Subscription Box Review- DC Legion of Collectors: Batman: the Animated Series

I just got the latest DC Legion of Collectors subscription box from Funko today.  This month’s theme is Batman: the Animated Series, the modern classic that kicked off a wave of superhero cartoons that prized good storytelling over selling toys.   I have been looking forward to this box so lets takae a look.

IMG_1746The box features the silhouette of the Penguin (from his 1997 redesign when the series was revived on the WB) done in blue.  The box is rather large this month.  Other than that, it is just a box.

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Opening the lid, you can see the box’s interior is decorated with art done in the DC Animated Universe style, which Batman: The Animated Series started.

On the top flap are the pin and patch, as always.  The patch features the Joker (in his original design for the series).  As you can see, it is a nice looking patch.  The pin features Catwoman (again in her original design) on top of a diamond-shaped background.

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Under the flap we have the comic book.  It is a reprint of The Batman Adventures #1, which tells stories in the style and set in the BTAS universe.  This was originally published in 1992 and I remember actually having this issue.  It is a self contained story written by Kelley Puckett with art by Ty Templeton and Rick Burchett.

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The T-Shirt this time features a Pop version of the Batman the Animated Series logo.  Done in black, white and red, it looks awesome on the black t-shirt.  I think I have a new favourite shirt.

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Next is the Pop!  We get a Mr Freeze pop vinyl, which was the most requested pop for the BTAS pop line.  Mr Freeze’s colours are cartoon accurate and even has a dome over his head.  The body is well done, if in the standard pop stance, but there is some nice detail with his gun, and the tank on his back.  This definitely the Pop to have for any Batman fan.

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Finally, we get to… the Dorbz Ridez?.  We get a Dorbz Batman along with a little Batmobile for him to ride in.  The Batman can be taken out of the Batmobile easily enough, but the tires to not roll.   I think it is great.  I like Dorbz well enough, it is just I am running out of room with my Pops and this…this isn’t helping.  Oh, the trial of being a collector…

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He looks too happy. Alfred must’ve made cookies.

That is all for this box.  There was a lot of awesome stuff this month.  My favourite has to be the T-shirt, though.  The next DC Legion of Collectors box ships late August and will feature DC’s Most Wanted, centering on the villains.  If you wish to get the next box, you can subscribe at https://legionofcollectors.com/ .  The deadline is 1 August 2017.  By subscribing, you can order boxes from previous months like this one. (supplies are limited.)

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This Review is for entertainment purposes only.  I have not received anything from Funko, DC, or Warner Bros for doing this review.  The item was purchased with my own funds.  All opinions are mine and any pictures taken are for review purposes only.

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Movie Review: Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice

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When Man of Steel came out, there was talks of how Warner Bros could do an extended movie universe with DC Comics characters like Marvel/Disney was with the Avengers.  With the previous DC film, Green Lantern tanking, they wanted to do a crossover with Superman and, by far the most successful DC Comic character ever brought to the big screen, Batman.  The result is Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.

The movie opens with Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) witnessing the Battle of Metropolis.  As he rushes to the site of the Wayne Corp offices in Metropolis, he is helpless as the rest of the population as the event unfolds around him.  He reaches the building only to see it destroyed in the wake of the fight between Zod and Superman (Henry Cavill).  18 months later, Bruce is convinced that he is a threat and need to be put down.

Superman is having his own crisis of conscience.  With the public divided on how responsible he was for the death toll in Metropolis  and an incident in Africa, he questions whether or not he is doing any good.  He starts to take notice of Batman’s activities in Gotham, as his actions have become more violent.  Both heroes are set on a course that will see them come in conflict with each other.  The apparent mastermind behind all this is the head of Lexcorp, Lex Luthor.  His plan is to play both heroes off of each other and convince the US government that Superman is a threat.  He gets his hands on the Kryptonian ship and the body of Zod  that the government had possession of.  With that, he plans to create a threat that would spell “doomsday” for the Man of Steel, if Batman doesn’t take him down first.

The movie clocks in over 2 and a half hours but it held my attention the whole time.  There are a lot of huge action pieces as the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel come into conflict.  Affleck is a good fit as an aged Dark Knight, dark and brooding after a two decade long battle against crime.  He invokes the Batman of Frank Millar’s classic, The Dark Knight Returns, being more brutal and less likely to care if criminals a killed or injured, but still concerned with saving the innocent.  In fact, there are scenes that mimic panels from the comic, which is fitting because the film is inspired by the fight between Superman and Batman at the end of that series.

Cavill is good as a Superman who is still a man and not a god.  He makes mistakes and in the high stakes role as a superhero, that can cost lives.  He, too is manipulated in fighting Batman, but in the end lets his rage get the best of him (though Batman’s attacks doesn’t help.)  Eisneberg’s Luthor is a bit of a misfire for me.  He comes off a bit whiny, like a spoilt brat, but he does have the cruel streak that the modern Luthor has in the comics and believes that the ends justifies the means because his ego won’t let him be wrong.

The film also features Wonder Woman (Gail Gadot) in a supporting role and what ever misgiving I had about the casting (mostly because she was unknown to me) are gone now.  She plays a vital role in the end and looks amazing in the outfit, which is better than in the porn version, for a change.  Her characterization is pretty much in line with her depiction in the comics since 1987.  I cannot wait until we see Wondy in her own movie next year.

If there is one complaint, it’s that it is too dark in places.  While I like that the Man of Steel did not go for the “gee willikers” brightness of the Christopher Reeves films but felt a bit of levity wouldn’t hurt it.  With Zack Snyder and Cristopher Nolan keeping the overall tone similar to the Dark Knight trilogy,  a lot of the movie is dark and somber.  Only the scenes with Wonder Woman are there a few funny quips (“I thought she was with you?”) to break up the serious tone.  As a movie that has accompanying toy line aimed at kids, it is a bit too dark for that audience

I think that Batman V Superman does what it was intended to do, to set up a future franchise featuring multiple heroes.  Aquaman, Flash and even Cyborg appear in some form or another. with the Flash getting a speaking role, referring to event that, out of context,  may confirm Batman was right about Superman, but I think hints to Superman’s fate beyond the end of this movie.  As a Batman and Superman movie, it does its best to show what would happen if they went head to head.  It pays homage to the Dark Knight Returns series and even has elements from a certain Superman storyline in which he fights Doomsday (I’ll let you guess which one.)  I hope we get a Justice League movie out of this because more Battfleck (now my second favorite Batman after Adam West) and Gail Gadot’s Wonder Woman is a good thing.

4 out of 5

 

PS VIta Review: INJUSTICE: Gods Amongst Us Ultimate Edition

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INJUSTICE: Gods Amongst Us Ultimate Edition is a fighting game developed by NetherRealm Studios (Creators of Mortal Kombat) and published by WB Interactive Entertainment.  It is an updated version of the game released earlier in 2013 with all of the DLC add-on characters and costumes included.  It was released for the PS VIta, PS3 and Xbox 360. with verson for PS4 and Xbox One released after those systems launch.  This review is for the PS Vita version.

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The heroes (and Harley) as they appear in game. This costume almost makes Harley’s New 52 get-up look modest.

The games story mode revolves around members of the Justice League being transported into a parallel word in which their counterparts have taken over the world under Superman’s direction.  The heroes must team up with that world’s Batman and his insurgency (including Deathstroke, Harley Quinn and Lex Luthor) to free the world from Superman’s One World Government, even if it means fighting those who, in their own world, would be their allies.

The story is told through fully acted cut scenes.
The story is told through fully acted cut scenes.

The gameplay is similar to the Mortal Kombat series but with some changes.  There are three attack buttons (light, medium and heavy) that do various moves with directional input and well as a power button, which is dependant on what character you are using (Batman summons flying bat drones, Green Arrow shoots a trick arrow, Flash moves fast enough to slow time, etc.) There is a super meter which is filled by doing combos or being hit.  Once charged to a certain point, it can by used to do more powerful attacks or be wagered against the opponent in what is called a Clash.  Instead of Fatalities, Injustice uses a Special attack which can be sued with a full Super meter.  This unleashes a character-specific special attack which are the most devastating attack.

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Scorpion and Lobo square off.

The game also includes S.T.A.R. Labs missions, a group of special character specific challenges.  Each follow a specific story line for each of the game’s characters and range from standard fights, performing specific moves, avoiding taking a hit or little mini-games like avoiding asteroids or shooting down missiles.  All missions start unlocked in the Ultimate Edition.

A S.T.A.R. Labs mission for the Red Son Superman
A S.T.A.R. Labs mission for the Red Son Superman

This version also includes all of the DLC for the original.  In addition to the regular 24 characters, there are 6 characters from the DLC, Lobo, Batgirl, Zatanna, Zod, Martian Manhunter and, from Mortal Kombat, Scorpion.  Each of these characters also get their own set of S.T.A.R. Lab missions.  Also included are the various character skin DLC, referencing different versions of the characters (i.e. New 52 Batman, Earth-2 Flash (New 52), Red Son Superman and Ame-Comi Wonder Woman.)  Only the Red Son inspired versions of Superman, Wonder Woman and Solomon Grundy have their own S.T.A.R. Lab missions.

Previously DLC skins like this ARROW-inspired Green Arrow skins are included and are unlocked.  Bonus for this one:  The voice changes over to Stephen Amell's.
Previously DLC skins like this ARROW-inspired Green Arrow skins are included and are unlocked. Bonus for this one: The voice changes over to Stephen Amell’s.

The game looks good on the PS Vita, although, some times the font is a little small to read on the screen.  The characters look great and the action runs smoothly.  The game controls like the big system counterparts, except that the Quick Time Events (QTE) in he story move and in the S.T.A.R. Lab missions are controlled by the front touch screen.  Again, sometimes the prompts are a bit too small for my taste.

Green Lantern and Sinestro .
Green Lantern and Sinestro during a QTE .

Overall, the game works well on the Vita.  Fans of Fighting games and the DC Universe will enjoy this version.  As this is the only version on the PS Vita, it won’t be like your buying the game again just to be a completest.  It is a good choice for those who want a new fighting game for their portable system.

Green Arrow/Arrow enters his Special Attack!
Green Arrow/Arrow enters his Special Attack!

INJUSTICE:  GODS AMONGST US Ultimate Edition is available now on the PS Vita (both physically and digitally) and retails for $39.99 at most stores.  The games is also out for the Xbox 360,  PS3, PS4, and PC.  It is Rated T for TEEN.

4 out of 5

PS3 Review: Batman Arkham Origins

Batman: Arkham Origins is set at the end of second year of Batman career.  Still considered an urban myth by most of Gotham City’s underworld and barely tolerated, if not hunted by Gotham’s police force, Batman wages his one-man war on crime.  But not all thinks he is just a myth.  Crime lord Black Mask has issued a challenge to several of the world’s best assassins:  For one night only, kill the bat and get a $50 million payday.  Batman must deal with these trained killers while finding out what Black Mask is planning for Gotham.  And in the middle of all of this, a certain Clown Prince of Crime is waiting to make his debut…

The game, developed by WB Games Montreal, builds on Rocksteady’s work on the previous games.  With the backdrop of a snowy Christmas Eve, Gotham is once again dark and dreary, with the occasional spot of Christmas lights setting the holiday mood.  The characters haven’t changed much from Arkham City, with Batman looking younger and his equipment and suit not as refined.

The villains also look good, with younger versions of Riddler, Penguin, Joker and Bane popping up.  The game introduces some challengers new to the Arkham series:  classic DC villains (not exclusively Batman foes) Deathstroke and Lady Shiva make their first appearance as well as a new take on the villain Copperhead, now a woman in the game (and eventually will be introduced in the comics).  Other villains include Back Mask, who is the one tying it all together, Anarky and Firefly, amongst others.

The gameplay is still the same as Arkham City.  Combat is still a matter of well timed punches, counters and dodges.  Weapons are upgradable and unlock as you level up.

The collector’ s edition comes with special DLC, such as the Deathstroke playable character in challenge mode and various skins for Batman.  There is a diorama of the Joker with light up TV that is pretty neat.  It also comes with an art book, a wanted poster for the Batman, the assassination contract and a fact sheet on the various villain’s aiming to collect.

Batman Arkham Origins is solid, if not wholly original addition to the Batman game franchise.  Swinging through Gotham is still a thrill as are the new challenges.  Fans of the first two games should check it out.

5/5

PS Vita Reviews: Batman Arkham Origins: Blackgate

(Note: This independent review is my personal opinion.  All screenshots were capture in-game on my PS Vita handheld system.)

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Batman Arkham Origins: Blackgate is a 2.5D ‘side scrolling’-style adventure game developed by Armature Studio and published by Warner Bros. Interactive..  The game is also available for the Nintendo 3DS/2DS systems.

Set after the events of Batman Arkham Origins, Blackgate follows a less experienced Batman on his one-man war on crime.  After an encounter with Catwoman, Batman is called in to deal with a hostage situation in Blackgate prison.  Three supervillians, Penguin, Black Mask and the Joker, have taken over their own section of the prison using prisoners loyal to them.  With the help of Catwoman, Batman must rescue the hostages and wrest control of the prison from the inmates.

Batman meets Catwoman for the first (?) time.
Batman meets Catwoman for the first (?) time.

The game’s story is told through animated comic panels and voice acting. Batman is voiced by Roger Craig Smith who mimics Kevin Conroy’s iconic voice, but still sounding a bit younger.  Other voices seem to fit well, with Grey DeLisle reprising her role as Catwoman and  Nolan North as Penguin.

Slightly animated comic art are used in the cut scenes.
Slightly animated comic art are used in the cut scenes.

The gameplay is in a third-person 2.5D game similar to the  side scrolling Castlevania games.  Batman can move from the foreground to the background and vice versa at certain points such as door ways or air ducts and can move up and down the screen via grappling hooks and gliding.  Combat is done similar to the style found in the main Arkham series, with an attack, dodge, counter and stun button.  Enemies vary with what weapons they have, suck as baseball bats, knifes and stun rods.  Enemies with guns are harder to beat and require you to hide and stealthily take them out one by one.  Boss fights either require manipulating your environment or timing your counters to create an opening.  The game takes advantage of the PS Vita’s touch screen by letting you activate Detective Mode by touching the screen and any objects of interest.  I assume the 3DS version uses a similar approach with its touch screen.

You are at the mercy of the in game camera angles.  Sometimes it is not that bad.
You are at the mercy of the in-game camera angles. Sometimes it is not that bad.

Graphically the game is good for the PS Vita.  The game is dark, like it’s home system counterparts but the environments are well done.  A lot of the game involves going through a darkened prison to restore power so you use the Detective mode a lot.  The major problem is that you are stuck with a wide camera view of the action.  Sometimes your character looks small on the screen and you can sometimes lose track of where you are.  The camera is also a hindrance to trying to avoid machine gun-armed tugs, as sometimes you can see item, but they see you off-screen.  You also spend a lot of time back tracking and it is easy to miss a switch or a weak wall that you can blast through to get to your objective.

Batman diving into action
Batman diving into action

Once you get used to it, though, it can be a fun game.  It gave me my Batman fix over the weekend as I wait for my Collectors Edition of Batman Arkham Origins to arrive from Amazon (which they sent late.)  It is a good way to get your Batman fix on the go.

Batman Arkham Origins: Blackgate retails for $39.99 at most store and is rated T for Teen.

Still a better love story than Twilight.
Still a better love story than Twilight.

My rating 3/5