A Look Back at Mantra #8 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, Ultraverse fans and superhero comic collectors! Today, we will revisit the Mantra monthly series again and it has been almost two weeks since my last Mantra review. For the newcomers reading this, Mantra’s mortal enemy is Boneyard who got involved in the Mantra-Strangers crossover (refer to The Strangers #13 and Mantra #12).

Before those mentioned stories took place, something else happened involving Boneyard. That is what we will find out in this look back at Mantra #8, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and drawn by John Statema (who was involved in UltraForce #2).

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in an unknown location with Boneyard who commands Notch to speak as his patience dwindles. Notch states that he has devised a plane to capture the ever elusive Mantra (male warrior Lukasz occupying the body of Eden Blake) involving a betrayal by a friend. Notch requests for a few troops and the custody of the creature in cell 13. Boneyard reacts by saying that if Notch succeeds, he will have Mantra after she has borne an offspring for him )Boneyard). Failure would mean Notch will become occupant of cell 14.

Elsewhere Warstrike (riding with a lady) drives his car fast getting away from the car of armed men chasing him. The chase ends with a crash of two cars freeing Warstrike. Some time later, Warstrike arrives home and to his surprise, Mantra is already there. He gets kissed by Mantra (emphasizing a touch of homosexuality) and asked about a change of her attitude. As it turns out, the Mantra who made sexual advances to him transforms into a grotesque creature with lots of tentacles. Warstrike then realizes it was not really Mantra at all. Eventually, the creature wraps itself all over Warstrike. Notch suddenly appears and blows a substance to him.

The next morning, Eden Blake/Mantra arrives at the office catching everyone’s attention due to her beauty and sexy outfit. Eden suddenly notices that everyone around looks like Warstrike. Suspecting that what is happening is the manifestation of magic, she goes to her office to find answers…

Quality

Even though she has magic, Mantra still is physically weaker which Lukasz has trouble adjusting with.

Getting straight to the point with regards to the story, this one has a nice mix of action, intrigue, suspense and the search for answers. It also pays attention to the very awkward alliance between Mantra and Warstrike. Warstrike was the last person to have killed Lukasz in his male form which led to him getting reincarnated as Eden Blake (displacing Eden’s soul) and in this story, you will see he even has sexual interest with her even though he knows Lukasz is occupying that beautiful body. This comic book also shows how powerful a villain Boneyard is and how his soldiers are willing to do his commands. With regards to the locations, I should state that the use of a fantasy-themed amusement park in the story is an excellent concept to emphasize this comic book’s fantasy elements.

When it comes to the art, it is no surprise that John Statema did a pretty good job in capturing the looks of Mantra and the related characters, and his pacing of the visuals is similar to that of Terry Dodson. Statema worked on several other Ultraverse comic books including The Solution #6 which looked great and his art really brought the script to life. Mantra, Boneyard, Warstrike and other relevant characters look recognizable with Statema’s style. The artist also excelled in drawing fantasy visual elements like magic, swords, armor, monsters, etc.

Conclusion

Eden Blake is the center of attention at the office.

I can clearly say that Mantra #8 (1994) is an entertaining comic book to read. It has a self-contained story that is very well told and John Statema’s art made it a lively read.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #8 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $8 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $26.

Overall, Mantra #8 (1994) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Mantra #12 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Hey everyone! Welcome back to my continuing effort on reviewing Ultraverse comic books of Malibu Comics from the 1990s. This time we will continue on the crossover between Mantra and The Strangers that started in The Strangers #13.

What I enjoyed most in The Strangers #13 is the interaction between Mantra and members of the superhero team as well as how Boneyard (mortal enemy of Mantra’s) impacts them. It comes to show that careful research of the characters and planning were done to ensure not only a very good story but one that makes mixing Mantra and the Strangers together memorable.

Will the high quality of story, art and crossing over continue? We can find out in the 2nd chapter of the Mantra-Strangers crossover in Mantra #12, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and illustrated by Terry Dodson.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Mantra and the Strangers facing Boneyard, his companions and demons. Boneyard has Atom Bob held captive for his magic use. Determined to kill Boneyard, Mantra draws first blood by blasting one of the demons. Due to having weakened powers, Mantra struggles in battle until Electrocute helps taking the other demons off.

As the battle goes on, Boneyard (aided with Notch’s power) makes his move towards Mantra and touches her body with his….

Quality

Action in the city.

The script written by Mike W. Barr (in coordination with Steve Englehart of The Strangers) is pretty solid in the sense that it took the interactions between Mantra and the Strangers a few levels deeper which paved the way for some character revelations and further development of varied personalities. To say the least, this one is pretty wordy and there was clear effort to define the characters even as the struggle went on. There were also common things between Boneyard and Yrial that was nicely explored when it comes to their respective abilities.

This comic book daringly touched on gender issues, particularly with the ever unholy topic of homosexuality (note: read 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10 in the Holy Bible) and even rape. There was this lesbian kiss scene between Electrocute and Mantra. Also it is made clear that even though Boneyard knows Mantra really is male warrior Lukasz occupying a female body, the said villain still wants to mate with the protagonist.

On the visuals, I found this one really looking odd even though it was credited to Terry Dodson. His art here really looked cartoony, so much so it’s almost as if someone else drew it. Try comparing Dodson’s art here with what he did in issue #1 and you will see what I mean.

Conclusion

At the coast.

While it is well written, I should say that the crossover between the protagonist and the featured superhero team could have ended better. Compared to the conclusions of the Prototype-Strangers and Hardcase-Strangers crossovers, Mantra #12 ended up lacking punch. As an anniversary issue, it is serviceable.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #12 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy costs $8.

Overall, Mantra #12 (1994) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Mantra #2 (1993)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

It’s been a long time since I reviewed the first issue of Mantra. For the newcomers reading this, Mantra is one of the major protagonists of the Ultraverse and as the series progressed, several stories containing elements of fantasy and even science fiction got published. With the way Mike W. Barr wrote the stories, the Mantra series really had its very own flavor and style among all Ultraverse comic books. What also made the character Mantra unique was that she was established with the use of the unholy element of reincarnation.

Before Mantra came to be, there was a male eternal warrior called Lukasz who was a part of a group that fought a rival group of warriors through the ages. Their leader Archimage used magic to ensure that whenever Lukasz or any of his teammates die, he would get reincarnated (his soul enters a new body belonging to an already living person whose soul gets displaced) and continue the fight. Then something happened in issue #1 which led to Lukasz occupying the body of a pretty woman named Eden.

To find out more, join me in this look back at Mantra #1, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and drawn by Terry Dodson.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins at the home of Eden Blake in the evening. An armed man named Warstrike knows that Lukasz is occupying Eden’s body. Lukasz/Eden/Mantra starts to resist him but notices that Eden’s son and daughter are both present and seeing them. Quickly and cleverly, Mantra tells the children to get back to bed and hope they did not notice something wrong.

Filled with emotions, Mantra asked Warstrike not to kill her. As it turns out, Warstrike did not come to take her life and reveals that he had been used by Notch (a rival warrior Lukasz often fought with) as a tool to kill him (Lukasz) the last time he was in a male body. Warstrike tells her he’s going to help her.

After the talk and another attempt by Warstrike to charm her, Mantra slams the door and goes to bed. She sleeps to prepare herself for the next day…

Quality

As Eden, Lukasz inherits the responsibility of taking care of her son and daughter.

I’ll star with the most obvious thing about this comic book…the writing done by Mike W. Barr is very strong and has a nice balance between plotting, spectacle and characterization all throughout. For his part, Terry Dodson nicely translated the writing into engaging visuals.

For the most part, this comic book is very character driven which is a nice pay-off considering the plot build-up in issue #1. We get to see Lukasz struggling more not only because he displaced Eden’s soul (again, reincarnation is unholy) as he occupied her body, but because he is living Eden’s life which involves being the single mother of two children, going to work at the office, wearing women’s clothes and shoes, and dealing with a certain someone from Eden’s past. All of these add to the tremendous challenge of Lukasz who already has his own mission to fulfill.

Conclusion

Living Eden’s domestic life alone is a big challenge already for Lukasz who has always been male.

Mantra #2 is a very strong read from start to finish. As it develops Mantra even further, it also adds to the build-up of another story element: Eden’s domestic life. As the armored Mantra, the protagonist has a mission to find and free Archimage. As Eden, spending time with the two little ones is not only challenging but also crucial to their development. These elements are nice twists to the old hero-civilian formula of superhero comics. Indeed, this one is worthy follow-up to issue #1.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #2 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $8, the near-mint copy of the bagged edition costs $16 and the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $26.

Overall, Mantra #2 (1993) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

My Observations: Time for Rare and Microsoft to emphasize Everwild’s gameplay and features

Time for Rare and Microsoft to emphasize Everwild’s gameplay and features

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Everwild developed by Rare and published by Microsoft.

I have to admit that it’s been quite a long time since Xbox game studio Rare released a game that captivated me. I’m talking about their two games that launched with the Xbox 360 – Perfect Dark Zero and Kameo: Elements of Power.

They went on to make Viva Piñata, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (a major disappointment), Kinect Sports, Kinect Sports II, Kinect Sports Rivals (the commercial failure), Killer Instinct, Rare Replay (the compilation of their legacy), and Sea of Thieves (which never interested me). Lastly, I should mention that Rare’s next project Battletoads is coming out on August 20!

When I least expected it, Rare caught my attention at last during the XO19 this past November when their newest game was unveiled…Everwild. The game is being developed specifically for the next-generation Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PC (also coming to Xbox Game Pass) and below is the announcement trailer.

The first time I saw that trailer, I was captivated with the great looking visuals which had stunning digital art work and smooth animation. When I noticed the characters move in the game and they faced a scenic view with birds flying in the air, I had the impression that Everwild is an adventure-type game that may have open-world exploration elements. It should be said that the animation and artistic design of the wild animals are astounding to see! By the time the trailer ended, I hoped to see more of it as I am fond of open-world games (and games with wide-open areas that still satisfy gamers’ open-world interests) with adventuring and exploration.

And this past July, Microsoft released the 2nd trailer for Everwild during the Xbox Games Showcase which you can see below…

That Xbox Games Showcase Everwild trailer looks more amazing and having replayed it more, it is clear to me now that it is an adventure game (confirmed at the game’s Xbox.com page) with a world to explore. It also shows that the characters do interact with animals, even to the point of making changes to the natural environment. There are also mystical acts performed. Even with such details visualized, Rare and Microsoft have yet to emphasize clearly (and in detail) how exactly Everwild will play and what it will feature. In reality, beautiful visuals can only go so far on selling the game and ultimately it is the fun factor and engagement that need to be strong to really connect with gamers.

My questions for Rare and Microsoft are as follows:

Is Everwild a single-play game with co-op as options or is it an online multiplier game?

Does Everwild have a living, breathing open-world or will it have separate wide-open areas meant to be explored and discovered?

Apart from interacting with animals and the environment, will the game have a good amount of action scenes to keep gamers engaged?

Does Everwild have creature/monster hunting? Village building?

Will the game have some role-playing game (RPG) elements in terms of leveling up the characters?

Will Everwild launch along with Xbox Series X?

Screenshot_20200811-160534_YouTube.jpg
A shot the July 2020 trailer of Everwild.

Being very interested with Everwild, I really hope that the publisher and developer will get their acts together to emphasize more of their game’s gameplay and features. It would be very nice if they could not only show more gameplay footage but also demonstrate how the game plays in live fashion in an upcoming Xbox-focused event. I personally enjoy open-world games that have lots of exploration, action and a solid story to follow, and I hope that Everwild will have such values. If Everwild will indeed by an open-world game, it could literally break the mold with its out-of-this-world concept and possibly feature action scenes that don’t involve guns. Rare’s game just might provide the open-world experience radically different (from the likes of Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row, etc.) and still deliver a ton of fun. Really, it’s high time for the game makers to emphasize the game! Oh yeah, I’d like to see Phil Spencer or Colteastwood or Dealer Gaming organize an interview with the creative team at Rare to talk about the Everwild!

For official and general information about Everwild, visit https://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/everwild

Speaking of upcoming Xbox events, check out the following YouTube videos about a possible August event by Microsoft done by Colteastwood and Dealer Gaming.

By the way, have you heard about the leak relating to the long speculated Xbox Series S? Watch these videos by Dealer Gaming and Rand al Thor 19.

In closing this, here is a video by Gaming Bolt. If you are an Xbox One owner, it should convince you to look forward to Xbox Series X.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

My Observations: Xbox Games Showcase

It has finally happened. Microsoft organized this past Thursday the much-awaited digital event Xbox Games Showcase. Let me cut to the chase that, for the most part, I actually enjoyed watching. It’s not a perfect showcase of games for Xbox fans and other gamers, but it sure is a major improvement over the disappointing 3rd party games showcase of last May.

For one thing, Xbox head Phil Spencer himself confirmed that less than ten of the fifteen Xbox game studios had prepared for the showcase. This is not surprising because it takes a lot of time and work to make video games nowadays and it is a fact that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had forced game developers (as well as countless other surviving businesses) to adapt the work-at-home model which tremendously slowed down production. Regardless, the showcase included unveilings of five new first-party games.

“What you’ll see today is how Xbox game studios are harnessing their passions to bring their dreams to life,” Phil Spencer said in his welcome message to viewers.

With those words declared, here is what I think about the games that I personally find the most interesting or the most notable (note: not all games discussed below are exclusive to Xbox Series X), and what it all means for the upcoming launch of the next-generation Xbox Series X console and the remaining life of the Xbox One.

The showcased games

Halo Infinite

Two long years since I first saw the original unveiling of Halo Infinite, the gameplay demonstration of the game (note: it actually ran on a PC, NOT the Xbox Series X itself) was actually worth the long wait even though there were some imperfections. What made it compelling to watch was the presentation of the ring world’s environment which recaptured the wonder and beauty of the original landscape first seen in 2001’s Halo: Combat Evolved (note: I’m talking about the landscape where Master Chief first crash-landed). Apart from the in-game environment, the gameplay rocked with the classic Halo formula of shooting (fast-paced and intense) which got shook up with the implementation of the grapple plus a few new animation sequences and moves seen on the Covenant. It’s classic Halo but also modernized in terms of look and gameplay.

What caught my attention was the freedom for gamers to explore an entire Halo ring confirmed by 343 Industries’ Studio Head of Halo Chris Lee. Even though the term open-world was not stated, this confirms that Halo Infinite will have a much bigger in-game environment and locations for gamers to discover. Hopefully, this also means that there will be a wide variety of activities to do on the locations very much like other open-world games. The game demonstration is only a taste of what is to come. Not only that, Lee also confirmed that the game will run at 60 frames-per-second (60FPS) which for me is the sweet spot for playing in the modern age.

When it comes to imperfections, I saw some pop-in during some sequences of the demo and there also seemed to be some slight dips in the frame rate during the most intense sequences. Right now, 343 Industries still has months left to optimize the game not only for Xbox Series X but also the aging Xbox One. Now I wonder how the developers will be able to get good enough performance from the basic Xbox One (which I own) and the slightly upgraded Xbox One S to play Halo Infinite. One last thing…I should express my disappointment over the revelation that the demo did NOT run on the Xbox Series X hardware itself.

To Microsoft and 343 Industries, please, please make the best you can with Halo Infinite using real Xbox Series X hardware! Also, please at least try to include ray tracing at launch, not after launch. Disappointments aside, I know you guys can do better and I still am looking forward to this game. The ball of time is on your side of the court, Microsoft and 343 Industries. You still have time!

Everwild

Everwild is a brand, new game developed by Rare (Sea of Thieves, Perfect Dark games) mainly for Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PCs. First unveiled months ago, the new video of the game at the Xbox Games Showcase showed a lot more of the game with what looks like a wide-open world to explore with lots of wildlife and creatures that are out of this world. The animation also looks great. My only problem here is that the new trailer had scenes done in a cinematic fashion and left no clear sign as to HOW THE GAME WILL PLAY. Will it be a single-player game or an online-multiplayer game? Will it have a good combat system? What is the story if any? Please, Microsoft and Rare, do explain if Everwild will be fun to play. Enough with the beauty and take time to really define the game. Thanks.

As Dusk Falls

This new game by Int./Night and Microsoft is easily the most intriguing of the Xbox Games Showcase. It’s described as an interactive drama that will follow and explore the lives of two families across thirty years starting with a robbery in Arizona. Players will determine the fate of the characters by making choices (kinda like the Choose Your Own Adventure pocket books in concept). At least in this game’s trailer, there is a clever mix of 3D polygons with 2D art. If I were you gamers, don’t just ignore this game. If you are already an Xbox Game Pass subscriber, As Dusk Falls will launch on Day One on the said service.

Avowed

The rumors turned out to be true and I’m very happy to say that the RPG specialists Obsidian Entertainment is working on a brand new, fantasy role-playing game (RPG) titled Avowed. Set in the fantasy world of Eora, Avowed is a first-person view RPG. Having played Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim on Xbox 360 long ago plus last year’s The Outer Worlds (by Obsidian) on Xbox One, I really am looking forward to this new game and I have full trust in Obsidian’s, dedication, legacy and specialty on making RPGs that are fun and compelling.

To say the least, Avowed will mark the beginning of a new fantasy RPG property (soon to be a franchise…) for the Xbox ecosystem as a whole adding variety for Xbox fans who love fantasy RPGs alongside the already established Fable.

Speaking of Fable…

Fable

The long-time rumor is also true! Fable is being revived and the new game is being produced by Playground Games, the very same studio behind the best-selling and highly acclaimed Forza Horizon series! While the above trailer is purely cinematic and carried nothing to suggest gameplay, at the very least the Fable franchise is on its way back after years of being dormant. What I hope to see next time is real-time gameplay complete with how the Playground employees can present the fantasy world in this new generation of console gaming. I personally enjoyed playing the original Fable and still managed to get some fun from the disappointing Fable III. For the future of Fable, things are looking promising.

Forza Motorsport

While this one is too short and lacked gameplay sequences, the Forza Motorsport official video composed of real-time graphics (note the Footage Captured In-Engine posted on the lower-left corner of the video) is very impressive and the future of next-generation simulation racing looks very bright. I know the experts of Turn 10 are working hard with the new Xbox Series X technology as I write this and in terms of presentation of the Xbox Games Showcase, this extremely short look of things to come from the Forza Motorsport franchise is ironically one of the best (and most transparent) presentations from Microsoft. Too bad Halo Infinite was used with a PC and lacked transparency on its presentation which Microsoft knew. More on the game, I wonder if Forza Motorsport will be the definitive title of the next-generation sim race from Turn 10 following 2017’s Forza Motorsport 7. Gamers expected Forza Motorsport 8 as the title. The video presentation’s shortness is a missed opportunity for Microsoft and the developers to show a lot more of what simulation would look and feel like on Xbox Series X. An additional sixty seconds of in-game footage with some gameplay sequences (like driver’s seat view with steering wheel) would have made the Forza Motorsport video even greater and more engaging. Now that the Xbox Games Showcase is over, we can only wait as to what MS and Turn 10 can update us with. Right now, I am passionate with simulation racing thanks to the Forza Motorsport franchise and I am confident that the next entry coming out on Xbox Series X will be worth the wait.

Tell Me Why

Here’s another new Microsoft-published game that surprised me. Tell Me Why is developed by DONTNOD, the same team behind Capcom’s Remember Me and Square Enix’s Life is Strange. Given the French game developer’s dedication on making original, narrative-driven games, Tell Me Why follows twins Alyson and Tyler and players will get to use their unique bond to unravel mysteries in their lives. Visually, it does not have the next-generation look as the game itself was made specifically for Xbox One and Windows 10. How it will look on Xbox Series X remains to be seen. This should attract the attention of gamers who enjoyed Life is Strange games.

Psychonauts 2

This multi-platform game made by Double Fine will be released sometime next year and I should say that what was shown during the Xbox Games Showcase made me confident about it. For the newcomers reading this, Psychonauts 2 is the sequel to the award-winning 2005 game Psychonauts (then published by Majesco Entertainment) and as a platforming game this one could stand out in the modern age for its artistry, creativity and promised fun gameplay. Microsoft promised that the game will be optimized for Xbox Series X.

Honorable mentions

The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon

I love Obsidian Entertainment’s work in The Outer World which is easily one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played in this current console generation. As such, the revelation of the previously announced story downloadable content (DLC) is something I find very delighting and it sure gives me another reason to replay The Outer Worlds on my Xbox One. The Peril on Gorgon DLC’s description is as follows: A severed arm and a mysterious message lead the crew of the Unreliable to the Gorgon Asteroid, formerly the site of one of Halcyon’s most ambitious and disastrous scientific undertakings – now a lawless den of monsters and marauders. Wealthy recluse Minnie Ambrose tasks the crew with finding answers about Dr. Olivia Ambrose, her mother and the doomed project’s disgraced director, but they are soon ensnared in an intrigue that will change the colony forever.

The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon will be released on September 9, 2020.

Destiny 2: Beyond Light

It’s kinda weird to see Destiny 2: Beyond Light part of Xbox Games Showcase, the same event highlighted by Halo Infinite. This is because Bungie created Halo on its own before they got involved with Microsoft and played a major role in the respective success of the original Xbox and Xbox 360 consoles with several acclaimed Halo games that sold a lot. Now that it is no longer involved with Activision, Bungie is now a standalone developer and publisher, and the Destiny games franchise is what they are carrying now. The above video presentation looks good and energetic.

Conclusion

Overall, the Xbox Games Showcase was good, not great. The efforts to showcase the 1st party games and the potential of next-generation gaming Xbox Series X were made but felt uneven here and there. Halo Infinite had a good presentation but there were shortcomings that prevented it from being great which is too bad because the game was supposed to highlight Xbox Series X and prove that there is a promising future of fun and engagement with the Halo franchise. Ironically, the very solid but short video presentations of Forza Motorsport and Avowed proved to be better efforts on selling Xbox Series X than Halo Infinite. When it comes to disappointments, I should point to the complete lack of new stuff regarding Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II.

While imperfect, the Xbox Games Showcase still had nice surprises that kept me interested enough to finish it. At the very least, Xbox Games Showcase was a big improvement over the disappointing showcase of 3rd party games last May.

Now that the Xbox Games Showcase is over, Microsoft and its Xbox teams still have time left to improve their efforts to sell their games and prove that Xbox Series X will be worth buying for the next several years of home entertainment. They also still have time to emphasize how the optimization of games on Xbox Series X and how the Smart Delivery can be beneficial to gamers.

In ending this, watch Colteastwood’s interview with Xbox’s Major Nelson.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Are You Ready for the Next Generation of Xbox Gaming?

Are You Ready for the Next Generation of Xbox Gaming?

Previously I expressed what I hoped to see in the upcoming Xbox games showcase by Microsoft. Now that it has officially been announced that the event – Xbox Games Showcase – will take place officially on July 23 at 9AM Pacific Time in the United States, the moment of truth is at hand for the Xbox team led by Phil Spencer, their technology partners and makers, and, of course, the loyal Xbox fans and others who love video gaming.

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Take note of the details here.

To makes things clear for everyone, Xbox’s Aaron Greenberg stated via Twitter: I know everyone is excited for Xbox Games Showcase next Thursday. Seen some wild expectations so if helpful this show has one focus, games. No business, devices or similar news, just games. A whole show about hour long focused on games. Hope you enjoy it!

Greenberg’s Twitter statement made clear that the July 23 event will be all about the video games and that expectations that go beyond games are unnecessary. What is clear is that the showcase itself is an opportunity for Microsoft to show to the world what its many Xbox game studios are working on for future release on the next-generation Xbox Series X console.

On Xbox.com, Greenberg wrote: Xbox Game Studios is pushing the industry forward with a huge variety of games, all of which support services and features that put the player first, including Xbox Game Pass and Smart Delivery.

He also confirmed that there will be the first-ever preview of the campaign gameplay from the much-anticipated Halo Infinite.

For his part, Xbox head Phil Spencer emphasized that gamers and fans are essential in their video game business efforts and the launch of the new console generation. He wrote:

At Xbox, we listen to what you – players, game developers, and content creators – tell us you want from the future of gaming. Based on your feedback, we’re building a future where you and your friends can play the deepest, most immersive and interactive games ever created across your Xbox console, PC, and mobile devices.

At the dawn of the next generation, it’s important to be clear about what you can expect from the future of Xbox.

Our vision has one hero at the heart of it all: You.

With regards to the next Xbox generation, Spencer stated:

Xbox Series X is designed to deliver a new level of fidelity, feel, performance and precision never seen before in console gaming. All games will look and play best on Xbox Series X – whether they come from our 15 Xbox Game Studios, like Halo Infinite, or from our world-class publisher and developer partners. Packing over 12 teraflops of GPU power including new technologies like hardware-accelerated Direct X raytracing and variable rate shading, and with four times the processing power of an Xbox One X, Xbox Series X enables developers to provide you with transformative gaming experiences through richer, more dynamic living worlds, more realistic AI and animations, and support for higher frame rates including support for up to 120 FPS.

Xbox Series X also enables you to spend less time waiting and more time playing, as it virtually eliminates load times with the 40x boost in I/O throughput from last generation. With our custom next-generation SSD and Xbox Velocity Architecture, nearly every aspect of playing games is improved. Game worlds are larger, more dynamic and load in a flash, and fast travel is just that – fast. The Xbox Velocity Architecture also powers new platform capabilities like Quick Resume, which enables you to seamlessly switch between multiple titles and resume instantly from where you last left off without waiting through long loading screens. Right now, Xbox Series X is in the hands of our 15 Xbox Game Studios teams and thousands of third-party developers, empowering them to create a new generation of blockbuster games for you to enjoy.

Furthermore, Spencer stressed that the subscriber system Xbox Game Pass will continue and provide gamers choices when it comes to games (complete with Day One releases of games under Xbox Game Studios) and memberships. He added that Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud will be offered together this September at no additional cost for those who already signed up for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

Backward compatibility, which is one of the most defining features of the Xbox experience in this current console generation that has been very positively received by gamers, will continue and anyone who acquires an Xbox Series X unit will be able to play games of four console generations right from the start.

The brand new Smart Delivery will be in effect and this means that gamers – (Spencer’s own words) don’t need to buy the same game twice – once for the current console generation and once for the next generation. You always have the best available version of supported games on whatever Xbox console you are playing on, at no additional cost. If you own a title that supports Smart Delivery like Destiny 2, Gears 5 and Halo Infinite, you automatically have access to the version that plays best on your Xbox console. Highly anticipated games from the world’s biggest developers, like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Cyberpunk 2077, Marvel’s Avengers and more have already committed to supporting Smart Delivery and more will be announced soon.

The Xbox games up for showcase

As I write this, we are just days away from seeing the Xbox Game Showcase happen. This is easily the one big event that Microsoft will organize themselves and there is very little room for errors to happen. With the focus on games, we can already rule out the possibilities of Microsoft formally announcing the rumored Xbox Series S (Xbox Lockhart), the launch price for Xbox Series X, and the like.

Previously, I mentioned what I hope to see happen or showcased. Let me go a bit further with the following:

Halo Infinite – Already confirmed by Aaron Greenberg to be featured, I should say that showing how the game will play is exciting. I hope to see not just the action and shooting, but also see the rumored open-world gameplay get implemented. Frankly enough, I have gotten tired of linearity in the level designs (no matter how wide open specific areas got) of Halo games and therefore having a more open-world design will be very welcome. In addition, I really am curious as to what situation Master Chief has gotten into as far as the story goes, especially given the disappointing story and conclusion of Halo 5: Guardians. I only hope that uninteresting characters like Agent Locke will be limited to strictly supporting roles or short appearances, and that the plot will be more character-driven following Master Chief. As for The Banished, I’d really like to see them brought to life within the main storyline of Halo and become the new opposition for Master Chief to take on.

Obsidian Entertainment’s fantasy RPG – Previously I hoped to see RPG specialist Obsidian Entertainment announce a sequel to their hit game The Outer Worlds which would add tremendous value to the Xbox brand by being Xbox-exclusive. In his July 7, 2020 video (related to the Xbox Games Showcase), YouTuber colteastwood stated that Obsidian has hundreds of people working on the next fantasy RPG to rival the awe and wonder of the Elder Scrolls franchise. Considering that The Outer Worlds is still new, it makes more sense for Obsidian to work on a brand new project than a sequel to the mentioned sci-fi RPG. I hope that the fantasy RPG project is real and that it would be announced that it exists and is progressing with production. I don’t expect to see a trailer announcing it but if Microsoft and Obsidian could pull it off this early, that would be great!

Check out colteastwood’s video here.

A new Perfect Dark game – Whether it will involve Xbox studio The Initiative or not, it is high time for the Perfect Dark game franchise to be revived with a big budget production involving great game makers who could ensure a new game will be a lot of fun. I really hope that Microsoft will at least announce a new Perfect Dark game is coming for Xbox Series X and assure that the protagonist Joanna Dark herself will come back big time. While the past Perfect Dark games had been first-person shooters, having the new game redesigned as a 3rd-person view, action-adventure game much in the style of Splinter Cell (if possible, mixed with some of the rapid firing of Gears of War games) will be a welcome development. Apart from crafting a new PD game for the sake of selling games, it is high time also to explore more of the universe that Joanna Dark is in, not to mention emphasizing her character for the new generation of Xbox fans. There is so much untapped potential in the Perfect Dark IP and I hope Microsoft have decided to really invest in it. In my honest opinion, Perfect Dark can add even more excitement to the Xbox brand alongside the shooter, action-oriented Halo and Gears of War.

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Joanna Dark and the Perfect Dark franchise returning big time?

Potential surprises? Well, if Microsoft announces that their studio Undead Labs would temporarily move away from the State of Decay series to make a brand new, single-player, story-focused open-world game involving zombies and monsters, that would be something! Announcing the reboot and complete redesign of the Crackdown game franchise can still surprise. What would really be surprising would be an announcement of a sequel or a prequel to Lost Odyssey with or without Mistwalker, and that it would be redesigned from the ground up (because Lost Odyssey’s design is outdated by today’s standards). I personally do not expect to see the Xbox team revive the Lost Odyssey franchise but, who knows what will happen on July 23?

While Microsoft clearly stated that their showcase will be focused on the games, I believe they will make room for an exception – the announcement of something so significant they will really have to make an exception and that would be the acquisition of Warner Bros. Interactive which has several experienced game studios under its umbrella including the acclaimed Rocksteady (Batman Arkham games) and NetherRealm Studios to name a few. As reported already, Microsoft has been exploring the possibility of acquiring WB Interactive as a result of WB’s parent company AT&T considering selling off WB’s game division to raise funds and pay off a massive debt. Compared to other reported potential WB Interactive buyers like Activision, Electronic Arts, and Take-Two Interactive, Microsoft has the financial muscle (and the ambition to strengthen its gaming business drive which includes producing new content) to make the deal.

YouTuber Dealer Gaming discussed the possible buyout of WB Interactive in this video below.

The Xbox Games Showcase is only a few days away from happening. Better get yourselves ready for the expected excitement and surprise as this is easily the single most important event yet from team Xbox in a long time.

See you soon!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Wonder Woman #1 (1987)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Hey Wonder Woman and superhero fans! By now, many of you are aware that I wrote and published several retro comic book reviews about the Post-Crisis Wonder Woman specifically the comic books that involved the legendary George Perez, Greg Potter and the late Len Wein. For today, I’ll be reviewing Wonder Woman #1 (1987), the landmark comic book that marked the start of what was back then the new age of greatness of Wonder Woman, the Queen of all Superheroes!

Before starting my review, let’s take a short look back at the publishing history with the online research I did.

In the mid-1980s, DC Comics published the maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths to not only celebrate their 50th anniversary but also to conclude what was the original multi-verse (multiple universes) of the publisher. Written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by George Perez, Crisis on Infinte Earths became critically acclaimed and a major seller as the saga saw the deaths of hundreds of characters, destruction of worlds and ultimately paved the way for DC Comics to reboot their superhero universe entirely.

And then the post-Crisis era of DC Comics happened. After Superman and Batman were successfully reintroduced, the Queen of all Superheroes herself – Wonder Woman – was up for a relaunch.

Behind the scenes at DC Comics, brainstorming for rebooting Wonder Woman took place initially with editor Janice Race and writer Greg Potter. The ideas of presenting the Amazons as reincarnated beings of women who previously died and having the story set in the City of Boston came from Potter.

Eventually George Perez got involved. The famed illustrator perceived Wonder Woman as more of a fantasy character.

“That was the background of the Wonder Woman character, which I felt was also the thing that made her unique as a character, and I thought that it had been downplayed in order to make her more of a standard superhero,” Perez stated.

Perez and Potter were co-writers. Perez himself conducted research on mythology which served as the foundation of the fantasy element of the planed post-Crisis Wonder Woman monthly series. This involved portrayals of deities of Olympus whose acts affect the Amazons living in the flesh. Apart from the fantasy and mythology, Perez implemented some key elements (specifically involving feminism and humanism) thanks to his discussion with Wonder Woman editor Karen Berger.

“A lot of research went into this first issue, and my bookshelves are full of reference material on mythology, Greek hairstyles, armor, clothing and even attitudes of the time. Some compromises were made where different references contradicted each other, but no decision was made without thought. We all have fallen in love with this project and want everyone to share in our excitement,” Perez wrote in the introduction in Wonder Woman #1 (1987).

Now that the history lesson is over, we can now all take a look back at Wonder Woman #1, published in 1987 by DC Comics with a story co-written by Greg Potter and George Perez. The art was done by Perez supported by the ink work of Bruce Patterson.

Cover
A very magnificent looking cover by George Perez.

Early story

The story begins in the distant past of 30,000 B.C. Inside a cave, a man hits a pregnant woman’s head with his club instantly killing her and the unborn child.

In 1,200 B.C. at Mount Olympus, the god of war Ares tells his father Zeus (with the presence of other deities watching) that if Olympus truly desires to own the hearts of men and gain power, they should let him descend upon mortals. Ares views the mortals as weak and stressed that he could crush them all into eternal submission.

But Artemis (Ares’ half-sister), whose plan to create a new race of mortals on Earth was vehemently opposed by the god of war, responded by stressing that violence will make men fear them and not follow them. She stressed that the intention behind the plan was to set an example by showing man and woman’s true place with each other. The new race of mortals was planned to be female. Zeus, who is aware of the plan, leaves and tells the others to settle the plan among themselves. For his part, Ares leaves Olympus laughing.

With the many souls stuck in limbo for generations available to them, the deities Aphrodite, Artemis, Athena, Hestia and Demeter create the Amazons who appeared with adult bodies. The first to come out among them all was Hippolyte, the mother of Diana/Wonder Woman. In the presence of the many Amazons, Hippolyte was declared queen by the deities…

Quality

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Diana was the only child to grow up with the Amazons.

When it comes to quality of storytelling, art, characterization and spectacle, Wonder Woman #1 is unquestionably an excellent comic book even by today’s standards! For the story, Greg Potter and George Perez crafted an epic fantasy tale retelling the origin of not only Wonder Woman but also of the Amazons complete with a very inspired portrayal of the deities of Olympus who actions and decisions affect the mortals. I should mention here that the portrayal of the mother-and-daughter relationship between Queen Hippolyte and Princess Diana really was compelling to see. Not only that, there were also elements of gender conflict, intrigue and worship portrayed.

It is clear that Perez really studied mythology and Greek culture to create a story that is still believable when it comes to emphasizing Wonder Woman for what was back then the modern readers of 1987 from the superhero geeks to long-time Wonder Woman fans and to girls and women in general. More than that, this story is timeless and clearly it is an illustrated literature classic on its own right.

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This is how the Amazons built their society in Themyscira.

The comic book has over thirty pages of story and art, with the pace ranging from medium to fast. As such, it managed to completely tell the stories of the Amazons and Princess Diana in just one comic book. By the time I finished this comic book, I got enlightened about the background of the Amazons and Wonder Woman herself.

When it comes to the art, each and every page of Wonder Woman #1 is very beautifully drawn by George Perez. His research on Greek culture and mythology is nicely reflected in his drawings. Just look at how he visualizes Olympus, the armor worn by soldiers, the clothes, the hairstyles, the coliseum, the architecture and more complete with a good amount of details visualized. The final page Perez drew remains very stunning, inspiring and heroic!

Conclusion

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The deities of Olympus.

There is no doubt in my mind that Wonder Woman #1 of 1987 is truly one of the greatest superhero comic books ever published. The creative team succeeded in not only reintroducing Wonder Woman, her people and their part in the post-Crisis DC Comics universe, they also succeeded in modernizing them as well as dramatizing their origins altogether within the 32 pages of this comic book.

While it is a fact that a lot of people nowadays are highly familiar with the cinematic Wonder Woman (memorably played by Gal Gadot), for me the post-Crisis version of the Queen of Superheroes remains the definitive version and I can only wish that director Patty Jenkins would adapt more elements from this. It should be noted that this particular rebooted Wonder Woman is believable and can be taken more seriously among all superheroes.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Wonder Woman #1 (1987), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $51. The near-mint copies of the newsstand edition and the edition without a month printed cost$102 and $153 respectively.

Overall, Wonder Woman #1 (1987) is highly recommended! 


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Wonder Woman (2017)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced by means of watching the movie and doing research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

I just love watching superhero movies, especially the ones that were well crafted by the filmmakers complete with solid storytelling, sufficient spectacle as well as memorable performances by the hired talents (both behind and in front of the camera).

Of all the superhero movies made by the forces of Hollywood starting with 1978’s Superman, I can clearly say that 2017’s Wonder Woman is my favorite. Don’t get me wrong. I did not limit myself to just DC Comics superhero movies. I saw all the X-Men movies and their spinoffs, almost all the Spider-Man flicks, almost all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and even the obscure ones. Along the way, there were some great superhero flicks that became modern-day classics like Logan and Avengers: Infinity War.

Still it is the Gal Gadot-led, Patty Jenkins-directed Wonder Woman that I loved watching the most.

Let’s start with my retro review of Wonder Woman, the one film that arguably saved the DC Comics Cinematic Universe for Warner Bros.

WWposter1
The Wonder Woman movie poster from 2017.

Early Story

The story begins sometime after the end of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice during which Diana finds a long lost photograph recovered by Bruce Wayne. Then she remembers her past in Themyscira where she grew up as the only little girl among the women called the Amazons and her mother is none other than Queen Hippolyta. Concerned that the wicked Aries is still alive, Hippolyta’s sister Antiope trains Diana (initially in secret until they were discovered) to be strong, brave and more capable than their fellow Amazon warriors.

One day, Steve Trevor arrives in Themyscira becoming the first-ever man Diana ever met. Tension rises when the Germans (from World War I Earth) arrive on their island causing the Amazons to fight in defense. A lot of people lost their lives, including someone very close to Diana.

While interrogated with the Lasso of Truth, Steve reveals who he is and what he has been doing. He states that back in his world, World War I is ravaging the world costing many people their lives. This causes Diana to stand up and stop the war somehow (she believes Aries is responsible). Queen Hippolyta disapproves of Diana’s analysis. After privately meeting with Steve, Diana then starts her move for a mission to stop the war in Man’s World.

Quality

Screenshot_20200228-213823_YouTube.jpg
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in the middle of German soldiers.

Let me start with the performances. Gal Gadot definitely IS Wonder Woman in this movie. Regardless of how many versions of Wonder Woman there are in comics, the Israeli actress truly captured the essence of Diana’s early development which includes her special place among the Amazons (note: she is the only Amazon who was born in Themyscira and grew up from infant into a mature woman), her fateful meeting with Steve Trevor, her entry into Man’s World and how she adapts with the events and people outside of Themyscira. Wonder Woman’s purity on saving the world, doing what is right and emphasizing love and compassion were all nicely translated into cinematic art by Gal Gadot. From doing the action scenes to saving people, speaking her mind among her fellow Amazons and interacting with others as she adapts with Man’s World, I really love Gadot’s work on bringing Wonder Woman to life. As her cinematic work is great, there is no doubt that Gadot will always be iconic to fans of the Queen of Superheroes and superhero enthusiasts in general in the decades to come right beside Lynda Carter (who played the icon on TV), Christopher Reeve (Superman), Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man) and Chris Evans (Captain America). Meanwhile, the portrayals of Diana as an 8-year-old girl as well as a 12-year-old were perfectly done by Lilly Aspell (who is truly skilled with horse riding) and Emily Carey.

QueenDaughter
Lilly Aspell as young Diana with Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta.

Chris Pine is excellent as Steve Trevor who is portrayed to be very dedicated to his work, brave in what he does and still shows compassion instead of arrogance towards others. He also has great chemistry with Gal Gadot and, like in the comic books, their relationship is nicely translated on the big screen. Pine’s performance here is, in my view, the best superhero movie supporting role to date.

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Chris Pine as Steve Trevor with Gal Gadot as Diana in disguise.

Connie Nielsen meanwhile is great in playing Queen Hippolyta and all throughout, there is always a sense of leadership complete with a touch of motherly love just like in the comic books. Her sister Antiope was nicely portrayed by Robin Wright as the one Amazon who taught Diana to be brave, strong and highly capable as an Amazon warrior.

Danny Huston, who played the lead villain in the 2009 movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine, played yet another military bad guy here but this time he’s a World War I German officer. He’s a villain with a purpose who not only fights for the glory of Germany but also strongly believes that war is natural and inevitable for humanity. In some ways, Huston’s Ludendorff reminds me Michael Shannon’s General Zod in Man of Steel.

Antiope
Robin Wright is excellent as Antiope.

When it comes to presentation, this film is Patty Jenkins’ 2nd movie as director (her debut was way back in 2003) and the great turnout of Wonder Woman as a high quality movie (as opposed to being a critical and commercial success) only proved yet again that the old saying in Hollywood – The director’s second movie is his/her best movie – is true. Jenkins, who also worked on television, not only prepared a lot to make this movie but also researched Wonder Woman, developed ways to get the most out of the cast members, tweak the written story of the film (by Allan Heinberg, Zach Snyder and Jason Fuchs) and, most notably, she led the production with a lot of passion. To put it short, Wonder Woman is a labor of love (and the No Man’s Land scene is iconic) that not only resonated with fans of the Queen of Superheroes but also with the film critics and moviegoers.

Regarding storytelling, I noticed that a key story from Wonder Woman’s origin in the comics (the contest of the Amazons) did not happen at all in the film. While there were die-hard fans of the icon who complained about it, I felt that the contest of the Amazons would have made this movie more complicated and surely would have lessened the impact of World War I as a key story element. Since the purpose of this movie was to emphasize Diana’s origin and her entry into Man’s World with a major mission, I believe that the contest of the Amazons can be made cinematically later in a future movie.

The way the story was told cinematically, it also captured Diana’s reactions to the events that happened around her. The scene in which she saw the village destroyed showed how death and destruction compelled Wonder Woman to accomplish her mission even though others find ending the war impossible. Along the way, the actors – specifically Gal Gadot – really added life into the narrative with their strong performances.

When it comes to on-screen humor, which is popular among moviegoers and is almost a requirement for most new superhero movies that come out, having it done by supporting players Lucy Davis and Saïd Taghmaoui was a clever move since it allows Gal Gadot to portray Wonder Woman without any performance disruption. Considering her short screen time, Davis as Etta Candy is really funny. The amount of humor in this film, in my view, was just right and never annoying.

Spectacle? Wonder Woman is loaded with action, stunts and exciting stuff! The action involving Wonder Woman was brutal and satisfying to watch, and Patty Jenkins’ use of slow motion on key moments was great (even comparable to John Woo’s past work) and at the same time not too excessive. The Themyscira battle between the Germans and the Amazons at the beach was engaging and strategically filmed. Also, it was fitting that the action ramped up nicely starting with the iconic No Man’s Land sequence. The final battle in the film, unsurprisingly, had lots of computer-generated images (CGI) which is understandable considering the fantasy element of Wonder Woman.

More on the action, I love the way Patty Jenkins had Gal Gadot, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen and Chris Pine perform the action themselves which all made their characters even more believable. Of course, there were certain moments in which stunt doubles were used to do the more dangerous moments on behalf of the actors.

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This happened just before the iconic No Man’s Land scene.

Apart from the core cast, a lot of the actresses playing the Amazons trained for several months not just to look the part but also to perform action sequences using weapons with actual skill. The stunt coordinators and specialists hired by the filmmakers deserve praise for contributing nicely on making the cinematic Amazons highly believable. This alone not only makes Wonder Woman stand out nicely among all Hollywood superhero movies but also reflects nicely what was portrayed in the comic books.

The production design is also top-notch. I love the scenic locations of Italy used for scenes set in Themyscira. The filmmakers also did a great job recapturing the look of World War I Europe from the historical pictures to the big screen. The costume designs were fantastic, and the standout designs were, unsurprisingly, the costumes of the Amazons which really made their fantasy culture look believable. The filmmakers decided to have much more colorful visuals instead of following the look of Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.

On the music, the work by Rupert Gregson-Williams was great. His rendition of the Wonder Woman theme was very lively to listen to. The same can be said about the music he provided in the memorable No Man’s Land scene which had a nice build-up as Wonder Woman made her first full appearance in costume on the field. Other tunes played in the film suited the scenes well.

If there were any weak spots in this movie, it would be certain shots of action that were not filmed with precision. I’m talking about filming action scenes way too close to the camera combined with music video-style editing that’s supposed to make film look flashy. It’s not only disorienting, it also took me out of the movie.

Conclusion

Overall, Wonder Woman is one of the best-ever superhero movies ever made and easily my favorite of them all. It has an excellent balance between storytelling, character development and spectacle, and Gal Gadot gave the performance of a lifetime not only by bringing Wonder Woman into life in cinematic form but also emphasizing what the Queen of Superheroes stood for. As part of the current DC Comics Cinematic Universe, this movie stood out by having optimism and heroism as core themes (as opposed to the dark, gritty and even cynical approach of Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad) and, more importantly, by focusing strongly on Wonder Woman instead of building up for the Justice League movie (which was released months after this one).

Apart from high-quality production values and a strong creative approach, the cast and cinematic performances are easily among the best in the superhero movie genre. Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor is an excellent example of a supporting role that is engaging without ever overshadowing the lead role. By the end of the film, you will realize the impact that Queen Hippolyta and Antiope had on Diana’s personal development.

QH
Connie Nielsen made a great queen and mother in this movie.

Being strongly focused on heroism with optimism, director Patty Jenkins and her crew succeeded in making this film without ever succumbing to the extreme views of the Political Left in Hollywood and the loudmouth social feminists. When I see the battle between the Amazons and the German soldiers on the beach of Themyscira happen, I simply saw armed women defending their homeland not from men who intend to rape them but rather men who had no right to intrude in the first place. Even as there were scenes showing men in power in World War I Europe (putting Diana in a powerless position), there still was no feminist-inspired hatred towards men. Also the bond between Steve and Diana developing from friendship into a romantic relationship literally shut the door on extreme feminism.

As a Wonder Woman-focused story, this film succeeded on emphasizing the Queen of Superheroes to both long-time fans and mainstream moviegoers. This movie also had a nice mix of having a fantasy setting with Themyscira moving on to a historic setting with World War I Europe. On the origins of Wonder Woman herself, I don’t mind at all that the contest of Amazons was not told because this movie’s concept is already great to begin with and its running time of 141 minutes was just right.

Wondyclimb
Gal Gadot will be remembered for a very long time for her excellent portray of Wonder Woman in cinema.

With all the greatness it was made with, I kept coming back to Wonder Woman when replaying superhero movies here at the comfort of home. In the cinemas back in 2017, I saw the film three times. Ultimately, I can say out loud that Wonder Woman is highly recommended and it is truly essential!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

If you are looking forward to Wonder Woman 1984, check out my preview and opinion about the first movie trailer.

Final Fantasy Bonanza for Xbox Fans!

When rumors floated online in 2005 that Square Enix was being attracted by Microsoft to release games on what was back then their upcoming game console the Xbox 360, there were some gamers who just dismissed those rumors claiming that the Japanese company would NEVER release its role-playing games (RPGs) – specifically Final Fantasy games – on a console of an American company.

It was a different time back then for console gaming. Square Enix released Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy XII plus some Dragon Quest and Front Mission games on Sony’s highly successful PlayStation 2 (PS2) console. The company even developed a Final Fantasy spin-off for the GameCube with Nintendo as publisher.

For the original Xbox console, Square Enix made no games for it at all.

Things turned during the time of the Xbox 360. Square Enix published several games for it and to the delight of Xbox fans who love Final Fantasy, the company released Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Final Fantasy XI and other games.

This year Square Enix released several of their classic Final Fantasy games released for Xbox One gamers via Xbox LIVE – Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy X and X-2 and a few others.

The other announced game, Final Fantasy XII (The Zodiac Age), will be released on April 30.

Among these games, I’m currently playing Final Fantasy IX on my Xbox One and even though it has been almost twenty years since I last played it, I can say that I am enjoying it again. The game is technically a port of the PC version (which comes with cleaned-up graphics most evident on the character and creature models) and not a remastered version. More importantly, the gameplay is still fun (even though it has those random battles) and the story has a lot of heart.

With the classic Final Fantasy games available via Xbox LIVE, now is the time for Xbox fans (who love Final Fantasy or those who are very interested in Japanese role-playing games) to acquire them while they can. We should be very thankful to Square Enix (and surely to Microsoft’s Xbox team led by Phil Spencer) for those games.

Final Fantasy X and X-2 were remastered for Xbox One while the upcoming Final Fantasy XII has already been confirmed to run at a super smooth 60-frames-per-second on the premium Xbox One X console.

What is missing from the FF classics is Final Fantasy VIII which continues to puzzle gamers to this day.

If more Xbox gamers buy these classic FF games, then perhaps Square Enix will be convinced to release more of their past hits of their other franchises like Front Mission and Dragon Quest. Perhaps they will consider releasing the older, 2D FF games like Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI.

Apart from enjoying the varied stories, characters and gameplay styles, gamers will also enjoy the music of Nobuo Uematsu.

For your enjoyment, I embedded below Xbox channel videos of Final Fantasy.

 

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker Revealed!

Let me say one thing clearly – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is a train wreck and it made me very disappointed (I saw it twice in different cinemas), even doubtful about the future of the Star Wars movie franchise in the current post-George Lucas era.   Really, I disliked the work of director Rian Johnson.

Hours ago, the official teaser trailer of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker was revealed and already it is generating tremendous buzz online not only among fans but also among moviegoers in general. The reception is overall positive and already moviegoers have something to watch out for this December. Also it is nice that director J.J. Abrams, who directed Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, is back and this time he wrote the screenplay with Chris Terrio (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice).

For your enjoyment, posted below is the official teaser trailer. Watch it now!

What can I say? The teaser trailer was nicely done which is no surprise at all. Even the Rian Johnson train wreck The Last Jedi had pretty and engaging trailers. Going back to The Rise of Skywalker teaser trailer, what made me smile was the return of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian and he was co-piloting the Millennium Falcon with Chewbacca! It has been almost thirty-six years since Williams last appeared as Lando on the big screen!

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Welcome back, Lando Calrissian! Welcome to the 21st century, the age of social media!

What really intrigued was the end of the teaser trailer with the unexpected appearance of a large piece of a major structure from long ago. Equally intriguing was that recognizable evil laugh as the screen went dark. Now it is up to J.J. Abrams and his creative team to explain on the big screen those two elements.

Another intriguing thing is the subtitle involving the surname Skywalker. Who (or what) exactly is the Skywalker on the rise? We all know what happened to Luke Skywalker in the dreaded The Last Jedi and given Mark Hamill’s voice-over in the teaser trailer, it is only logical to expect that his character will return in ghost form Like Obi-Wan and Yoda. Personally I don’t think Luke will be the one on the rise.

General Leia (played by the late Carrie Fisher) is Luke’s sister but as the movies of the past showed, she never identified herself as a Skywalker. The Last Jedi did show her using the Force (is Rian Johnson a Mary Poppins fan?) and MAYBE she might present herself as the new Skywalker being the only living offspring of Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker and use the Force more.

But then maybe the Skywalker-on-the-rise may not necessarily be a person related through family bloodline.

I was thinking that it is possible that the name Skywalker will go beyond family and be used to establish a brand new Jedi movement. A movement in which Force users, starting with Rey (Daisy Ridley), will have their own definition of the Jedi teachings as well as a new vision about using the Force. Considering the very limited learning of the Force and the Jedi she had with Luke plus the fact that she took ancient Jedi books with her in The Last Jedi, it is possible for Rey to establish her own philosophies of the Jedi. This would put her in similar ground with Luke Skywalker (after the events of Return of the Jedi).

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The Rise of Skywalker will open in cinemas worldwide this December. Hopefully it will turn out to be a great film and help Star Wars fans forget about the train wreck called The Last Jedi.

From this point on, we can only wait until the movie opens in cinemas globally this December. At the very least, I can say that I’m feeling hopeful that The Rise of Skywalker will be fun and, more importantly, set the direction of Star Wars properly and recover from the disaster of The Last Jedi.

There is still a new hope for Star Wars fans!


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