One month down!
This year, my goal was to write down all the media I’ve consumed, be it video games, books, comics, TV, or film. I wanted to make a media journal of all the things I have watched or played, and then write my thoughts about them, good and bad. That said, here’s my January Journal!
Final Fantasy VII — Remake
The highly awaited remake from the 1997 game, FF7R did a masterful job transforming the Midgar section of the original into its own adventure. While it was disappointing that I would not be playing the original story start to finish, what we got was a clever recreation with some minor changes and easter eggs galore for fans to sink into. The combat never got stale, with nods to the original game sprinkled into a brand new system that made each encounter more like solving a puzzle than just smashing the square button for victory.
The main cast and some supporting characters have been fleshed out, not just Cloud. Even Tifa (best girl) gets more characterization here, albeit slight. The other AVALANCHE players, Jessie, Biggs, and Wedge, also get way more screen time than before, adding more emotion to the opening of this epic story. The time spent with Aerith adds more weight to the relationship she shares with Cloud and Tifa. And when we finally get the whole gang together with Barret, the chemistry between these beaten but not broken characters really shines. Some of it is nostalgia, but the charm has been dialed up to help hook players into this story and keep them engaged.
While I could have done with a few less side quests, especially the one where you literally go kill some rats for a shopkeeper, the experience as a whole was a welcome one. Every story chapter has a purpose, even if it’s just a dusting of story elements that won’t actually pay off until the next remake game. Fans will definitely be along for the ride with this one, and I hope newcomers are able to keep up with where this story is taking them. Personally, I plan on tackling the hard mode of this game that limits MP recovery by chapter, making this tactical action game that much more methodical in taking each and every facet of combat into consideration before starting an encounter. It scratches that itch for a good welcome challenge. Way more than just “we made the enemies have more health bar HARD MODE.”
I recommend this to someone who’s looking for a unique story. There is plenty new with plenty familiar to enjoy here. I give it seven oversized swords.
Star Wars: Darth Vader
Star Wars: Darth Vader by Kieron Gillen, artwork by Salvador Larroca. This 25-issue run bridges the gap between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, taking us on an adventure with Vader as he battles to earn his master’s trust back after the Death Star explosion. It’s so fascinating to see this very well established character in a brand new light. He’s darker, edgier, and more ruthless than ever. Vader is not one to be crossed, and yet it’s exciting to see the big man get challenged and learn how to overcome incredible odds.
Thankfully, it’s not just a long brooding Vader the whole time, as Gillen introduces the charismatic Dr. Aphra into the story as Vader’s henchperson. She’s brash, wicked smart, and just as cunning as her boss. She brings a charm to the comic that helps to balance out the darkness that comes from the Sith Lord. It’s weird to find humor in a comic about Darth freaking Vader, but Dr. Aphra brings with her a light-hearted attitude. It’s no wonder she got her own comic arc after this story, and I am excited to get into her solo story soon!
We even get to experience the Vader Down arc that intersects with the Star Wars comic, meaning we get to see Vader fight off wave after wave of rebel attack as he searches for the Jedi pilot that destroyed the Death Star and his relationship with this master. There is so much to like here!
It’s a great romp through a galaxy far far away that I can easily recommend to any Star Wars fans looking to engage with other mediums now that The Mandalorian’s second season has come to a close. I give this two lightsabers up, but red to be edgy.
Oblivion Song — Volume 1
Oblivion Song, written by Robert Kirkman and artwork by Lorenzo De Felici. This is one that I will finish…eventually! Hear me out, I am a huge Kirkman fan. I own all the trades for The Walking Dead, as well as the compendiums for Invincible. Invincible may very well be my favorite comic of all time. I know Kirkman is a great writer, and his current run on Fire Power is just getting started with an interesting origin. But Oblivion Song, let’s talk about it.
A decade has past since 300,000 people were suddenly lost to Oblivion, without a trace. We follow Nathan Cole as he travels between our world and the world of Oblivion, still looking for survivors. It’s not long into the story before we find that some of these people rescued are struggling being back in our world. Some suffer from PTSD, from the stress of being someone lost to Oblivion, from going back to living a “normal” life. Nathan travels back constantly, still hopeful that his brother is surviving, that he can be saved.
It’s an interesting tale to be sure, with TWD vibes scattered about this new and different apocalypse. There was enough intrigue and chicanery to keep me hooked. The artwork has not clicked with me yet. Especially in Oblivion, some of these creatures just look like blobby blobs that blob hard. It’s worth continuing, and I hope that some of these big story threads left dangling bring some stunning resolutions. With one volume done and a few to go, I give Oblivion Song one really cool wavy apocalypse cloak up.
Vision: Issues #1–12
Vision, written by Tom King and artwork by Gabriel Hernandez Walta. In preparation for Wandavision, I figured giving a Vision comic a shot. Since my exposure to the character is limited to his MCU appearances, I figured it was time to see what life was like for the synthezoid.
Tom King’s Vision takes Vision into the suburbs, where he’s trying his best to just, live his life like everyone else. He creates for himself a loving family, a partner and wife in Virginia, and identical twins Viv and Vin. They just want to live, to be a normal family, go to school, go to work, have family dinners, mundane conversations, the human experience. The tone is set from the very first pages, with the family expecting their human neighbors over to introduce themselves. That interaction alone brings with it some very unsettling themes that run constant through this twelve issue story. How do they fit into this world? How does anyone? King really breaks down into the character of Vision, shining a light on his flaws, bringing turmoil to the family, and then doing their best to keep moving the next day, next day, and next day. The neighbors call them toasters, teenagers at school ask the twins if “they’re normal?” The emotion in this story is gripping, which contrasts against the synthezoid family’s vague expressions of emotion throughout.
This comic will doubtfully be integral to Wandavision (we’re four episodes in at the time of this writing) but this is still worth a read. It disrupts your mindset of what Vision is, in a chilling way that engages you to keep reading. I find the morose nature of this story so thrilling. It’s not normally a story that I would read, and I loved it. This one gets two cold white eyes.
Saga — Volume 1
Saga, written by Brian K. Vaughn and artwork by Fiona Staples. So this is one that I am still struggling to form an opinion on. Not if it’s worth my time or not, because it 100% is worth reading. I am actually not yet finished with Volume 1 so this review is a tad bit premature, but good lord is this comic worth your time.
Two enemies in a long-fought war find themselves entangled in an infectious infatuation that has them leaving their previous lives behind for each other. And spoiler alert (okay not really, you can see it in the image above) they also have a newborn child together, and must fight to keep their new family alive.
Alana and Marko’s relationship is incredible. The two clearly have a deep love for each other, one that is worth fighting for. So why is this worth your time? Well, the chemistry is just one aspect of this fantastic world we’re in. It’s amazing, and seeing the wordplay between these two lovers is plenty for a recommendation. But it’s how they fight, their personal struggles, compounded with surviving with a freaking newborn in tow that really helps keep the pages turning. Both armies want each of them eliminated, raising the stakes to a point that has yet to be explored for me, but one that will certainly bring these two to incredible tipping points, having to choose between saving themselves, or their new and stumbling family. I give this comic two fairy wings up, and I can’t wait to keep reading.
Best Leftovers Ever!
A silly show that has inspired Katy and I to try and repurpose all our leftover meals, Best Leftovers Ever is a fun competition cooking show that gives chefs a bunch of random junk in the fridge and has them turning it into fresh new meals. It’s such a silly show, essential to keeping sane while we’re still keeping our distance from others and enjoying more time indoors. There is plenty of fun facts for creating new dishes, or even just to sprinkle in something fresh into a bland leftover meal. The host is just as much fun. Her energy helps elevate the show, bring lots of laughs and a lighthearted tone. Whether you’re trying to cook more this year, or you’re finding that quarantine has you cooking the same thing week after week, try out Best Leftovers Ever to get some inspiration for your next meal! I give it eight takeout boxes, but then take two out for myself because I haven’t meal prepped for this week yet.
Wandavision — Episodes 1–4
Boldly going to into phase 4 of the MCU with a 30 minute TV sitcom-ish show was sure to ruffle some feathers, and it’s easy to see why. MCU fans, myself included, are so incredibly passionate about every frame, every sound, every little tick and tack that goes into a Marvel Studios production. Everyone’s excited to see what the happens after all those lost in the blip return back into the world. Fans want to see what Marvel has next, what the heroes are up to, what the villains are planning, and everything in-between.
Personally, releasing two episodes of the show to start was a great move by Marvel. If we got three weeks of classic sitcom troupes from two of our Marvel heroes, it would have lost some of that charm that fans are used to. The movies are so satisfying in a way. You get to sit down and get the whole story, the entire scope of the production, all in one sitting. With the weekly show releases, we’re practicing patience more now with theses bite-sized pieces.
I’ve had a few theories that I’ve spouted out already, most of them on Twitter, but I’ll end this section by simply saying that I’m enjoying what we’ve seen so far, and I’m excited to see what comes in the next few weeks. Lots of speculation, lots of anticipation, and just excited to see what comes next.
Thanks for reading! I imagine my February list of media will be a tad shorter, but thanks for sticking with me! If there’s anything you want to chat about, theories on Wandavision, things I should watch or read, hit me on the various social media things. Stay well and see you next month!