himself, Donnie Yen.

Check back for “Part II – Director Yen!”

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Let’s Look at Comics: What If… Death’s Head I Had Lived?

Today we’re going to do something different.  Today we’re going to look at comics!  More specifically, Marvel’s What If…? #54:  What If Death’s Head I Had Lived?

Just your average, everyday 90's comic.

Marvel’s What If…? series was a line of comics they created back in the day to allow their authors a venue to explore alternative realities and outcomes to various events in the primary Marvel continuity.  These stories ranged in topic from interesting and clever subjects like:

What If…? Kraven the Hunter had killed Spider-Man? and What If…? The Punisher’s family hadn’t been killed?

While every once in awhile, a random story would come along like, What If…?  Wolverine was the lord of the vampires?

As if I didn't have enough reasons to dislike the X-Men.

In any case, I was not much of a comic fan as a child, much less a fan of the What If…? series.  Despite the fact that I didn’t read many comics, for some reason I was always in the know in regards to whatever the big story of the moment was.  I can’t really explain how it worked out, but by the time I finally got full on into comics as an adult, I was surprised to discover that I really hadn’t missed much.

Anyway, let’s flip open this bad boy and see what’s bad-ass adventures are in store for us…

Power mullet, snake skin boots, denim... everything... This guy's gotta' be the pimpest man alive.

Okay, how about we skip that page, ‘k?

Our story opens in a rainy alley in Manhattan, 2020.  A woman in a trench coat is walking along, when suddenly she looks over her shoulder and…

Typical greeting gesture in New York 2020.

The man she’s pointing the gun at is, as he states, Spratt, Death’s Head’s assistant and partner.  Not that kind of partner, perv.  Following this, Spratt struggles to find the right words to convince the woman that he truly is affiliated with Death’s Head.

Fortunately, Death’s Head shows up to do that for him:

Death's Head: Boy Scout Representative since 1988

Following this, Death’s Head reveals to us that the woman is Dr. Necker, and they apparently have history with one another.  Dr. Necker designed a cyborg for an organization named A.I.M., (Advanced Idea Mechanics) and it just so happens that this particular cyborg went ape-shit one day and decided to take it out on ol’ Death’s Head…

MY GOD! MY GOD! SOMEBODY STOP THE DAMN MATCH! AS GOD AS MY WITNESS, HE IS BROKEN IN HALF!

Of course, that’s what happened in the primary Marvel continuity.  In the What If…?  universe, Death’s Head teleports to safety just in time to avoid being decapitated.

In traditional What If…? fashion, the story cuts away for a couple of pages to allow Uatu the Watcher and his epic forehead to tell us what happened as a result of Death’s Heads, well… death.

Hate to say it, but I think I'm gonna' have to give this one to J-Gar...

You see, Minion, the cyborg that skull-fucked Death’s Head in primary continuity, has a special ability that allows him to assimilate the abilities and minds of anyone he kills.

In the primary continuity, Death’s Head was able to use his final moments to take control of Minion’s mind and become the hero Death’s Head II.

Unfortunately, since this never happened in the What If…? universe, Minion, having been robbed of his 105th target for assimilation, decided to skip Death’s Head for the time being and move on to #106:  Reed Richards.

Yeah, that's the douche.

Minion pwns Mr. Fantastic within 4 panels.  How ironic.

Pwn Count: 1

Yeah, I hate Mr. Fantastic too, but he’s actually kind of important to the story.  Just keep that in the back of your mind for now.

With that, we are treated to a bizarre sequence in which Minion is possessed by the magical essence of a character named Baron Strucker V.  Baron Strucker V apparently has some sort of hatred for A.I.M., and later goes on to become the spiritual conduit for a demon named Charnal, however a search for him on the Marvel wikia reveals… absolutely nothing.  My only guess is that he was a throwaway character who was either too dull to keep around, or… no, I’m pretty sure I’m right on that one.

Anyway, Minion/Strucker goes ape-shit like most possessed super cyborgs do, and decides to bum rush A.I.M. headquarters New York at…

And in a school zone at that! Bastard!

Minion/Strucker cleans house, culminating with him declaring all A.I.M. installations shit out of luck.  Oh yeah, then he squishes Mr. Twenty-Six Miles Per Hour up there’s head.

Meanwhile, back in Manhattan 2020, (Minion is rampaging in the present, er, I mean 1992) Death’s Head is kicking back, shooting the shit with Dr. Necker while Spratt counts up the money she has brought to convince them to help her kill Minion.

You see, Death’s Head is a bounty hunter.  In his original 1988 appearance he was nothing more than a one-shot villain for the Marvel Transformers comic.  Following that however, the writers wisely set about creating a back story for him as an amoral bounty hunter robot, kind of like Star Wars’ IG-88.

After poking fun at Necker for her MASSIVE fuck up in creating Minion to destroy the very evil he has recently started down the road to become, (Charnal) Death’s Head agrees to take on the job… in the pimpest way possible.

No caption necessary.

With that, Death’s Head zips back in time to recruit allies to aid him in battle against Minion.  Allies that are as random as they are SUPER.

I appreciate War Machine's honesty in this panel.

I understand Luke Cage being on board, he was a mercenary like Death’s Head at one point in time.   The Fantastic Four, excuse me, Three, make sense on account of Mr. Fantastic being offed.  Captain America is the ultimate boy scout, use the word “noble cause” around him and he’ll do anything (so sayeth Death’s Head).

Namor and War Machine however, don’t really make a whole lot of sense to me.  I know that Namor was an opponent of the Fantastic Four early on in his career, and that he has since reformed and become a hero of sorts, but I don’t really know of any reason why he would want to avenge Reed Richards’ death.  I always thought he didn’t give a shit unless the oceans were in danger.

And War Machine, well… I guess he’s just in it ’cause Captain America’s got him by his nuts.

'DESE NUTS!

After a bit of superhero banter amongst themselves, the super crew sets out to take on Minion.  Our first glimpse of the epic battle that ensues is, well, an epic one.

And now a word from our sponsors...

Naw, just kidding.  Here we are

Is it me, or did The Thing's hand just turn into strawberry jam?

The battle rages, on, with panels sizes routinely reaching ludicrous proportions.  At one point The Thing is bitch-slapped like through a building, yelling “GNNN!” in the process.  All the while Captain America barks out obvious orders to the team like:

“Keep at him!  Don’t give him a moment!”

“Back off!”

“Take him!”

While I don’t disagree that these are useful commands to use in battle, I can’t help but feel that Cap is playing out his strategy like he’s playing an old school RTS or something.  You’ve got 6 guys Cap, ain’t no way you’re gonna’ be able to pull off a Zerg rush with that.  Don’t even bother with a mass Carrier attack either, that’s just straight up noob.

Like lambs to the mother fucking slaughter Cap...

Somewhere amid all this chaos, Namor makes his only contribution to the battle.

What football looks like in the Marvel universe.

That’s right, a goddamn shoulder tackle.  The Atlantean king, a man blessed with superhuman strength, the ability to breath under water, and fly at will, can manage nothing more than a shoulder tackle?

Oh well, moving on.

War Machine gets bitch-slapped next, only this time Minion takes the time to convert his arm into a crazy T-1000 blade just before doing it.  In response, the Human Torch sets Minion on fire, whereupon Luke Cage steps up to put the big lug in an arm lock.

At this point, Cage calls out to Sue Storm, saying:  “He’s all yours!”

He’s all yours?  What the fuck is the Invisible Woman going to do to someone that just bitch slapped a third of the super team into the stratosphere?

She’s going to do perhaps the coolest thing you’ll see in this comic, that’s what.

Yeeouch! Hot chili!

Holy fucking shit!  I don’t know what the hell just happened, but it was pretty fucking cool!

Being as this is a comic book, Sue is kind enough to provide us with the exposition necessary understand what the fuck she just did.

Turns out she used her invisibility powers to expand an invisible force bubble inside Minion, essentially causing him to “pop like a cork.”

I have no love for the Fantastic Four, but I think Sue Storm just got some brownie points in my book.

Despite this, Minion is pretty much as far from defeat as one can get.  In fact, The Thing follows up the “pop like a cork” incident with his own “bringing down the house” incident.

Haha, Captain America has puns.

In case you’ve been wondering what Death’s Head has been up to during all of this, the answer is:  standing on top of a building well out of harm’s way.

Don’t worry, he’s got a plan, I swear!

Anyway, this marks the turning point of the battle.  Remember how I said Minion had the ability to assimilate abilities by killing people?  Well, he can also kind of do the same thing with whatever you hit him with.

Big, raging, heavy metal-ish, stupidly over-powered super-villains were a mainstay of early 90’s comics, and Minion is no exception.  If you need another example, just look at DC’s Doomsday. (that one guy that killed Superman, coincidentally within the same year that this comic was written)

Anyway, the first beat in Minion’s big comeback comes in the form of removing Namor’s head from his shoulders, with a little help from Captain America…

TK! Team Kill! Haxxorz! Oh yeah, Pwn Count: 2

Followed by using his powers to cause the Human Torch to self-pwn by turning his own flame against him…

Man package conveniently blocked by flames. Pwn Count: 3

Then, within the same page he does this to War Machine…

That's what you get for putting eye holes in your billion dollar power armor, asshole. Pwn Count: 4

Finally, we’re treated to a whole page in which no one is pwned.

Turns out Cage and The Thing didn’t appreciate Minion’s mass pwning of their friends and family, so they go Thunderdome on his ass and smack him around for a bit, then team-up to hold him in place so Sue can have another go at popping him like a cork.

Unfortunately, Minion’s powers are broken as fuck, so there’s no way he’s gonna’ let that happen.

BITCH, HAVEN'T YOU SEEN MY MOVIES!? Pwn Count: 6

With that, Sue wusses out and gets all emotional instead of POPPING HIM LIKE A CORK right then and there.

With that, Minion talks shit to her about pwning her husband, and then proceeds to pwn her, OFF PANEL.

Uh... Pwn Count: 7?

*Sigh* I guess we can’t witness every instance of pwnage.

Following this, Minion squares of with Captain America, referring to him as his “old enemy,” implying they have some sort of history together.

… At this point I honestly don’t care.

Anyway, Minion defeats Captain America OFF PANEL, (urrgh!) just as Dr. Necker is getting ready to jump Death’s Head’s bones over how ruthless he is, letting the super team get pwned just so he can face a somewhat winded Minion.

And wouldn’t you know it, Death’s Head’s opening move against Minion provides us with a panel of Captain America’s post mortem pwnage.

It's okay, just pretend he was alive BEFORE the missile hit. Pwn Count: 8

Being as Minion is a “Cheap-As-Fuck” type Pokémon, the missile attack is not very effective…

An epic, one-on-one battle of sorts plays out, with Death’s Head employing a varied arsenal of tech-heavy weaponry to counter Minion’s infinite super combo gauge.

Okay, well maybe not ALL of it is "tech-heavy."

At this point in the fight however, as one would expect when tangling with a tick-throw pro like Minion, Death’s Head starts to fall behind a bit.

Despite this, he keeps his wits about him and proceeds to taunt Minion, accusing him of corner-trapping and such.

Seriously though, Death’s Head mocks Minion for his using his broken-ass powers as a crutch in battle, claiming that he is an idiot for not employing the use of any of the 105 intellects he has assimilated.

Minion responds to this in pretty much the most childish and idiotic way possible.

...And you're 100% sure that isn't exactly what he wants?

With this, Minion starts “Zzzat”-ing Death’s Head using some sort of telekinesis.

I don’t know, it’s not really explained…

Anyway, SOMETHING happens, and Death’s Head lops off Minion’s head!

You see? THIS is what happens when you turn Final Smash Balls on in Final Destination!

What the fuck just happened!?

Death’s Head exposits to us that, when Minion accessed Reed Richards’ mental powers, (I told you to keep him in mind!) Richards somehow momentarily took control of Minion FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE.

My only guess is that Minion’s powers work kind of like Goku’s in Dragonball.  His powers are a manifestation of focus and will, so if he is caught completely off-guard, his powers do nothing to soften the blow.

Don’t believe me?  Go look up that one episode of Dragonball Z where Krillin chucks a rock at Goku when he’s asleep.  Yeah, that’s right, fuck you.

Anyway, the issue ends with Death’s Head being tempted by the prospect of dropping his “Freelance Peacekeeping Agent” title in favor of the more honorable “superhero.”

Uatu plays us out, asking us to decide which reality had the more beneficial result. (Protip: Not the one this comic takes place in)

With that I leave you of this image of Nightcrawler getting ready to put his sausage in Meggan and Shadowcat’s mouths.

Haha, gotcha!

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The Best Track in the Game #1: Mega Man X

You don't wanna' see what I'm doing with my other hand...

Megaman X.  Few games have had as huge an impact on my life than Megaman X.

Growing up, I was a Megaman/Capcom nut.  I remember way back in the day, my barber (yeah, I don’t know why either) gave me and my brother an issue of Nintendo Power with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the cover:

Back when men were men... and turtles were not yet made of rubber

Yeah, that’s the one.

Anyway, somewhere in there was a sneak peak at Megaman 2 with a fold out poster featuring all 8 of the robot masters, plus Guts Dozer, The Mecha Dragon, and the schmuck Dr. Wily.

From the first time I saw this poster, I was hooked.

I remember running over to my mom and showing her all the characters, and telling her in impossibly adorable child-speak:

“This guy, his name’s Bubble Man!  He has bubble powers!  He shoots, um… He shoots bubbles!”

Eventually, I got my mom to make me a Bubble Man helmet out of cardboard…  and a Crash Man helmet for one of the neighbor kids… and a Quick Man helmet that I told her was for one of my friends that I ended up keeping for myself.

Yeah, back then Bubble Man was my favorite boss from Megaman 2.  My brother used to give me shit about it.  He would say:

“Bubble Man’s fat.  No wonder you like him, fatty.”

So fat...

Well, can’t say my brother was ever wrong about him being fat.  At least he’s not a pussy like Metal Man AKA THE FIRST FUCKING GUY EVERYONE KILLS.

FIRST. FUCKING. GUY.

Anyway, back to Megaman X!

Wall climbing.  Dashing.  Wall Dashing.  Throwing a Hadouken.  These were just a few of the amazing innovations that Megaman X brought to the Megaman franchise.Most critical among these was the Dash, which, coupled with the ability to hug walls to slow your descent, made for precision gameplay far faster and more forgiving than the classic Megaman series has ever been.

In gaining a beam saber, he lost his cock. Tragic...

True the franchise has never been very hard, (except for the utterly craptacular Megaman X6) and I see how that could be a problem for all the Contra kids out there, but the level length, number of secrets, and plethora of colorfully animated boss characters throughout most of the games has always struck me as being among the best in gaming.

Okay, maybe X3 had too many secrets, (most of the time you found at least half of the stuff by accident) and X2’s difficulty was sinfully weak, but few people can argue that the original Megaman X was pretty much on the mark in every area.

But that says nothing for the quality of the music.

Picking a best track from Megaman X is no easy task.  When you first boot up the game, you are treated to a provocative and well-executed diagnostic sequence, followed by one of the most awesome title screen tracks EVER.


Right from the get go, best title track EVER.

And it just keeps getting better from there.

The intro stage (an innovation to the Megaman franchise first seen here) tune is exhilarating and skillfully layered.  In fact one of the most remarkable things about this soundtrack, to me at least, is the fact that it succeeded in making me feel like there was some level of importance to my actions.

The track that plays when Zero and X hold their conversations establishes a sense of brotherhood between the two characters that does a lot to add to the gravity of the conflict at hand (especially when you consider the events that precede the two instances when this track is heard in the game.)

In picking a favorite track from this game though, my objective is to select the one that is not only the most enjoyable to listen to, but the one that “means” the most to me as a whole.

Being one that plays Megaman games more often than he beats them, I tend to spend most of my time playing through the pre-castle, robot master stages.  That being said it’s natural for me to pick one of the robot master stage tracks as The Best Track in the Game for Megaman X.

Without further ado,

The Best Track in the Game is…

Armored Armadillo Stage

Why?:

The music is fast, energetic, and has a significantly longer running time than many of the other robot master themes. (I’m looking at you Storm Eagle and Sting Chameleon…) Not only that, but Armored Armadillo’s stage is potentially the most fun to play through, featuring a number of unique enemies (the “jet birds” at the end, and the tunnel digging bug-machines) and gameplay mechanics (the spiked mine cart rides).  In general, Armored Armadillo’s stage seems to have more “love” put into it than the others, and is therefore, simply more fun to play.

In addition to this, Armored Armadillo’s stage is undoubtedly the one that most people have played through the most.

No, not because it’s so damn fun, (even though it is) but because it’s the only way to get the Hadouken capsule!

Assuming you don’t suck, and don’t have to continue through any of the robot master stages, one will end up playing Armored Armadillo’s stage 5 times as much as any of the other levels in the game!  I can’t prove it, but something tells me Capcom made the conscious decision to step up their game in designing Armored Armadillo’s stage in order to prevent people from getting pissy over having to play through the stage an extra 4 times (potentially more, again, if you suck) to get a cheesy fireball upgrade.

In this is case, it worked, ’cause I have never once balked at the idea of playing through the game without getting the Hadouken.

Runner-Ups:

Storm Eagle Stage, Title Theme

Why?:


Storm Eagle’s theme has a solid reputation for being the favorite among most gamers.

It’s short, it’s sweet, it has a sort of Top Gun-ish heavy guitar feel to it, in short, it’s fucking awesome and it goes with the airport setting very well.

Storm Eagle’s theme was my favorite as a kid, and remained so until fairly recently.

As I mentioned previously, I think Armored Armadillo’s theme is great partially because it was shoved down my throat so many times over the years.  In that sense I think it’s fair to say that I enjoy both tracks pretty much equally, however one has recently begun to occupy a larger place in my memory than the other.

In regards to the Title Theme, listen to it!

It’s fucking awesome!

Even without the awesome metallic *SHING* noise when the “X” flashes into place, it’s still fucking awesome!

How could you not get crazy hyped up after hearing this for the first time!?

I know I did at least until one of the little purple flying dudes with the red nose bumped me in mid-air and knocked me into a pit not 2 minutes into my first life.  Little fucker, has the nerve to blink his eyes and bob his nose in celebration every time he hits you too…

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Long time no see Ultraman

I miss Ultraman.

Ultraman has been absent from the airwaves since 2007, replaced by the Pokémon-esque, Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle… and the follow-up series, Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle: Never Ending Odyssey.

While Galaxy is a decent enough show, with a fun concept and plenty of kaiju battles, the acting and production values feel decidedly below average for an Ultra series. This, coupled with a distinct lack of Ultraman blowing the shit out of monsters has led me to give up on Galaxy for the most part.

Let me put things into perspective for you:

I grew up watching Ultraman.

Not only that, the first show I ever watched was the outsourced, Australian iteration, Ultraman Towards the Future, which is universally regarded as one of the worst Ultra series of all time, second only to the American Ultraman Powered.

Despite this, as a child I loved it! I remember waking up at obscene hours of the morning to to catch one of the 13 episodes every weekend, (kind of like how we all used to watch the same 2 or 3 Ren & Stimpy episodes every weekend) and loving every minute of it. To this day, I still have some of the action figures, the playset, and even the terrible Super NES game.

Whatever, this stuff was the shit when I was 5.

As a child Ultraman died to me the day he started airing at 5 AM on TNT.

I remember getting psyched after seeing a commercial for Ultraseven, where a giant ape man shot blue lasers out of his eyes, and Ultraseven struck a pose and yelled: “YAH! YAH! YAH! YAHHH!!!!”

With Ultraman Towards the Future still fresh in my mind, I tried to wake up to see Ultraseven at 5 in the fucking morning.

No simple task for a 6 year old with no alarm clock.

Naturally, I never got to see Ultraseven.

For about a month straight, I remember getting out of bed, running out into the living room and flipping on the TV, only to find that Ultraseven was not on.

A few times I remember seeing some scary shit on in that time slot, I remember some movie about creepy old Native American ladies with bleeding eyes scared me back to sleep one time.

Knowing me, I probably just mixed up the time slot for the show, but unfortunately I never got to see that awesome commercial again, so I never found out.

Haha! Yeah, that's the one!

Following this, I abandoned my love for Ultraman for a very long time.

I remember Ultraman Tiga aired on Fox Kids when I was in middle school. Unfortunately, I was 12, and was thusly too “cool” for Ultraman. Guess I was too busy failing at swearing (“Shit balls! Damn, fuck-sauce!”) and being fat to care about Ultraman.

Then a funny thing happened.

Flash forward to 2005: I’m in college. I’m bored. I’m finally getting old enough to the point where looking back on life holds meaning. I’m finally old enough to admit that I miss Ultraman.

So what do I do?

I learn about this new fangled invention called “torrenting” and type in “Ultraman” as my first query.

Much like my experiences in the 90’s with the Heisei Godzilla series, I was very much surprised to find that Ultraman had carried on just fine without me.

Ultraman Max served as my ambassador back into the world of Ultraman. Max was good fun. Every episode was colorfully executed with obvious enthusiasm. The cast was smaller than most Ultra shows, but in many ways I feel that was its strength. Every character was well defined and seemed to serve some purpose, even that haole guy, Sean.

One of these things is different...

I loved how schizophrenic the show could be at times.

Directors and storylines rarely lasted more than 1 or 2 episodes, resulting in a show that changed identities and mood from week to week, and quite successfully at that.

I remember being genuinely impressed by both of Takashi Miike’s episodes: “Miracle of the Third Planet” and “Who am I?”, the former being one of the most dramatic episodes in the series, and the latter being the funniest.

Most impressive to me is the fact that I don’t even like Takashi Miike, I’ve always thought of him as being seriously overrated.

I never finished Max, but it remains one of the my favorite series.

Unlike this 'merch hawking whore...

After I was done with Max, I took a step back and decided to watch the much heralded Ultraman Nexus from the previous year.

Nexus was a revelation. It did all the things Ultra series don’t do.

It worked from a single continuous storyline.

It was consistently serious in tone.

It had monsters that took entire story arcs to defeat.

It had a budget and was spectacular from beginning to end.

Nexus represented a great experiment in trying to tweak the format of the Ultraman series. From what I’ve heard, it’s deviation from the status quo caused it to lose a lot of fans, but for an older, wiser Azn Badger, it was just what the doctor ordered.

Good God, someone get that child away from there!

Around this time I started following the Ultra movie series with the release of Ultraman: The Next.

It was pretty good, with exceptional effects work, great suit designs, and a killer soundtrack by the lead guitarist of B’Z, Tak Matsumoto.

There was some hokiness to it in the form of lame homages to the Top Gun anthem on the soundtrack, and an oddly placed freeze frame moment, (“MAKI!!!!!!) but for the most part it was a good time.

Oh yeah, and it tied into Nexus, so yeah, brownie points there.

Skip to 5:08 for “MAKI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Ultraman Moebius (yes I know the Japanese phonetics have it as “Mebius“, but fuck that noise) represented another falling out between Ultraman and I.

I don’t know if it’s because I got too old, or was fatigued from all of the Sentai and Kamen Rider I was watching at the time, (Den-Ou! WOOT!) but something just didn’t click for me.

I remember liking the feel of the show, and how it paid homage to the Ultra shows of old through its use of sound effects and intentional use of outdated special effects (even more low tech than usual), but as a whole, the show just kind of felt, well, lame.

The characters were varied and well-defined, but for the most part it just felt like a bunch of airhead pop-stars with an absurd amount of inane high school drama and baggage that somehow tied into finding the methodology necessary to defeat the monster of the week.

Yes, I am aware that I just summarized pretty much every Sentai or Ultraman show ever, but what I mean to say, is that this felt particularly pronounced in the 14 or 15 episodes of Moebius I managed to watch.

You see what you missed out on? Moebius punching Birdon in his chin balls, that's what!

I think part of why I didn’t really care much for Moebius, is that the action felt kind of tame in comparison to Max, Nexus, or even Gaia.

The camera work was typical of an Ultra series, with lots of on-rails camera movement, and lots of zooms to highlight the action, but for the most part the choreography felt less complex and somewhat slow.

Nexus contained some really visceral and intense fight sequences throughout, largely highlighted by the Ultra on Ultra fights with Dark Mephisto and to a lesser extent, Dark Faust.

Max on the other hand, featured choreography with a lot of character to it.  The fighting was conducted at essentially the same pace as in Nexus, but given the quirkiness of the storylines, and the overall light tone of the series, much of the choreography allowed the suit actors to do a lot of pantomime that really added to the fun.

Whoever the suit actor for Max was, I’d like to shake their hand.

Although I would be even more honored to shake this man's hand. No, the guy on the right, dumbass.

Despite my general dissatisfaction with the series, Moebius proved popular enough with the kiddies to have a few movie tie-ins, the first of which being Ultraman Moebius & The Ultra Brothers.

I felt it was actually very good, good enough for me to own without feeling shame.

The second one however, Superior Ultra 8 Brothers, was not so hot. Aside from some splashy effects work, I felt like the story was a little bit too fantastical and far fetched, even for little kids.

Oh yeah, and as good as the effects could be at times, the fight between Moebius and King Gesura was embarrassingly hideous to look at. *Shudder* Gives me the willies just thinking about it…

In short, Ultraman Moebius was alright, probably worth watching for most fans, but not really my favorite. Which leads us to a series that I did finish, but really wish I hadn’t…

Ultraseven X was the last “proper” Ultra series, and in my opinion, it’s spectacularly epic shittiness was most likely the reason we haven’t seen an Ultra series since 2007.

It was a miniseries, it tried to be “edgy” and “different”, and for the most part it sucked a big, fat, Blackanese cock.

When I first saw the production stills for the show, I was mightily impressed by the suit design for the title character… and little else. The characters were bland and needlessly quirky, (tough girl with chocolate addiction, huh?) and the theme song was truly terrible ENGLISH J-Rock song that was as forgettable as it was skippable.

From the first trailer it was clear that the show was attempting to create a mood of sorts, unfortunately the costumes, props, and sets were a far cry from the standard set by GARO (FUCK YEAH!) the year before, and thusly, it came across as a pale imitation.

In case you couldn’t tell, Ultraseven X was a fucking disaster.

For an example of pretty much everything shitty about Ultraseven X, click below:

The action was sparse and uninspired and story was convoluted and full of holes despite the condensed length of the series.

Oh yeah, and the soundtrack, often times a highlight of any tokusatsu or Ultraman experience, was composed of minimalist, electronic turd-fuckery.

To be fair, Ultraseven X could’ve been alright had it been shot as an Ultra Q series and omitted any traces of Ultraseven or kaiju battles in general, but as it so happened I was left with a seriously sour taste in my mouth after watching it and desperately needed something to cleanse my palette.

Unfortunately, it’s been 3 years and my palette has yet to be cleansed.

Until now.

Now THAT'S a poster!

Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend THE MOVIE or….. MMBUGLTHM… for short.

Galaxy Legend THE MOVIE came out on DVD today and I am ready to be wowed. Reviews are positive, tickets sales were exceptional, Ultraman Belial looks like Carnage from Spider-Man, and the trailer looks FUCKING SWEET.


Yeah, don’t forget to change your undies cowboy.

I’m sure it’s not the best movie ever.

I’m sure it’s going to drag at points and have a shitty script.

Despite all this, I am excited for to see this movie because deep down, I want to like it.

I don’t want to be a cynical adult that shamefully picks apart the things he loves, I want an excuse to get back into Ultraman and be that kid waking up at 5 AM all over again.

It’s a wonderful feeling, having something to look forward to.

Outside of a brand new Ultra show featuring one of the original Ultras, (an idea I think would be a lot of fun) I can’t think anything that would make me happier than a rip-roaring, epic Ultra movie.

Here’s to fandom. I’ll let you know how the movie was in a few weeks.

Filed under: Comics, Movies, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reminiscing About Gaming/A Taste of Things to Come

I am a product of the Sega/Nintendo Console War, more specifically the Nintendo side of the equation. Though I had fun tooling around on the NES, my fondest memories of gaming lay soundly within my after school sessions on the Super NES. Freaking out at the sight of Jason Voorhees slashing through a hedge maze in Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Punching my friend in the shoulder after he screen scroll killed me Battletoads In Battlemaniacs. Getting a sweet revenge kill in Super Bomberman 3 during a heated 4 player match.

Yeah, good times…

I had exactly one friend that owned a Genesis. We had fun taking turns at Vectorman and Sonic Spinball, and we probably beat Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie at least 50 times, but every now and again, I’d catch myself jabbing my buddy over owning an “inferior” console. “Inferior” in terms of consoles back then of course meant the console had fewer buttons and, well, unless you were an only child or came from a divorced household, was the console you didn’t own.

Yeah, there were a lot of spoiled kids at my elementary school.

My brother asked for a Super NES for Christmas in ’91, which he got on the grounds that it was to be considered shared property between he and myself. The fact that my brother CHOSE the Super NES over the Genesis was enough to convince me that I owned the superior product.  Hey, he was my older brother, his opinion meant the world to me.

As an older, wiser Azn Badger, I now know of course that both consoles had their merits. The Super NES may have been technically superior to the Genesis on many fronts (*Ahem!* except maybe BLAST PROCESSING), but both systems had amazing libraries of cross platform and exclusive games. Despite this, even as a child the one major difference I noticed between the two consoles, (besides the Super NES being BETTER!) was in regards to the music.

Genesis music was often composed well, as was the case with Rocket Knight Adventures and any of the Treasure games, but more often than not, the tones would end up sounding up like some sort of synth-electric guitar hybrid that dealt exclusively in fart noises and sounds like:

*Buzz* *Buzz* BUUWAAAAAOOOHHH!!!! *Dink* *Dink *Dink*.

Case in point, from X-Men:

Oh yeah, the Danger Room music was pretty ass too.

Anyway, being as this is my first time blogging, I’ve been trying to think of a way to organize my thoughts and maintain my motivation to write, and in typing this post, I think I got it sorted out. I’m going to post an article at least once a week entitled “The Best Track in the Game”, wherein I will select a game that I own, and determine which music track is somewhere between the most enjoyable and most nostalgic one in said game. I’m thinking about doing Super NES stuff for awhile, but later on I’ll do “special editions” where I switch consoles every now and again. In the meantime, I’ll probably type some more formal articles as they come to me.

Thanks for reading. Happy Thursday!

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