Saturday, July 04, 2015

Chain of Thoughts: Most Interesting Details (So Far) About the 'All-New, All-Different' Marvel Universe

Based on the information from the previews that Marvel has officially released, as well as from the recent leaks of the titles shipping in October, we now have a general idea on what the new, post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe will look like.  And I’m really looking forward to it.  Personally, I’m enjoying this Secret Wars mega-event so far, but I really can’t wait for the new status quo to arrive.  Here are what intrigues and/or excites me the most about the “All-New, All-Different” Marvel Universe:
→ Deadpool finally gets an Avengers gig!
→ There are three Avengers teams.  Now, this isn’t the first time that there are multiple, independent Avengers teams, but I’m nonetheless intrigued by the new Avengers dynamic.
→ A rift seems to have happened between Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson, and I guess their respective teams – Uncanny and All-New, All-Different respectively – will have some sort of rivalry.  And, yet, I think these two teams will nonetheless be allied and/or centralized somewhat since the Avengers lineup featured in Rage of Ultron graphic novel – which was obviously set in the new Marvel Universe – were made up of members of both Avengers teams.
→ Meanwhile, over at the New Avengers lineup, I’m happy that some prominent Young Avengers are finally graduating into Avengers, and that A.I.M. (which Sunspot bought pre-Secret Wars) will seemingly play “support” for this team.
→ Aside from Avengers, an “Ultimates” – which was originally the name of the Ultimate Universe’s version of the Avengers – team is also interestingly existing in the new Marvel Universe.
→ And -- Whoa! Galactus is in this new Ultimates’ line-up????!!!
→ The Justice League is coming to the Marvel Universe… sort of.  This amalgam of the Justice League has been around for quite some time already and has undergone different incarnations (and this new Squadron Supreme team is going to be composed of members from these different incarnations), but, I think, this is the first time that a Squadron Supreme team is having this kind of prominence.  And I approve.
→ All that said, I prefer for Hyperion to stay with the Avengers. 
→ Having an “Ultimates” team and a “Justice League” (a.k.a. Squadron Supreme) team co-existing with the Avengers in the same universe is a funny but fascinating editorial decision.
→ Spider-Woman is pregnant.  Of course, the first question that pops to mind is “Who’s the father?”
→ There’s still no concrete confirmation that Tony Stark is still the person behind the Iron Man armor, but my curiosity about it is minimal compared to my curiosity on the identity of the new Hulk.  I just feel that the reveal about the latter is going to be bigger, more mindblowing than the former (it could still be Tony Stark after all).  And the way Marvel is handling it, it seems that it’s going to be a secret until, at least, a day before the book is released.

→ And why is the left arm hidden along with the face?  Is that a clue to his identity?  Is he someone with an amputated left arm? Bucky Barnes?  Thor Odinson?  Daken? 
→ We know that the Thing will become a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Human Torch is going to hang around with the Inhumans.  But the Richards family – Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Valeria, and Franklin – as well as the Future Foundation members seem to be MIA.
→ Other notable MIA characters are the Punisher, Loki, Red Hulk, Moon Knight, Ghost Rider, Luke Cage, Nick Fury, and Black Widow.
→ Gambit is Daredevil’s new sidekick?!  It’s not confirmed yet, but the guy with Daredevil in the preview really looks like Gambit.  If true, Gambit as Daredevil’s apprentice is plain crazy!
→ There will be multiple versions of a character existing simultaneously in the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe.  The time-displaced original, teenage X-Men are still around, so there should be teenage and adult versions of Cyclops (the elder is confirmed to be MIA eight months post-Secret Wars), Angel, Beast, and Ice Man (adult Jean Grey is, apparently, still dead).  A new female Star-Lord – which some mentioned is going to be Kitty Pryde – is part of the new Rocket Racoon-led Guardians of the Galaxy, but Peter Quill is still around and in a solo series.  There have always been two Hawkeyes and Human Torches.  There will be more than one Wolverine and Spider-Man.  And I believe there are going to be other cases.  It’s no big deal for regular fans, but new and casual readers might find this confusing.
→ Old Man Logan – who will be getting a solo series and be part of an X-Men team – is joining the Marvel Universe, and along with X-23, they will now serve as the Wolverines of the Marvel Universe (after the original was killed off last year).  I’m not yet sure if this concept will work, but I really find it cool and unique.
→ Miles Morales is joining the Marvel Universe.  Hence, there will be now two different Spider-Men running swinging around.  Three, if Miguel O’Hara remains stranded in the present timeline.
→ The existence of Web Warriors – a new series featuring the Secret WarsSpider-Verse line-up – is strong proof that a Marvel multiverse will still exist post-Secret Wars.
→ Also, will we ever know what Peter discovered when he Googled Miles at the end of Spider-Men?
→ “Big Time” was the title given to The Amazing Spider-Man’s run of storylines from 2010-2011 due to the fact that Peter Parker – whose financial woes had been part of the character’s status quo from the start until that point – finally got a high-paying job as a scientist/researcher/inventor for Horizon Labs.  But this post-Secret Wars status quo of Peter Parker is definitely the real moment wherein the character hit “big time.”  He’s now going to be a rich, successful businessman/inventor, and Parker Industries – which came to being while Otto Octavius occupied his body – will become a flourishing multinational company.  Basically, Peter Parker is going to be the new Tony Stark – but more wholesome and light-hearted and awesome.
→ I’m happy about Peter Parker’s good fortune.  Those like me that grew up on Spider-Man – following Peter Parker’s struggling with a continuous barrage of problems – have learned to deeply sympathize with the character.  Yes, this aspect really made the character more relatable and appealing, but we nevertheless wished that he would eventually catch a break as well.  That’s why we rejoiced when he was employed at Horizon Labs, and are now rejoicing about Peter Parker’s post-Secret Wars status quo.  This is something earned after years of struggling with life problems.
→ Besides, though he’s now rich, I’m pretty sure the notorious (but charming) “Parker luck” will continue to come at play to make life difficult for him.
→ Moreover, we have Miles Morales around now to play the part of the classic “dealing with life problems” Spider-Man.
→ In addition, the classic, ludicrous Spider-Mobile is coming back.  Now, I find this silly, but I’m nonetheless very intrigued.  To see this in action is reason enough why I can’t wait for the debut of the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe.    

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

'Danny Collins' Is a Funny, Heartfelt Comedy-Drama About Second Chances

Danny Collins is inspired by the real-life happening on English folk singer Steve Tilston in which he was unaware for 34 years of a 1971 letter written to him by John Lennon.  This comedy-drama tells the story of an aged rock legend named Danny Collins (Al Pacino) who experienced the clich├ęd, hard-living rock star lifestyle of drugs, booze, and women during the entirety of his decades-long musical career.  However, after he receives a birthday gift from his best friend/manager (Christopher Plummer) – an undelivered 40-year old letter written to him by John Lennon when Danny was at the beginning of his career – he was inspired to radically turn his life around.  He journeys to New Jersey, settles in a local hotel, flirts with the manager, begins writing an original song for the first time in decades, and – most importantly – makes an attempt to reconcile with his estranged son (Bobby Cannavale).

Danny Collins is Al Pacino’s best movie in a long time.  The story is fresh, charming, and contains a healthy amount of heartfelt and funny moments.  The excellent acting from Al Pacino and his supporting cast, combined with the well-written script, ensured that Danny Collins, the central character, is sympathetic, likable, and develops effortless and instant chemistry with every character he interacts with.

I quite liked this movie in general.  Though the drama and tension felt forced at times, and there was a slight derailment of the story’s magnetism in the third act, it nevertheless offers more to enjoy about.  Danny Collins is definitely one of 2015’s most overlooked gems.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

'Tom and Jerry: Spy Quest' Is Shallow, Nostalgic Fun

As a kid, Tom and Jerry – a property that has been universally beloved by children for generations –  and The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest (as well as the re-runs of the original show) are among the cartoons I enjoyed in Cartoon Network (which heavily featured Hanna-Barbera properties back then).  So it’s understandable that I was easily intrigued by this crossover.  The plot is pretty simple: Tom and Jerry, while having another episode of their cat-and-mouse rivalry, meet Johnny Quest and co. and found themselves entangled in one of their adventures.

I like the old-school animation, and the details of its production – music, action scenes, opening credits, stereotypes (that are borderline racist in today’s standards), etc. – delivers an overall throwback appeal.  The story is predictable and one-dimensional, but it’s not really a disappointment since I wasn’t expecting the quality of the story to be smart.  This is intended to be for kids after all (I showed this movie to my elementary students, and they were enthralled).  However, I still hope there was an effort to put some sophistication since the original fans are – like me – adults already.

This movie has plenty of the usual slapstick fighting between Tom and Jerry (this is their direct-to-video feature after all).  As a kid, I remember these two making me laugh out loud.  Now, it felt that it’s just stale and stupid.  And just like other adults who enjoyed Tom and Jerry as a kid, I’m now capable to notice that Jerry is much of a jerk – if not more so – as Tom.  This makes Tom and Jerry’s style of humor no longer as funny as it was thought to be.  The only part where I chuckled was when Johnny asked Tom and Jerry, “Have you ever been in a chase before?”, and the duo gave each other fleeting glances that seem to mean, “All the time.  We made our career out of it.”

Tom and Jerry: Spy Quest offers nothing of substance and importance.  I felt that if it was longer, it would have become tediously unbearable to watch.  Thankfully, it’s only around an hour long, ensuring an overall fun time.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Photo Biography Update (06-26-15)

Some notable photos taken during the period of January 1 to June 26, 2015...

Valentines card making.  Joy YP February activity.
Congratulating the graduates.  Joy YP March activity.
Joy YP boys having lunch fellowship at Pastor's house.
My graduating Sunday School class.  Been with them for about four or five years.
Treating my beautiful SY 2014-2015 students.  
Last pic with my high school boys cell group.
@ Godfather.
During preparation for the 2015 VBS Teachers' Seminar.
Once again part of the team for the VBS Teachers' Seminar that Joy Church annually hosts.  The theme this year was "Celebrate!"
This year, we were also invited to conduct the seminar in Naga City.
Afterwards, we unwinded at SM Naga.
Joy Church's summer church outing this year was at Amater Spring Resort, Malinao, Albay.
Last May, went with friends to Quitinday Hills, Camalig, Albay.
We got to hang out with Albay Governor Joey Salceda (along with  the mayor of Camalig) during our visit to Quitinday Hills.  Gov. Joey even treated us with 1k.
Participated in School of Tomorrow's 2015 Christian Educators' Training in preparation for the new school year. 
I got awards for Highest PACE Average, Most No. of 100's, 1st to Complete Training Requirements, and Best in Scripture Recitation.
With my new Sunday School students.
Independence Day shot with SY 2015-2016 students and teachers.
Joy Church 2015 Bible Quiz Champion!  Successfully accomplished a three-peat!
First photo at 26.