Top 5 on The Strip: Animated superhero cartoons

Batman animated series

1. Bat­man: The Ani­mated Series

The stan­dard bearer for mod­ern super­hero car­toons, Bat­man: The Ani­mated Series was gritty, dark and fresh off the suc­cess of Bat­man Returns. It’s well-drawn with a neat art deco style and the voice act­ing set the stan­dard for future series. If you weren’t watch­ing this every day after school, you missed out. Imme­di­ately go back and watch this from begin­ning to end.

Teen Titans

2. Teen Titans

Teen Titans took a dif­fer­ent tack when talk­ing about Robin’s squad of heroes. It’s a great look at the younger super­heroes of the DC uni­verse in a group that still stands today. Fea­tur­ing Robin, Starfire, Raven, Cyborg and Beast Boy, the show focuses on the group being young super­heroes while also being teenagers with typ­i­cal teenager prob­lems. The voice work is fan­tas­tic and the ani­ma­tion is top-notch as well.

tmnt 1987 series

3. TMNT (1987 series)

We’re well-known TMNT fans here at GI and that love stems from the old black-and-white comics as well as the orig­i­nal ani­mated series. That series, with its ’80s atti­tude and charm, man­aged to get us into the Tur­tles to start and paved the way for the jug­ger­naut that was and still is the Tur­tles fran­chise. Out­stand­ing voice­work — fea­tur­ing the likes of Jim Cum­mings and the late James Avery — make it one of the best ‘80s ani­mated series and a good intro­duc­tion to the TMNT uni­verse at large.

X-men fox animated

4. X-Men: The Ani­mated Series

Aside from the clas­sic theme, X-Men: The Ani­mated Series fea­tured a stel­lar voice cast and sto­ries that mostly stayed faith­ful to the comics. At the time of its 1992 incep­tion, this was unheard of in comic prop­er­ties trans­lated to TV. X-Men estab­lished sev­eral char­ac­ters as favorites: Storm, Wolver­ine, Pro­fes­sor X, Jean Grey, Cable, Bishop, Gam­bit and Jubilee. It was so great that incar­na­tions of the char­ac­ters fea­tured in the show have been used in mul­ti­ple video game prop­er­ties since.

spiderman-1994

5.  Spider-Man (Fox)

Another great Fox ani­mated series, Spider-Man was a fan­tas­tic show­case of the web-crawler’s style and sto­ry­lines. It fea­tured quite a few of Peter Parker’s rogues gallery and touched on a lot of his story arcs with accu­racy and matu­rity not usu­ally seen in comic book shows. As with X-Men: The Ani­mated Series, Spider-Man had great voice act­ing that car­ried over into video games pro­duced there­after, such as the Mar­vel Ver­sus series.

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Property review: Captain America: Civil War

Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War
Mar­vel Stu­dios, 2016

A civil war worth fighting

No, this isn’t the “Late Unpleas­ant­ness,” but Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War is a bit­ter bat­tle waged between broth­ers in arms. And it’s a fas­ci­nat­ing look at that bat­tle that has moral com­pli­ca­tions and impli­ca­tions for the Mar­vel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse at large.

Civil War starts out shortly after the end of the excel­lent Win­ter Sol­dier (editor’s note: Read our review of Cap­tain Amer­ica: The Win­ter Sol­dier in 4Q2014) and Avengers: Age of Ultron. The tit­u­lar assas­sin is shown in a flash­back to a piv­otal event in an Avenger’s his­tory and is, in the present, on the loose after res­cu­ing Cap­tain Amer­ica from the murky depths of the Potomac River. Also, the Avengers have been bol­stered by the addi­tions of new recruits with a few losses in the lineup because of events in Age of Ultron. They’re on a mis­sion to stop Cross­bones (also new after the Win­ter Sol­dier) when every­thing planned goes hor­ri­bly awry. The after­math is swift: The Avengers are called on the car­pet and told to shape up, join the government’s ver­sion of over­sight or be hunted and thrown in jail with no fore­see­able release. Sides are cho­sen and the lines are drawn as to who is going to remain with no over­sight and who will work with the government’s reg­is­tra­tion act.

We have to acknowl­edge the pow­er­ful sec­ondary tale that springs up among the Win­ter Sol­dier, Cap­tain Amer­ica and Iron Man. The civil war really comes down to the lay­ered con­flict between Cap and Iron Man. This is what’s really dri­ving the over­all arch­ing fight between teams, but on a per­sonal level, these two friends are hurt­ing on dif­fer­ent lev­els because of each other. Tony can’t under­stand why Cap doesn’t get the need for over­sight and he feels jeal­ous because of the rela­tion­ship between Cap and the Win­ter Sol­dier. Not to men­tion, a plot twist late in the game brings the lat­ter rela­tion­ship to the fore­front and is essen­tially the straw that breaks the camel’s back for Tony. Cap can’t under­stand why Tony doesn’t want to oper­ate as is, given that Tony is a past weapons man­u­fac­turer and oper­ates well with­out some­one stand­ing over his shoul­der and the fol­lies that were S.H.I.E.L.D and Hydra. Civil War’s excel­lent and tight writ­ing basi­cally boils down a con­flict between best friends whose visions have grown apart.

Despite Civil War being one of the longer films in the MCU, it never feels like it. The pac­ing is excel­lent from the begin­ning to end, and you’re drawn into the action quickly and effi­ciently, which there’s plenty of. The flow of story to action is great, the humor is deftly weaved in with a lot of inside jokes and nods to past events and easter eggs, and it’s the per­fect mix to keep you inter­ested in what’s going to hap­pen next. The fight scenes alone are worth watch­ing just to see the chore­og­ra­phy and styl­ish nuance found in recre­at­ing the ensemble’s var­i­ous super pow­ers and abil­i­ties. Every fight scene — from the brawl at gov­ern­ment head­quar­ters, to the chase at the Win­ter Soldier’s apart­ment and the giant brawl at the air­port — is worth watch­ing repeatedly.

Char­ac­ter devel­op­ment is also han­dled extremely well. New super­heroes are intro­duced and older char­ac­ters are fur­ther devel­oped, which makes the char­ac­ter­i­za­tion easy and nat­ural and their inter­ac­tion believ­able. You grow to care about the new char­ac­ters, which is rel­a­tively hard to do with a large ensem­ble such as Civil War. You also get a sense that you would imme­di­ately know what each Avenger would decide to do because you already know these char­ac­ters, and the ones you don’t know, you learn who they are and why they make their per­sonal choices.

There are sev­eral addi­tions to the cast that make Civil War stand out. The first is Black Pan­ther, who becomes an Avenger at a later point in the comics. Here, the character’s intro­duc­tion was han­dled so well that we’re eagerly await­ing the announced spin­off film for him. The sec­ond is Spider-Man. Yes, the web crawler’s recent film out­ings have been done to death, but it’s his intro­duc­tion here that is nicely done. It serves two pur­poses: to finally bring him home to the Mar­vel brand once again and set him up cor­rectly within the MCU.

The story, by itself, is an inter­est­ing tale of free­dom and choices. We under­stood why both sides chose their posi­tions in the Civil War, and we could eas­ily empathize with both sides. While the comic ver­sion of this story is sim­i­lar in forc­ing a stance on issues related to free­dom and respon­si­bil­ity, the change made to the inci­dent that causes the con­flict between super­heroes in the film is a wel­come one and more relatable.

Where the MCU goes from here is debat­able because of the many angles that can be taken in Infin­ity War, but it’s a going to be a great ride thanks to the fan­tas­tic build up in pre­vi­ous films such as Civil War.

Like the comics?: 6
Cast­ing: 10
Sto­ry­line: 10

Score: 26/30 or 8.6

HOW WE GRADE
We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in cases of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of the max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

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Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 9

Death Note wrap­ping up in its usual suspense-filled way

Brandon-2012-cutoutSchol­arly. Resource­ful. If I had to describe Light Yagami, I would use these words to char­ac­ter­ize him as well as to say that I could see him becom­ing a future min­is­ter of jus­tice for Japan. How­ever, since Mr. Yagami (aka Kira) has pos­ses­sion of the Death Note, I could only think of two words to describe him: tyrant and mur­derer. In the ninth vol­ume of “Death Note,” Light’s actions fit my lat­ter descrip­tions of him as his actions con­tinue to have dev­as­tat­ing reac­tions on the United States and Japan.
At the end of Vol­ume 8, Light’s plan to use U.S. Spe­cial Forces to attack Mello’s hide­out failed greatly because of the involve­ment of the shinigami Sidoh, the use of the ran­som Death Note and use of the Shinigami Eyes by one of Mello’s hench­men. As a result, the Spe­cial Forces mem­bers along with cur­rent U.S. pres­i­dent David Hoope were killed. Reel­ing from Mello’s bril­liant attack, Light devises an attack plan using Misa’s Death Note and hav­ing Soichiro make a deal with Ryuk for the Shinigami Eyes. Light’s plan worked suc­cess­fully in elim­i­nat­ing Mello’s hench­men in addi­tion to recov­er­ing the Death Note and find­ing out Mello’s true iden­tity, but Soichiro was killed by one of Mello’s men, who faked his own death.
Dur­ing these events, the SPK dis­cov­ers that they are being dis­banded amid a dec­la­ra­tionDeath Note Vol. 9 cover of sur­ren­der to Kira by act­ing U.S. Pres­i­dent George Sairas. This forces Light to go through a com­bined bar­rage of attacks by  Near and Mello in order to dis­rupt and expose Kira within the Japan­ese task force. Dur­ing this three-way bat­tle, Light’s, Mello’s and Near’s tac­tics result in  deci­sive wins for each man. In the final chap­ter, Light ulti­mately comes out on top by using Demegawa and Sakura TV to reach Kira sup­port­ers and rally them to siege the SPK head­quar­ters while taunt­ing Near to escape while he is able.
Like all of the other Death Note vol­umes I’ve read, Vol­ume 9 still keeps the intrigu­ing mix of super­nat­ural hor­ror and mys­tery. How­ever, this vol­ume had me think­ing that Ohba-san and Obata-san wrote and drew this vol­ume while watch­ing a marathon of the show “24.” While read­ing, I noticed that while Light has his keen abil­ity to take on many chal­lenges, he also knows that he has Near and Mello stand­ing in his way. I also like how Ohba-san and Obata-san set up Mello and Near as coop­er­a­tive rivals. Mello tells Near that he is not a tool to cap­ture Kira and threat­ens to shoot him, but they exchange clues regard­ing the Death Note when Near gives Mello the only pic­ture avail­able of him. As the Death Note saga begins to close, Light is so close to his dream, yet so far with Near and Mello on his heels.
Credit again goes to Viz Media as they con­tinue to do an excel­lent job of trans­la­tion and adap­ta­tion, this time assign­ing the tasks to Tesuichiro Miyaki. Miyaki con­tin­ues the challenging-yet-successful task of pre­sent­ing Death Note to the Eng­lish audi­ence.
I’m get­ting close to the end of review­ing the Death Note manga series. With only three vol­umes left, I’m kind of torn between root­ing for Light’s noble cause to erad­i­cate evil and L’s heirs con­tin­u­ing his legacy of genius. How­ever, after all that Light has done to crim­i­nals and non-criminals alike, I can only take one side: Team Ryuzaki.

Bran­don Beatty is edi­tor at large of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

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Character highlight #22: Iceman

Name: Robert Louis DrakeIceman - fix

Alias: Ice­man, Bobby Drake, Frozen One, Frosty, Drake Roberts, Ice­face, Iceheart

Affil­i­a­tion: X-Men, X-Factor, Mur­der Cir­cus, Excel­siors, The Twelve, Cho­sen, Defend­ers, Secret Defend­ers, Champions

Spe­cial abil­i­ties: Ice­man is clas­si­fied as an “omega-level mutant.” Ice­man can lower his body tem­per­a­ture and gen­er­ate intense cold from the atmos­phere around him. With his body tem­per­a­ture low­ered, he can pro­duce ice struc­tures, gen­er­ate and fully con­trol ice, and freeze  and unfreeze any­thing. He can manip­u­late ice on a cel­lu­lar level, use ther­mal vision as well as gen­er­ate clones and freeze the Earth and spread his con­scious­ness through­out the ice on a global scale.

Back­ground: Robert Drake lived a nor­mal life until one day, as a teenager, he was on a date with a young woman when a bully from school attacked. He pointed his hand at the bully and the attack­ing boy was encased in a block of ice. A local mob heard of the inci­dent and gath­ered to lynch Bobby. After being placed in jail to keep away from the mob, fel­low found­ing X-Men mem­ber Scott Sum­mers came to res­cue him. He and Sum­mers fought until Charles Xavier arrived to save both teens. He joined the team with other found­ing mem­bers Jean Grey, War­ren Wor­thing­ton III and Hank McCoy and bat­tled early X-Men foes Mag­neto and Jug­ger­naut. While on the team he fur­ther devel­oped his pow­ers and gained con­trol of them. As a found­ing mem­ber of the X-Men, he was cap­tured by the sen­tient island of Krakoa and was res­cued by the next gen­er­a­tion of the team. He later quit the X-Men and founded X-Factor with the other orig­i­nal mem­bers of the X-Men.

Rela­tion­ships: Opal Tanaka (girl­friend); Annie Ghazikhan­ian (girl­friend); Lorna Dane (Polaris), girl­friend; Raven Dark­holme (Mys­tique), girl­friend. Note: Robert Drake’s sex­u­al­ity has been con­firmed as gay.

First Ver­sus appear­ance: X-Men: Chil­dren of the Atom

Appear­ances in other media: The Mar­vel Super Heroes (ani­mated), Spider-Man and His Amaz­ing Friends (ani­mated), X-Men: The Ani­mated Series (ani­mated), X-Men: Evo­lu­tion (ani­mated), Wolver­ine and the X-Men (ani­mated), The Super Hero Squad Show (ani­mated), X-Men (film), X2: X-Men United (film), X3: The Last Stand (film), X-Men: Days of Future Past (film), Fan­tas­tic Four (1997, video game), X-Men: Chil­dren of the Atom (video game), Mar­vel vs. Cap­com (video game), Mar­vel vs. Cap­com 2 (video game), X-Men Leg­ends (video game), X-Men Leg­ends II: Rise of Apoc­a­lypse (video game), Mar­vel: Ulti­mate Alliance (video game), Mar­vel: Ulti­mate Alliance 2 (video game), Mar­vel vs. Cap­com 3 (video game), Ulti­mate Mar­vel vs. Cap­com 3 (video game), X-Men: Des­tiny (video game), Mar­vel Super Hero Squad Online (video game), Mar­vel Avengers: Bat­tle for Earth (video game), Lego Mar­vel Super Heroes (video game), Mar­vel Heroes (video game)

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Strip Talk #24: Get ready for the deluge of comic book movies

Lyndsey-2013-cutout-onlineThe del­uge of comic book movies these days is like heaven-sent mana for a geek like myself. The sheer vol­ume alone is over­whelm­ing, and the major­ity of them hap­pen to be good. I will prop­erly con­fess that I wasn’t antic­i­pat­ing the qual­ity of the major­ity, but it’s a wel­come prob­lem to have because it could always be worse.

If your name is Mar­vel, you have done extra­or­di­nar­ily well. Basi­cally, every­thing they touch is gold. Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War was HUGE; we’re talk­ing bil­lions in box office receipts. Even the B-Team movies (i.e. the spin­offs) such as Ant Man and Guardians of the Galaxy have exceeded expec­ta­tions and made buck­ets of money for the Mar­vel brand. So, we’re good here because just about every­thing about Phase III is going to trans­late into crit­i­cal acclaim and finan­cial windfall.

If your name is DC, you have some issues and we have con­cerns about you going for­ward. DC’s cin­e­matic uni­verse just can’t seem to get it right, whether it’s the poor char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Superman’s solo film, the tepid Bat­man vs. Super­man or the silli­ness of Sui­cide Squad. It seems that DC is strug­gling to tell even the most basic sto­ries about its leg­endary sta­ble of heroes. Superman’s movies have been mostly miss since the ill-advised reboot attempt in 2006 with Super­man Returns. Bat­man has been mostly good since the Christo­pher Nolan tril­ogy wrapped up with Dark Knight Rises, but there is yet another new face under the cowl — Ben Affleck — that’s going to have to carry major bur­dens. Sui­cide Squad has been hit or miss, with either enthu­si­as­ti­cally great or hor­ri­ble reviews. DC has got to get its act together if it’s seri­ous about com­pet­ing with the Mar­vel jug­ger­naut in any way, shape or form.

If you’re not named either DC or Mar­vel and you’re pro­duc­ing a comic prop­erty, chances are you’re the X-Men or Wolver­ine. Fox han­dles the X-Men and it shows imme­di­ately that they’re not Mar­vel (despite being a Mar­vel prop­erty in ink). While First Class and Days of Future Past were won­der­ful and a great restora­tion of the X-Men name from the hor­rific days of Last Stand, the more recent Apoc­a­lypse nearly destroyed the good­will that the fran­chise has man­aged to earn back. Poor pac­ing and char­ac­ter devel­op­ment of promi­nent X-Men such as Storm and Psy­locke does not endear the series to any­one look­ing to see the merry band of mutants make a come­back. While Dead­pool did extremely well for Fox, it’s hard to see where they’re going after this except for more X-Men/Wolverine and more Deadpool.

I’m all for the gag­gle of movies expected to release in the next months to few years. By the time you read this, Doc­tor Strange and Thor: Rag­narok will have been released and we still have on the hori­zon Won­der Woman, Black Pan­ther, Cap­tain Mar­vel, Jus­tice League, Avengers Infin­ity War, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Shazam, The Flash, Aqua­man, Jus­tice League 2, Cyborg, Green Lantern Corps, Spider-Man: Home­com­ing, an Old Man Logan/Wolverine final movie, Ant Man and the Wasp, and sev­eral TV prop­er­ties such as Luke Cage, and future sea­sons of Jes­sica Jones, Arrow, the Flash, Dare­devil, Iron Fist, Cloak and Dag­ger and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. If that doesn’t keep you busy and informed on comic adap­ta­tions, you’re miss­ing quite a bit.

You can’t escape the preva­lence of comic books in cin­ema, espe­cially now that the main­stream pub­lic at large is invested in either Mar­vel or DC and second-tier char­ac­ters like Groot are house­hold names. You know you’ve jumped into main­stream con­scious­ness when the band­wagon fans are sym­pa­thiz­ing with the Win­ter Sol­dier with­out know­ing his back­ground and up-to-date biog­ra­phy. But it’s not really for the band­wag­oneers, is it? It’s more for us, the comic book faith­ful who won’t turn down a movie about a super­hero because, well, super­heroes. I don’t know about you, but I’m about to be a lit­tle kid on Christ­mas morn­ing once again.

Lyn­d­sey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. She can be reached by email at editor@gaminginsurrection.com

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Anime Lounge #14: Death Note

Death Note-animeAnime-LoungeSeries: Death Note

Episodes: 1 to 6

Premise: A young man named Light Yagami is bored and incred­i­bly gifted men­tally. He’s look­ing for things to do out­side of hack­ing the national police data­base and is prepar­ing to go to law school for a career in crim­i­nal jus­tice. One day, while in school, he hap­pens to notice a strange book appear out­side. He opens it and finds a shinigami, named Ryuk, that’s bound to fol­low the per­son who finds it. Light’s dis­cov­ery and sub­se­quent deal­ings with Ryuk and his Death Note begin the twisted tale of jus­tice as a means to an end.

Is it worth watch­ing?: YES. This is one of the best anime to be released in the past 20 years. It’s got every­thing you could want: Sus­pense, drama, sev­eral mur­der mys­ter­ies, a plot that makes you ques­tion life choices and char­ac­ters to root for.

Break­out char­ac­ter: There are four: Light, Misa, Ryuk and L. Each of the four is cen­tral to the story and yet, all man­age to steal the show in their own way.

Fun­ni­est episode: Episode 1, “Rebirth.” The open­ing episode finds Light inter­act­ing with Ryuk once he obtains the Death Note, which is hilar­i­ous for sev­eral rea­sons. Light doesn’t seem to be that enthralled with a death god near him and he imme­di­ately uses his pow­ers of deduc­tion and rea­son­ing to come to sev­eral con­clu­sions about the Death Note and its usage. Their inter­ac­tion is always fun and serves to set up the way the rest of the series flows ultimately.

Where it’s going?: Light is in con­trol for the first few episodes. He’s still learn­ing the ropes with the Death Note and under­stand­ing how it works, and what kind of jus­tice he can enact: Right­eous or mali­cious. How Light con­tin­ues to suc­ceed in stay­ing hid­den and not get­ting caught is the name of the game going for­ward. It’s worth it to watch to see just how Light stays ahead of the game and avoids sus­pi­cion from the most tal­ented inves­ti­ga­tor in the world, L.

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Top 5 on The Strip: Things wrong with the Super Mario Bros. movie

Mario and Luigi

John Leguizamo and Bob Hoskins as Luigi and Mario.

1. Their names aren’t Mario and Luigi Mario
Accord­ing to the author­i­ta­tive guide to all things Mario – MushroomKingdom.net – the script called for the Mario Bros. to have a last name. The char­ac­ters were never given names in the game series and the pro­duc­ers decided that because they were the Mario Bros., their last name must be Mario. Accord­ing to the site, cre­ator Shigeru Miyamoto was quoted in Game Informer as hav­ing “laughed rather loudly” when he heard this info.

 

Samantha Mathis as Princess Daisy

Saman­tha Mathis as Princess Daisy

2. Princess Daisy is not the ruler of the Mush­room King­dom
Princess Daisy, first intro­duced in the Game Boy’s Mario Land, does not rule the Mush­room King­dom; she’s the leader of Sarasa­land. Luigi isn’t even present in the game, though he later devel­ops a rela­tion­ship with her as Mario and Peach’s counterparts.

 

Thwomp Stompers as worn by Big Bertha.

Thwomp Stom­pers as worn by Big Bertha.

3. The Mario Bros. nat­u­rally jumped high, with­out the need for spe­cial boots
The weird jump boots in the movie really had noth­ing to do with Mario games. Also, Big Bertha is a fish in the game, not an actual woman.

 

Goombas

Goom­bas

4. Goom­bas are not rep­tiles of any kind
We’re not sure why the goom­bas were made to be tall reptilian-like crea­tures when they’re lit­er­ally liv­ing mush­rooms gone bad.

 

Dennis Hopper as King Bowser Koopa.

Den­nis Hop­per as King Bowser Koopa.

5. Bowser isn’t a lizard crea­ture; he’s a tur­tle
While Den­nis Hop­per made a believ­able Bowser, King of the Koopas, sadly, he isn’t a lizard. Bowser has been con­firmed to be an evil tur­tle with a spiked shell.

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Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 8

L con­tin­ues to inspire jus­tice in Death Note Vol­ume 8

Brandon-2012-cutoutFour years after his death, the world’s great­est detec­tive L con­tin­ues to chal­lenge Light Yagami in the most intense  game of cat and mouse via his suc­ces­sors. Will L and com­pany tri­umph or will Light have the last laugh? The answer to these ques­tions awaits in Death Note Vol­ume 8: Tar­get.
Writ­ten by Tsug­umi Ohba, drawn by Takeshi Obata and pub­lished by Viz Media, Death Note Vol­ume 8 lives up to its sub­ti­tle. At the end of Vol. 7, we left Light (Kira/the sec­ond L) — the newest mem­ber of the NPA’s intel­li­gence bureau — unchal­lenged in mak­ing his idea of a crime-free world come to fruition. How­ever, he was unpre­pared for a two-pronged attack from Mello and Near, L’s true suc­ces­sors. Mello joins with an orga­nized crime group to kid­nap Light’s sis­ter, Sayu, while Near gains the sup­port of the pres­i­dent of the United States to form the SPK (Spe­cial Pro­vi­sion for Kira). Both par­ties’ main objec­tive is to cap­ture Kira and the Death Note.
For a brief period, Light and Near coop­er­ate to res­cue Sayu while Light’s father, Soichiro, leaves for Los Ange­les to deliver their Death Note to Mello’s hench­men. Although Sayu was safely recov­ered, the note­book fell into the hands of Mello, allow­ing him and the gang’s boss, Rod Ross, to elim­i­nate indi­vid­u­als who sold var­i­ous ille­gal goods with­out Ross’ per­mis­sion as well as three senior mem­bers of the SPK.
As the psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare con­tin­ues, U.S. Pres­i­dent David Hoope gets thrown into the fray via Mello, whoDeath Note Vol. 8 cover states that his group would give the U.S. Kira’s note­book in exchange for fund­ing, weapons and shared use of the SPK’s satel­lites. Fac­ing a poten­tial global cri­sis, Pres­i­dent Hoope briefly com­plies with Mello’s requests but also noti­fies Light. Light promised to pro­tect the pres­i­dent but also requests use of spe­cial forces sol­diers to com­bat Mello and his group. Unfor­tu­nately, Mello was able to use the shinigami Sidoh to elim­i­nate the sol­diers at the same time Pres­i­dent Hoope was elim­i­nated, pos­si­bly by Kira (aka Light).
Vol­ume 8 con­tin­ues the tried-and-true for­mula that made Death Note a smash suc­cess: A great sto­ry­line that com­bines action and mys­tery with ele­ments of super­nat­ural hor­ror. I still can’t keep my jaw from drop­ping to the floor when I read about Light and his plans to keep him steps ahead of the task force, Mello and Near while act­ing as L and Kira. As Death Note con­tin­ues, you will form a view of Light Yagami: On one side, you admire Light’s intel­li­gence and his just goal to make the world a bet­ter place, while on the other side you despise him and root for his down­fall.
The art by Obata-san is flat-out awe­some, from char­ac­ter design to the loca­tions in Amer­ica. You will have to give Mello and Near credit; they’ve made some game-changing moves of their own such as Near let­ting Light take the lead while he still has author­ity over U.S. law enforce­ment, while Mello uses the mafia and resources to force the U.S. pres­i­dent to give him money and other sup­port to slow down Kira and Near to stay on top. Viz media, again, did an excel­lent job of adapt­ing and trans­lat­ing, this time entrust­ing both tasks to Tet­suichiro Miyaki.
Vol­ume 8 con­tin­ues the non­stop bat­tle of good vs. evil with the vic­tor claim­ing the  weapon to END all weapons. While read­ing, I felt like I got a front-row seat to a three-way bat­tle of devi­ous minds that are deter­mined to be tri­umphant. Who will prevail?

Bran­don Beatty is editor-at-large of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. He can be reached via email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

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Property review: Super Mario Bros. Super Show & The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3

SMBSS cartoon

The Super Mario Bros. Super Show

Mario impresses in car­toon form

Super Mario Bros. Super Show Vol. 1

When you’re able to have a live-action show and you’re a house­hold name through­out the world, you can afford to do what­ever you want and take what­ever licenses you want with your own source mate­r­ial. The Super Mario Bros. Super Show did just that over the course of a year with the live-action adven­tures of Brooklyn-based Mario and Luigi and the ani­mated capers of the Mario Bros., Princess Peach and Toad.
It seems odd to say a year is enough time to explain the hap­pen­ings of the Mush­room King­dom, but the weekly show lasted 52 episodes and fully explored the world that Mario and Luigi found them­selves in after get­ting sucked down a warp pipe. The show cap­tures the essence of Super Mario Bros. and even throws in quite a few ref­er­ences and ideas from Super Mario Bros. 2 Japan and USA. The level of detail is a bit hap­haz­ard from time to time (there are some anachro­nis­tic things in the ani­mated por­tion of the show — such as Bowser being in charge of Wart’s min­ions), but over­all the show is extremely well done and enter­tain­ing. And, as a Mario fan, you get a glimpse into the early days of Mario mania, the time before Mario was as rec­og­niz­able as Mickey Mouse.

Like the games?: 8.5
Acting/Voice act­ing: 7.5
Story: 8

Over­all: 24 out of 30 or 8

 

The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3

The Adven­tures of Super Mario Bros. 3

Super Mario Bros. 3 ani­ma­tion soars

The Adven­tures of Super Mario Bros. 3

Of the three Mario-based car­toons pro­duced, The Adven­tures of Super Mario Bros. 3 has the dis­tinc­tion of being the best and most accu­rate. Sure, some of the Koopa Kids’ names are changed, but you still know it’s Mario and that it’s unmis­tak­ably Super Mario Bros. 3, one of the most pop­u­lar games of all time.
The story is closer to the games this time with Mario and crew tak­ing on Bowser and the Koopal­ings’ var­i­ous plots to enslave the Mush­room World and — unsur­pris­ingly — human­ity. The ani­ma­tion is slightly rough in the begin­ning episodes but by the end of the series, it picks up and looks more like the game in terms of qual­ity. The voice act­ing is top-notch from start to fin­ish, even if our favorite cap­tain, Lou Albano, no longer pro­vided the voice of Mario.
If you like Super Mario Bros. 3 as much as we adore the game, you prob­a­bly already own the series on DVD, which doesn’t have extras, sadly. The best rea­son to own this, how­ever, is for the nov­elty and Mario col­lec­tion com­ple­tion sake.

Like the games: 9
Voice act­ing: 9.5
Story: 8

Over­all: 26.5 out of 30 or 8.8

 

HOW WE GRADE
We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in cases of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of the max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

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Strip Talk #23: Animated Mario has wins, losses over the years

Lyndsey-2013-cutout-onlineCar­toons, to me, fall in the same sphere as anime and comic books. If you tell a good story, I don’t care what medium you choose to tell it in. If it hap­pens to be about some­thing I love, chances are I’m even more for it. So it goes with Mario. I have loved the portly plumber since 1988, the first time I played Super Mario Bros. and died on the first goomba on the first level.
With that love of Mario cemented, I started look­ing for other avenues in which to pur­sue my affec­tion. I found them in the only ani­mated Mario show out at the time: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show.
Super Show was fan­tas­tic in the fact that Cap­tain Lou Albano and Danny Wells really were Mario and Luigi for the live-action seg­ments, and the ani­mated por­tion of the show was really well done. Super Show got a lot of things Mario right, despite the com­bi­na­tion of the then-unheard of Japan­ese ver­sion of Mario 2, Mario 2 USA and the first game. But, while I loved Super Show, the fever pitch in Amer­ica for Super Mario Bros. 3 began and it was then that I truly fell in love with ani­mated Mario.
The Adven­tures of Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of my favorite Nintendo-themed prop­er­ties.
First of all, it was based on Super Mario Bros. 3, one of the great­est games ever made and one of the few The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 games that lived up to the hype that pre­ceded it. Sec­ond, the ani­ma­tion was great and really made you think about things from the per­spec­tive of the world Mario was in. Sure, I didn’t like the ref­er­ences to the real world because I asso­ciate Mario with fan­tasy and the Mush­room King­dom, but I could kind of look past all of that so long as it didn’t hap­pen that often. What Adven­tures did was take the con­cept of Mario the game to Mario the cash cow, mean­ing Mario was every­where at this point. It didn’t hurt that McDonald’s had toys based on the game and TV show in their Happy Meals at this point, either.
After the hype of Adven­tures died down, though, there wasn’t much ani­mated that I really cared for. Super Mario World’s car­toon didn’t do it for me and it didn’t seem to have the same magic that the pre­vi­ous car­toons cap­tured from the games.
The brief cor­nu­copia of Mario ani­mated bril­liance came to an end, and there haven’t been any replace­ments since. At least the game was fun while it lasted.

Lyn­d­sey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. She can be reached by email at lyndseyh@gaminginsurrection.com

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