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October, 2016:

Recap – Agents of Shield S04E04 & S04E05 – I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts

I kind of skipped last week so… Double Feature!

Episode 4

LolaNot a ton happening in this episode though it leads right into a set up for Episode 5 and there’s a few good action bits.  The first comes right out of the gate with a halfway decent Car chase through LA between Robbie’s Charger and Coulson’s classic Corvette Lola.  It’s not quite a movie level chase but it’s more than you usually see on a TV show.  The chase ends with Robbie crashing into a cloaked Quinjet and being taken into custody.

Coulson and Robbie chat a bit and Coulson recruits him, somewhat unwillingly to the team.

Meanwhile Daisy has tricked Simmons into meeting with her by manipulating Simmons into visiting an apartment for rent.  Daisy is trying to convince Simmons that the Watchdogs have infiltrated SHIELD’s database of Inhuman locations and they discover that next ont he list is our old friend James, the fire powered Inhuman that had been working for Hive in the last season.  Turns out he’s been working, somewhat ironically, in a Fireworks shop for a bit now.

He mostly just wants to move on, though he’s not overly happy with his lot in life, or his Inhuman transformation through Terrigenesis.

We also get a bit more insight into Skye’s (sorry DAISY’s) motivation.  She and James have a little bonding moment about how Hive’s Sway control kind of f’d up their minds.  It kind of helps explain a bit more how she has suddenly done this crazy gothy 180 on SHIELD I suppose.  I still feel like it’s a bit extreme, she was under Hive’s control but I don’t recall her doing anything super duper Terrible.  James ont he other hand, was pretty much Hive’s fire spewing enforcer.  Though he also wasn’t a particularly nice person to start with even before going through Terrigenesis.

Unfortunately, he’s still not a nice person, because he’s working with the Watchdogs to eradicate the Inhumans.  Daisy is too injured to be much use against the Watchdogs and Simmons is, Simmons, so they run as best they can and hide.  Fortunately, Coulson and his crew show up with the help of Ghost Rider.

What follows is a pretty rad confrontation between Hellfire (James) and Ghost Rider.  Rad because they both have a very similar basic power, that is, they burn things and use them as weapons, and are both pretty much immune to fire.  Rad also because they are in the middle of a Fireworks shop, with expected results.  Ghost Rider captures James and they all head off in the Bus for the next mission…

Episode 5

Agents of Shield Robbie ReyesEpisode 5 is considerably more focused on it’s plot, as well as it’s location.  So far, most of the episodes have been very scattered in where the player are located, between SHIELD base and Miami, and LA.  This episode sees most of the primary players all brought together at last as they infiltrate a Prison to rescue Robbie’s uncle.  His Uncle is in prison for beating a man into a coma, a man who, along with the uncle himself, was involved in the accident that created the Ghost characters that we saw earlier in the season.  I’m actually getting a little irritated with the mystery around the Ghosts, I like mystery, but so far they are still kind of a complete mystery, not even any real clues as to how it’s all connected.

So retrieving a prisoner would normally be a no brainer for a government agency like SHIELD, except that our friendly Ghost has gotten there first and started infecting people, including the Warden, with the Fear Plague (or whatever you want to call it).  This includes several of the prisoners and guards as well.  Top it all off with a whole mess of Watchdogs grunts being kept int he prison as well and you have a nice little pile of kindling to spark a real mess of a conflagration (Aye fire puns for Ghost Rider).  Conveniently, Fitz has developed an inject-able cure for the Fear, so there isn’t any need to kill anyone else like with Agent May.

Anyway, there is a brief set up but most of the episode is action packed racing and combat in the prison facility.  Daisy gets to really strut her stuff this episode against a gang of Watchdogs as well, and interestingly enough, does it without using her powers at all, despite now being equipped with stabilizing gauntlets again to help keep her from breaking her arms.  She handles her own but ultimately needs a save from Coulson and May.  I’m starting to feel bad for her a bit, she keeps ending up bruised and bloodied either from her own abilities or whomever she is up against.  It’s also a routine that’s getting a little old.  I miss cheery fun Skye….

Meanwhile Mack and Robbie are working on rescuing Robbie’s Uncle.  They face off against a couple of the Ghost people and Mack gets to use the cure on himself to stop himself from going crazy.  It will be interesting to see if these previously infected people end up having some other angle come up later, either a relapse or maybe some general immunity.

Robbie ends up abandoning his Uncle to deal with an inmate who was part of the gang responsible for crippling his brother, an obvious boneheaded move that he was warned against doing earlier in the show.  And of course the Uncle gets taken by the Ghost and the whole mission ends up blown.

Skye, Daisy, Quake, Whatever....There’s a few unclear moments in this episode that seem to exist entirely to build artificial tension.  One, Daisy gets locked in the cafeteria with the Watchdogs, with Coulson and May right on the other side of the door, the door with glass windows.  Yet Coulson and May have to go through this elaborate mess of a plan to get in the back door to rescue Daisy.  I didn’t really get why they couldn’t just reopen the door, or just blast through it, this is SHIELD, at a minimum Coulson has a robot hand that could surely shatter through the glass door.

Then later when Robbie and Mack are separated, I’m not sure why they split up at all, especially with Mack seeming pretty concerned about trusting Robbie at all.  Before the mission there is this big to-do about how Ghost Rider can’t be unleashed in the prison because “everyone deserves vengeance of some kind” in prison (Ghost Rider essentially will only harm bad people).  Yet, here we are at a critical junction leaving Robbie alone with the target.

There is also this sub plot about how Simmons is getting uneasy about all of the secret she is being made to keep and how she has to take regular lie detector tests (yet it seems like no one else needs to).  Her test gets interrupted by the new Director who wants her to help him out with a TV interview involving the mysterious Anti Inhuman Senator that has been popping up this season.  During the interview the Director reveals that he is Inhuman himself.  The most interesting, or more, annoying, part here, is that this will be another event that the Movies will ignore, because EVERY THING IS CONNECTED… ONLY NOT.  Simmons then blackmails the Director with some sort of bad info on his past into getting out of ever having to take the Lie Detector tests again.  Then the Senator also blackmails him using footage of Ghost Rider incinerating that Gang Inmate earlier.  This poor Director seems to have all sorts of dirt floating around.

Speculation…

There’s not been any more word on who the Inhuman we saw who was the Senator’s brother.  She seems to want to wipe out or lock up the Inhumans, but she also seems to have her brother’s husk just sort of laying around.  The Senator has made a return though in force, so hopefully we’ll get more answers on this angle soon.

I’m still holding out for a possible Ward return, either by Ghostly means or by Life Model Decoy means.  Robot Ward could be pretty rad and it would sort of fit with him doing these almost 100% transformations each season to return as the villain.

There’s still some questions about the Watchdogs as well.  SHIELD hits people with their non-lethal ICER stun bullets, and they’ve surely taken enough Watchdog grunts in that they could have gotten somewhere in interrogating them by now.  Protecting Humans and Inhumans is only their entire job after all, they’ve got to be putting a lot of resources into these guys.  Especially with their Inhuman director.

Speaking of the Director, what mysteries is he holding in his past anyway?

Weekly Wednesday Haul: Cold Water Edition

Marvel Legends Iceman

Marvel Legends IcemanI’m getting real close to finishing up the Juggernaut Build a Figure now after picking up Iceman.  All that’s left now is Jean Grey.  Honestly both of these last two are kind of hard to swallow, they really are the more boring figures of this wave, especially Jean.  I’ve never been a big fan of Jean/Phoenix/Marvel Girl whatever you want to call her.  Iceman is alright, he’s just a little bland.  He’s got a lot of good pose ability, he’s got an interesting clear ice design going, he’s got little spiky bits and toes.  By all accounts, he should BE INTERESTING at least a little.

But he’s just… not.

This is really a case where a lack of accessories on these figures hurts, especially when so many figures in this wave had quite a few accessories, like Cable and Deadpool and Kitty Pride.  Some sort of Ice weapon or frozen display base would have been nice.

S.H. Figuarts Ranma Saotome

S.H. Figuarts RanmaI’m really enjoying the way Bandai seems to be bringing in old Anime/Manga lately to give them nice high end figures.  Well, they’ve probably been doing this, I just have noticed because they are doing shows I like.  Somehow I doubt I ever see a Figuarts for Iria or Gunsmith Cats, but I can hope.

Ranma seems to be slated for a pretty good line up, the first was the girl version of Ranma, the second seems to be Shampoo, then Male Ranma and Akane.  I really hope they continue and put out Ukyo and Ryoga.  I believe there was also a Figuarts Zero Panda Genma, but I’m not too keen on Statues.

I mentioned last week when talking about Figma Motoko, how I prefer Figuarts to Figma.  Getting Ranma so soon after Motoko really drives this down.  Motoko is a nice figure, but Ranma is definitely better.  Ranma has a slightly nicer sculpt, about the same amount of accessories, generally better joint design, and she is also a lot more stable and solid than Motoko.  Every time I remove one of Motoko’s hands, the join comes off with it from the wrist, and I’ve found her hair piece tends to fall off sometimes.  I haven’t had these problems with Ranma.

I’m not saying that the Figma is bad, I’m just saying, back to back, it really drives home why I prefer Figuarts.

Anyway, I don’t want to turn this into some full on review.  Also, this isn’t part of my other import figures that I teased last week.

Recap – Agents of Shield S04E03 – All the Smartest Agents are British

No episode due to the debates last week, and then my DirecTV box seems to be going on the fritz so I had to wait for on demand, but here we are, Episode 3: Uprising.  This weeks episode seems to be pushing up what’s likely going to be a major plot thread this season.  Someone is setting up the Inhuman population as being a bunch of rebels by disabling power in several major cities.

YoYo gets a lot of good screen time.  I was kind of wary about her coming back because she seemed a little boring last season, probably because she was also a bit under used.

Before getting into some more spoiler filled bits, I just wanted to say, that’s not really quite how EMPs work.

(more…)

Weekly Wednesday Haul: Japanese Girls Edition

Marvel Legends Sister Grimm (Nico Minoru)

Marvel Legends Sister Grimm (Nico Minoru)I mentioned last week when talking about Dr. Strange, that there was only really one other figure in the wave I cared about picking up, and it was Nico Minoru.  Also known as Sister Grimm.  She was originally part of the Runaways crew, their leader actually, but she’s moved on to other endeavors in the Marvel Universe.

She basically uses magic by way of her mother’s staff.  The figure is solid looking though not without it’s issues.  I also believe it may all be original tooling, not too many Marvel character share the design ascetics of “Gothic Magical Girl”.  I mentioned some issues.  She comes with an alternate “Magic infused” glowy arm.  Pulling the normal arm off was a pain, I was worried I might break it.  She also has some issues with her staff, or, more accurately, the tremendous weight of the staff + (removable) effect part and it’s effects on her little girly wrists.  Basically, she has a hard time keeping it upright, at least mine does.  It just wants to rotate the wrist downward.

Otherwise she’s a slick figure, nice paint apps, nice articulation, nice design.  I wish we’d get more of these “plain clothes” sort of characters and figures.

Figma Motoko Kusanagi

Ghose in the Shell Figma Motoko KusanagiI had given up hope of ever getting this figure.  I wanted it, then I sort of hemmed and hawed on getting it, and it sat on my Amazon list for ages around a price I was willing to pay.  Then I waited too long, and next thing I knew, it was going for $100+.  I should probably get better about browsing Japanese retail sites, since they can sometimes be cheaper for import figures but for now I mostly stick to US retailers online.  Anyway, I went searching for information on a  different Figma Motoko and came across this one, on a different site, for around what I originally wanted to pay.  So I decided to just go for it.

I don’t buy a ton of import figures, but I’ve been getting more in recent years.  I have only one other Figma, which is the Samus Aran figure.  Of the two major companies, I prefer S.H. Figuarts over Figmas, they seem a little more solid and run a little less price wise.  Anyway, like many imports, The Major comes with a variety of accessories and alternate hands and faces, including an alternate set of boobs.  The Boobs actually seem identical to each other, so I’m not sure the point in the second set but whatever.  She also has 5 pairs of hands, 3 faces, two hairs, a stand and a couple of guns.

imgp1251Pretty standard fare.

The design is nice, it seems to be a design closer to Ghost int he Shell Stand Alone Complex than the original movie (which I’m more familiar with).  Her knees are a little ugly in a lot of poses but everything else works fine.  She’s also a lot shorter than I had originally expected.  I’m not sure she is quite “1/12th” scale but it’s close enough that I can live with the height difference.

Also, as a bit of a teaser for next week or maybe two weeks, I expect to have a couple of more Japanese Imports, coming in, one is already sitting in my Pile of Loot over on BBTS waiting for the second to be ordered.

Weekly Wednesday Haul: Hodge Podge Edition

I ended up with quite a bit more than planned this week so I’m just going to dive right in…

Combiner Wars Groove

Combiner Wars GrooveIf you want to get really technical, I bought this back in May.  It only just now finally arrived.  The short story behind Groove, Hasbro decided having a motorcycle as part of the Protectobots was kind of absurd, since he would be crazy out of scale, so they replace him with a new character, Rook, and gave us a Legends sized Groove.  Takara, over in Japan, decided they wanted everything to be “really G1” and made their own Groove.  There were rumors about Groove not passing some sort of drop test, and this that being the reason he couldn’t be released in the US.  Then there were rumors that he was too complex/large to fit the budget for a Deluxe toy (I find this more likely).

Combiner Wars GrooveWhatever the reason Groove wasn’t initially released, he ended up getting his own special release.  This isn’t unprecidented, the year before the two missing members of the Aerialbots and Stunticons also got their own release.  I’m kind of hoping the Shuttle Blast Off gets one next year, mostly because it would mean I have 4 extra limbs from the “new characters” to use on Sky Lynx.

Groove Himself is… mostly alright, and really out of scale with everyone else.  I pretty much keep my Combiners combined though so I’m good with using Groove as a leg and recovering Rook to keep as a separate figure.  Rook is pretty great, but he’s kind of a boring limb.   I guess what I’m saying is, for those who missed out on Groove, you aren’t missing out on much, and he’s probably not worth the excessive secondary market mark up.

Transformers RID Bisk

In other Transformers gets, I was really surprised to find Bisk hanging on the pegs.  I’ve heard a lot of chatter about Bisk from people who watch the show and his designed seemed really neat.  He’s a big goofy Lobster robot that turns into, well, a Vehicon.  Mostly a Vehicon.  I don’t watch the show so I don’t know if there is something to it but his vehicle definitely resembles the Vehicon cars from Transformers Prime and his gun mounts help seal this deal.

RID Bisk and Vehicons

His Lobster-man robot mode is definitely not a Vehicon though.  He’s definitely, a giant Lobster-man.

It’s definitely a neat and fun design. The way his arms are jointed to flip around on themselves during transformation really adds a lot of poseability and options to the arms in Robot mode.  His backpack even works in his favor since it comes off looking like a Lobster shell.  I’m not sure if there is much else coming down the pipe for Robots in Disguise, maybe a few repaints, but if this is the last of the Decepticons we get, I’ll remain pretty satisfied.  It’s kind of a bummer that the Autobots of the earlier waves were just kind fo lack luster and unoriginal with their character options.

Robots in Disguise Bisk

Pardon the mis-transformed shoulder pads…

I can see how fans of a more traditional robot design in their Transformers wouldn’t like a lot of these Decepticon designs but I really like them a lot.  They are essentially all new characters, and all have this nice little theme going on that makes them feel like a team.  Honestly, they are starting to feel like some sort of rejected line up for a Mega Man X title.

Doctor Strange

So, along with Bisk, I was surprised to find the Doctor Strange wave of Marvel Legends.  I kind of worry this is going to be like the Ant-Man wave was, only possibly worse.  Half the figures were recently released in slightly different versions in a boxed set, that a lot of Doctor Strange Fans probably already picked up.  The other half of the figures are Doctor Stranges, one being the same as the Hulkbuster Strange + a cape, the other being a kind of lame “Invisible” Strange.  The third being the movie version Cumberbatch Strange.  This is the Doctor Strange I picked up, and it’s likely to be the primary draw for a lot of people in this wave.  The only other figure I want to pick up is the kooky Gothy Magic Girl, whatever her name is, mostly because the design is “neat” and she will be find for kooky photos.

imgp1235

This Doctor Strange is great.  I really like the MCU figures, they all seem to be pretty top notch and I prefer the realistic style over the comic looks for most of the the characters anyway.  He also comes with a different magic effect part!  Tons of figures have been getting the newish arm clip swirly thingies that I believe originally came with Scarlett Witch.  Several figures from this wave use them, the previous Hulkbuster Strange had them, they are starting to feel a little overused.  This movie Doctor Strange instead has a sort of shield glyph thing.  The fact that it holds like a shield is a little funky but you can’t really see the handle when he’s holding it due to it’s size.  It’s a nice change.  He also has extra hands, one set is kind of closed for holding things (like the shield magic part), the others are a slightly open and relaxed design.

On a side note, I’m kind of relieved to say my want list for Marvel Legends is finally dying down for the year.  There’s not really any waves left that aren’t starting to trickle into stores.  I don’t really want anyone from the Space Knight Venom wave, though I may look into Hob Goblin.  Spider-man waves with their endless Spider People and Symbiotes get really old, especially when Spider-man has so many interesting villains.  There’s the Abomination Wave, which has the MCU Scarlett Witch, a figure likely to be impossible to find.  I have a couple more X-men to pick up still and I really want that TRU Kate Bishop Hawk-eye, though I don’t want to pay the 3 pack price for it.  There’s been almost too many waves this year, they really could have cut an entire wave by maybe not putting a Captain America in almost every wave or something.

Star Wars Black Series K-2SO

imgp1231Lastly, I did some sort of “Force Friday” shopping, (the next day), and bought K-2SO.  The figures from Rogue One all look interesting and I’m pretty stoked for the movie but I kind of want to hold off on picking any of them up until the movie actually comes out.  Also there is a 3 pack with Jyn Erso that seems like a better idea than the solo figure, since it has another Rogue Squad guy and a Trooper.  I also really dig that unmasked Kylo Ren, but I hate the idea of buying the same figure again just for the new head.  I may look into doing some sort of import version to fill that desire instead.

K-2SO is pretty cool, he has a lot of interesting design cues from other Star Wars elements.   His back sort of resembles C3P0’s or a Storm Trooper.  I’m sure the head has shown up on some other similar droids (if not the same model).  The overall design kind of reminds me of a Super Battle Droid from the Prequel trilogy.His long spindly legs make him a little tricky to stand up and balance.  I also have no idea of what his real role is, He cane be posed pretty dynamically, but for all we know, in the movie, he could be as mobile as C-3PO.