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Wastelanders: Doom podcast

This is the fifth season in the Wastelanders podcast series about an apocalyptic world set in the Marvel universe. After four seasons about various aging and displaced heroes, this season follows Doctor Doom.

“After thirty years of imprisonment, Doctor Doom has freed himself and seeks revenge on the former allies who betrayed him on The Day The Villains Won. To achieve this, he teams up with Valeria Richards, the daughter of his most hated enemy, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four – but whose side is she really on?” *Some spoilers ahead*

A Super Hero Walks Into a Bar

Finally, the podcasts are starting to come together with an introduction that directly links this one to the first Wastelanders podcast about Star-Lord! We meet Valeria, who has the tools left from the F4 team and begins to work with Johnny, a former barkeep and hired gun. We also get a character from that first podcast that seemed to make a drastic turn toward evil in the last episode (their motives are very suspect).

A Fantastic Four

We are given some backstory to Doom and Valeria’s relationship- he is actually her Godfather, as he helped deliver her years ago. For 30 years he has been bidding his time and learning new skills as he was held captive and plotting his revenge.

Mask-less

The villain Klaw recounts what happened to the F4 family, and it was heartbreaking. We find out what Valeria’s powers are and how they prevented her from dying and why she still looks so young. We get yet another reference to the Wastlelanders series- in regards to Wolverine and Red Skull.

Destructive Interference

We discover the petulant Doom is stronger than he has been acting, and he has an evil plan (of course). But he could be an anti-hero as he seems to care about Valeria despite his bluster.

Truth Serum

Valeria takes Doom, Cora and Johnny back to her secret compound to regroup. She shows off her F4 and other hero gadgets she has been collecting, which should help them with their adventures. She is not sure of Doom’s plans, so she slips him a truth serum and gets him to admit that he is looking for the Cosmic Cube.

Thunder Sandstorm

The motley crew heads to the entrance to the Negative Zone and meets some other unlikely villains- Sandman and Kingpin. The Cosmic Cube seems to be a hot commodity.

King of the Negative Zone

This crew enters the topsy-turvy Negative Zone and discovers that Kingpin has found the Cosmic Cube himself. There is a battle of wits between everyone and suddenly the Shadow King (who had been the one who orchestrated the massacre at Professor X’s Mutant Academy due to how he manipulated Wolverine) appears and there is more mayhem and double-crossing.

Tee Off

Doctor Doom is held prisoner at Kingpen’s compound and learns that there are cracks in his empire. Not surprisingly he bests Kingpin and Shadow King and heads out to the neighboring Hulkland. In the meantime, Valeria and Johnny bond and have a brief romantic moment before they head to Hulkland too.

Getting Angry

Doom confronts various Hulks, including the She-Hulk, Amadeus and Bruce. Are there double crosses? You betcha! There is a sad death and Cora the Recorder realigns her allegiances. While there have been references to Wolverine and Star-Lord, no mention or tie-in yet with Hawkeye or Black Widow.

I Am a God

Yet another battle of the wits between Doom and Hulk, with each of them utilizing the Cosmic Cube’s powers. Cora the Recorder continues to be a problem, and Valeria shows up at the end for a confrontation between her and Doom. Her motives have always been a bit suspect, as she straddled the line between hero and anti-hero, but seems to take a turn for the worse at the end.

And then *finally* we get confirmation that the next season will tie in all the heroes from the previous Wastelanders podcasts: Star-Lord, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Wolverine!! I’m still a bit salty about how long it has taken for these seasons to tie in together. They should have added more links to one another and given previews at the end of each season regarding the next one. Maybe the producers read my previous blog posts and took heed 😉 I now forward to the next (and what I assume will be the concluding) season of Wastelanders.

Written by Mark Waid & James King and directed by Jade King Carroll

Voice Cast:

Dylan Baker as Doctor Doom

Rebecca Naomi Jones as Valeria Richards

Nadine Malouf as Cora

Danny Burstein as Hulk

Keith David as Kingpin

John Hawkes as Klaw

Kristen Johnston as She-Hulk

Elijah Jones as Johnny

Hamish Linklater as Sandman

Series Artwork by Steve McNiven (who illustrated the original Old Man Logan)

She-Hulk: Jen, Again

I picked up this bright graphic novel since I am a fan of author Rainbow Rowell, plus I’ve heard buzz about the new Disney+ tv show She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. This new series reboots Jen Waters in an appealing manner and introduces a rogues gallery of other Marvel characters.

The story establishes that Jen is back after some misadventures and wants to get back into her legal career, but a former adversary Titania has other ideas. Luckily Jen talks her way out of a bigger fight and hightails it to her new law office, where a fellow law colleague is begrudgingly giving her a chance to prove herself…but doesn’t want her to take on cases of other superheroes. This is a challenge because other heroes get themselves into a lot of legal scrapes, so there is a parade of cameos by other Marvel characters who traipse through the offices. A possible love interest appears, Jack of Hearts (never heard of him before), whom Jen thought was dead, so there’s that.

Roge Antonio and Luca Maresca are a good art team, and I didn’t notice a change in style between the early issues that Antonio illustrated and the later ones that Maresca did. The background coloring was muted, making Jen’s green skin and colorful outfits pop in comparison. I enjoyed the cover art by Jen Bartel and the variant art by other artists throughout the book. It skews young, making it a good gateway book for new readers, especially teens. All in all, this was a smashing fun book that sets up the She-Hulk for new adventures!

Wastelanders: Wolverine podcast

“Thirty years ago, Super Villains won. After killing the Avengers, the X-Men, and nearly every other Super Hero, the Red Skull assumed the office of President of the United States. Since that day, a traumatized Wolverine has wandered in a daze of survivor’s guilt and self-loathing over his failure to protect his fellow X-Men and their mutant students.”

Professor Logan

We are transported to Charles Xavier’s Institute for Gifted Youngsters thirty years ago when Logan was beginning his career as a teacher to mutant students. Jean Grey was trying to smooth out Logan’s unsophisticated teaching methods when a crisis occurs and all the students are shepherded to a safe location to escape. But we know almost no one survived Red Skull’s carefully orchestrated attack. Robert Patrick (always T2 to me!) voices him very well in this podcast with an authentic world-weariness.

Back to One

After a bad car accident, a disoriented Logan slips in and out of a dream fugue and wanders back to the school, meeting a young woman Sofia and her wolfdog. Sofia is an orphaned mutant who broke into the school a few years ago to hide out, and once realizing Logan is Wolverine wants to know where he has been for the last thirty years. He admits he was so distraught that he has been wandering the wilderness in a feral state.

On My Own

We get some insight into Red Skull and his colleague Crossbones, during a Christmas special, in which Red Skull wants to assert his dominance over his subjects. Sofia’s boyfriend Justin shows Logan an arsenal, however, the group is still in danger when a band of thieves breaks into the school.

Inakzeptabel

Red Skull and Crossbones are determined to find Logan and kill him for good and he utters Inakzeptabel which means unacceptable in German. Things go from bad to worse for Logan and Sofia when Justin abandons them and puts his interests first. But some intel from the Danger Room points them in the direction of a former colleague of Logan’s that he had thought was dead.

Trust Me

Justin sells out Logan hoping to have his father released who was taken in by Red Skull years ago. When things don’t go as planned Logan, Sofia and Fang head northward to Canada hoping to find Kitty Pryde.

Land of the Free

This podcast is moving much slower than the others. Logan and Sofia travel to Canada, where Kitty Pryde and Rachel Summers (daughter of Cyclops and Pheonix) live. They all meet at the end of the episode, and Logan’s recollections of V-Day are much different than Kitty’s who is threatening to kill him.

Shock and Awe

When Wolverine is temporarily disabled by Kitty and Rachel, they tell Sofia what really happened that terrible day. As expected, this podcast is based on the Mark Millar story, Old Man Logan, in which Logan was mind-controlled into killing his friends when he thought they were villains.

The Other Side

Rachel and Kitty have built another Cerebro, so Rachel utilizes it and her telepathic skills to take her and Logan back in time to see what happened on V-Day. Red Skull’s collaboration with Shadow King enabled them to mask their intentions from Professor X. Now that his eyes are open to the truth, Logan is devastated. We are now close to the end of this Wolverine story, and it is not connecting with the stories of Star-Lord, Black Widow and Hawkeye which I am finding frustrating.

Awfully Sentimental

Logan processes his grief and plans to work with Kitty and Rachel to take down Red Skull at the White House. That’s all that happened- a lot of talking.

All That You Leave Behind

This was a rather anticlimatic conclusion- Logan, Kitty and Rachel go to the White House to fight Red Skull. Sofia is left behind, but then she has to fight Crossbones. Her mutant power was never really stated- I’m guessing it was being able to talk to/control animals.

Even in the last minutes, there was no connection to the surviving heroes in the previous podcasts. Are they supposed to? Is there one more story to tell? I read somewhere (I don’t remember where anymore) that there was going to be a Doctor Doom podcast- so will they all meet, after all? My interest in this series has been waning due to the lack of connectivity. I wish they left teasers like they do in the movies, so you’d be invested in the story and look forward to the next chapter of the podcast saga. So…I’ll keep an eye out if this Wastelanders series continues, but I am definitely frustrated with how it has unfolded so far.

Written and directed by Jenny Turner Hall

Voice Cast:

Robert Patrick as Wolverine

Isabella Ferreira as Sofia

Ashlie Atkinson as Kitty Pryde

Rachel Crowl as Red Skull

Jennifer Ikeda as Rachel Summers

Justin Min as Justin

Clarke Peters as Professor X

Free Comic Book Day 2022

Finally, Free Comic Book Day is back at the beginning of May! I planned an event at my library to distribute free comics, and thus got a sneak peek at the titles. More than usual caught my interest which is great!

I’ve heard some buzz about this the upcoming graphic novel Clementine, which is set in The Walking Dead universe and is inexplicably based on a computer game. Written and illustrated by Tille Walden, an established YA author, it has potential for younger readers, but adults will notice some plot holes. Where is she going and why??? The issue also includes a story about a machine boy (skipped) and a fantasy piece about a pirate’s daughter that has lovely art.

Marvel Voices is a new series that are a collection of short stories around certain topics that have different authors and illustrators. This FCBD issue pulls together a few from already released collections, giving us an excellent sample so we will want to read the previous graphic novels. I think a YA audience will really connect with this series, as some of the topics addressed are Indigenous Voices, Pride, Words Do Matter, and Personal Heroes. The humor and art are a winning combination.

I always pick up the Spider-Man/Venom issue, despite my ongoing confusion between Venom and Carnage. In the Spider-Man story, Spidey has to battle a magical post office box that had turned into a monster. It somehow has to do with an evil Ben Reilly and Madelyne Pryor from the X-Men- so they are now pulling together characters from two franchises, which has potential. In the Venom story, a one-eyed Eddie Brock wants to keep his son safe, who is a symbiote himself. Don’t know the background for this family drama, but the last two-page spread with other monsters was cool.

I picked up this issue for the creepy front cover, plus I noticed that Jeff Lemire was the author. The art took some getting used to, but I warmed up to it. What intrigued me the most is that this is an introduction to a new horror universe that Lemire and artist Sorrentino have planned called The Bone Orchard Mythos. Stories will weave in and out of this universe in the next few years. This issue did the trick in capturing my interest and making me want to seek out future books by this duo.

Judgment Day sets up a battle between three groups- the Avengers, X-Men and Eternals. The Eternals are portrayed as smug assholes, who wish to eradicate deviants from the universe. So…the X-Men are mutants, thus deviants, and the Eternals have infiltrated their secret stronghold of Krakoa. Will the Avengers stand with them against the Eternals? I’m not excited about this storyline, for a few years ago I read Avengers vs X-Men, and came away disappointed.  The fighting among team members trope is over-done, so I don’t have high hopes, although the art looks good.

My last comic is Primos which introduces a welcome new Latino superhero to a YA audience that ends on a cliffhanger. The story is printed twice, once in English and once in Spanish, which will bring more readers into this new storyline that honors those with Mayan heritage. The art is appealing, and a letter from the author is included that gives some background.

Free Comic Book Day did exactly what it is supposed to do- introduced me to some new stories that make me want to read further into the series and buy the complete graphic novel!

Wastelanders: Black Widow podcast

Just in time for Women’s History Month, we have the third installment in the Marvel’s Wastelanders audio epic, in which we meet Helen Black, the Black Widow!

“Almost thirty years after The Day the Villains Won (aka V-Day), Helen Black arrives at her new apartment in The Onar, a 161-story apartment complex in what used to be Midtown Manhattan. Owned and operated by S.H.I.E.L.D., The Onar has become the very embodiment of the dystopic wealth and inequality that’s engulfed New York City ever since V-Day.”

Houston, We Have a Spider

A young woman, Lisa Cartwright, starts a new job as a security analyst and clues in that Onar resident Helen Black is acting suspiciously. A co-worker Jordan shares his conspiracy theories that it could be Natasha Romanoff or Yelena Belova, but Lisa seems to have secrets of her own. Who is Lisa’s father and what is his connection?

You See More

Lisa comes on too strong on surveillance with Helen and is found out. Helen, who claims to be Yelena, threatens Lisa and forces her to be a mole. Jordan is also acting suspiciously, so he’s now a wild card as to not knowing where his allegiances are. I have to say, Helen doesn’t seem to be covering her tracks that well, but I’m sure it is just part of a big con.

Subtext

Helen goes on a date with Stanley, who might be a drug dealer. Lisa learns some fighting skills from Helen, who asks her to dig deep for Yelena’s case file. Jordan catches onto a conspiracy among some of the Onar residents that includes some high-tech nanorobotics. Although set in President Red Skull’s realm, so far this narrative is less cosmic than the previous podcasts about Star-Lord and Hawkeye, with no mention thus far of the Avengers or X-Men besides Iron Man.

By The Way

An enamored Stanley takes Helen out to a swanky nightclub to meet an associate of his, but her information gathering is cut short when she is arrested for brewing alcohol. Lisa had reported her for this small infraction hoping to throw her work supervisors off Helen’s scent fror the bigger issues. But now Helen is under house arrest, so she blackmails Lisa into doing more for her. Jordan is still suspicious of Helen, but his boss seems unconcerned. At this point, I’m not really digging this podcast. Helen is unlikable and it is not tying into the previous two Wastlanders stories yet.

I Thought About Letting Her Know

Lisa and Jordan continue playing different sides of the investigation of Helen, and more double-crosses are hinted at by other characters involved with the nanotech reveal. Judy and Hank, the bosses at Panopticog Solutions, are playing dumb, but I’m sure it’s a ruse. Who is conning who at this stage?

A Very Melancholy Answer

Why is Helen out of the action for so much of this podcast? Her house arrest means she sends Lisa out to do all her dirty work. Stanley’s partner Crispin and his fiance Samantha are now under watch, with suspicious motivations. Stanley finds out the truth about Helen and is devastated, as he claims he loved her. Jordan keeps poking around for answers.

Temet Nosce

Temet Nosce is a Latin phrase translated as “Know Thyself”. That leads us to Lisa- whose side is she really on? It’s obvious she’s keeping her own secret. An enormous hurricane is on its way to NYC, and the Onar apartment residents scramble to prepare.

Bonus

We finally get some intel! Helen reveals to Lisa who she really is, and explains how it could be and how she lost her anti-aging properties. But…suspicions remain because would the Black Widow reveal the truth 100%? Another secret identity is revealed, and yawn. Jordan and Samantha face off.

The Entertainment

Helen, Lisa and Judy team up, and utilize Jordan, to help them fight Samantha. Now we know who is Natasha and who is Yelena but they are at odds, with Yelena willing to let thousands of people die for her cause.

The Future is Mysterious

The finale did not make any sense! It was a muddled mess and there was no resolution or moving forward for any of the characters. It didn’t connect with the previous Star-Lord or Hawkeye podcasts, so this third in a series was a real disappointment, despite Susan Sarandon voicing Helen. I believe there will be two more- for Doctor Doom and Wolverine, so I hope the final installments will bring it all together in a satisfying manner.

Check out the previous two Wastlanders podcasts: Star-Lord & Hawkeye

-Nancy

Written by Alex Delyle and directed by Timothy Busfield (who is the voice actor of Star-Lord!)

Voice Cast:

Susan Sarandon as Black Widow

Chasten Harmon as Lisa

Eva Amurri as Samantha Sugarman

Nate Corddry as Jordan

Amber Gray as Judy

Melissa Gilbert as K.I.M. (Laura Ingalls aka director Busfield’s IRL wife)

Michael Imperioli as Stanley

Justin Kirk as Hank

Black Cat (2019, Vol. 1): Grand Theft Marvel

Felicia Hardy’s relationship with Odessa Drake, the head of the New York Thieves Guild, is – complicated. She may have complicated it further from stealing a painting from Odessa, but who’s to say? She’s already moved on to bigger and better things. Black Fox, the man who taught Felicia and her father everything they know about thievery, is back in town, and has a job for Felicia and her boys. He’s got one last big job in him before he retires. The hit? The Vault of the New York Thieves Guild. First though, they need to procure some things from the Sanctum Santorum and the Fantastic 4’s house – and that’s just for starters. Simple, right?

This good ol’ heist story had the same feeling as Trail of the Catwoman did. From a story-telling standpoint, I feel this book fared better, even if from an artistic stantpoint I feel the Catwoman book was done a tad more stylishly (to be fair, it’s very hard to top Darwin Cooke). MacKay managed to get some great characterization in despite the non-stop action and breakneck pacing – all while maintaining a light and humorous tone. This was done mostly through flashbacks of Black Fox and Felicia or her father, helping to explain their relationship and how Felicia turned out the way she did. All memories were pertinent to the situation in the present time. I missed the first title card in the first flashback and so was confused until the next one, but this was probably my own fault and not that of the creators or design of the book itself.

Movement was emphasized above all else in the artwork here. The backgrounds, while drawn well, are colored with simple washes to further bring the characters and their actions to the foreground. Thin linework allows the characters to move as they need to. The action sequences (and there are a lot of them) were exciting and well-done. I felt overall that the colors were too dark and muted to really work for such an action-oriented story, but it didn’t take away too much from the experience.

This volume only had Felicia and the gang stop at two famed Marvel landmarks in New York City, promising more in further volumes. I’m curious to see where their adventures lead next and to learn more about Felicia’s character. Fans of Black Cat and and the Spider-verse are sure to enjoy, but Marvel fans in general (I’m sure there are Easter eggs that flew right over my head) and readers who like heist and action stories will also want to check it out.

– Kathleen

MacKay, Jed, Travel Foreman, Michael Dowling, and Nao Fuji. Black Cat (2019, Vol. 1): Grand Theft Marvel. 2020.

Spider-Man: No Way Home

This review is as spoiler-free as possible, as the film is still playing in theaters and is currently not available on streaming services.

No Way Home picks up right where the mid-credits scene for Far From Home ended: with J. Jonah Jameson of the Daily Bugle streaming a video of Quentin Beck (Mysterio) revealing Spider-Man’s secret identity to the entire world. Peter is made a celebrity overnight, but he’s not much a fan of that as it puts MJ and Ned in the spotlight as well. Because of their association with him, all three teens are rejected from MIT: their dream school, where they had planned to start over.

Wanting a normal life more than ever, Peter goes to Doctor Strange for help. He asks for a spell to make everyone forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. Strange agrees to cast the spell for him, but loses focus with Peter’s repeated revisions during the spellcasting to make at least his loved ones remember who he is. While Strange manages to contain the spell, it was very difficult – and didn’t work. People from other dimensions are coming through, all of whom knowing that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. All of whom also seem to remember a different Peter Parker, a different Spider-Man, and their final battles with them before being pulled into a different universe. All of whom, they figure out together, seem to have died during their battles with their own Spider-Men. Peter won’t let that happen to them, and sets about curing all of them. When they are betrayed, Peter must decide what being Spider-Man truly means.

… Wow. Just… WOW. This movie was everything I wanted in a Spider-Man movie and then some. Despite the issues I had with it, especially regarding a glaring plot hole, Husband and I highly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend.

Let’s start with that plot hole which concerns Doctor Strange’s communication with Peter about the spells. Why didn’t he think to tell Peter about the consequences of the first spell he cast, but not the second one at the end of the movie? Because the plot needed him to NOT do that. Nothing in the movie would have happened if they had taken 5 minutes to ensure all of Peter’s loved ones still remembered he was Spider-Man before casting the first spell. At the same time, Strange needed to explain the consequences of the second spell at the end of the movie in order for Peter and the audience to fully understand them. So this was a double-edged sword: a problem, but a necessary one.

The CGI was also sometimes okay at best for a Marvel movie. Some CG characters were (likely) deliberately kept in shadow for most of their scenes, as it’s easier for CG to look better when in shadow. Costumes on characters appearing from other universes were also obviously CG, where they might not have been in their original movies. That took away some of the experience for me, but mostly because I’m old and cantankerous =P

With this being really the first completed Spider-Man movie arc, this Spider-Man’s story wrapping up is extra satisfying. Through the characters appearing from other franchises, we also get a glimpse of their stories being wrapped up as well. This wasn’t just a ploy for the nostalgia-bait trope that’s so hot right now. No Way Home was an opportunity for ALL of the Spider-Men movies to be wrapped up. Remarkably, this doesn’t take away from Tom Holland’s Peter Parker’s arc at all. This Peter was (to me) most believably a teenager with great power thrust upon him, and his struggles to learn to use them responsibly felt authentic and up-to-date for teenage and young adult audiences today. His great sacrifice at the end of this movie not only proved how much his character grew and matured, but gave us an ending for Spider-Man that movies have been trying to give us since 2002.

I’ve read that further movies for this Spider-Man are in the works. I am totally against this. No Way Home was a definitive end for this Spider-Man. A bittersweet, cathartic, yet hopeful, ending, but nonetheless: an ending. There is a case to be made for letting franchises run their course, and No Way Home is the poster child. This Peter is done. Let him be and introduce another Spider-person, such as Miles Morales (MY VOTE, PLEASE) or Gwen Stacy.

No matter which Spider-franchise you’re a fan of, you will find something to love in No Way Home. Please be safe and take every precaution to stay healthy if you venture to the theater for it.

Kathleen

Watts, John (director). Spider-Man: No Way Home. 2021.

Wastelanders: Hawkeye podcast

“Thirty years ago, the villains of the world rose up and killed all the heroes. Well, all the heroes that mattered. The sole survivor of the Avengers, Hawkeye is now a sideshow freak, re-living the worst day of his life for paying audiences. When the Brotherhood Traveling Circus, Carnival and Ringmaster’s Road Show arrives at the Kingdom, Hawkeye gets an unexpected visitor.”

This is the second season in a podcast series about an apocalyptic world that started off with Star-Lord, and will also include Black Widow and Wolverine. Will these scattered heroes be able to find one another and rise up against the villains who took over the world?

Star Attraction

We are introduced to a new section of the Wastelanders world in the southwest, this time in the kingdom ruled by Zemo. Improbably, we discover a blinded Hawkeye (Clint) is the star attraction in a traveling circus, which makes him relive the day that the heroes fell to the villains, leaving him the only Avenger left. The smarmy ringmaster’s narration gives us background on the last few decades, and an edgy teenage girl watches the show in disgust. In the concluding minutes of the episode, we learn her name is Ash and she is the estranged daughter of Hawkeye. After finding him, she asks her poppa if he will help her kill someone for revenge.

Cards Up

Ash explains why she has sought her father out after ten years apart, she wants vengeance against someone who killed her high school best friend. She has figured out that someone in the circus is selling a drug that is dangerous and led to Max’s death in an explosion. Clint, of course, doesn’t want to help her become a killer, and we get some backstory on why he left her years ago. Details are such that you are not sure if she is adopted, and who her birth mother is.

School’s Out

Clint teaches Ash how to shoot, and baits her, pushing her to the edge, but she proves her mettle. We get a bit of Ash’s past, from her loving adoptive mother Bobbi, formally known as Mockingbird, to her high school life and romance with Max. We also learn a secret about Hawkeye and his long wait for revenge.

Trick Shot

It is revealed who Ash’s biological mother is, and I’m not surprised. She says something enraging to Bobbi, and also clues her into Clint’s hunt for members of the double-crossing Thunderbolts. It was interesting to learn more about the Thunderbolts, a sometimes villain/sometimes hero group that were mutants, and I ended up doing some internet sleuthing to find out more about them.

Leap of Faith

A bit of a filler episode- we get some backstory on some of the other circus performers and for Kate Bishop. Everyone is rude and sarcastic to each other and their banter annoyed me, plus I am not warming to Ash as a petulant teen.

Straight to the Heart

Kate is pissing me off! While she might be Ash’s biological mother, she is not her “real” mom, Bobbi is 100%. Kate just wants to sweep in and have Ash fall into her arms, but that’s not how it works. While she wants to throw Clint under the bus with the morally grey things he does, she is the one who choose Clint and Bobbi to raise Ash, whose full name is Natasha Cassandra Bishop Jones (nice shout out to Natasha Romanoff & Cassandra Lang). There was some food for thought in this episode- as Clint’s thirst for justice and consequences does make him a killer, and he choose that life over raising Ash with his wife Bobbi- yet, I could see the validity of his arguments.

Two Graves

“Seek revenge and you should dig two graves, one for yourself” proves true, as Ash discovers someone who she thought dead is alive, and that Clint’s sabotage runs deep. Has he gone too far in his quest for vengeance?

Shot in the Back

Kate and Clint continue to bicker because it is obvious that Clint has something huge planned for the next day when Zemo will be visiting the circus, and Kate hopes to dissuade him. Ash is back after learning what Junior is up to and she continues with being a hot head herself. I hate to say it, but I dislike almost everyone except for Bobbi.

Bullseye

The day has come for the circus performance with Zemo in attendance. Clint is trying to stay the course despite pleas from Bobbi, Kate and Ash to stop, plus details are slipping out of his control. I do appreciate that there are some characters in the circus that are morally grey, who make bad decisions for their own ease but don’t seem like evil people.

Justice is Blind

The ending was predictable- Clint came to realize blind vengeance benefits no one. There is a surprise about Zemo, and a change of leadership occurs. This will now put cracks in the villains’ hold across the former USA, making it easier to overthrow in the future. I thought there would be a lead-in to the next season, but nothing new was revealed in the final end credits.

While I didn’t engage with this season as much as the one about Star-Lord, or some other Marvel podcasts, I am still very much invested in this series and look forward to the next few seasons!

-Nancy

Written by Rachel Chavkin and directed by J. Holtman

Voice Cast:

Stephen Lang as Hawkeye

Sasha Lane as Ash

Michelle Hurd as Bobbi

Tracie Thoms as Kate

Bobby Moreno as Junior

Joe Morton as Ringmaster

Marvel’s “What If…?” Episodes 7-9

There are spoilers for the end of the season ahead. If you need to catch up, here’s my post covering Episodes 1-3 and Nancy’s post covering Episodes 4-6.

The audience continues exploring the Multiverse with the Watcher here, but the last 3 episodes tie each one together:

  • Episode 7 shows us what Thor would have been like if he had been an only child. He arrives on Earth just as he did in our universe – but he’s here to PAR-TAY! His father has fallen into the Odin Sleep and Frigga is on a trip, so it’s the perfect time to have a galactic shindig right here on Midgard. Though Jane Foster and Darcy Lewis try to reason with him (his parties have ended planets before), they can’t help but to give in to his charms. S.H.I.E.L.D. director Maria Hill’s attention has also been attracted by Thor – but in a much more negative light. She calls Carol Danvers to take care of him, but things don’t go as planned.
  • Episode 8 explains what would have happened if Ultron had won. Taking over the Mind Infinity Stone and Vision’s body, he defeats the Avengers, killing all but Clint and Natasha. When Thanos arrives, Ultron kills him as well and takes control of the Infinity Gauntlet. In order to fulfill his purpose and bring peace, Ultron and his army begin to murder their way across the galaxy. Upon hearing the Watcher, Ultron learns of the multiverse, and thus starts crossing realities to continue his twisted quest. He crosses into Party Thor’s universe as Clint and Natasha attempt to upload a virus with Arnim Zola’s mind into Ultron’s hive mind. Defeated by Ultron, the Watcher retreats to the pocket universe of Episode 4’s Doctor Strange to ask him for help.
  • Episode 9 sees the Watcher break his oath by recruiting Captain Carter, Star-Lord T’Challa, Party Thor, Killmonger as the Black Panther, and a Gamora who defeated her universes’ Thanos, along with Strange Supreme, to end the threat of Ultron. They lure him to a dead planet where Strange summons the zombie hoard from Episode 5, including Zombie Wanda, to distract him while they travel to Ultron’s home universe to find Natasha and the Zola virus. As the only survivor of her universe, Natasha is reluctant to trust them. After a moment with Captain Carter, Natasha agrees to help, and shoots an arrow with the Zola virus into Ultron’s eye. While Killmonger and the newly-embodied Zola fight over the Infinity Stones, Strange and the Watcher seal them in a pocket dimension, where Strange will watch over them.

Additional scenes with Ultron’s Natasha and a mid-credits scene with Captain Carter and her universe’s Natasha set this series up nicely for a second season, which has been confirmed.

From a story-telling standpoint, this series started out strong for me, kinda sagged in the middle, and picked up again at the end. It seemed as if some of the stories were trope-y and played out, especially the zombie episode. We have seen any and all scenarios involving zombies played out in the early 2010’s… where they can stay, in my opinion. The episodes involving Star-Lord T’Challa and Black Panther Killmonger were the best for me, because they actually did something different. Their universes felt fresh and unlike anything we had seen before. It also allowed for a different look at or expansions of the characters. In a classic Marvel move of undermining their women characters, the taking back of Wakanda spearheaded by Shuri and Pepper was left out – let me watch that or more of Star Lord T’Challa instead of boring zombies!

I also highly enjoyed the Thor episode, because it was everything you would have expected – yet was still fun. The way the worldwide party is ultimately stopped is hilarious and touching, in a way. Also, it was very satisfying to see at least one universe peg Carol Danvers as the resident party pooper.

It was nice to get everything ultimately wrapped up. The first few episodes don’t seem related at all, but these last 3-4 had been hinting. It may be worth a rewatch to see what hints were missed from early episodes.

I never really warmed up to the animation style. Something about it was just too uncanny for me. The action scenes were punchy and fluid, but the lip syncing and facial expressions never seemed to quite match what was going on. Scenes that were supposed to be emotional fell flat for me for this reason – I was too distracted by how weird their faces looked!

Overall, the series is an enjoyable watch. You start out with what you think is a series of fun, unrelated one-shots and by the end, you’ve gotten a big showdown with a different big bad with a different group of Avengers. The animation works for what the series is, but it’s not a personal favorite. I’m hoping that the ending scenes are setting up a real Marvel Women Power Hour in the next season.

– Kathleen

Andrews, Brian. What If…? 2021.

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