Sunday, April 28, 2013

Nancy Drew Video Games

From book to computer screen, Nancy Drew has done it all. With all the excitement over the new Nancy Drew game coming out called Ghost of Thornton Hall, I just pre-ordered the game! So I'm excited to get it when they ship it out! Anyway, to celebrate the release of the latest game, I want to review all of the computer games.

Let's start at the  beginning, Nancy Drew is known for her mystery story books written by a ghost writer under the name of Carolyn Keene. The original Nancy Drew series began in the 1930s, and the books up to volume 34 were revised in the 1950s. The original series inspired other Nancy Drew book series; an example would be Nancy Drew Girl Detective. Along with the books, Nancy Drew was made into a graphic novel series. (Which I'll try to review in the future.)

Here is some of my collection of Nancy Drew Books
Nancy Drew Graphic Novels

She has been seen on TV and movies. But because of Her Interactive, a fan can play as the girl detective herself. Her Interactive has created 28 mystery adventure computer games. That's not including the two Dossier games and the iphone app.

There are other games that includes Nancy as the main character, but weren't made by Her Interactive; which include Deadly Secret of the Olde World Park, Mystery of the Clue Bender Society, The Hidden Staircase, The Model Mysteries. All of these games are on the Nintendo DS. Again, I'll think about reviewing the games later. If you want me to or I decide to do so.

"Our vision is to be the undisputed leader in creating high quality, fun and inspiring games for girls of all ages," quoted from the philosophy of Her Interactive. The company is mainly famous for their Nancy Drew games. But the company has made other games, an example would be "The Vampire Diaries" based upon the book series. The first of the Nancy Drew games was released in 1998 called Secrets Can Kill. Now, fifteen years later, they're releasing their twenty-eighth game in the series. They came a long way.

List of games:

  1. Secrets Can Kill (Later Secrets Can Kill Remstered) Blog Post
  2. Stay Tuned for Danger Blog Post
  3. Message in a Haunted Mansion Blog Post
  4. Treasure in the Royal Tower Blog Post
  5. The Final Scene Blog Post
  6. Secret of the Scarlet Hand Blog Post
  7. Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake Blog Post
  8. The Haunted Carousel Blog Post
  9. Danger on Deception Island
  10. The Secret of Shadow Ranch
  11. Curse of Blackmoor Manor
  12. Secret of the Old Clock
  13. Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon
  14. Danger by Design
  15. Creature of Kapu Cave
  16. The White Wolf of Icicle Creek
  17. Legend of the Crystal Skull
  18. The Phantom of Venice
  19. The Haunting of Castle Malloy
  20. Ransom of the Seven Ships
  21. Warnings at Waverly Academy
  22. Trail of the Twister
  23. Shadow at the Waters Edge
  24. The Captive Curse
  25. Alibi in Ashes
  26. Tomb of the Lost Queen
  27. The Deadly Device
  28. Ghost of Thornton Hall

Along with the games, Her Interactive has created merchandise that the fans can buy that can have images from all the computer games, from iPhone covers to shirts. Recently, Her Interactive sells official soundtracks of the games.

I received my first Nancy Drew game for my 10th birthday!  That game was Nancy Drew: Message in a Haunted Mansion.  It brought me into the fabulous mystery game series that I come to love. Now I'm 21 almost 22 and I still play the games.. Each of the stories caught my interest and always made me anxious to get the next game. I'm one of those girls that always get so into the game that I have to keep playing to find out what happens next. I would always be sad when I finish the game, but get excited when I see the preview for the next game.

I'm going to to give a description and a small review of each game in their own blog post. I do have a YouTube account and I'm debating about making a play through for each of the games. What do you guys think?

Her Interactive: Main Site

Nicktoons TMNT episode 21- Karai's Vendetta

by Mark Rodriguez

This episode bring up what I was afraid of since they started training April. An April VS Karai fight. However, it was done rather well and I'm glad with how they handled it. Several things went down the way I expect them to. Anyways, let's start the review.

We start the episode with Shredder and Karai interrogating the captured Kraang. Seeing how the Kraang only let out screeches and such, Karai tells Shredder they can only talk once they're in their robot suits. They jam the little bugger into the robot suit Karai stole in an earlier episode, and Shredder demands to know why they're hunting the Turtles. The Kraang says they are protecting April O'Neil, the key to all their plans. Shredder sends Karai after her.

In the lair, everyone is training, including April. Raph has Mikey trapped in a double armlock, and he just gives up the fight. Splinter asks him why he gave up so easily, and Mikey says it's because there was nothing he could do. Splinter says there is ALWAYS something one can do, and has Raph do the hold on him. Splinter licks Raph's cheek, which distracts him long enough for Splinter to get out of the hold and slam him down.

Later on, Don is studying some of the water that as being modified by the Kraang in their plan to terraform the world to their liking. The Kraang water burns like acid, and they have to be stopped before they infect the city's entire water supply. Due to Mikey freaking out about it melting his pizza, he accidently spills some on April.. which doesn't burn her at all. The Turtles head out to stop the Kraang and invite April, but she has an essay to do and doesn't like the idea of an underwater adventure and skips out.

The Turtles use a sub that looks like a giant sea turtle... but they have to peddle on bicycles to warm up the engine. Once the engine is activated they head towards the Kraang's underwater base, but see it guarded by a giant sea monster, brought over by the Kraang.

Elsewhere, April is trying to figure out a Japanese vending machine. Karai shows up, in regular clothes, and shows her how to work it, since the machine itself doesn't give food, but wooden tokens with kanji on them telling the chef what to cook. They both enter Murakami's place together and give him their orders. Karai's order in particular concerns Murakami but he goes to make it anyway. As April and Karai have some small talk, the Foot Ninja calls herself 'Harmony'.

The Turtles use their sub to block the underwater base's flow of chemicals to infect the water. As the Kraang go to investigate, the Turtles sneak inside. 

At the resteraunt, April gets her order, the pizza gyoza, and lets 'Harmony' try some. Murakami brings Karai her order, and she encourages April to have some too. Before she can take a sip, Karai tells her that it's turtle soup. April figures out that this girl is Karai and makes a run for it. Murakami purposely gets into Karai's way to buy her some time. 

As April runs, she calls the Turtles for help. Unfortunately, this sets off Don's ringtone, which alerts the Kraang that they are in their base. Don tells April to run for her life since they won't be able to save her this time, and the Turtles start fighting the Kraang.

Outside, April steals the motorbike from the pizzaboy (always the same pizzaboy) and drives off. Karai soon finds a bike of her and follows in hot pursuit. April manages to lose her for a few moments since there was a big truck in the way. Karai however, isn't giving up. 

As the Turtles fight the Kraang, Don is too distracted worrying about April and he just wants to leave as soon as possible. Leo reminds him that their main mission is to take our the underwater base. Raph reminds him that they plan to infect the water supply that will hurt everyone in the city, including April. Don finally gets it together and arranges the base to explode in 90 seconds... but just then the sea monster returns and blocks their exit. Mikey is able to tie up the monster with his kusarigama and ride it like a horse. They are able to escape in their turtlesub, but the sea monster is still after them.

The sea monster wraps itself around the sub and um... sounds like it was trying to mate with it. The Turtles all have awkward looks on their faces and Mikey yells out 'IT'S NOT THAT KIND OF SUB!!!'. Don releases some depth charges which makes the monster let it go. The Turtles manage to get away in their sub leaving behind a heatbroken monster.

Karai finally corners April, and the redhead starts to get ready for a fight. However, April is seriously outmatched, and even her ninja fan is of no use. As Karai kicks the crap out of April, our heroine refuses to stay down. Karai gets in an armlock and asks what is so special about her, since she has mutant Turtles protecting her from an alien race that is after her. April says that she herself doesn't know and says she had her father kidnapped and lost her mother. Karai reacts to the fact that April lost her mother (which we assume she did as well), and April takes this split second opportunity to flip her down a flight of subway stairs. 

At home, April tells everyone about her ordeal with Karai. Splinter is proud that she took the advice of using any means to get out of any situation. But he also says that since now both the Kraang and the Foot are after April, she's going to have to stay with them in the sewers, since it is the only place she will be safe. April doesn't like the idea as much as Donnie does. Since she'll be stuck in the sewers until they take Shredder and The Kraang down, she is eager to get started.

This episode was awesome, but the main focus was on April and Karai. The sea monster trying to mate with the turtlesub aside (surprised they implied that kinda thing on Nick), the side-plot was kinda boring. Kinda like the Leatherhead episode where they Turtles had to get past a bunch of traps to get to the Power Cell, I didn't really care about any of that and only wanted to see Leatherhead and Mikey, in this episode I felt the underwater base stuff was boring and wanted to see Karai and April. 

I like the fact that Karai snuck up on her in normal clothes and tried to be her friend. I don't know how she knew this girl was April... the Kraang they captured was in no position to give them photos. I like the Japanese references, their way of saying grace before eating food, and the Tokyo style food order machine. For a moment I was wondering why April didn't know how to use the machine since she was supposed to be a frequent customer at Murakami's... but a fellow Technodromer reminded me that she pointed out the machine was new. Nice catch there BubblyShell22!

As for the fight between April and Karai, I guess inevitable since they are the ninja girls from either side, it went down the way I was hoping it would. April was completely outmatched. Now, I don't like seeing her get beat up, but she is just no match for a full trained ninja after training with Splinter for a month at the most. That would be like me practicing in a dojo for a month and then calling out Chuck Norris. The way April won worked for me. She got lucky and tossed her down a flight of stairs. Karai was hurt, and not exactly out of the game, but by the time she got back up the stairs, April was long gone. Like Splinter said in the episode, the important part was that she survived. April didn't exactly win, per say, since had she decided to stay, Karai would have still kicked her ass, she got away to fight another day. And that's the way I think it should have gone. If April were to face Karai and the episode required her to get away, it would have to be with some sort of outside circumstance (in this case the stairs), rather than winning in an all-out fight. Good job Nick.

More little details on Karai being Miwa are thrown in, as not only did Karai freeze up when she heard April lost her mother, which I assume she did as well.... but Karai called herself Harmony in front of April as her disguise. One of the Japanese-knowledgable people of the Techodrome forums as kind enough to point out that Miwa loosely translates into Harmony. Very damn clever Nick. Very damn clever.

Speaking of names though, the episode title felt a little misplaced. It hardly seemed like a Karai's Vendetta, and more like Karai's Mission. She hardly showed any anger or hatred for the Turtles after the last episode. The only thing was that she followed Shredder's orders without hesitation, but there wasn't any 'How dare Leonardo betray me, I'll get him yet!' vibe carried over from the last episode.

This wraps up my review on the episode. Again, I REALLY liked the interaction between April and Karai. It was more entertaining that whatever the Turtles were doing. And yes, for those that were expecting a Shredder and Kraang alliance... I already knew they'd be threatening and interrogating the little guy for information. I expect Shredder to continue to use the Kraang just like he did to Baxter until whenever he manages to get away. Hell, maybe Baxter will team up with the Kraang to both get revenge on Shredder. As for the Turtles themselves.... why was so much focus put on finishing this particular mission when they sometimes run out of other missions? That portal episode had them run out without destroying the portal or taking the power cell back. Where was their big focus on finishing the mission then, huh?

I also wish they found some other way to have the Kraang water spill on April earlier in the episode. I know this was to establish that she is somehow not human or something, but did they have to make Mikey the one that spilled it on her? I know he's meant to be the silly and goofy one, but there would have been nothing funny and silly if April was a normal human and his little accident melted her arm off.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

NickToons TMNT Episode 20- Enemy of my Enemy

by Mark Rodriguez

Karai returns in this epic episode to try to side with the Turtles on their fight against The Kraang... and we get to see Shredder in action again. Let's see what happens.

The episode begins with the Turtles staking out the TCRI building. Don found out that the Kraang plan to bring a scouter ship from their portal, and they have to stop it. Suddenly Karai comes in and the Turtles start to fight her. Raph tells her they don't have to time to waste with her since they're trying to stop an alien invasion. Just then the scouter ship comes in and it starts blasting at the Turtles and Karai. The Turtles escape into the sewers and they find out that the ship can cloak itself.

At Shredder's hideout, Karai tells her master about the alien invasion, but all he cares about is finding and destroying Splinter. He tells her about a new shipment of weapons coming in that will help them defeat the Turtles.

Back at the lair, the Turtles discuss what to do about the invisible spaceship. Raph says they could throw things into the air until they hit something. Don says they can... by installing radar beacons to help them pick up the signal.

Later on, Leo sets up one of the beacons and Karai attacks him again. After a little fight, Karai says she wants to help them take down the Kraang. Leo reminds her of her past betrayal and you know... the fact that she's a member of the Foot Clan and works for the Shredder. The female ninja says if the aliens destroy the planet, their little feud won't mean a thing. She is also tried of Shredder being blind to this and says his personal vendetta will bring everyone down. Leo however, chooses not to trust her and leaves. This time, Karai actually seems upset.

At the lair, Leo tells everyone how he feels Karai really wanted to work together with them. Splinter warns of the kunoichi's skills of deception. He advises to trust Leo's instincts and to not confuse them with what he wishes was true. Don says it's too bad Karai isn't trustworthy because it would be great to have a kunoichi on their side. April, who is practicing in the background, feels offended since she is a kunoichi too. Don fumbles around as he tries to explain how Karai is more experienced, and Raph drags him off before he makes a bigger fool of himself.

Later on, the Turtles are driving around in the Shell Raiser, and due to Mikey's bad directions, they hit a dead end and are attacked by the spaceship. Karai appear and jumps down on the ship, stabbing it with her blade. The ship flies off with her trapped on top of it, and Leo wants to help her. The other refuse, so Leo drives off on that Turtles Tumbler Cycle thing to help her by himself.

The ship manages to knock Karai off it, and Leo catches her in time. They hide in a dumpster until the ship flies away. Leo then brings Karai to the Shell Raiser, which surprises the Turtles. Karai tells them they need a lot more than compressed garbage (so that's what those weird things the Shell Raiser shoots out are) and sewer lids to take down that spaceship. She suggests a shoulder-mounted missile launcher that the Shredder will get at the docks. They still don't trust her, so Karai offers to steal it for them by herself. Leo agrees that if Karai steals the missile launcher, then they can team up. 

As the turtles relax in the lair, Raph realizes that Shredder will be at the docks... so this is the first time they know where he will be ahead of time, and they can finally take him down. The others agree but Leo doesn't want to betray Karai's plan. Raph reminds her she will eventually betray them anyway, so Leo reluctantly agrees.

At the docks, Shredder, Karai and the Foot pay a General for his shipment of weapons. Karai goes to inspect the weapons, secretly stealing the missile launcher for herself. One one of the rooftops, the Turtles prepare to fire off some sort of electromagentic ball that will hit Shredder hard due to his armor. Karai sees this and dives to push Shredder out of the way. She then angrily fires the missile launcher at them.

Karai calls Leo out on his betrayal (it's funny cause most of it is exactly the same crap she pulled in her earlier episodes) and starts to fight him. Leo said he thought Shredder was driving her crazy. Karai says he drives her crazy because he's her father. She then declares their truce is off and is ready to give them war. As Leo and Karai fight, the other Turtles try their best to take down the Shredder. Just then, the Kraang ship arrives and starts to attack everybody.

During the fighting, Leo manages to fire off the missile launcher and hit the spaceship. As the ship starts crashing down, it knocks Shredder into the ocean. Karai stops fighting Leo and dives into the ocean after him. The Turtles take this opportunity to get away.

A safe distance away, Leo is upset that he ruined things with Karai. Raph says she would never side with them anyway since she is Shredder's daughter. Elsewhere, Karai manages to pull her father out of the ocean and he actually congratulates her. He then said he got her a pet... showing that he has captured one of the Kraang.

This was a great action-packed episode since we got to not only see all four Turtles take on Karai, but also a rematch against Shredder. Shredder was still too powerful for them, but the Turtles still fared a little better than their first encounter. The fear and uncertainty they had before was gone and they were serious in taking the fight to him. The only thing that surprised me is how Raph decided to take the initiative and plan to take down the Shredder once they saw an opening... without Splinter being around to approve it or warn them or anything. Was he napping in the other room or something?

The episode had a lot of fun moments and great lines, besides just awesome fighting. Karai called out Mikey on what the heck Booyakasha means... and Mikey admits not really knowing but he thinks its fun to yell out. Don teases Leo about his 'girlfriend' getting a bit of payback from all the times they tease him about April. And as for April, feeling offended how they don't consider her a kunoichi and 'trust their enemy because she's beautiful'. Sorry April... but you're still a wannabe-kunoichi in training.... don't even start to compare yourself to Karai... Until you're ready to out on missions with the Turtles as a fellow ninja of equal skill... don't even start. 

As for Leo and Karai, it was good to see him turn her down the first time she attempted to join forces. I'm sure Dansleforet and other Leo fans were glad to see him learn his lesson. It's obvious he still cares about her, but is wary of her betrayal. Now that she's pissed and 'it's on now' between them, let's see what happens.

As for the Kraang, nice to know they remembered they have a portal and used it. The other plans, like drilling to the center of the Earth and whatnot were random, but this time it seems they are finally pissed off and tired of the Turtles ruining their plans and decided to set out to destroy them outright. What will happen now that Shredder has captured one of them? I can already see the TMNT forum speculation run rampant until the next episode. People have been speculating about some time of a possible Foot/Kraang team-up for a while now. I still don't see this version of Shredder as very 'team-up' friendly. We'll have to wait and see.

Oh... and extra points for making Shredder yell out in Japanese when he saw the alien spaceship.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Superior Spider-Man # 4

by Mark Rodriguez

There was a time when classic Spidey, you know, Peter Parker went on a 'NOONE ELSE WILL DIE' rampage and tried to make sure noone else would die, even super villains. One of the villains he saved, the psychopath Massacre, has returned in this issue.... but how will the Doc Ock version of Spider-Man deal with him?

'The Agressive Approach ' opens with the Superior Spider-Man watching over the city with the Spider-Bots as his eyes. He thinks to himself that Peter Parker lacked ambition in his life, but the Doc won't commit the same mistake. As well as fighting normal crime, he also continues to capture the rest of Vulture's children henchmen that escaped during the last issue. There's even a scene of a lesser criminal, the White Rabbit, that quickly surrenders because she doesn't want to end up like Boomerang and the Vulture. I'm loving the continuity.

After stopping enough crimes, the Doc decides he has other things to do and has his robots rewire other calls to the authorities. Ghost Pete follows and reminds him that as a superhero he has to keep going and fight all the crime he can.

The Doc visits Aunt May in the hospital, who at this point has finally reached the age where she needs a cane to walk. I swear, for being one of the oldest women in the Marvel Universe, she sure has lasted forever. The Doc asks a doctor for any kind of surgery that can repair her legs, but he says she's too old for that kind of radical surgery. The Doc shrugs it off and thanks him for his 'opinion'.

Back at the mad lab, Octo-Pete spends an all-nighter creating  a special kind of exo-limb that will be grafted to a person's brain and spine, enabling them to walk. He plans to use this on Aunt May, which freaks Pete out, and his bosses also think this is going too far and is much too soon to use on human trials. Doc snaps at them reminding them that he is Dr. Peter Parker. His boss reminds him that he has no such title. The Doc looks into Pete's memories and discovers that he has never earned such a title while he was in college. The Doc is furious at this since he earned his doctorate when he was 16, being and evil genius and all. He storms off determined to rectify this.

Meanwhile, at Ravencroft (Spider-Man's Arkham), Dr. Kafka is walking with a guard as they go see Massacre. The guard asks why she is so worried since Massacre doesn't have any super powers. She is still worried due to his complete disregard for human life. When they open his cell, they find a dead security guard. Massacre was the guard she was walking with all along, and he kills another guard. Kafka tries to reason with him, saying he needs her to leave Ravencroft. Massacre says he doesn't need ALL of her...

Doc Ock re-enrolls into college, which is the same one he went to when he was younger. The girls seem to like him and he flirts back, as Peter reminds him that he's too old for their mothers. Pete is worried since earning a degree will take him away from his duties as Spider-Man and as one of the Avengers. Although... considering he's also with the Future Foundation he should just plain give up living a normal life and be Spider-Man full time...

Watch out ladies.... he's older than he looks and he's into tentacles....

Doc Ock recognizes the teacher as one of his former classmates from back in the day (how is that for weird??). He calls him 'The Schnoz' (I assume whatever nickname Otto had for him back then) which surprises him since he hasn't been called that in years. The teacher is not too happy and tells the Doc that his thesis better impress him. Some girl (she's off panel) says Ock is gonna need to be tutored and gives him her card, but vanishes before he could see who it was. Just then, he gets called in for duty.

At Ravencroft, Spider-Man and Jameson discuss Massacre's escape. Jameson calls him out on having saved Massacre's life and promising he would never escape to kill again. Otto and Pete see that Massacre had taken out one of Kafka's eyes to get past the retinal scanner. Pete wants to regain control of his body and stop Massacre once and for all... but the Dock wants to outright kill him.

Massacre is holding all the people at a small diner hostage. He tells everyone that he wants everyone to toss their mobile devices and money on the floor. He will lock them in the back and escape in their cars, and noone has to die. One of the employees activates the silent alarm. Massacre tells everyone that man broke the rules, and he shoot up everyone. He leaves a lady and her child alive for the time being since he needs them as hostages.

Spider-Man shows up at the lab and tells Jackson (on of the lab partners) that he knows he once gave Facial Recognition Software to The Wraith to help her track down criminals. He now needs that software installed into his Spider-Bots so he can locate Massacre before he kills anyone.

At Times Square, Massacre lets the woman go, but warns her that if she makes a scene, he will kill her and anyone else in the area. She agrees and leaves. Massacre head off wondering where to go now.

Elsewhere, the leftover Vulture kids are worried that they'll be eventually captured by Spider-Man and the cops already know about Vulture's hideout. They panic when they spot one of the Spider-Bots, but suddenly someone stomps on it. The Green Goblin shows up and tells them that he can keep them safe from Spider-Man since he knows all his tricks.

This is an interesting issue, and I have to say again that I'm loving the continuity. It feels like I'm watching a new tv show, each episode following up the next. It was mostly a set up issue, showing some of the aftermath of last issue and foreshadowing an epic battle next issue. I'm enjoying Otto's life as Peter. He sometimes forgets that he's supposed to be Peter and 'breaks character'. We've seen him monologue to himself 'accessing memories' whenever he needs to remember something Parker did before him. Now he's actually saying it out loud making his lab partners think he's nuts.

 The whole scene where he realized that Peter never had a 'Doctor' title and is like 'screw that, I'm going to finish college and earn my doctorate right now!!!' was funny, as is seeing him go to college and recognize a teacher as a former classmate back when he was young. I do find it amusing how both Peter and Otto went to the same college, at different time frames of course... but still.

Massacre is also an interesting character. I never read his past story but the comic does explain that he lost all human empathy after suffering brain damage in the same car bombing that killed his wife. Spider-Man saved his life from a SWAT Team because he didn't want anyone to die, not even a super villain. I do wonder what his deal is. I honestly think he would have let the hostages in the diner live if the employee didn't trigger the silent alarm... just like he let the woman live after she drove him to Times Square. But he also didn't have any problems cutting Kafka's eyes out. He's hard to figure out, and now that he's free, even he doesn't seem to know what he's gonna do.

I really want to see what happens next issue, which I hope to get soon. But I also wonder how the Green Goblin is going to factor in all of this. I can't even begin to wonder what the hell he's been up to lately. All I know is that he was killed by his own Glider waaaaay back then... and then came back to life and was somehow behind the whole Clone Saga mess that never seemed to end. Let's see what happens next.

Tales of the Robin # 1 (Batman # 424)

by Mark Rodriguez

No, this isn't a new comic series or anything... it's a small blog series of sorts in which I take a look at 6 different issues with the different adventures of the different Robins Batman has had over the years, as I promised in this video.

And yes, this is in memory of Damian, who recently passed, and the fact that it will probably be a while before we see any new Robins, even though it seems that Carrie Kelly is already going to appear in actual DC comics continuity. Batman just doesn't waste time.

In this installment we start with Jason Todd, the second Robin that 'died' and came back to become the anti-hero Red Hood because Superman Prime punched reality. No really... read my Red Hood article.

Anyway, this is Batman issue 424 the infamous issue in which Robin.... well, if you don't know.... then you'll have to see. 'The Diplomat's Son' starts with Robin hearing a woman scream and swinging through the window to check it out. Robin doesn't see anyone, but is soon attacked by this shirtless guy named Felipe. Jason easily takes him down, but then his friend Juan steps in and whips out a bowie knife.  Juan proves to be too much for Robin, so Batman steps in.

And wow... the spanish here is horrible. It's like they flipped through a random english-to-spanish dictionary and just wrote down whatever without knowing the order or the proper tense.

 Spanish doesn't work that way boys and girls. In that particular tense it's VEN. Not Venir. And it's de prisa!!! There's no such word as Prisal! I assume they were going for 'Juan! Come here! Hurry!' but instead is sounds weird... like 'Juan! Coming! mispelled-hurry!' Should have been 'Juan! Ven! De prisa!!!''
This one is even worse... I ASSUME 'mi uno poco' is supposed to mean 'my little one'. Except it doesn't sound like that. The worst offender is poco, which does mean little, but as in 'a little of' as in an amount, not a size. Proper term here would have been 'Mi Pequeño' And yeah... I had to cut and paste the ñ 'cause I don't know how the hell to do it in an American keyboard.

    After the fight Batman asks Robin why he went into the building, and he said he heard a woman screaming. Robin ventures to the bedroom and finds a woman that was beaten and possibly raped. Whoa. At the police station the woman, Gloria, tells the cops that she was kidnapped by Juan when she got off work and Felipe was the one that assaulted her. Robin is sure that Felipe's gonna serve hard time.. but Commissioner Gordon comes in and tells the young crimefighter that it isn't so easy.

Felipe's story claims Gloria came uninvited and got her black eye by tripping into the door. That old excuse.... Felipe claims she was causing trouble cause she wants to break their affair, and Juan backs up the story. Without proof, he has to be let go. And to make it worse, Felipe's father is the Bogatago Ambassador so he has diplomatic immunity and can't be touched. Gloria freaks out because she knows she can be attacked at any time.

Robin is upset that Felipe got away with beating a woman, but Batman says they can't touch him... but that doesn't mean they're not done with him yet. Batman says that Bogatago has a strong anti-drug campaign and notices that Felipe was high when he was captured. If they can catch him in the act, he can be shipped back to his country in shame. Robin says it's not much of a punishment, but Batman says it's the best they can do.

Back to the Batcave, Batman finds out that Felipe's father has his own smuggling operation in the states. Batman and Robin stake out Felipe as he lives the high party life. Robin wants to take down Felipe, but Batman wants to wait for the right moment to not just take him down but also a huge part of his father;s organization.

The Dynamic Duo spot Felipe leaving the scene with two bodyguards and follow suit. They say it's tough to follow him unnoticed, but they manage. Don't know how nobody notices the freakin' BATMOBILE driving down the street and cause some kind of ruckus or commotion, but they manage to stay undetected. The heroes follow Felipe to where he buys his blow and bust in, ready to kick some ass. Cue the 60's fight music.

What the hell is Batman throwing at the guy...? A bowling ball? I guess it's the pipe thing he used to break down the door... but it looks so weird in that angle.

Anyway, Batman leaves Robin to take Felipe down, but he surrenders without resisting. Later on we see that Juan's son will do time and Felipe is soon going to be sent back to Bogatago. However, Felipe asks for his phone call. He uses it to make a threatening phone call to Gloria about 'seeing her real soon'. Robin freaks out but there's nothing he can do. Gordon gets the address and the Caped Crusaders head off as fast as they can.

When they arrive they see that poor Gloria has hung herself. Batman calls for the ambulance, but when he gets off the line he realizes that Robin is gone. Batman knows he must be going to Felipe's apartment.

Felipe is having a drink, preparing himself for his trip back to Bagatago, saying he's going to miss those 'silly liberated American women'. Yep, be a douche up to the very last moment Felipe. Speaking of which, Robin shows up....

Ohhhh Felipe... you wish he was here to make a corny 'holy bat-' quip.......

The next thing we see is Felipe falling to his death. Batman shows up too late and looks at his sidekick. He then asks Robin if Felipe fell... or if he was pushed. Jason says he musta have spooked him and he slipped. Robin then swings off, leaving Batman with doubts about his partner in crimefighting.

This was a great story and it makes me miss these classic tales from the late 80's to mid 90's before comics started going with the glossy paper and the art style changed. It reminds me that Batman is after ALL crime in Gotham City, not just the crazies from Arkham. He could spend an issue tracking down a crafty serial killer that was just 'joe average' and not a full fledged super villain, but the stories were so well-crafted that who cared?

For one just picking this up and thinking of the Adam West show, this sure the hell ain't it. Drugs, battered women, suicide and implied rape. Geez! You have to feel bad for poor Gloria, fearing for her life at every corner thanks to Felipe. I'm not sure if he knew she would hang herself, but the jerk still had to instill one last moment of fear into he before he would be deported. People like him remind us that in many times real life criminals with the right connections are back home chillin like nothing happened before the cops even have time to finish typing up their case file.

Batman plays this strictly like the book. Instead of ignoring the rules and kicking Felipe's ass out of anger, like Robin wanted to do, he waited to catch the guy in the act of another crime.

And as for Jason... this book showed a bit of a darker nature that would later manifest itself when he became the Red Hood, the vigilantee not afraid to kill the bad guys. I'm not exactly saying Jason was right or wrong, but Felipe did beat a woman and scare her into killing herself, and was gonna just chill back in his home country and get away with it. And as sick as it sounds to say it... sometimes in this world there are people so evil, so heinous, so evil and dangerous to the world at large... and yet untouchable by the law the it does seem the only way to stop them is to put them down. Batman will never take this course of action, but this issue does heavily imply that Jason would if the need arises.

Of course there's always the chance Felipe really could have slipped just as Jason was about to punch him or something... but yeah... remember that this comic was back in '88 before 'Death in the Family' and hella-way before 'Under the Red Hood'. After seeing him gun down bad guys as the Red Hood nowadays it's a no-brainer that Jason pushed him off the ledge. But back then in '88 to think that Batman's own sidekick, Robin the Boy Wonder pushed a man to his death, no matter what the crime, was just unthinkable and I'm sure left a lot of comic book fans with doubts. At the very least this shows that Jason Todd was a very different Robin than Dick Grayson.

           See you next week for another Robin story! You'll have to wait and see which one.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Nicktoons TMNT Episode 19- Baxter's Gambit

by Mark Rodriguez

This is an awesome episode that accomplishes so many things at once. Some focus on Xever, some focus on April, and Baxter breaking out of being Shredder's lackey to becoming his own villain again. Let's begin.

This episode starts with the Turtles staking out The Kraang stealing an Endo-Particle Disruptor that could cause some serious damage. However, Baxter, Dogpound and Fishface are also planning to steal it for themselves. Baxter tries to lead them, but the mutants insult him and say he's lucky they let him live.

The Turtles and the mutants jump in at the same time to attack the Kraang... and as you can tell, all shell breaks loose. Considering that this is the short scene played before the theme song, it was truly an epic fight with the Turtles fighting Dogpound, Fishface, The Foot and The Kraang all at the same time, while the Kraang are also fighting everyone else. Ninjas, laser guns, and crazy mutants throwing down. The only thing missing woulda been Snakeweed, Spider Bytes, the Purple Dragons and Karai. One thing to mention during the fight is Raph focusing most of his attention on Xever, I assume since he was poisoned by him the last time. The Kraang manage to get away with the stolen weapon and the police are on their way, so everyone flees the scene.... leaving Baxter stranded on the roof. What an epic way to start the episode.

The episode opens with Splinter training the Turtles to be able to sense his attack coming and dodge in time, all from sitting in a kneeling position. Of the four, Leo was the only one able to sense the kendo strike and roll out of the way. Raph asks why this is important, and Splinter says it's important to sense an enemy's intentions so one can dodge an attack one can't see.

Elsewhere, Shredder is not pleased that his minions failed. Baxter takes the blame but says he has an idea for a trap, but he would need Dogpound and Fishface to lead the Turtles into it. Shredder agrees and says they are at his disposal.

Later on, the Turtles spot the mutants out in the open, just randomly hanging around. Leo is suspicious, but the other Turtles just jump in to fight. As the others take on Dogpound, Raph is eager to continue his fight against Xever. The bad guys soon run away and the Turtles chase them, even though Leo feels all of this seems too easy.

Meanwhile, April is FINALLY shown training with Splinter. We've only seen her mention it and do some duck and rolls, but now we finally see her sparring with him. April thinks she's ready to use a weapon at this point, and Splinter says she already has the kunoichi mind. April asks when was the last time someone beat someone over the head with their mind, and Splinter agrees.

The Turtles find the mutants and they say they give up. Leo says it all looks like a trap, and yes, sure enough a huge circular wall traps the Turtles with Dogpound and Fishface as part of Baxter's elaborate maze of doom. Baxter fires some missiles down on them, but some of them are also aimed at Dogpound and Fishface. The mad scientist now announces that he is sick of being abused by them and plans to take them all out. The floor opens up under everyone and they all slide down towards Baxter's maze.

In the maze the Turtles and the mutants are ready to throw down... but suddenly laser scythes start swinging around as if they were pendulums. Everyone has to work together to get past them, and Raph actually saves Fishface from being sliced. Dogpound finds the exit and they all follow him. Raph asks if they can trust them since they know they will eventually betray them. Leo says they just have to be ready for when that happens and see it coming first.

As they continue going through the maze they are attacked by flying metal balls covered with laser blades. After some dodging, Raph manages to destroy most of them with some shuriken. As they continue walking, Dogpound sniffs the room and detects that they're right back where they started, and they have been walking in circles. Just then a wall slams down, separating the team, leaving Raph with Xever.

April starts trying out with different weapons and failing at all of them. One time she accidently knocked down Splinter's family portrait. Aprils asks who they are (though she should damn know by now... wasn't she present when he explained in the Rat King episode???) and he explains that it is him as a human and his wife and child. He says Miwa would have been April's age by now. He now considers April his daughter and heads into another room to get her something.

Back to the maze, Don configures the T-Phone to track down Baxter. He tells the others to keep Baxter talking so Mike asks him about his backstory. Baxter rambles about his life of epic phails that led him into villainry while Don continues to lock onto his signal.

Raph and Xever are trapped with a reverse-suction fan that tries to suck them towards it and dice them to bits. Fishface can clamp his metal legs into the ground to prevent from being sucked away, but Raph is sent flying towards the deadly fan. Fishface saves him and they both escape the trap. This evens the score between them.

The other face laser guns coming from the ground and walls. However the floors split into sections and the entire room starts spinning around as the laser guns start firing. After some trouble, everyone manages to get past it.

Back to Raph and Xever, the turtle asks him why he's working for Shredder. Xever explains as a child he was taught to take what he wanted to survive, turning into a master thief. However, one day his luck run out and he was tossed in jail. He was released by the man who's briefcase he tried to steal who saw that he could use his talents. Since then he works for Shredder out of gratitude, and also because he enjoys a job that requires him to kick some ass. Raph agrees with him on that note, but still reminds him that he's gonna kick his ass when all of this over. They hear Bradford yelling out for Baxter on the other side of a wall, so Xever breaks it down and everyone regroups.

They soon find Baxter and he is surprised that they were all working together instead of trying to destroy each other the whole time. Baxter however unleashes his 'monster of doom', which looks like the giant robot scene in his premier episode, but moving by itself. Baxter flies around the scene in a huge disc-like ship enjoying the show.

The robot takes everyone down, and is equipped with lasers and even shoots out Mousers. They decide they have to take down Baxter himself. Fishface runs and slides under Baxter's ship. Raph follows and jumps off of Xever's robot feet and stabs the bottom of Baxter's flying ship, destroying it and the robot. However, Baxter escapes with a helicopter helmet and swears revenge on them all.

Back to the sewers, Splinter returns with a fan for April, that would have been meant for Miwa. He tosses it a tree showing it is a sharp ninja fan, kinda like Kitana's from MK. April likes it and accepts it as he weapon.

The Turtles and bad guys leave Baxter's hideout and want to fight it out... but are too tired at this point. Bradford says to forget it until next time and they walk off. As the Turtles also walk off, Mike points out that Raph and Xever made a good team. Raph reminds them that they can't be trusted. Just then Fishface tosses one of Baxter's slicerballs at Leo, but Raph manages to catch it with his sai. Raph ends the episode saying they just have to be ready for what happens and be sure to see it coming first.

There's a lot to say about this episode, as usual. I'll start with Xever. I'm surprised they took this long to bring back into the game. We went from a few episodes of just him swimming around Shredder's pool, and an ep where he had the robot legs but they weren't working right, to his first appearance in action... and now we finally see him fighting alongside Dogpound again... in an episode where they have to team up with the turtles to stop Baxter. How awesome is that? The show never ceases to surprise me. As for Xever, it's cool that we got to see some of his backstory, though I'm surprised he didn't show any anguish about now being a giant fish that needs machines to walk and breathe. I still wonder if they will ever show that Bradford is a missing martial arts celebrity to outside media now that he's a mutant dog.

I also liked how Raph seemed to hold a grudge against Fishface throughout the episode. It was never explicitly stated, but considering that Xever almost killed Raph with his poisonous bite in their previous fight... I liked the small nod to continuity. It's cool how they saved each other's lives, Raph due to.... good guy syndrome I guess (he even asked himself why he bothered to save his life)... and Xever because he wants kill Raph himself someday... which I guess is bad guy syndrome too.

As for everyone else as a team.. I really liked how they all brought something to the table. Leo led them all, which I'm surprised the bad guys chose to honor. Don had his t-phone wired to track down Baxter. Mike kept Baxter talking so Don could lock onto the signal. Raph's shurikens helped take down the slicerballs. Dogpound's strong sense of smell helped lead the way, and his strength came into play a lot. Xever's metal legs also came into play for kicking down walls, and clamping himself to the ground to rescue Raph from the killer fan. Together as a team you have 4 highly skilled ninjas (5 if you count Dogpound) and 2 mutants with incredible strength and fighting styles. That's a pretty awesome combo.

Baxter himself continues his goofy comicbook super villain charm and cheesiness. I like how he ended everything with 'of doom'. Maze of Doom. Monster of Doom. Missiles of Doom. And the characters continued to call him out on it. But the main thing is, he broke out of Shredder's employ and is free to continue with his own brand of villainry without answering to noone. Of course, now he made some very powerful enemies whenever Shredder finds out.... but kudos to him for having the smarts and the balls to do it. The maze was also fun to watch. I hope there's a level inspired by it whenever they eventually make a Nick2012 TMNT beat-em-up game. Not sure if 'Out of the Shadows' counts.

Finally we have April, who is finally seen training with Splinter. Showing instead of telling I always say. And now she has a ninja fan as a weapon. Sweet. I do wonder when we'll actually see her use it in an actual fight. I am afraid to consider it, but I hope they REALLY DON'T make April take on Karai... and seem evenly matched. Karai trained all her life, and April only trained for a few months starting from scratch... and Karai is better than all four Turtles... I know tv shows and such always like to pit the 2 females of either sides against each other... because... they're usually the only good girl and bad girl in the they MUST fight...  but don't make April and Karai fight unless it's showing Karai mopping the floor with her. I'm sorry but they are so unevenly matched it's not funny.

And for those following the strong hinted rumor that Karai might turn out to actually be Miwa, raised by Shredder with a new name.... Splinter's line about her being about April's age now made me think 'I thought Karai was older than April?'. I don't know... if Karai is revealed to be the same age as April, maybe it's the bad girl image that makes her look older? *shrugs*

Monday, April 1, 2013

Manga Review: Millennium Snow

Time to review a short manga that only has two books. This manga is about a vampire, a human girl and later  on a werewolf. Yes, I know it sounds familiar, but it's not what you think. The manga I'm talking about is "Millennium Snow". The story and art is by Bisco Hatori (known for writing Ouran High School Host Club). I discovered this story on a website that has scans of different mangas.

The story is about a 17-year-old girl named Chiyuki Matsuoka, who has a problem with her heart, and was told that she won't see the next snow. And there is Toya, an 18-year-old vampire who doesn't like blood. In this story when a vampire is the age of eighteen, he can make a human his partner. But Toya refuses to have a traditional partnership with a human. When these two meet, Chiyuki tries to uplift the spirit of Toya even though her time is slim. 

Now onto volume 1 to learn about the odd relationship between Chiyuki and Toya.

Millennium Snow
Volume 1 

"Millennium Snow" begins at the hospital, where our main character Chiyuki Matsuaka is looking out her window. By the moonlight, she sees a boy on the roof, only to see him jump off. Chiyuki goes outside to find where this mysterious boy landed. When she finds him, she notes that he is gorgeous and wonders if he had super powers. Suddenly the boy awakes, only to start yelling at Chiyuki calling her "vile" and a "weak human". He continues to complain about the smell and about how "filthy" Chiyuki is. She tells him to leave, only to have the boy say that he can't. A bat appears carrying a picnic basket, flying to the boy he calls "Master". The bat goes by the name of Yamimaru (Yami for short). The food gives the boy energy and he was now able to move. Chiyuki asks why he keeps calling her filthy and a weak human, asking who they were. The boy calls her dumb for her not understanding the connection between him and a bat. Before he leaves, he asks if Chiyuki "knows what a vampire is".

The story explains Chiyuki's weak heart, and explains how she was only supposed to live till she was 15. Chiyuki overcomes this by looking towards a dream. The mysterious boy returns only because Chiyuki has one of his shoes. Because of this, she gets the opportunity to ask about the boy being a vampire.

Out of annoyance of being around the smell of blood and Chiyuki, the boy grabs the shoe and attempts to run away, but doesn't get far because he collapses from hunger. Yami to the rescue. While the boy eats, Yami explains that the boy resists drinking blood and stays to himself. Yami continues to explain about how vampires find a human partner when they turn eighteen. When a vampire takes his partner's blood, they bestow equal life to the human. Chiyuki decides she doesn't want the boy to be alone and asks him to make her his partner. The boy pushes her away, yelling at her about how he would never do it. Suddenly, Chiyuki collapses. Later, when she's awake the boy is upset that Chiyuki never told him about her heart. She explains  about her weak heart and how she looks forward to the next snow. Chiyuki asks the boy his name, which he responds "Toya".

Chiyuki "kidnaps" Toya and goes into the town. Usually it's the vampire kidnapping the girl in these stories. While in town a few events unfold, which includes Chiyuki collapsing. "His loneliness in facing an endless future...My loneliness in facing a nonexistent future." Back at the hospital, while the doctors were helping Chiyuki, time freezes and Toya appears. He explains he only came because of Yami. Chiyuki tells Toya that she was sorry that she would leave him and says that there is someone out there who would want to be with him. "Asking you to be with me forever...Giving you life for a thousand years...I can't do those things...But, Chiyuki just a little longer..." Toya gives her some of his blood through a kiss.

Chiyuki returns to her school and is reunited with her friends. Her heart problems are gone because of Toya's blood. Later, while Chiyuki was walking home from school she runs into Toya. He stops her to ask why she's smiling. She explains that she is happy to be back in school. Toya sulks and leaves. Chiyuki stops Yami to ask a favor. The favor was to trick Toya to come to school. Toya is angered by the fact that Yami tricked him and the fact that there is only one lunch! Chiyuki attempts to convince Toya with box lunches for each class period. Before they leave for the gym, Toya explains that his blood is only temporary and try not to overdo it.  During gym, an incident happens. A cat appears and feeling compassion for the cat, Chiyuki tries to save it. Toya complains that the cat would want to be left alone, that it knows its different, comparing himself to the cat. Chiyuki stops Toya and places his hand over her heart and explains that he helped her.

During gym, Chiyuki cheers on Toya. As Chiyuki watched Toya play soccer, a boy begins to talk to her. His name is Satsuki. Satsuki is the popular boy in school, with all the girls falling for him. He flirts with Chiyuki and asks her out. During lunch everyone notices that Toya is in a bad mood. Yami believes it's jealousy. After abusing Yami for his comment, he leaves only running into Satsuki. Toya hits Satsuki and threatens him that if he every hurts Chiyuki, he will kill him.

Later in the evening before Chiyuki's date, she asks Toya to come along, but he denies the offer. Even if it's something that Toya doesn't like, he would prefer Chiyuki being with someone of her kind. Satsuki and Chiyuki go to a new club for their date. In the shadows, Toya is watching over Chiyuki. Yep, we have a stalker vampire here. A special event gives a new light to the club, called the "full moon light". It overwhelms Satsuki, making him run out of the club and turn into a werewolf, which Chiyuki managed to witness. I have to say, if a certain kind of disco light resembles the moonlight so strongly that it affects werewolves... Chiyuki should feel lucky she wasn't going out with a Saiyan.

The following day Satsuki acts as if nothing happened the night before. Kinda hard to ignore the fact that he turned into a werewolf in front of her, but yeah. He just yells at Chiyuki about being Normal. Chiyuki asks why he keeps saying that, only to be pushed away. Chiyuki decides to go to Satsuki's place, cause naturally she doesn't know when to stay away when she's not wanted. When they were together, Satsuki gets a phone call about his grandmother. Satsuki and Chiyuki go to the hospital to discover that she has been going there frequently. The doctors decide to transfer her to another hospital. During the trip a car hits the ambulance, making it lose all of its power. Satsuki, now using his werewolf abilities, runs toward the hospital saving her life.

The volume ends with Satsuki, Toya and Chiyuki together. Satsuki explains he's not a flirt anymore and says that he is now falling for Chiyuki. We'll have to see if that's true.

In the back of volume 1, there is a short story called "A romance of One Moment".  Along with the short story, there's a section of "behind the scenes" of Millennium Snow.

My review:
In the past, I have read this series numerous times, loving the story. But I feel as though I "grew" out of it. The first volume is mainly about Chiyuki trying to be Toya's partner and Toya just pushing her away. Most of the story Toya is complaining and collapsing from hunger. Nothing much exciting happens. There are sweet scenes that express Toya's real feelings toward Chiyuki. I love those scenes. Hey, I love those type of romantic/sweet moments. But anyway, more action begins when the two are in school and Millennium Snow introduces Satsuki. This is where it gets interesting in a way. Two guys "fighting" over Chiyuki. Toya is more protective of Chiyuki when Satsuki is introduced, to where he creeped on their date. Not much story/action. There was a scene where the reader got to see Toya go vampire during the visit in the town. Oh and the unveiling of the fact Satsuki is a werewolf. There are some touching scenes like the memories of the three main characters and the scene with the grandma. But rereading it, I didn't care too much for it.

Honestly, I think that volume 2 has more of an interesting story. Stay tuned as I review part 2!

Millennium Snow Part 2