STAR FOX ZERO Review

It’s always great to see a franchise return after a rather long hiatus. Mario and Zelda are fortunate enough to get titles frequently, but it could take awhile for others. (Metroid for example.) In the case of Star Fox, it had been 10 years since the last main game. Yes, in 2011 there was the 3DS remake of 64, but the last new game in the series, Command, came out back in 2006. One could then imagine the immense hype when ZERO was announced. This would be the first home console game for the title character since Gamecube’s Assault back in 2005. This would also look to be a much needed addition to the Wii U, which lacks a large array of great titles. Zero brings the franchise back to its roots and attempts to be much like what Super Mario Galaxy was to 64. It contains many of the classic elements while being something new. Sadly, there are quite a few aspects holding it back from being called a “great” game.

One of the more interesting aspects is the game’s story mode. For awhile it was quite vague whether this would be some kind of reboot or not. Well, it definitely is. Whether or not that’s a good thing is up for debate. On one hand, it had been a long time since the previous game so it makes sense Nintendo would want to revamp the story for a new audience. On the other hand, starting over and erasing a rich history could be a bit alienating. On the onset Nintendo does a pretty good job setting up the story through a solid intro. It sets the tone and introduces the characters well. After that however is when the writing takes a turn for the dull side.

Despite being a reboot, the game assumes you know these characters. Because of this, there isn’t much in the way of character development. Most of the time, you can interchange any character for any line and it wouldn’t make a difference. Instead of great banter between the characters, we get generic dialogue such as “Way to go Fox!” and “Are you OK?” Even worst, Star Wolf appears for basically a non-role. Again, the game assumes you know these characters and the relationships between them. This kind of thinking doesn’t work for a reboot. Who is Star Wolf? Why does he look similar to Fox? Are they old enemies? Instead of answering these questions, the game speedily has the player do the missions with very few cutscenes or explanations. This leads me to the game’s biggest drawback: the length.

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I personally would say any mainstream game (as in one that will cost you $60) should aim to be at least 8 hours. You can beat Zero in under half that. You can pick it up at 10 am and have it done before 2. That is unacceptable and makes it feel like we got half a game. It’s a shame because it has the making and look of an all-star title. The story is rich in concept, but the game doesn’t utilize it effectively. According to the intro Pigma pretended to be with the team, but was found to be a traitor working for Andross. The game could have spent some time on that aspect of the plot, because in theory that should be pretty deep. Instead, we have Pigma saying uninspired lines such as “Stop treating me like a pig roast!”

Adding more missions would have been a solid way to prolong the main mode, but that in itself wouldn’t have been enough to save the story. The game has excellent animation, some of the best graphics on the Wii U. It’s a shame it’s wasted on recycled radio scenes. Also adding more missions could have made the gameplay repetitive, so I think they should have brought back the on-foot patrol from the criminally underrated Assault. This way we could have had another gameplay element stopping the Arwing and Walker parts from becoming tedious. Of course, this would have only mattered if the game were longer. Sadly, you’re paying for half a game.

One more aspect of the writing worth discussing is Katt Monroe. As longtime fans know, Fox had a love interest named Krystal starting from back in Adventures. Sadly, Nintendo dropped the ball and ruined her in Command. I suppose the thought process here was to erase that and have someone else. The problem is that Katt appears out of nowhere. What’s even more strange is that she appears and Fox for some reason doesn’t say a word. It’s incredibly bizarre. Then, she reappears and hints at apparently knowing Falco at some point. Here Fox acknowledges her, but she disappears again for the rest of the game. Who was she? How does she know Falco? Was Fox simply awed by the pink color that he couldn’t speak? These are questions the mediocre writing leaves.

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the game is the gameplay. Nintendo opted to use motion control with the Gamepad. Motion control isn’t inherently a bad thing, but often can take away from the core gameplay, making things unnecessarily complicated or worse: making what would be good gameplay broken. Here the game gives us two options: have motion control always on, or only when targeting. I’m really glad they added that second option, because to leave it on all the time is too “loose.” You’re bound to miss more with motion control always on, so there’s virtually no reason to keep it. With that said, the gameplay besides this is solid. It plays like how a Star Fox game should be. There are some instances where it feels like the controls are working against you (such as in the first battle against Pigma) but for the most part Nintendo has the player make excellent use of the cockpit in Gamepad view (plus fantastic use of both joysticks) and big screen TV view.

A good chunk of the missions are very well done and forces the player to strategize. Later you have the ability to shift from Arwing mode to Walker, which mixes up the way the player does things. Despite surprisingly appearing very little, the Landmaster is also put to fantastic use. There’s a sense of urgency and danger to most of the missions, starting right from the entrance to Corneria. This leads to perhaps the game’s biggest positive: a genuine difficulty. Even the most seasoned of players will have some trouble with a few of the boss fights. The Landmaster vs. Subterranean Weapon Scrapworm was very well done for example. The final boss was also challenging and I doubt many will be able to beat it on a first try. As a whole, the game harkens back to Nintendo’s glory days of providing legitimate challenges, which makes most of their modern entries, such as Yoshi’s Woolly World, look even worse.

Another strong positive is the game’s soundtrack. Nintendo is typically known for its great music, and this game is no different. Starting from the game’s intro it brings back many of the classic Star Fox themes for a new age. While Wolf was sadly underwritten and underused, at the very least his remixed theme song was a blast to hear. There’s also some excellent choir at the right times throughout the story. How about other modes? The game offers cooperative play, which is nice, but there should have been a separate “vs.” also. Assault had one of the greatest multiplayer modes from a Nintendo title, so it’s a shame we didn’t get something like that here. There’s also Arcade mode, but it’s essentially playing the entire game again. If there was a reward worth acquiring, it might be worth it, but the only other unlockable mode is Sound Test, which is incredibly disappointing.

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Overall, Zero has a lot of good features but too many drawbacks hindering what could have been a stellar product. $60 is a lot of money, so I expect something that’ll last a bit, not a game where one is able to complete in under 3 hours. The gameplay needs a little polishing, but I think the usage of a cockpit view working alongside a general view is brilliant, and to be fair it does work most of the time. (With motion controls turned off anyway.) The aerial and ground fights provide a solid challenge for old and new fans alike. The story sadly is incredibly lackluster. With more of an emphasis on writing, it could have at least made the short game more engaging on that front. Still, to call Zero a bad game would do it injustice, because it’s not. At its best, it provides a definitive Star Fox experience. It however lacks enough substance to be called anything other than “pretty okay.”

6.5/10

KONG: KING OF THE APES “THE ADVENTURE BEGINS” Review

It’s always odd when a film or TV series doesn’t have a section on Wikipedia. Relatively unknown films like Hunter Prey (one of the greatest science fiction films by the way) has a section, but something as big with the King Kong name? The entire King of the Apes  show has been on Netflix for six days already, yet there’s no section. Not only that, but marketing has been extremely poor. Prior to its release, there was no trailer. I’ll say that again: Netflix didn’t release a trailer beforehand. Actual information had also been scarce, right up until release day. And even then, the show just released with virtually no one realizing it. If a colleague didn’t remind me I probably would have forgotten about it until I turned on Netflix. Putting these negative aspects to the side, perhaps the pilot film would actually be pretty solid. Unfortunately it’s not. It’s competently written, but in the most generic way possible.

“Set in 2050, Kong becomes a wanted fugitive after wrecking havoc at Alcatraz Island’s Natural History and Marine Preserve. What most humans on the hunt for the formidable animal don’t realize, though, is that Kong was framed by an evil genius who plans to terrorize the world with an army of enormous robotic dinosaurs. As the only beast strong enough to save humanity from the mechanical dinos, Kong must rely on the help of three kids who know the truth about him.

There are somethings you know about five minutes in whether it’s going to be mediocre or not. I already knew then I wouldn’t be checking out the remainder of the episodes here, but for the sake of perhaps being the only website review on the planet for the show, I powered through. King of the Apes is produced by Avi Arad, whom is a veteran with various shows and films. Unfortunately his most recently produced cartoon was PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures, and we all know awful that was. With the similar CGI and few images Netflix released, Kong sadly looked to invoke a Ghostly Adventures feel. Of course, when you’re a reviewer you have to do your best to put out preconceived notions. I also actually like the Kong films and character, so I went in hoping a new Kong show (yes there was one where he was “King of Atlantis”…which was probably better than this one!) would be interesting. Sadly it’s not.

The show’s main character aside from the gorilla is Lukas. For the first quarter of the pilot the story showcases the relationship between him, his brother, and their father alongside Kong. This was definitely a smart way to establish the status quo for present day…in theory. Everything happens so fast despite the premiere having more than a hour to develop the characters. Lukas becomes Kong’s friend abnormally fast. What’s worst however is Richard, the brother of Lukas. If you thought Caillou was a brat, this kid takes it tenfold. He hates Kong for virtually no reason on the onset. When the explosion happens in the lab (which of course was caused by his blundering) the viewer wishes he would have died right there. (That’s a harsh statement I know, but in cartoon land it’s okay.)

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The dialogue between the sons and father is completely forced and unnatural. The show even then tries to add deepness in a single sentence stating there was a divorce, but that plot point is quickly forgotten as the mediocre story continues. The entire point of showcasing the younger years was to show Kong’s friendship with Lukas and Richard’s rise to villainy. Richard is perhaps the most generic villain in the last few decades. All he’s missing is his twirling mustache. His motivation wasn’t clearly established back then, and it’s terrible in the present. It’s a scary thought that every episode will probably have him executing some one note plan that the heroes foil.

Quite a few of the characters have such mediocre designs. Lukas’ in particular embodies the generic “surfer dude”look for example. The voice acting is pretty awful and shows no one really cared about the product. Richard’s voice as a kid was so jarring I wouldn’t be surprised if some kids gave up after the sixth scene with him complaining. I did like the subtle building up to the giant robotic T-Rex from back then. Under different writing, this could have been fantastic, even frightening build-up. How about the action? Given the CGI nature and behemoth characters, the action scenes should be good. Unfortunately, they are incredibly lackluster. They’re more suited for a TV Y program. (To put this in perspective, My Little Pony, a TV-Y program, has better fight scenes.)

We’ll stop here. King of the Apes is incredibly mediocre. Kong himself is often portrayed as goofy rather than powerful, which longtime fans will find tough to get through. (Back in the day he could go one-on-one with Godzilla.) It’s true the show’s target audience is kids, but awful writing like this is no excuse. Why would you show your child this mindless entertainment (even calling it entertainment is a stretch) when there’s actual heart and thought put into other programs? Other shows on Netflix such as My Little Pony, Magic School Bus, Justice League, and many more offer better entertainment and makes the viewer think. If Kong had actually tried I could have forgiven it, but the problem is that it doesn’t try to be anything great.

2/10

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic “Gauntlet of Fire” Review

Spike-centered stories are usually on the lower tier of MLP episodes. It’s not because they’re all bad of course. (Though a good chunk of them are mediocre.) Very few are listed in anyone’s top ten because he just isn’t written as a great focus. As the main supporting character he’s usually fine, but when he takes center stage we long for scenes with the ponies. (Such as in “Spike at Your Service” and “Princess Spike.”) This season however started off strong with the little dragon. In “The Crystalling,” Spike was written extremely well, almost abnormally good. If the writing there could translate into his own starring adventure we would have a winner. “Gauntlet of Fire” is perhaps his biggest episode yet, and a fantastic culmination of all his prior character development. With this episode the show has succeeded in making Spike just about a great a focus as any of the Mane 6.

Here’s the official episode description from Discovery Family:

Spike is forced to compete in a dangerous Gauntlet for the title of Dragon Lord in order to save his friends.

This episode serves as a sequel to the Season 2 installment, “Dragon Quest.” That story was more on the mediocre side, but it did bring up one interesting plot element in Spike’s character: struggling with his dragon heritage when he was brought up with ponies. It’s definitely a complex aspect that episode does a pretty good job exploring. So in today’s episode we have Spike returning to the land of the dragons. First, the scenery is a nice change of pace. It’s been said that Season 6 is looking to explore areas outside the normal Ponyville and Canterlot. We have a Lord of the Rings-like setting, giving the story a rather dangerous, exciting look.

The Dragon Lord Torch is a great character, so it’s a little disappointing in retrospect that after this episode he probably won’t be doing anything. (With a design like that, he would have made for a great antagonist.) Princess Ember is another new character, being the daughter of Torch. She is a lot of fun to watch, for quite a few reasons. For one thing, she seems to be the only really reasonable and competent dragon. (I hope in the future there’s a better portrayal of the creatures because most of them act pretty much the same.) Her character arc was interesting to get through because an aspect of dragon culture is put at the focus: dragons don’t do friendships. Spike in all his years of living with Twilight and joining with her friends’ adventures has of course a great handle of friendship. So to have him and Ember team up means the latter gets to see what friendship means. Her slowly starting to open up, and then finally realizing what it means was fantastic and easily a highlight of the entire show.

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Like in “Dragon Quest,” Twilight and Rarity are in the background carefully following Spike, whether it be in grass or inside a tree. It’s still a funny concept to watch be played out. Most of the writing is great, although Garble is still an annoying character to watch. (But I suppose that’s the point.) I particularly liked Rarity’s snappy dialogue in defense of Spike: “Only saving your ungrateful scales!” when Ember rebukes him for rescuing her. Speaking of the princess, I find it bizarre that no one, not even Garble, makes mention when seeing her in the contest. Torch told her specifically not to enter, yet no dragon seems to be surprised when she’s there. (Unless they didn’t know Torch said that, the episode isn’t clear.) Later in the story we see Garble confronting Twilight and Rarity while smirking. The problem with this scene is that Twilight is backing away in fear. This doesn’t make any sense when she could literally obliterate probably a hundred Garbles at once.

Overall, “Gauntlet of Fire” was an excellent surprise. Spike has another stellar portrayal, so hats off to writers Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco. The story is exciting and always on the move given the “race to the finish” nature. (The background music, which has been absolutely fantastic this season, also adds to the excitement.) Princess Ember is a great character. Her arc with Spike was perhaps the episode’s best part. (Not to mention another part of her arc was showcasing that being small doesn’t equal weakness.)  Hopefully the two get to team up again in the future.

9/10

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic “On Your Marks” Review

Since my very first exposure to My Little Pony was a Cutie Mark Crusader episode, (“Call of the Cutie” to be exact) I’ve always looked forward to episodes starring the fillies. For the most part each installment has been filled with quality and development for the young characters. Last season in “Crusaders of the Lost Mark” featured the biggest development for them: they finally acquired their Marks. It was the end of an era for the show, and everyone would be looking forward to seeing what comes next. “On Your Marks” is the direct continuation. Unfortunately it’s all over the place in terms of focus and probably the most mediocre of the CMC episodes.

Here’s the official episode description from Discovery Family:

With their cutie marks finally acquired, the Cutie Mark Crusaders struggle with the question of what to do now. Apple Bloom suggests they embrace their destinies, but she and her friends don’t exactly agree on how.

The first 25% of the episode was a bit on the slow side. We see the fillies contemplating what they should do now that they don’t need to be searching for their destinies. The problem is they had already established in “Lost Mark” that their mission would be helping other ponies get their Marks. When they finally come back to this realization in the title episode, in theory the story should flow smoothly. From here on out the episode takes a bizarre path. They go in search of Cutie Mark problems, even questioning Big Mac. (Keep in mind Apple Bloom has lived with Mac her entire life, so she asking him if he wasn’t content with his apple Mark was pretty off.)

Next, apparently it’s nearly impossible for the three fillies to find something for them to have fun with together. (Which in itself is hard to fathom.) So Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle come to the conclusion that it’s okay for each of them to do things on their own sometimes. Sounds reasonable, but this upsets Apple Bloom for almost the rest of the episode. We must suspend disbelief that Bloom does nothing by herself. Unfortunately, suspending that disbelief is too difficult.

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Apple Bloom spends most of the episode moping around. The turnaround comes so unnaturally later because she apparently mistook what Scootaloo said when the latter’s dialogue was extremely plain and clear.  At the very least, the first song of the season sung by Michelle Creber is very heartfelt. It makes you forget for a few minutes how unreasonable Bloom is. Before we get to the climax, the story takes some more right turns. It brings in Bulk Biceps and makes the viewer think he’s going to be a focus. Then Zecora’s first appearance of the season and she has no lines to accompany it. By the time the story dives into the actual helping of a Cutie Mark problem, the viewer has to ask, “Why did all this happen before we got to this part?”

Overall, Dave Polsky delivers perhaps his worst episode. There’s no reason why we had to endure Apple Bloom learning it’s okay to do stuff on her own. The best part besides the song is the final act when she and the others help a shy pony overcome his fears and realize his destiny. This is good stuff and should have been the focus for the entire story.

5.5/10

The Police and American Pop Culture

When it comes down to it, when we’re in trouble such as being robbed, attacked or anything resembling a life or death or situation, who do we want to see come through the doors? We want to see the person with the badge on his/her shirt to instill justice. In any of these situations we want law enforcement to step in, because that’s why they’re here.

But the times we’re not in trouble, which is probably most of the time, what are we doing with the police?

Over the last decade, especially the last few years, there has been a wave of what is known as “cop-hate.” This is especially popular with the younger generation. Why? There are many reasons a person will give, such as law enforcement supposedly infringing on people’s rights, enforcing restrictions, etc. The biggest culprit I would say is the media industry.

What I find fascinating is that people enjoy the concepts of “rebellion” and “anarchy.” Films have thieves such as in Now You See Me where it wants us to root for the law-breakers, and against law enforcement. Video games such as Grand Theft Auto has the player commit crimes and openly disregard morality, not keeping with the law. which is a primary reason why these games sell so well. The idea of being held accountable just isn’t popular. The idea of doing away with authority and making one’s own rules is a very popular mindset to have, but is it good? In the case of The Purge, if anarchy were to truly reign as a system, we’d all be in trouble.

One has to question when a song titled “F Tha Police” makes waves. This particular song blatantly condones violence against the police force. If we say police brutality is as extremely widespread as the song would have us believe, are we not exercising brutality ourselves by following what the lyrics say? It’s songs like this which continue to shape the minds of those who continue to listen to them. Instead of themes praising the heroism of cops, we get this.

What do we often see in movies? There’s a popular trope of portraying government as evil. Since the police enforce government laws, this has definitely helped the general public cement their views on federal forces. What is celebrated in pop culture and society is the idea of “taking matters into your own hands,” such as illegal activities being even joyous occasions. (Such as in the biography film THE WALK.) When the films we watch, the music we listen to, and the comics we read all feed the person with the idea that the police are the bad guys, what happens? Respect for authority dwindles and crime becomes more widespread. Why is it that America has the highest incarceration rate? It’s an interesting but sad question to answer.

The police force isn’t perfect. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world so we won’t always see the force living up to its ideals. Is this more often than not? I don’t think so. On any given day, any given moment, such as you right now reading this article, an officer is out there putting his/her life on the line to save another human being. When there’s an emergency at 3 a.m. whom shows up when you call for help? When a person is listening intently to the lyrics of “F Tha Police,” somewhere an officer is in critical condition for making sure a child gets to see another day. The police deserve respect, and I hope Hollywood will start showcasing these aspects of the force in films, and artists will rise up to counter the rebellious mindset of most music lyrics today.

JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. TEEN TITANS REVIEW

I’ve always been a big fan of the comic book animated films. Sadly Marvel has seemingly given up on them, but DC has continued consistently. DC has a wide array of installments, some being completely original and others being adaptions. To better align with the comics, starting with Justice League: War the films have adopted The New 52 continuity. From a business standpoint, it made sense. Unfortunately as a viewer the films have been noticeably of lesser quality than pre-52 ones. The actual League is modernized, in a negative way. Is the latest film in this universe an improvement? Interestingly, Justice League vs. Teen Titans focuses as a sequel to both Throne of Atlantis and Batman: Bad Blood. It suffers some of the same ongoing negatives as previous entries but ended up being perhaps the best New 52 film.

Robin is forced to join the young super team and soon has to help lead them in a fight against the mighty Justice League after they are possessed by the demon Trigon.

 

We’ll get this out of the way first: Damien is still extremely annoying. Ever since debuting in Son of Batman, DC has been focused on making him a central focus in the films. Why? Who really knows. Surely they can see just about every line he has is terrible. He’s been doing nothing but disobeying orders and being rebellious since his first appearance, which is no different here. At the very least in the climax his character arc comes full circle in an admittedly well written sequence. In theory going forward he will be developed as a character, but time will tell.

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These movies usually start out with a great action sequence, and it’s no different here. We have the League battling the Legion of Doom. The actual fights are well animated, but Lex Luthor is written so cheaply. This wouldn’t be a bad thing too much if not for the fact the after credits sequence for Throne of Atlantis exists. There he apparently was enlisting Ocean Master to join with him in thematic fashion. None of that is mentioned in this film, instead making Luthor cannon fodder. One has to imagine if DC simply abandoned this plot point in favor of moving in another direction. At the very least, the Wonder Woman/Cheetah fight is probably their best encounter in animation.

Obviously the big draw is to see the team battle the Teen Titans. Like the Batman vs. Robin title, it’s a little misleading since the fight isn’t much of a focus at all. This could be a disappointment for those hoping to see a throw-down between the two teams. The next biggest draw then is of course the Titans themselves. This is their first major animation appearance since the show’s incarnation ended in 2006. (The slapstick comedy known as Teen Titans GO! doesn’t count.) It’s interesting seeing Starfire as the leader here, and she does an excellent job of it.

Blue Beetle was a bizarre choice to include. I suppose he was put there to be the Cyborg of the group. Besides rescuing Cyborg, he doesn’t do anything of major importance, but he wasn’t bad either. Beast Boy is pretty much lifted straight from the comics. Aside from one awful line near the end, he’s written as genuinely funny. (Perhaps the best line was when he said “awkward call to Batman” after Damien was literally fried.) Raven was a surprising highlight. One could say the story even revolved around her. Her backstory is somewhat similar to Damien’s, so it was interesting to see how the two connected. Her character arc was great to watch, and she had the best lines showing that she doesn’t have to give into evil. Taissa Farmiga did a terrific job voicing her.

Superman unfortunately spends most of the movie looking like a joke. This is consistent with his previous New 52 film appearances, which is a pale representation of the character we admire. Thankfully, the writing picks up with him in the climax where he actually feels like Superman. Batman is solid throughout, and the dialogue between him and Cyborg was fun to watch. Wonder Woman is very good, with perhaps her best appearance so far in the New 52 series. The League however appears rather unreasonable when they confront the Titans about Raven. Surely at least Flash would have objected to taking her by force.

The film has a few notable plot holes, the main ones which take place in Trigon’s hellish realm. Beast Boy randomly reacts to the environment, but goes back to normal some seconds later. The reason for this isn’t given and came off as rather odd. Another thing is that shouldn’t all these demons be working together? So why were they grabbing away Damien’s opponent when the latter was on the same side as them? This made no sense. Trigon like in his Teen Titans show appearance is a great antagonist to have around. His dialogue is perfect classic overlord fare. As basically the devil of DC, his taunting dialogue to Raven was very good, and of course the latter’s response even better. The climax offers a grand final battle. It’s not that fast-paced due to the large nature of the threat, but still gives a sense of climatic dread since the League members are getting thrown around. The soundtrack isn’t bad, though at the same time a little forgettable.

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Overall, Justice League vs. Teen Titans is a surprisingly solid entry in the DC animated film series. The story progresses nicely with the right amount of dialogue and action. The Titans were very good, (there’s a sense of thematic awe when we see the Tower for the first time) and hopefully they get to appear in another film. (Based on the mid-credits scene, it’s more than likely.) The story at the core however is not a vs, rather about a person defying her evil heritage. Raven was a fantastic focus and easily made the movie. The League mostly is solid this time around. Damien is still unbelievably annoying, and sadly it looks like he isn’t going away anytime soon. Still, if it’s one New 52 film you should check out, it’s this one.

8/10

GODZILLA VS. HERO ZERO REVIEW

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I often pride myself as being a hardcore Godzilla fan. I’ve seen (and own) all the films, have a wide array of collectables, and know the history behind the franchise. My nickname would even be “Godzilla” sometimes. Somehow however there are things I’m still discovering. Recently after all these years I managed to acquire a copy of Godzilla vs. Barkley. I’ve known about this crazy crossover, but never actually read it until recently. It was definitely a strange way to advertise Nike sneakers, and one has to wonder how TOHO allowed a basketball player to openly mock the Big G.

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The comic we’ll be looking at today however is another one from Dark Horse, known as GODZILLA VS. HERO ZERO. Like Barkley, I’ve known about this comic for years but never bothered buying it. Out of the blue Midtown Comics acquired the issue so naturally I took this as a sign and attached it to this week’s comic order. Why don’t we take a look at the official description?

It’s a monster-size megabattle of butt-kicking, rampaging, thermonuclear proportions! The size-changing superhero Hero Zero heads down to San Diego in his alter ego as young David MacRae. He’s looking for monster deals at the biggest comic-book event of the year, the San Diego Comic Convention, but what he winds up with is a monster of a different color, that atomic fire-breathing lizard lovingly referred to as Godzilla! Hero Zero learns a hard lesson, San Diego takes a pounding, and Godzilla shows why he’s King of the Monsters.

There’s a few interesting observations on the onset. As you can tell, this a blatant tie-in to the San Diego Comic-Con. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that of course. The cover (which is a nice piece by veteran Arthur Adams) boasts that “It’s a must-have, double-bag item when the two biggest characters in comics crash the San Diego Comic-Con.” Hero Zero even at the time wasn’t close to being “a big character.” Nowadays, even the most hardcore of comic fans have to pause to think about who this guy is. He apparently only had two comics to himself. Over-hype aside, how about the core story? The thing is that Hero Zero is one of the most unlikable characters I’ve ever read. The story has him early on literally say “Nyaaa” to a couple of onlookers. I wish I was joking.

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One can see why Hero Zero never hit it off with the masses. Why would I want to read a story centered around on that? At least the design isn’t bad. The Comic-Con setting is pretty cool, and I couldn’t help but get a chuckle when David’s dad looked at the “Meet Adam West the TV Batman” sign with interest. Naturally the comic amps up from its mediocrity when Godzilla shows up. I’m pretty sure this is in Dark Horse’s Godzilla continuity since the sailors recognized him. Though there’s one completely random guy at the Con that after hearing the announcement G was coming says, “Godzilla? Ohh…scaaar-eee!” Honestly, that’s probably the worst written dialogue I’ve ever read in a comic.

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The actual battle between the two characters is pretty good, which is thanks to the solid art by Tatsuya Ishida. The comic with Hero Zero’s immature jokes and Comic-Con setting gives the story a rather light feel, which is why the death of David’s friend near the end felt so out of place. It was there to make Zero stop feeling overconfident but it still felt out of sync with the rather chipper story. It’s also apparently used to make David decide not to be Hero Zero anymore by the end. (Which is Dark Horse’s not so subtle way of cancelling such a failure of a character.
Overall, Godzilla vs. Hero Zero has never been known as anything special, and it certainly isn’t. It in theory might be the closest thing resembling Godzilla vs. Ultraman, but Zero is so unlikable one has to wonder if writer Michael Eury regretted writing the character. How TOHO  allowed such a crossover is tough to say, since the company seems against the type for the most part. At the very least it’s definitely a novelty.

 4/10