Batman V Superman Extended Edition Review

Got the Extended Edition today and saw it, and I figure that I might as well do a review for it, to see if it really did improve upon the much maligned original (as many have claimed).

Firstly, if you're one of the (many) people who groaned at the "Martha" bit, or couldn't stand Eisenberg's Luthor, then you are likely not the sort of person who will like the Extended Edition any better. Me personally though, I'm in the minority of not hating the Martha bit or Eisenberg's Luthor, and ultimately my biggest gripes with the film were lack of humor, poor editing/continuity where the progression of the story was concerned, and Superman and Lois Lane feeling like they didn't have enough to say. So how does the Extended Cut improve upon these flaws?

Concerning Superman and Lois, while neither one feels like they got too many more interesting things to say, they did at least feel like they were given more to do. I especially love the scene where Lois sees that Luthor's pawn had a fully stocked fridge and realizes from that that he didn't know he was going to die. Seeing Lois play detective is nice, as it makes the character feel more competent, gives her greater agency, and also feels true to the hard-nosed reporter that we love from the comics. So, she doesn't have a lot more interesting stuff to say, but at least she feels like she contributes more. Similarly, it's nice to get to see Clark Kent do some more legwork of his own, and while Superman still feels like he lacks much of a voice, Clark Kent has one of his own. So in all, not a perfect or total improvement, but definitely noteworthy and good. After all, someone had to connect the dots where Luthor's scheme was concerned, not just for the heroes but also for the audience, and it makes sense that Lois the reporter would be the one to do it.

Concerning the lack of humor, that remains a problem, though I must say that Laurence Fishburne's Perry White is funny, and as much as everyone hates Eisenberg's "in-name only" portrayal of Luthor, I personally give him credit for bringing some amount of levity to the proceedings. I enjoy manic, over-the-top villains when done right, and so my opinion on Eisenberg's Luthor is this: as a version of Luthor, he's not good. But on his own merits, he's an acceptable villain that (again) is good for a chuckle or two.

While I'm on the subject of Luthor, I'm going to mention the plot, which is one of the most criticized things about the movie. Again, the "Martha" scene and Lois stupidly disposing a Kryptonite Spear are still there, but the good news is, thanks to additional footage, the plot flows much better and the story feels overall much smoother, more fluid, and with all of the many plotholes regarding Luthor's convoluted scheme being neatly plugged up. It is clear that the scenes that were cut needed to be kept, especially the one of Anatoli burning bodies to make it look like Superman fried them. This is such an essential moment to the greater plot of Luthor framing Superman, that I am baffled as to why it was removed from the theatrical cut. The revelation that the woman who testifies against Superman lied after being blackmailed by Luthor's goons, is yet another major plot point that should never have been cut. So, no, some of the most groan-inducing plot points are not removed, but on the flip-side, the overall story still feels better, and Luthor's convoluted scheme no longer has us scratching our heads wondering just how in the heck he was able to pull it off. This in turn makes him seem like a more capable and convincing villain.

The one downside to the Extended Cut is that it definitely feels it's length. At a little less than three hours and with many, many, story threads running throughout and also surprisingly little action all things considered, this is not a movie for the impatient or the inattentive. But, I'd rather the movie feel long than too short, as when the climax came I did not have the reaction I did when I saw the theatrical cut, which was along the lines of: "We're there already?"

Also, what was good about the theatrical cut is retained (and yes, there were good things about it despite the overzealous basher's claims to the contrary). Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jeremy Irons, Laurence Fishburne, and Kevin Costner are all just as good in their roles as they were in the theatrical cut, the action scenes are still top notch, and Superman's death and funeral scenes have the emotional impact they're going for. I wasn't weeping granted, but looking at those scenes I fail to see how the movie's haters would have done them any differently. In fact, the Extended Cut improves on the latter by noting that Clark Kent's funeral was funded anonymously by Bruce Wayne. Nice touch.

Having gone through all of the above, it should be clear that I do indeed consider the Extended Cut to be better than the theatrical, and what's more, this is definitely the version we should have gotten in theaters. Had we gotten it, it's doubtful that Tomatometer score would have been significantly higher, but at the same time it likely still would have been better than the less than 30% that it currently has. Not to mention that Zack Snyder's reputation wouldn't have taken an unjustified hit. It's perhaps not the wholesale improvement that some of us would have wanted, but to be fair the movie has inspired hatred sufficiently intense that it's doubtful any amount of editing would have satisfied. But for me personally, the Extended Cut is an unambiguous improvement over the original, and that's worth something at least.

Final Grade: B

Start the Conversation

Top 10 Justice League Episodes (S1 and S2)

It's hard to believe that the cartoon series Justice League is approaching it's 15th anniversary this year. 15 long years since I first got exposed to that cartoon and fell in love with it. To me, Justice League remains far and away the best superhero cartoon ever made. Yes, everyone loves Young Justice (myself included), but for me Justice League will always be number one, and not just because I grew up with it either. It's a legitimately great show, and so to celebrate it's 15th birthday a few months early, here's my Top 10 lists for the best episodes for Season 1, and the best episodes for Season 2. Enjoy!

Warning: In the very unlikely event that you have never watched this cartoon, this blog absolutely has spoilers. You've been warned.

Season 1 Top 10

10. Metamorphosis

3489364-justice-league-01x23-metamorphosis-part-two-13.jpg

The Story: When corrupt businessman Simon Stagg catches wind of his daughter's relationship with employee Rex Mason, he takes his anger out on Mason by making him the unwitting test-subject for his "Project Metamorpho". Transformed into a shapeshifting superhuman, Mason is then manipulated by Stagg into attacking his old friend Green Lantern.

Why It's #10: While this episode was definitely a bit corny in places compared to some other ones, Metamorpho is still a fun character with a power-set that just works great in an action-oriented cartoon. The many different ways he uses his powers is pretty impressive considering this was his only major appearance in the DCAU, and the episode also gets points for being one of many to flesh out the DCAU John Stewart as a character by giving him a friend/old war buddy. On the villain side of things, Simon Stagg's no Joker or Luthor, but he serves his purpose well enough as an amoral rich genius. After all, it's not like Luthor can always have that role. And, the pseudo-Chemo monstrosity he turns into made for a decent "final boss". I didn't even mind the shameless King Kong reference either.

Best Part: Metamorpho's fight with John Stewart and company that kick-starts Part II stands out as the best of the many fight scenes, though Metamorpho's heroic sacrifice/Disney Death was also good.

9. Injustice For All

3492223-injustice for all part 1.jpg

The Story: After contracting Kryptonite-induced cancer, Luthor decides to check off the most important item on his bucket list: kill Superman and the Justice League. To this end, he puts together his own team of supervillains in the Injustice Gang.

Why it's #9: While not the only "league of villains" type episode the show gave us, this one was fun enough, mostly for the presences of the honorable Ultra-Humanite and the always fun Mark Hamill Joker. The fight scenes were solid, and it's also a rare case of an episode where the whole League is present, which makes the fight scenes even better. Seeing Batman be awesome even when captive is also pretty fun, as is Luthor's growing frustrations with his team's incompetence. And, of course, Joker's Daffy Duck reference is also fun. Really, this is an episode that is actually at it's best when it's being funny or just plain fun. It's not a terribly deep or powerful story the way some other ones were, but it doesn't fail where sheer entertainment is concerned.

Best Part: Joker's absolutely awesome laugh at the end of Part I is not only the highlight of Part I, but also the best of the many laughs Mark Hamill Joker has done by far. Best Part II moment is probably Batman turning the tables on Joker, and also noting that he could have escaped at any time, but just chose not to because he found it more fun to mess with the Injustice Gang.

8. The Brave and the Bold

3337946-113.png

The Story: After being framed for theft, Flash investigates with Green Lantern into who the real culprit is, and ends up running afoul of the mad primate scientist Gorilla Grodd, who plans to destroy Gorilla City for rejecting his rule.

Why it's #8: Yes, Flash not being able to catch a speeding truck is really, really, stupid, but other than that low moment this was a fun episode. Getting to see Flash shine and prove himself is always fun, and this was one of many episodes to do just that. It also had some good moments for other characters too, such as the beginning of the Batman/Wonder Woman romance, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman stopping the missiles from destroying Gorilla City, and on the villain side Grodd at his most sinister as he tries to wipe out his own species purely out of spite. That's a level of sheer evil that Grodd lacked in all subsequent appearances, and so his villainy stands out a bit more here. Also, the Planet of the Apes reference is of course appreciated, as is Flash pointing out to a skeptical Green Lantern that, in the world they live in, a talking gorilla's not all that hard to find believable.

Best Part: Flash turning the tables on Grodd. In his own words, "he outsmarted a super-genius". For a close second, Wonder Woman kissing Batman on the cheek.

7. Secret Origins

5353113-jl_line-up.png

The Story: An alien invasion brings together a certain seven superheroes who will go on to become the Justice League.

Why it's #7: As the three-parter that started it all, I would have been remiss to not include this one on my Top 10 somewhere. Yes, some of the dialogue is a bit clunkier than the dialogue in subsequent episodes, and no, this is not the best episode ever. But, as far as series premieres go, this three-parter is very, very, good. No show worth it's salt has it's best episode as the very first, and this is a series premiere that is still leaps and bounds better than a great many other ones to come since (including, frankly, all of the series premieres for the CW shows except for maybe Flash). The fun of seeing the Justice League come together for the first time, the dark and tragic flashback to the war on Mars that saw the eradication of J'onn's species, and the Justice League turning the tables on the heliophobic invaders are all highlights. And of course, Batman gets to be the one to save the day. But that's okay, because Batman is awesome.

Best Part: Why, the Justice League officially forming of course!

6. In Blackest Night

5353122-john_stewart_on_trial.png

The Story: John Stewart is accused of destroying a planet, and is put on trial. Though even John himself believes he is guilty, his friends suspect a railroad job and search for the truth. Meanwhile, John's jailers the Manhunters have plans of their own.

Why it's #6: Part of why DCAU John Stewart is my favorite Green Lantern of all time is because of how much the show went out of it's way to humanize him, and flesh him out as a character. In just this episode alone we get to see John's neighborhood where he grew up, have him meet his old history teacher, and see a belief in accountability so strong he was willing to die for it. And of course, Phil LaMarr deserves praise for really making the role his own. This wasn't the only episode to build John Stewart's character, but it was one of the first, and also one of the best.

Besides all of that, the action scenes were fun enough (though perhaps with a bit too much of the Superman nerfing that was sadly common throughout Season 1). The evil lawyer joke that comes up when Flash offers to be Green Lantern's is hilarious, and just getting to see an episode that touches on the Green Lantern corner of the DCU (albeit a corner far less interesting pre-Geoff Johns), is fun.

Best Part: John getting to utter the Green Lantern oath is pretty epic, but I find myself even more drawn to the scene of Hawkgirl beating the ever-loving snot out of a few Green Lanterns in a pretty awesome bar fight.

5. The Enemy Below

3334092-106.png

The Story: When Aquaman's annoyance with the surface world's disregard for the seas becomes too much, he attempts to air his grievances, but an attempt on his life only serves to escalate the tensions, as does the takeover by his ambitious brother Orm.

Why it's #5: This episode introduced the DCAU's very Namor-esque take on Aquaman, and he's a good character. Besides that, it also introduced their Deadshot, a fun villain who gives both a good chase scene in Part I and also some nice villainous comic relief. I also love the redesign they gave him and find myself wishing more of the DCAU's characters had gotten similar treatment. The conflict with Orm is also a solid enough one, Orm being a sufficiently despicable villain that his death at the end is quite satisfying, especially the way in which it is done. And really, I can appreciate any DC production that does Aquaman right and makes him someone to be taken seriously instead of a joke character.

Best Part: No surprise here; Aquaman's sacrificing his own hand to save his infant son is the sort of powerful and emotional moment you seldom get in your average kid's cartoon. It's also part of why this episode breaks onto the Top 5.

4. A Knight of Shadows

3450059-justice-league-knight-of-shadows-part-two-12-600x450.jpg

The Story: After a brief look at how Jason Blood came to be bonded to Etrigan the Demon, we flash-forward to the present where he continues to fight Morgaine Le Fay and frustrate her efforts to get the Philosopher's Stone, fighting alongside the Justice League in the process. For her part, Le Fay soon gets an ally of her own in Martian Manhunter after hi-jacking his mind.

Why It's #4: Much like how the use of Greek Mythology went over well with me for Paradise Lost (more on that later), so too does the usage of Arthurian Legend here resonate with me and make the episode stand out. Etrigan also makes for a fun anti-hero, and his presence is an uncommon example of a superhero other than the big 7 showing up in the Pre-Unlimited years. The fight scene that pits him, Wonder Woman, Batman, and Flash against a legion of Morgaine's minions is one of the best fight scenes in the entire first season, particularly the way it ends. On the comedic side of things, the Hugh Hefner parody was fun, including how he comes on to Wonder Woman.

But, this episode isn't all slinging spells and cracking jokes at Hugh Hefner's expense. It's also a good showing for Martian Manhunter, as he struggles to resist the urge to give into Morgaine Le Fay's intoxicating promise to bring back his lost family. J'onn in the DCAU is a tragic figure, and this episode reminds us of that very well. But, in the end he's able to make the right choice, in a pretty satisfying moment.

Best Part: Etrigan's fight with Martian Manhunter, especially the "all honey and lies" line.

3. Paradise Lost

3334109-108.png

The Story: Upon returning to Themyscira to make peace with her mother for running off, Wonder Woman finds her mother and all of the other Amazons turned to stone by Felix Faust, who demands that Wonder Woman help him retrieve a few mystic artifacts with which he intends to bring the "I can't believe it's not Satan" Hades to Earth.

Why It's #3: It's generally hard to go wrong with Greek mythology, and this episode gets points largely just for that. True, it's take on Greek mythology is a far cry from the classical stuff, but so is God of War, and no one objects to that. Honestly, the fresh spin on it is part of the fun, and it's also just a good showing for Wonder Woman in general. Her exile at the end of the episode also gives it valid long-term consequences, making it more than just another standalone adventure.

All of the fight scenes are excellent, with of course Wonder Woman's fight with Superman in Part 1 and Hades kicking ass in Part 2 being the standouts. And really, John Rhys-Davies as Hades is just pitch perfect casting, as for that matter is Robert Englund of A Nightmare on Elm Street fame as Felix Faust. And I do love Hades' redesign. Pity that wicked awesome helmet is so quickly abandoned.

Best Part: Besides the fight scenes, the Wonder Woman narrated flashback to Hades' betrayal of the Olympians and banishment into Tartarus by Zeus is a pretty cool moment. The visual of Hades falling into a very intricately designed hell in particular stands out. Yet another highlight is this:

Wonder Woman: It's like some kind of temple...

Superman: Yes, for people who worship their credit cards

2. The Savage Time

3493528-savage time part 1.jpg

The Story: When the Justice League discovers that Earth is now under the rule of a Modern Nazi regime led by Vandal Savage, they go back in time to World War II to keep Savage from winning it and forever altering the course of world history.

Why it's #2: Simply put, you just cannot go wrong with showing superheroes beating the tar out of Nazis. Comic books in general took off because of World War II, and it's really become ingrained into the culture and history of superheroes. That, and as a Jewish guy I am legally required to enjoy seeing Nazis getting their asses kicked. So, that alone is reason for enjoying this epic three-parter. Besides that, it's fun getting to see the various Justice League members split up and each tackle a different part of the Nazi threat, also teaming up with various WWII heroes along the way, such as Sergeant Rock, Easy Company, the Blackhawks, and everyone's favorite Mansel-In-Distress Steve Trevor. That last one actually ends on a bittersweet note, which actually enhances the episode even more. A lot of cheer-worthy action moments are sprinkled throughout this three-parter, and it also deserves points for introducing to the DCAU Vandal Savage, who I like far more here than in Young Justice, the comics, and especially Legends of Tomorrow.

Also, seeing the more militaristic anti-hero Batman as leader of the resistance is pretty cool, and to a certain extent I wouldn't have minded seeing more action on his end of things. The Tim Drake, Barbara Gordon, and Dick Grayson cameos as members of his resistance was also a cool touch.

Best Part: Superman's happy embrace of Batman at the end of the adventure, complete with Batman's "am I missing something?"

1. Legends

3450046-justice-league-01x19-legends-part-two-31.jpg

The Story: During a battle with a Luthor-controlled robot, the Justice League sans Trinity end up in the idyllic, 1960s-esque Seaboard City, a place protected by John Stewart's old comic book heroes the Justice Guild of America. The two teams have an impromptu team up against the JGA's arch-enemies the Injustice Guild, but all in that world is not what it seems...

Why It's #1: Many of the people who actually worked on the show cited this as their favorite Season 1 episode, and with good reason: it's awesome. Simultaneously a love-letter to the more hunky-dory days of superheroes but also a tragic deconstruction, this episode works in large part because of the fun in seeing the dichotomy between the goofy-but-endearing Justice Guild superheroes, and the more serious and "modern" Justice League superheroes and how they interact and work together. That it's (again), a love-letter to old school superhero comics gives the episode a sense of fun and lightness that only makes it all the more tragic when the truth about the Guild and their world is revealed. The slow build-up to the reveal and all of the different hints that the world is not what it seems make the pay-off of the reveal that much better (more on that later).

The dedication to Gardner Fox at the end is an appreciated gesture, and the various references to the Justice Society and Adam West Batman show are also fun. Getting to learn a bit about John Stewart's childhood before he became Green Lantern is also nice, and it's hard not to feel his pain at the end when he has to see the living embodiments of his heroes fade away forever.

Best Part: A tie between the big scene where the truth about the Justice Guild's world is exposed, and how Flash's only takeaway from the entire experience is "Black Siren was a hottie" (to be fair, she was).

Season 2 Top 10

10. Secret Society

3492054-secret society part 1.jpg

The Story: Eager to pay the Justice League back for their previous victory over him, Grodd forms his own team of supervillains, also using his new mental powers to push the Justice League further and further into infighting and disbandment.

Why It's #10: While coming way too late in the series for the kind of story it's trying to tell (the Justice League's interpersonal woes are the sort of thing that would have been resolved earlier in their careers), this is still a good story overall. Yes, Batman knocking Sinestro out with a batarang is irredeemably stupid, but beyond that the Secret Society were well portrayed as a legitimate threat to the Justice League, and coming off as far more competent and dangerous than the Injustice Gangs. The inclusion of Clayface in particular is appreciated given the series' general lack of Batman characters, and of course the big stadium fight is cool. Though, honestly the warehouse and western town fights were also quite well done, as was Martian Manhunter using his shapeshifting powers to trick the Secret Society. For another good moment, the parody of the "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy" line between Flash and the crook he interrogates.

Best Part: "You overplayed your part, yo"

9. Hearts and Minds

3489486-hearts and minds part 2.jpg

The Story: When John Stewart learns that his former teacher/old flame Katma Tui is deep in enemy territory, he goes off to the planet Kalanor to look for her, soon running afoul of Despero and his minions the Legion of the Third Eye.

Why It's #9: Two words: Keith. David. Keith David is an awesome voice actor, and him voicing Despero was a smart choice, as he really makes the villain work. The more tragic and sympathetic portrayal of Despero also helps, but had he been saddled with a generic or lousy voice actor it would have killed it. Instead, they got the perfect choice. Despero's not the only thing I love about this episode, but he's definitely a big part of it.

Besides that, the expanded role for Kilowog is also appreciated, as is this being yet another standout episode for John Stewart (again, best GL ever). I also have to say that I really loved the setting for this episode in particular as well, with the art style and sensibilities used for Kalanor reminding me equal parts of Star Wars, Samurai Jack, and even Agrabah from Aladdin. The blatant Christ/Messiah allegory towards the end I could have done without, although I will say that the Pytar speaking through Martian Manhunter and the accompanying visual was kind of cool.

Best Part: Again, Keith David. Basically, almost any of his lines.

8. Maid of Honor

3489449-maid of honor part 1.jpg

The Story: Wonder Woman befriends a jet-setting princess from Kaznia engaged to be married to...Vandal Savage, still alive despite his apparent death in World War II, and still bent on world domination.

Why It's #8: The show people once referred to this episode as being a sort of love-letter to James Bond and it is very apparent in everything from the music to the plot to the dialogue and characters. That's not necessarily a bad thing either, considering this episode is frankly better than all but the best Bond films. Besides being a good episode for Wonder Woman in particular, I have to admit that the Princess Audrey character actually works. In lesser hands the character would have failed spectacularly and ruined the episode for any one of a number of reasons. But, thanks to Dwayne McDuffie's expert hand, the character is just the right balance of spoiled but sweet, fun loving, and genuinely concerned for her people's well-being that she actually works. So, praise to that.

The fight scene on the space station is obviously quite fun, and Vandal Savage's return in general is welcome. As I've already stated, this is my favorite take on Vandal Savage by far, and while this is technically the "least good" of his three appearances, it is by no means a bad episode.

And, Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince get to dance. That's nice.

Best Part: Flash's epic mass-speed blitz of revenge against the Kaznian goons. I honestly would have been fine with that lasting at least a few seconds longer.

7. Eclipsed

3491998-eclipsed part 1.jpg

The Story: A purple gem discovered by soldiers in the Middle East possess whoever touches it, turning them mad. Once the gem finds it's way into the Justice League's possession, Flash ends up being the only one left who can save the day.

Why It's #7: Like a certain other episode I will be covering further down, this one plays out vaguely like a horror movie; you've got your monster (the Ophidian spirits), the evil artifact (the Dark Heart), the creepy origin for said monsters, the slow build-up, and the hero running from the monster(s) in a darkened building before finally turning the tables on them. That this is yet another episode where Flash gets to distinguish himself is also praise-worthy, and the fact that he gets to save the whole planet is pretty dang cool.

However, there's also a fair bit of humor provided by Glorious Godfrey's blatantly stupid and vitriolic attacks on the League, Wonder Woman's withering scowl when Flash tries to placate her by reminding her that the Greeks "invented democracy", and of course Mophir. The ever bromantic relationship between Flash and John Stewart is also fun. It's not every day that comedy and horror can be mixed successfully into something good, but this episode delivers.

Best Part: The flashback to the Ophidian/Human war felt like something straight out of Samurai Jack or an 80s/90s fantasy novel...and I liked it.

6. Hereafter

3492019-hereafter part 1.jpg

The Story: During a battle with the Superman Revenge Squad, the Man of Steel is believed killed by Toyman. As the world mourns his loss and the Justice League struggles to make do without him, Superman wakes up alive and powerless in a post-apocalyptic future caused by Vandal Savage.

Why It's #6: While the blatant out-of-character moment involving Lex Luthor was jarring, this episode otherwise did a great job of doing it's own spin on the classic "Death of Superman" story, with the grief of Superman's assorted friends and family being well-done. Batman's denial and confessing to Superman's grave his respect for him is a highlight, as is the shot of him watching the funeral procession from the rooftop shrouded in the shadows (itself a reference to the Death of Superman comic). The battle with the Superman Revenge Squad was fun, though Batman's being able to throw Kalibak over his head is a questionable move. Speaking of, Lobo's beatdown of Kalibak is pretty fun. I can't call myself any kind of Lobo fan, but I'm not a passionate hater either. I just kind of take him at face-value I guess. His appearance here was fun enough.

On the Superman side of things, this episode deserves props for having Superman drive a car in a way that doesn't feel stupid or ridiculous. It actually works with the context of the story. I have to admit to also loving Superman's getting to forge a sword and just having to get by in a post-apocalyptic world without powers. It's an interesting situation to put him in. Finally, the semi-redeemed and repentant Vandal Savage was also fun to see, and I love how here he has more of a sense of humor too.

Best Part: The interactions between Vandal Savage and Superman were pretty great, especially this gem:

Superman: Why didn't you contact me?

Vandal Savage: Afraid you might be holding a grudge. If you'd shut off your comm I'd never have been able to find you.

Superman: Grudge!? You tried to take over the world, twice!

Vandal Savage: In the long run, not so important. Take it from someone who knows.

5. Twilight

3493526-twilight part 2.jpg

The Story: Darkseid comes to Earth to solicit Superman and the Justice League's support against Braniac. Though suspicious, Superman agrees to play along, but also tasks Batman and Wonder Woman with recruiting Orion of New Genesis to help out. As they go to New Genesis, Superman, Martian Manhunter, and Hawkgirl take the fight to Braniac.

Why It's #5: Darkseid is a badass villain, and this is his episode. Not only does the voice actor do a great job with the lines, but said lines are also awesome, and in all this just feels like a very good turn for DCAU Darkseid. The New Gods in general are a welcome presence in this episode, even if only a select few of them get any real attention. Forager getting to shine is fun, and I also have to admit to being amused by Wonder Woman's assessment of Lightray after he spanks her. And of course, Ron Perlman as Orion is good casting.

The battle between Braniac's forces and those of Apokolips is pretty good too, though the big brawl inside Braniac's asteroid is in some ways even better. The whole feel of the asteroid brings to mind Star Wars to a certain extent, but as an unabashed Star Wars fan I don't mind that. Also, this episode reestablishes repeatedly that Batman is the sane and rational member of the team, and that's one more thing I appreciate. Especially this:

"Next time I let Superman take charge, just hit me, real hard!"

Best Part: Come on. We all knew only this could be the best part...

4. Wild Card

3492097-wild cards part 1.jpg

The Story: Joker plants a series of bombs throughout Las Vegas and tasks the Justice League with disarming them all before time runs out. To keep them busy, he also sics his new team the Royal Flush Gang on them.

Why It's #4: Besides the ever entertaining presence of Mark Hamill's Joker, this episode also gets points for bringing back Arleen Sorkin as Harley Quinn, and functioning as a sort of "crossover" with the Teen Titans cartoon due to the Royal Flush Gang's members all sharing a voice actor with one of the Titans. The race against the clock also adds to the tension and in all, this feels like exactly the sort of crazy, off-the-rails adventure that the Joker is meant to provide. Things then take a turn for the surreal (and awesome) when Ace takes center-stage, using her powers to vegetate everyone before Batman turns the tables. Her takedown of Joker is awesome too.

On the more romantic side of things, John and Hawkgirl's love story finally reaches it's peak, and we even get to see Hawkgirl with her helmet off (finally!) Given what is destined to come later, it also adds a bittersweet touch to this episode.

Best Part: Joker's running commentary is hilarious, and a major part of the reason why this episode ranks so high (not that the other reasons mentioned above are inconsequential mind you). My very favorite is this: "Will true love prevail? (beat) NOT ON MY SHOW!"

3. Only a Dream

3489435-only a dream part 1.jpg

The Story: When nobody criminal John Dee gets powers of ESP, he becomes the sadistic supervillain Doctor Destiny and embarks on a mission to destroy the Justice League by plunging them into their worst nightmares.

Why It's #3: Like Eclipsed mentioned above, this episode plays out like a horror movie, and it's very well done. More so than many other episodes, this one shows just how much Justice League could push the boundaries for a kid's show given what Dee ends up doing to his own wife for her completely understandable rejection of him. That Batman is the one to save the day not only fits the story (Dee is, after all, most hateful towards the Leaguers with powers), but it's also just a moment of pure Batman badassery that does my Batman-fan heart proud. But, the episode also works because, it simultaneously shows how awesome Batman is, but also that he very much has limits same as any mortal man, and is struggling to keep going throughout Part II. It's a very good showing for Martian Manhunter too given that he's the one who saves Superman, Green Lantern, and Flash from their nightmares. Superman getting to punch Doctor Destiny right in the jaw while in GL's nightmare is a particular highlight there.

Best Part: The ending, where it's revealed that Dee is now catatonic, cursed to forever hum Frere Jacques over and over again...

2. Starcrossed

3492183-starcrossed part 3.jpg

The Story: The arrival of the Thanagarians to Earth exposes Hawkgirl as a spy for her people, and in the ensuing conflict the entire Justice League is shaken to the core, and the entire Earth threatened by a weapon capable of destroying it.

Why It's #2: I will likely get extreme flak for not having this as number one. Certainly it comes close. There are so many cheer-worthy, cathartic, and emotionally powerful moments in this three-parter that it is very much the pre-Unlimited series ending on a high note. Honestly, this finale actually packs far more of an emotional punch than the JLU finale "Destroyer", which was fun on it's own merits but lacking the sheer weight of this story. It affected every member of the Justice League very deeply, left wounds not easily healed, and ended on a bittersweet note that works perfectly. It is also noteworthy for being the last appearance of Alfred in the DCAU excluding comic book appearances, the one time Batman and Wonder Woman actually kiss (which is kind of unfortunate really...), and stealing the "Bat scene" from Batman: Year One before even Batman Begins got a chance to!

Best Part: John Stewart's "you can kiss my axe!" followed by his epic beatdown of Hro Talak. The batcave fight is also cheer-worthy, as are the numerous burns that the League (and Alfred!) get in on the Thanagarians ("I've asked Master Bruce to refrain from leaving trash in the yard").

1. A Better World

3493525-a better world part 1.jpg
3978976-justice_lords.png

The Story: In an alternate world, a President Lex Luthor murders the Flash and drives the Earth to the verge of a third World War, prompting Superman to incinerate him and then become a fascist oppressor over the Earth. When he and his team learn of the existence of the Justice League, they decide to go over and "enlighten them".

Why It's #1: Like Starcrossed, this episode had major, major long-term consequences for the DCAU, considering it formed the impetus of the entire Cadmus Arc from Justice League Unlimited, and gave both the Justice League and their government enemies something to be paranoid about for quite a while. Beyond that, the Justice Lords are just plain cool as villains, having awesome costumes, a level of moral complexity the average supervillain lacks, and even getting to act vaguely like their heroic counterparts in one of the best fight scenes in the series that sees them tackling the monstrous Doomsday. And yes, Justice Lord Superman lobotomizing Doomsday with heat vision is awesome.

Also, when one considers the similarities between this episode and the video game Injustice Gods Among Us (which I adore), it's little surprise that I have such a fondness for this two-parter. The big throwdown between the Justice League and the Justice Lords is a fun scene that's only drawback is not going on longer. But, what we get is still pretty cool. Finally, I love how much this episode establishes Flash as the glue that holds the Justice League together, and how his humor and optimism and compassion are what keeps his team grounded and from turning into authoritarian oppressors. In all, the absolute winner not just of Season 2, but of the pre-Unlimited Justice League series in general.

Best Part: The philosophical battle between the Batmen that embodies the entire moral conflict between their two teams.

9 Comments

Injustice 2 Character Predictions

Wow. Has it really been over eight months since my last blog post?

Well, time to do a new blog post. This one's a character prediction set, namely for the recently announced Injustice 2 which looks awesome. I am fully in favor of the gear system, as the notion of getting to customize the DC characters to have them looking exactly as I want them to appeals to me greatly. That in mind, what characters do I think will be in it?

Before I start doling out guesses, it goes without saying that they are exactly that. Guesses. Admittedly, wishful thinking might be influencing some, but I ultimately feel that these guesses are solid ones rather than totally out of left field. Also note that this blog will be periodically updated as new characters are announced.

Now, we know that Superman, Batman, Flash, Supergirl, Aquaman, Grodd, and Atrocitus will be in the game. Wonder Woman was recently confirmed to appear as well as part of her 75th Anniversary announcement (and then confirmed again at SDCC). Finally, Blue Beetle was confirmed at SDCC.

The character roster shows that there will be close to 30 playable characters at launch (28 to be exact). So, that leaves 19 character spots unaccounted for.

Now, recently there was also an Injustice 2 t-shirt released:

5271922-injustice-2-t-shirt.jpg

Besides Batman's cowl, Wonder Woman's shield, Superman's logo, Flash's boot, and Aquaman's trident, you can also very clearly see a lantern power battery, a gun, Doctor Fate's helm of Nabu, and Harley Quinn's mallet. From this, I'd say characters 10-13 are Green Lantern (likely Hal Jordan), Harley Quinn, Doctor Fate, and Captain Cold (as his cold guns are what that gun most looks like). I suppose Adam Strange would be another possibility, but I feel that Captain Cold is the more probable candidate. Similarly, one could say the lantern belongs to Atrocitus and not a GL, but I personally doubt that the game won't have a single Green Lantern.

So, assuming that the t-shirt is accurate and 10-13 are indeed Hal Jordan, Harley Quinn, Doctor Fate, and Captain Cold, who could the remaining 15 be? My guesses:

Update: Harley Quinn has indeed been confirmed, and Deadshot along with her, leaving only 14 other characters to be confirmed.

Character 15: The Joker

5153025-jlokerart-2.jpg

Yes, his Injustice-universe counterpart is many years dead, but assuming the Injustice 2 story once again involves multiple Earths, there's little reason why Joker wouldn't return, given his status as DC's most iconic villain. Just based on that, I find it hard to imagine that he just wouldn't be in the game at all. But, if the story in Injustice 2 is exclusive to the Injustice earth, then who knows? Maybe the Joker won't actually be in it. But personally, I'd consider that a loss. Ultimately, Joker's inclusion depends on the story mode (though there is also the possibility that Joker just won't show up in the story mode but be playable outside of it).

Character 15: Lex Luthor

3982794-untitled-2.jpg

In some ways, Luthor would be easier to include than Joker. Reason being, that even if the story in Injustice 2 only involves the Injustice Earth, I could easily see Lex from the other Earth going over to the Injustice Earth via some kind of invention he made to go from one reality to another. And once on the Injustice Earth, I could see him trying to take advantage of the situation by trying to convince Batman to let him help against Superman and the Regime's remnants. Or possibly even help Superman by pretending to be as friendly towards him as the Injustice Earth Luthor. Simply put, whether by another "crisis on two earths" or his own individual initiative, I don't see why Lex Luthor can't be included in the game. And really, between being a perfect fit for the Gear System and also being another one of DC's oldest and most iconic villains, he deserves to be in the game.

Character 16: Shazam or Black Canary

4458840-conv_shaz_1_54b45841dd0eb3.93524203.jpg
4767888-tumblr_nrehmp7f891uabal4o1_500.jpg

Like Joker, Shazam's inclusion could depend largely on the state of the Story Mode, but also like Joker I could see him making it in and just be left out of the story mode. As someone who was in both Injustice 1 and also MK Vs. DCU, I just feel that he has a decent chance of showing up. But also a bit less of one than Joker and Luthor. And, if not Billy, I could see Black Canary making it instead, as she was actually meant to be included in the first game before being cut from it. Now, she did technically "die"/get transported to another earth in the prequel comic, so like Billy, the state of story mode could affect her chances. And while we're on the subject of Black Canary...

Character 17: Green Arrow

2857122-untitled.png

Yet another one whose chances of inclusion could be hurt by the state of the Story Mode. But I've already covered that. And really, given GA's status as one of DC's most major superheroes plus the uniqueness of his archery-based gameplay, I'd be very surprised if he didn't make the cut. That said, if not Green Arrow, I could see Roy Harper being playable in Oliver's stead (especially considering Roy showing up in Green Arrow's IGAU ending).

Character 18: Catwoman

4797529-tumblr_nsfuaqlfkt1s1w9elo1_500.jpg

Given Catwoman's status as one of the most major DC females ever, and also her previously being playable in IGAU and MK VS DCU, I think she stands a pretty good chance of coming back for more. Especially considering her story with Batman, which could always be continued in the second Injustice game after the first game had it end in a pretty rotten place. I won't lie; I really want Catwoman in the game given she's my favorite female character of all time. But again, all things considered I think it's pretty likely she'll be in it, so it's not just wishful thinking here.

Character 19: Deathstroke

5195660-deathstroke_by_arttoroartservices-d72cq00.jpg

Given how much of a presence he was in the first game, his Injustice counterpart being one of the few active characters left in that world, and his just being made for both fighting games and a gear system (not to mention his popularity), I would be quite surprised (and disappointed), if Deathstroke didn't come back for the sequel.

Update: With Deadshot having been confirmed and having by all appearances a very similar moveset to Deathstroke, it now seems unlikely that Deathstroke will be in the base game, but an appearance via DLC or else as an NPC shouldn't be ruled out as a possibility.

Character 20: Zatanna

5162140-tumblr_nz071thcyu1skf43ko8_500.jpg

Besides Catwoman and Wonder Woman, Zatanna is my favorite female DC character of them all. That being said, I don't think this one is mere wishful thinking on my part; on the character select screen, while most of the character images are silhouettes that have almost no discernable details, one of them actually does seem to be wearing a hat of some kind, one that also looks vaguely like a top hat. As there aren't too many other major DC characters who wear such a hat, I have the feeling it's Zatanna...or Jonah Hex, I guess. But given that the latter would require some kind of time travel and Zatanna's a slightly more major character anyway, I think she's got the slightly better chance of the two (but again, I do like her a lot, so maybe I'm just biased there).

Edit: While my assumptions regarding the silhouettes are off-base due to how the silhouettes are just fill-ins and not indicative of who the actual characters will be, Zatanna is one of the only heroes in the Injustice universe still alive and on Batman's side, and so just from that it seems feasible that she could make the main roster. And, between her magic being good for a moveset and her being a semi-major DC heroine with a strong following, I see her inclusion as being possible.

Character 21: Cyborg

5123049-11.jpg

In recent years, he's become one of the main members of the Justice League and by extension, one of the main DC heroes. Given that and his big role in the first game, I think he's got a decent chance of coming back. He'd be good for the Gear System too.

Character 22: Martian Manhunter

4908995-tumblr_nq7jwfenbz1sr7281o1_1280.jpg

Seemingly killed in the prequel comic, his character ending in the game proper reveals that he actually survived and disguised himself as an Atlantean. As one of the few remaining heroes on the Injustice Earth, he'd be a logical choice for the game. Not to mention Batman could do well to have such a powerful hero on his side, given that (again), J'onn is one of the only ones left. And of course, his diverse assortment of powers and status as a major DC hero are just two more good reasons for including him. So, like Zatanna, I could see him go from a DLC hero to a member of the sequel's base roster.

Character 23: Darkseid or Trigon

5213492-the_power_of_darkseid__by_theinsanedarkone-d7757xj.jpg
2644299-screen_shot_2012_10_12_at_8.04.32_pm.png

Besides his being a fairly major DC villain that was also playable in a previous Netherrealm game, there's another reason Darkseid has a solid chance of showing up; what little information has been revealed for the story so far indicates that besides the remnants of Superman's regime, another threat to the Earth is waiting in the wings. The implication is that it's not a human threat, and with that in mind, an invasion from Apokolips led by Darkseid seems as likely a culprit as any. If not Darkseid, Trigon is another possibility, as his coming was hinted in the first game by Regime Raven.

Character 24: Orion or Raven

3249058-orion_by_craigcermak-d3lkbhl.jpg
4673558-raven_by_marconelor-d6gbbzq.jpg

Either one, depending on whether it's Darkseid or Trigon who is the "other threat" that Batman and company will have to deal with.

Character 25: Damian Wayne

Injustice: Gods Among Us

Given that they went to the trouble of making Damian Wayne Nightwing in the first game and his very personal relationship to both Batman and Superman, I'd be surprised if Damian didn't come back at all in the sequel. As one of Superman's most fanatically loyal followers, he seems like a perfect choice for the role of "leader of the remnants of the Regime". We know that some of Superman's followers are trying to rebuild his empire, so why not have his "son" lead that crusade?

Character 26: Vixen or Beast Boy

4615376-tumblr_n3cbev4c7s1sp0c5uo1_1280.jpg
4676038-tumblr_nni691otha1r1oi1wo1_1280.jpg

Given the sheer versatility that being able to channel the powers and/or forms of different animals entails, having one of these two seems like a no-brainer. As far as gameplay goes, they'd make for extremely fun to play characters. The only question is, which one would they use? Personally, I feel Vixen is the slightly more likely of the two for several reasons: 1) Because of her recent surge in notoriety thanks to the CW, 2) She would probably be easier to do due to not changing into animals and thus being less of a chore to animate, and 3) If Martian Manhunter is in the game, it seems doubtful they'd want to have another green-skinned shapeshifter besides him, at least in the base game. But ultimately, I feel like one of them will show up.

Character 27: Poison Ivy

4779243-poison_ivy_by_dannykim-d77ed8q.jpg

Plant control is another kind of moveset we've not yet seen in Injustice, so like Beast Boy/Vixen it could lead to some fun possibilities gameplay-wise, such as vine attacks, summoning roots, and so on. That, and given Poison Ivy's sheer popularity (especially in recent years), and the series' proven love of Batman characters in particular, I think Ivy has a solid chance of showing up. Honestly, I'd even argue she has just a good a chance of appearing as Bane does.

Character 28: Brainiac

4119277-zzzzzzza422.jpg

All told, that above picture made me think Brainiac had already been confirmed. And as it is, it's not too late to include him. His wide range of powers and gadgets would make him well-suited to a fighting game, and his connection to Superman means he could also serve the game's story (including being another possible candidate for that vague "other threat"). Perhaps he'll even work with Darkseid, just like in the Justice League cartoon. Who knows...

DLC Predictions:

Based on Ed Boon's desire to escalate with the DLC in relation to previous NRS games, it's safe to assume at least 10-12 DLC characters (to MKX's nine and IGAU's six). That in mind, what characters are most likely for DLC? Here are my predictions for those:

DLC Character 1: Doomsday

3622758-doomsday 1.png

While I consider him to be one of the first game's characters who is less likely to return for game #2, that's only in respects to the base game. As a DLC character, I could definitely see him making his return, which could be emphasized by his "returning" from the Phantom Zone after being sent into it by Superman in the first game's story mode. As for how he could work for the "Gear System", it's as one poster already suggested: it could be based around his ability to "adapt", just like he can in the comics, changing his biology and form over and over.

DLC Character 2: Red Hood

2397546-batman_annual_025_page_03.jpg

A lot of people wanted Jason Todd in the first game. I'm pretty sure he did well in polls too whenever Ed Boon asked people what other characters they wanted for IGAU. Having never made it into the first game, I could definitely see Netherrealm deciding to change that here and give Red Hood a spot, at least as DLC. While it might be hard to make his moveset stand out in relation to Batman, Damian, and Deathstroke, I think they'd be willing to make the effort to get in such a hotly demanded character. Jason might get denied a place in the game a second time, but I think it's just as likely that he won't be.

DLC Characters 3 and 4: Sinestro and Star Sapphire

3620772-sinestro_animated_update_by_worldsfinest-d4wm9kf.jpg
4792371-a90b5ea6a17a88b0b571f5786e24eaca.jpg

While more than two Lanterns in the base game seems unlikely, given the sheer versatility of constructs Lanterns can create plus the different intricacies of the different Lantern Corps, I could see a few more making it in as DLC, in a manner similar to how the "similar but different" Batgirl and Zod were DLC in the first game. And, given Sinestro's status as both Green Lantern's arch-enemy, and a playable character in the first game, it seems feasible that he'd show up in either the base game or as DLC. Carol should also have a good chance for DLC at least--her powers are similar but different to Green Lantern, Sinestro, and Atrocitus, she can create different constructs from them, and she did show up in the prequel comic, meaning she's a character who's still alive in the Injustice universe and thus easier to believably include.

DLC Character 5: Black Manta

black manta

Yes, he's a stage transition in the Atlantis level, but it should be noted that Ed Boon did not dismiss the possibility of him showing up as a playable character. That said, it seems unlikely he'd be part of the base game. More likely, they'll do with him what they did with Martian Manhunter in game #1: have him be a cameo NPC in the base-game, only to make him fully playable later as DLC.

DLC Character 6: Hawkgirl

4935645-tumblr_nwe8z8fta11qlrpiko1_1280.jpg

Like Sinestro and Doomsday, Hawkgirl's a character from the first game who I don't see making it into the base roster in Injustice 2. But, she could still end up becoming a DLC character. And really, she'd be a perfect fit for the Gear System.

DLC Character 7: Bane

Bane of the Smallville TV Series Universe

Same reasoning as Hawkgirl

DLC Character 8: Firestorm

4935378-3084491677-proje.jpg

Honestly, this is one I could see showing up in the base game, even. He's a semi-major DC character, he's got a dedicated fanbase, his popularity has probably surged recently thanks to Legends of Tomorrow, and he's got cool powers that's fire and transmutation bents are both material for a moveset unlike anything any other character can bring to the table. Especially considering no chiefly pyrokinetic DC character seems likely. None that is, save for...

DLC Character 9: Heatwave or Firefly

878863-heatwave.jpg

3421955-289fireflyface.png

The former's possible inclusion is mostly on the account of both his nemesis Flash and literal partner-in-crime Captain Cold both showing up in the game. Granted, Captain Cold's inclusion has not yet been confirmed, but honestly even if Captain Cold doesn't show up, Heatwave could still have a chance. And if not Heatwave, Firefly would be a solid choice. C-lister he might be, but he's a cool and popular C-lister who's jetpack, flamethrower, and arsenal of flame-based weaponry could make him a real treat in gameplay terms. Not to mention that, as a villain who wears a lot of gear/armor, he'd be a logical fit for the Gear System too. So ultimately, either of these pyromaniacs could end up being DLC.

DLC Character 10: Ares

Larger than life - Wonder Woman #167

Honestly, given his importance to the story, it's quite likely he might make into the base game again. But either way, I'd be surprised if Ares didn't come back for the sequel.

DLC Character 11/Guest Character 1: Spawn

3385818-116001.png

NRS got temporary rights to the character, and as such a lot of people are already speculating that he'll be in the game as a DLC guest character. It's a sound assumption. It's either this one or MKX, and I don't think a third Kombat Pack for that game has been announced yet. That leaves Spawn as DLC for Injustice 2 quite likely.

DLC Character 12/Guest Character 2: Sub-Zero

Sub-Zero

Another one that's already been heavily speculated, and with good reason: Scorpion was a guest fighter in the first game, so it's quite likely they'll give MK's other poster boy an appearance in the sequel (especially considering they did a similar thing in MKs 9 and 10 with Freddy and Jason). And honestly, Sub-Zero is a perfect fit for the DC Universe. Think about it: the cool costume, the superpowers mixed with martial arts skill, the mask, the tragic backstory with dead relatives...he and Scorpion couldn't be more perfectly suited to a superhero world like the DCU. So between it all, I think Sub-Zero or some other MK character as a guest fighter is very likely indeed. If not Sub-Zero or a returning Scorpion, then someone else.

44 Comments

Star Wars Characters Feats Compilation (In-Progress)

Been a while since I've done a blog post, and a very long while since I did a Respect Thread. So, to mark my return, I decided to do a shared respect thread.

Star Wars' Legends Continuity is filled with not just great named characters, but also numerous "enemy types" that are each interesting and cool in their own way. This Respect Thread is thus dedicated to various kinds of "Elite Fodder", if you will. Characters that are sufficiently impressive that beating lots of them is worth just a bit more then trashing standard Battle Droids.

This Respect Thread is currently in-progress. More will be added as I get new information.

To begin with, Revan and Malak's Sith Apprentices and Masters.

Respect Sith Apprentices/Shadow Hands

4856199-sith apprentice.jpg

"Lord Malak was most displeased when he learned you had escaped Taris alive. He has promised a great reward to whoever destroys you!"

Combat Skill

A Sith Apprentice briefly contends with Bastila (albeit Bastila before getting her preferred double-bladed lightsaber).

4856204-bastila vs. dark jedi:sith apprentice.gif

Some Sith Apprentices use double-bladed lightsabers. That the double-saber is harder to master means we can safely infer that the Sith Apprentices that use them have at least some level of skill and are thus not completely bottom tier as duelists.

Proof of Sith Apprentices using double-sabers:

Proof of a double-bladed lightsaber being harder to master:

It requires a firm stance and a two-handed grip. Novices are likely to injure themselves while training, which will expose the flaws in their techniques.

-The Book of Sith

Traditionally used only as a training device, the double-ended saber can be much more dangerous to its wielder than an enemy.

-Star Wars Episode I: The Visual Dictionary

Wielding double bladed lightsabers is incredibly dangerous, and unskilled Sith have ended their own lives-and the lives of those around them,-when attempting to use such a weapon before their training is complete.

-Star Wars the Old Republic Encyclopedia

Many of the Sith Apprentices and Dark Jedi were once Jedi who had fought in the Mandalorian Wars alongside Revan and Malak. This makes them veterans of that conflict and means they would have likely had to fight and kill Mandalorian Neo Crusaders. The below quote actually speaks to Revan and Malak specifically, but it does also apply to the Sith Apprentices, as many Jedi did follow Revan and Makak to the Dark Side:

When they left after the Mandalorian Wars ended, they were Jedi. When they returned...they were something else.

-Carth Onasi, Knights of the Old Republic

Concerning Force Power, Sith Apprentices are said to be "second only to their masters" in the ways of the Dark Side, meaning they are above Sith Students and Dark Jedi where Dark Force power goes.

4856314-blankslide 2.jpg

Telekinesis

Telekinesis is a basic Force power enabling Force users to alter and manipulate objects and beings around them with the power of their mind.

Sith Apprentices know how to "move objects" with the Force

4856280-blankslide 3.jpg

Force Rage/Dark Rage

Force Rage is a Dark Side aligned Force power that sends the user into a state of fury that enhances their fighting potency, but also leaves them at risk of falling to the Dark Side (if they haven't already).

The Sith Apprentices can go into a Force Rage, or "Dark Rage":

4856296-force feats1.png

Energy Resistance

The Sith Apprentices can use the force to become resistant to energy

4856345-force feats2.png

Force Grip

Force Grip is a Dark Side Force power that allows the user to seize the victim in a vice-grop and hoist them aloft (and choke the life out of them) without laying a finger on them.

Sith Apprentices know Force Grip:

4856365-force feats3.png

Force Lightning

Force Lightning is a Dark Side Force power that is the ability to unleash deadly crackles of electrical energy that cause excruciating pain and weaken life.

The Sith Apprentices know Force Lightning:

4856372-force feats4.png

Telepathy

Telepathy is the ability to communicate thoughts or affect the mind of another.

Sith Apprentices know Mind Trick:

4856403-force feats5.png

Wound

Force wound is a telekinetic application which allows a Force user to directly wound another, often internally.

Sith Apprentices know Wound, and it's also worth mentioning that they know "Improved Wound", indicating that they are particularly adept with this power.

4856407-force feats6.png

All Force Power evidence and accolade are taken from the Star Wars: Roleplaying Game Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide. And to prove I'm not just making this stuff up, here are the full pages:

4856305-sith apprentice info.jpeg
4856306-sith apprentice and master.jpeg
4856317-kotor_dark_jedi.png

Respect Sith Masters

4858829-sith_lord_(dxun).jpg

"Failure Captain, will not be tolerated"

Combat Skill

As stated above, Sith Masters are superior to their apprentices in the Dark Side, meaning anything their Apprentices can do, they can do better. Further, because they trained their Apprentices to among other things fight with a lightsaber, it can be inferred from that that they have some skill themselves:

Dozens if not hundreds of Sith apprentices learn the ways of the Dark Side of the Force, and a few even rise to the rank of Sith Master, training students of their own.

-Taken from the Star Wars Roleplaying Game: Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide

For another indicator of combat ability, one of Malak's Sith Masters stationed on Lehon was able to destroy multiple droids so easily to the point that he was getting bored, and was thus excited when Revan showed up at his doorstep:

"Revan! Lord Malak told us you still lived! At last, a challenge worthy of my skills! I grow bored slaughtering these mindless droids!"

-Taken from the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Force Rage/Dark Rage

Force Rage is a Dark Side aligned Force power that sends the user into a state of fury that enhances their fighting potency, but also leaves them at risk of falling to the Dark Side (if they haven't already).

The Sith Masters can go into a Force Rage, or "Dark Rage":

4856428-sith master force feats1.png

Apologies for the blurriness, but it was the best I could do.

Sith Masters can make themselves resistant to energy:

4856432-sith master force feats2.png

Force Lightning

Force Lightning is a Dark Side Force power that is the ability to unleash deadly crackles of electrical energy that cause excruciating pain and weaken life.

The Sith Masters know Force Lightning:

4856441-sith master force feats3.png

A Sith Master uses Force Lightning to easily destroy a droid:

4856442-sith master uses force lightning.gif

Force Scream

Force Scream is a somewhat more esoteric Force power that allows the user to unleash a powerful wave of destructive energy from the mouth. In essence, a bit like a "sonic scream".

Sith Masters know Force Scream:

4856455-sith master force feats4.png

Telekinesis

Telekinesis is a basic Force power enabling Force users to alter and manipulate objects and beings around them with the power of their mind.

Sith Masters know how to "move objects" with the Force, as well as "slam" opponents and objects telekinetically and "rebuke"

4856454-sith master force feats5.png

Telepathy

Telepathy is the ability to communicate thoughts or affect the mind of another.

Sith Masters know Mind Trick:

4856471-sith master force feats6.png

Slow

Force Slow is a power that slows down the movements and perceptions of an enemy.

Sith Masters know Force Slow:

4856474-sith master force feats7.png

Wound

Force wound is a telekinetic application which allows a Force user to directly wound another, often internally.

Sith Masters know Force Wound:

4856477-sith master force feats8.png

Like with the Sith Apprentice, all Force Power evidence (except the Gif, of course) are taken from the Star Wars: Roleplaying Game Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide.

4856321-hqdefault.jpg

Respect Jedi Snipers

Coming Soon!

Respect Jedi Brutes

Coming Soon!

Respect Jedi Temple Guards

Coming Soon!

Respect New Reborn

4871142-new_reborn_face.jpg

"Let's see how good you are!"

Combat Skill

New Reborn can fight with a single lightsaber, two, or a double-bladed lightsaber:

Reborn Adept use either a single lightsaber (with all three combat styles active), a dual bladed saber staff, or dual lightsabers

-Taken from Star Wars: Jedi Knight, Jedi Academy Prima Official Strategy Guide

And the more advanced New Reborn do the same:

Warriors are basically jacked up versions of the basic Reborn Adept

-Taken from Star Wars: Jedi Knight, Jedi Academy Prima Official Strategy Guide

The first Reborn encountered by Jaden Korr on Vjun was noted to be "quite a bit tougher" than those Jaden had faced previously. It's worth noting that up to this point Jaden hasn't encountered any Reborn yet, meaning the quote is probably referring to Disciples of Ragnos cultists:

Afterwards, you're attacked by a Reborn. This one's quite a bit tougher than the ones you've been facing.

-Taken from Star Wars: Jedi Knight, Jedi Academy Prima Official Strategy Guide

Reborn's being better than Cultists is further supported by this:

There are two Cultists standing guard at the bottom of the lift and a third waiting at the top. You come out on the upper catwalk of the big room, where you're engaged by a tougher Reborn.

-Taken from Star Wars: Jedi Knight, Jedi Academy Prima Official Strategy Guide

And here's something that supports both of those above excerpts. Note that the presence of just one Reborn and Cultist is considered a "tough fight" for this iteration of Jaden Korr. Technically, it doesn't specify who's the lesser of the two, but in light of the above excerpts, it can be assumed that the Cultist is the lesser:

At the top of the lift are a Cultist and a Reborn. This is a tough fight. Try and take out the lesser of the two quickly, so you can concentrate on the other.

-Taken from Star Wars: Jedi Knight, Jedi Academy Prima Official Strategy Guide

Force Power

Reborn Adepts mix in "basic defensive and offensive Force powers" into their attacks, from which we can probably infer Force Telekinesis (offense) and Force Barrier (Defense):

They usually flip around a lot, and use basic defensive and offensive Force powers mixed in with their attacks

-Taken from Star Wars: Jedi Knight, Jedi Academy Prima Official Strategy Guide

Meanwhile, New Reborn warriors (the next one up), are stated to use a greater variety of Force powers, making them more versatile on that front:

Warriors are basically jacked-up versions of the basic Reborn Adept, and use more Force powers than their less-experienced brothers.

-Taken from Star Wars: Jedi Knight, Jedi Academy Prima Official Strategy Guide

Misc.

Whether through a combination of saber skill, force power, or both, New Reborn (at least the warriors) are not troubled by ranged weaponry:

All ranged weapons are pretty much useless, so your best bet is to try and corner them with fast and furious lightsaber combos.

-Taken from Star Wars: Jedi Knight, Jedi Academy Prima Official Strategy Guide

For durability, a New Reborn was able to leap down from a great height onto the ground to engage Jaden with no injury to himself whatsoever. And no, this is not N-Canon Game Mechanics, because this will always happen, unless you use mods to cheat:

From 0:25-0:30 roughly.

And here's a gif:

4871184-vety5q.gif

Respect Reborn Masters

4871185-rebornmasterdual.jpg

Combat Skill

Reborn Masters are the "most advanced of all Reborn", and can use any kind of lightsaber, indicating combat versatility and with it, technical skill:

They are the most advanced of all Reborn, and use all varieties of lightsabers with all available styles.

-Taken from Star Wars: Jedi Knight, Jedi Academy Prima Official Strategy Guide

Force Power:

Reborn Masters know all "available Force powers", which would include all of the following: Force Jump, Force Push, Force Pull, Force Speed, Force Sight, Force Absorb, Force Heal, Force Protect, Mind Trick, Force Drain, Force Grip, Force Lightning, and Force Rage (all powers available in JK:JA)

They have all available Force Powers, so be ready for a good challenge when you see one (which is rare).

-Taken from Star Wars: Jedi Knight, Jedi Academy Prima Official Strategy Guide

Reborn Masters rely heavily on Dark Force powers, particularly Force Lightning and Force Grip, to the point that for Jaden Korr, using Force Absorb would be "almost essential" when fighting them:

Force Absorb is almost essential when going against Masters, as they seem to rely heavily on their Dark Side powers, like Force Lightning and Force Grip in between their saber attacks.

-Taken from Star Wars: Jedi Knight, Jedi Academy Prima Official Strategy Guide

31 Comments

Reviewing Arkham Knight's story (SPOILERS)

Well, with my having finally gotten and beaten a video game I’ve been waiting over a year for and have been anxiously awaiting every step of the way, (as my many Arkham Knight-centric blogs up to this point show clearly), it’s only right that I give a detailed review of everything the game includes and everything I like about it (along with everything I didn’t like). So, here goes nothing. As was the case with my Mortal Kombat X review, this one will be divided into the following sub-categories: Story, Characters, Setting, Graphics, and Gameplay, in that order. Only this time, because I have so much to say and I was dissatisfied with the length of my original review, I thought I'd make each portion of my review it's own separate blog, starting with the story. So here goes.

And yes, there will absolutely be spoilers here. If you don't want any spoilers, stop reading right now. You've been warned.

Opening with the Joker’s cremation and also a playing of the classic song “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, Arkham Knight’s main story picks up 9 months after that opening, with a Gotham that swiftly becomes overrun by goons, Scarecrow, and the titular villain and his army of cocky mercenaries. Gotham’s innocent civilians are evacuated (and a good thing too, considering me in the Batmobile would probably end up killing more people than Scarecrow ever could), and the three islands of Gotham become one massive playground for criminals. The seeming similarity to Arkham City with that last one (which some of the thugs themselves lampshade) is quickly deflected with a story that features good variety in it’s tasks for Batman and also becomes very much psychological horror as things progress (a no-brainer for a Scarecrow story). And of course, side-quests galore to give Batman other stuff to do in-between trying to best the twin menaces of Scarecrow and Arkahm Knight.

Concerning the main story, there is a mystery at the heart of it (Arkham Knight’s identity and reason for his hatred of Batman) but also other developments that carry with them questions, such as the Joker-ized individuals who are kept in quarantine by Batman after being transformed by Joker’s infected blood (a rather nice story thread/twist that ties the game closely to the Joker and Titan-centric events of the previous games). I should probably mention that I did suspect Batman was the last Joker, but the reveal still worked even though I could sort of see it coming.

There’s also a very big development concerning the Joker himself, who is definitely dead (as that opening scene drives home), but nevertheless reemerges after Batman is gassed with Fear Toxin as the physical manifestation of all of Batman’s insecurities, fears, and shames. I actually found this to be a good idea, because it allowed them to use the Joker while still keeping him dead, and it also contributes to the aforementioned psychological horror in the story in a way that makes perfect sense. It also happens to echo the plot for an abandoned Batman movie, namely “Batman Triumphant”, a sequel to Batman and Robin that was never made due to that film’s being so terrible, but having a premise pretty much identical to the one here: Scarecrow is the main villain and Batman after getting doused by his Fear Gas sees the taunting image of the late Joker. Difference is, where Schumaker would have inevitably botched a good story like that, Arkham Knight nails it and does it very well.

Besides Batman’s pursuit of the Scarecrow and Arkham Knight and the Joker hallucination taunting him every step of the way, there’s a lot of other highlights in the main story, which is again, commendably varied in the things Batman has to do and the places he has to go, ranging from ACE Chemicals to the tunnels beneath Gotham to (one of my personal favorites) Airships. Some of the better narrative developments include the tragic falling out between Batman and James Gordon and their subsequent reconciliation (complete with Gordon revealing that he knows who Batman is), Batman teaming up with Poison Ivy against the common enemies of Scarecrow and Arkham Knight (which ends in a very tragic and emotionally satisfying manner), and Harley Quinn’s attempt to let the Joker wannabes loose in the name of her ongoing obsession with him, followed by the rather violent turn that last one takes.

The main story itself feels longer than the story of previous entries, but maybe that’s just my imagination. Regardless, the main story still moves along pretty nicely despite the length, with things steadily escalating as events progress. It’s also kind of sad to see Batman’s alliances start to break down one by one, first with James Gordon turning against him, then the loss of Oracle, and then his willingness to lie to Robin concerning Oracle’s apparent death. Catwoman and Nightwing, while both willing to work with Batman, also both profess a desire to keep their distance from him, and even Azrael’s earnest desire to succeed Batman proves to be all for nought. Between it all, it seems almost like a running theme in the main story that Batman is doomed to end up alone in his efforts.

Except for Alfred. Good old Alfred’s always on his side. And Lucius Fox too.

Sadly, as excellent as the main story is overall, it is ultimately left crippled by the big reveal regarding Arkham Knight’s identity, which is nothing short of a total letdown. Now, I will admit, it was a pretty cool visual, seeing Red Hood’s helmet on Arkham Knight’s body, but that’s ultimately the only good thing I can say about this. Jason Todd is the Arkahm Knight. Really? What was the point in concealing this character’s identity? What was the point in having the Arkham Knight identity in the first place? This would be like having a Spider-Man story featuring a resourceful, intellectually brilliant, and devious figure conspiring against our wallcrawling hero, only to end with the reveal that it’s Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus, or to have the same with Daredevil and it ends with the reveal that it’s Kingpin. I mean really? Again, what was the point in having the mystery, if the culprit turns out to be the obvious candidate? What makes the whole thing worse is that 1) this means Rocksteady lied to us when they said Arkham Knight was an original character, and 2) it’s also complete mischaracterization where Jason Todd is concerned.

Jason Todd, in both the comics and the animated movie, doesn’t want to destroy Gotham. Quite the contrary, he sees himself as the person who will save Gotham in a way that Batman never could or would by killing the criminals in it. But he doesn’t want Gotham destroyed or it’s innocent inhabitants hurt. That’s not who he is. So having Jason as a lunatic who’s thrown his lot in with the Scarecrow and is helping him in his mad plan to destroy Gotham via Fear Gas misses the whole point of the character. And finally, it makes the whole mystery of the game feel like one big waste of time. Really, if they’d wanted to use Jason Todd, they should have just had him be Red Hood from the get-go and not even bother with the Arkham Knight identity. Sure, all of the fans know who Red Hood is, but Batman wouldn’t. You could still have the same story, without needlessly leading the players along. So yeah, this is a major, major problem with the game’s story, and where it not for the rest of the main story and the sidequests being so well-done, I’d have given the Story portion of this game an F just for that. There really is no excuse for this massive disappointment, especially when the mystery of Arkham Knight’s identity was not just a major part of the main story, it was also heavily talked about in the months leading up to the game’s release. What a disappointment.

Fortunately, where the Main Story has that major flaw to it, the sidequests on the whole are significantly better, having the same level of variety as the main story and not just because each one involves different villains. Whether it’s steadily dismantling the Arkham Knight force’s various deployments, towers, and checkpoints (something that for me is always satisfying), or tracking down Man-Bat through the skies of Gotham, or racing after Firefly, or performing Forensic analysis of murder victims to identify them, or working with Catwoman (and the Batmobile) to solve the Riddler’s demented puzzles and mind games, the side-quests each feel fairly distinct and fun. In addition, the fact that here you actually get to deliver captured and defeated supervillains to the GCPD where they then get locked up in cells really adds to the Comic Book feel of the game. It also just adds to the sense of accomplishment, knowing you’re locking these guys up one by one. If I had any one problem with the sidequests, it’s that some of them feel a bit on the short side, but overall, I think the sidequests were very well done, and really give Batman a lot more to do aside from his lengthy pursuit of Scarecrow and Arkham Knight.

The main story on the whole can really only be described by me as a very, very dark roller coaster ride of ever-messed up twists and turns, and it’s a story that more than earns it’s M rating. It is in the climax at Arkham Asylum (yep, we end where we began) that the dark tone reaches a crescendo, delving deep into Batman’s tormented mind still haunted by the Joker for a truly twisted experience. However, because the theme at the heart of Batman is turning tragedy into triumph, Batman manages to turn the tables on both Joker’s ghost and Scarecrow in a way that is so unbelievably satisfying it manages to redeem the letdown concerning Arkham Knight’s reveal and get the grade back up to the A- it deserves..right before other stuff lowers the grade again. But still. It was epic.

And then we come to the real ending, which entails "The Knightfall Protocol". Because of it’s being restricted to those who got 100% completion (more on that later), I fled to Youtube to get the full ending, and will give my thoughts on it here:

To be honest, the follow-up didn't do it for me as much. The very end scene comes off as too ambiguous, too out of the blue, and too “WTF?” for my tastes. I’d have much preferred an ending that tied up the loose ends that are left, well, loose. Really, the only thing I liked about the Knightfall Protocol bit was seeing Gordon as mayor and that’s it. I’d have definitely done it differently myself. But, Gotham City Stories will be covering what happens to Catwoman, Robin, and Nightwing afterwards, so I suppose I will get some closure we’re they’re concerned. I’ll just have to wait for it.

In all, Arkham Knight’s main story is fantastic, and it’s sidequests on the whole more of the same. The Arkham Knight reveal being a letdown and Knightfall Protocol doing nothing for me at the end both knock some of the wind out of the story's sails, but not enough to sink it outright. The story is still phenomenally dark, emotional, and more satisfying than not. And for me, that’s deserving of a good grade.

FINAL GRADE: B+ for Main Story, A- for Side-Quests

10 Comments

Mortal Kombat X Review

Well, my 20th Birthday’s come and gone, and what better way to celebrate my being 20 now than with my 20th Blog Post? Thus, I thought I’d do just that, and also take the time to review one of my Birthday presents. Now, it’s been a very, very, very long time since I’ve reviewed most anything in great detail on this website, and I almost never (if not never period) do formal video game reviews. But, it can’t hurt to polish my abilities where that’s concerned, considering I fully intend to write a review for Arkham Knight when that game (finally) comes out. Thus, here’s my review for the latest Mortal Kombat game. Please note that, as I believe in being thorough over being concise, this is a pretty long review, so be prepared to see a lot of writing. And, as another warning, this review does contain SPOILERS. So if you haven’t yet played MKX and/or the game’s Story Mode, read at your own risk.

The review will be divided into the following sub-categories: Story, Characters, Setting, Graphics, and Gameplay. Let’s start with that first one…

Story:

Picking up not that long after the end of MK9 and it’s needlessly and gratuitously killing off as many good hero characters from that franchise as it could, MKX’s story is a little bit more streamlined and simplified compared to the more convoluted tale of the previous game. Ironic, considering this game takes place over a greater period of time and actually has flashbacks at different points. But even so, the story is simpler on the whole, and that’s probably a good thing…for the most part. Elements of the tale might come off as clichéd, or even hackneyed to some (the rookies having to learn to work together effectively, the newer generation saving members of the older one, etc.) but overall, I think the story was serviceable, and it’s not like storytelling is what the franchise is legendary for anyway.

One major gripe that I do have though is the fate of Liu Kang, Kitana, and Kung Lao. In all other game modes, they are shown as still being alive and in the case of the two Shaolin, now being the age you’d expect them to be (certainly, they’ve aged much more visibly than Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade have). And yet, for all of that, in the game’s story proper they are Revenants from beginning to end, and even more distressingly, seem destined to stay that way forever thanks to Quan Chi’s dying a little too early (though I must admit, his death at Scorpion’s hands was still satisfying and well-done, as was Sonya’s beating the living crap out of him earlier on). As someone who actually likes Kitana a lot in particular, this is disappointing. I kind of wanted Kitana, Liu Kang, and Kung Lao to return to their mortal forms and age the way their default character models have, but instead they seem cursed to be Revenants forever. Nuts to that.

I also kind of wish that Kotal Kahn’s relations with Earthrealm had been better handled, but that and the above gripe aside, the story is still decent, and again, overall simpler and easier to follow than the MK9 story. And I have to say, disappointed as I was to see Kitana and Liu Kang remain villains, I suppose making them the new rulers of the Neatherrealm as a kind of twisted spin on their sometimes status as a couple isn’t the worst thing to do (especially since Liu Kang’s Dark Emperor costume in particular is kind of cool, and Kitana’s Empress costume ain’t bad either). And not to mention, that the twist ending regarding Raiden’s accidentally turning himself evil courtesy of absorbing too much of Shinnok’s energy was a solid enough one, and I do kind of like Raiden’s bad guy costume in addition. So at least the tease for the inevitable MK XI was a good one.

FINAL GRADE: B-

Characters:

Lot to go over here, but regarding how each character plays, I will be saving that for the gameplay portion of the review. No, this is for the other aspects of the characters.

I’m not gonna lie: Mortal Kombat’s diverse, colorful, and pseudo-superhero assortment of characters is the main reason I’m into the franchise (as opposed to say, the buckets of gore that draw most other people in). Therefore, a case could be made that a Mortal Kombat game would only be as good as the characters in it. So how does this game, that brings in so many newbies, fare? Let’s start by taking a look at those newcomers:

The “second generation” of Cassie Cage, Kung Jin, Jacqui Briggs, and Takeda Takahashi were actually a solid quartet, and I like how each of them represents a different one of the main groups in the MK universe, with the only thing that team’s missing being a Lin Kuei cyborg (though I’d have also settled for Frost, who makes a brief cameo in the game proper). The group had decent enough interactions with one another, and all of them were well-voiced and cool. I appreciate the game’s trying to take a stab (no pun intended) at romance with Takeda and Jacqui, but also keeping it restrained. Kung Jin as the franchise’s first gay character (which has been confirmed), is also laudable, and all of them have pretty cool designs to go along with their solid personalities and voice acting, though the one thing I will say to the contrary on that is that I kind of wish Cassie looked more like her voice actress, which would entail among other things giving her her dad’s hair color. But, I guess they wanted her to look exactly like her mother. As to the inevitable question of which one is my favorite, that would unambiguously be Takeda, by way of his being a badass ninja in a cool armored suit, with retractable bladed whips that come out of his wrists, and in my favorite of his three variations, a pair of what are basically lightsabers. So yeah. Wise-cracking armored ninja with bladed whips and lightsabers. What’s not to love?

As for the other newcomers, I found Kotal Kahn to be decent as a more mild (at least in relation to Shao Kahn) ruler of Outworld without being a straight up good guy, as I feel it would have been too easy to just make Shao Kahn’s successor his complete moral opposite. It rings a bit more true with me that instead Shao Kahn’s successor is shown to be, while not the monster and madman that Shao Kahn was, still not the nicest of folks. Though I suspect I may also be a bit biased in my opinion of the Kahn due to my love for Phil LaMarr’s voice acting.

Kotal Kahn’s collection of goons includes both returning faces (the villainous ninjas Reptile and Ermac), and more newcomers in the form of Erron Black (my personal favorite of the flunkies owing to his deadpan tone and cool Western gunslinger image), D’vorah (who I was neutral about overall), and Ferra/Torr, who I view as a creative concept for a fighting game character but personality-wise consider funny only in small doses, as Ferra’s way of speaking wears thin if you have to listen to it for too long. Honestly, I think Takeda’s describing them as “The Idiot Twins” isn’t too far off. But fortunately, Ermac remains as cool as ever, and Reptile's not bad either.

More disappointing is, as I mentioned earlier, the handling of Kitana, Liu Kang, and Kung Lao (though I did like how Kitana could use Jade’s weapons along with her own), and by extension all of the other good heroes from MK9 who are now little more than zombie thugs (though once again, there is one positive, namely evil Smoke now calling himself “Enenra”). Also disappointing is how my favorite villain in the franchise, Sektor, was killed off-screen and only shows up as a severed head (also in turn robbing me of my chance to have a lightsaber/pulse blade duel between him and Takeda). To any fans of Baraka out there, I also extend my sympathies, as things end pretty dang badly for the Tarkatan General. Youch.

But, overall, I think the roster of playable characters is a very well done one, with a good amount of variety and also being a good size overall. What really makes this part of the game even better though, are the character dialogue exchanges that occur before any given battle. Similar to the clash quotes from Injustice Gods Among Us, only a little longer, and happening at the start of the fight. But where in Injustice not everyone had a unique to thing to say to everyone else, in MKX, every character has something unique to say to every other character, which really goes a long way towards making every fight feel unique and fun. That, and some of the exchanges are just hilarious. Some of my personal favorites involve Kitana, Takeda, Jax, Kung Jin, and Johnny Cage, though the other characters have plenty of good ones too. The things characters will say if they face a copy of themselves also tend to be pretty amusing.

Finally, on the matter of DLC characters, I chose to pass on getting Jason Voorhes due to his lack of good dialogue exchanges with the other characters (their lines with him are by and large pretty generic), but Goro and Tanya are a different story. I like the latter’s being voiced by Jennifer Hale, who does a good job of making her voice less recognizable for the most part. She is also an occasional foe in the Story Mode along with her fellow evil Edenian Rain, though he disappointingly is just an NPC. Whether or not he will be future DLC is thus far unknown, but here’s hoping, as the purple ninja happens to be a favorite of mine.

Time must also be taken to talk about the different character costumes. The default looks by and large are quite good, and though it’s annoying how many hoops you have to jump through to get most of the alternate looks (more on that later), just about every outfit has at least some merits to it, and I like the general variety of them. As it stands, the Poster Boy Scorpion and my girl Kitana have the largest number of good alternate looks in my opinion.

Ultimately, as I said at the beginning, the characters are the big reason why I like and care about Mortal Kombat at all, and where this game is concerned, said characters are done justice barring only a handful of mild disappointments. Fingers crossed for Rain (and maybe even Sareena and the hitherto absent Cyrax) as future DLC.

FINAL GRADE: A-

Setting:

Besides characters, another place where the game really does shine is the variety in fight locations. Rather than feature the arenas with multiple locations like in IGAU (an awesome feature, by the way), MKX just goes for single arena maps, but the level of detail put into them makes them quite the sights to behold. Each one comes out looking great thanks to the graphics that will be discussed more below, and the variety of them further enhances the feeling of uniqueness to any given fight. From the snowy forest to the outside of Raiden’s temple that’s got a pretty intense rain-storm to the sun-soaked Outworld Market/gates that look almost like a more gritty and adult Agrabah, you can’t say that they didn’t put some thought into the arenas. My personal favorite of the lot is difficult to say, but I might just say the beautiful looking rainforest setting, though that aforementioned Outworld Market was also a good one in my mind, as was the ruined and abandoned city with the downed gunship in the background and the mystical chamber where the final battle in both Story Mode and the Arcade ladders takes place.

FINAL GRADE: A

Graphics and Visuals:

A lot of the success of both the characters and the environments is owing to the excellent graphics, which are, if not vastly or overwhelmingly superior to the graphics of the previous game, still a marked improvement and really do a lot to show off both the detail of the environments and of course also the absolutely brutal and grisly detail of the ever-messed up X-Ray attacks and Fatalities. Also praise-worthy about the graphics is the cutscenes, which feature a lot of character action not controlled by the player that, I have to say, looks pretty darn good animation wise. Honestly, with just a bit more of it replacing the actual gameplay, you could have a pretty good CG animated action movie here, albeit one I would never, ever show to anyone under 16.

When it comes to the shocking violence the franchise is both infamous and worshipped for, this entry’s got it. Cutscenes feature heads flying, impalements, a few poor bastards getting ripped apart and/or bisected, and two different MK villains getting two different nasty deaths from D’vorah (again, Baraka fans have my sympathies). All of this is to say nothing for the Fatalities, which are as twisted and macabre as ever. And for any Mortal Kombat fanatic, that’s your money’s worth.

FINAL GRADE: A

Gameplay:

The gameplay overall is tight and well done, with each character having a bevy of impressive (and brutal) attacks, with different Character Variations ensuring that there is even more variety than before, as you can now choose how exactly you want your chosen fighter to be. Myself, I found that for most of the characters all of their variations have some appeal/merit, both aesthetically and with what abilities they add, though I would be lying if I said I didn’t prefer some over others. Regardless, I enjoyed the inclusion of different character variations and on the whole enjoyed what each character had to offer combat-wise. As of this writing I have only played as some of the cast, but I find each of them to be fairly easy to control and use. However, I will say that the characters don’t always respond to the commands that they’re given, even when I input the correct buttons. Now, this is likely owing more to my own noob status and ineptness as a fighting game player, but even so, it did drag down the experience just a little bit. Not too much though. On the whole I definitely had fun beating the crap out of my various opponents, and have enjoyed most every character I've played as. I fully expect to enjoy playing as the rest of the cast just as much, except for maybe Ferra/Torr.

Fans of fatalities should take heart: not only are they back gorier than ever, but they are also now far, far easier to perform, at least the ones I've used anyways. In addition, depending on what faction you choose in the “Faction Wars”, you get a different assortment of “Faction Kills” that entail summoning your chosen allies to kill your defeated opponent for you. So yeah. If you love fatalities, then this game delivers and then some.

A brief word about X-Ray attacks: with they’re being easy to use, connecting more often than not, and doing a large amount of damage, X-Ray attacks are a total godsend for a noob like me. The one exception though, I’m sorry to say, is my favorite’s X-Ray attack. Not only can Takeda’s X-Ray attack only be initiated when he’s airborne, it is also almost impossible to connect with. Seriously, 8-9 out of every 10 times I tried to use it, I failed. Pretty annoying.

Minor quibbles like that above one aside, though the combat in Mortal Kombat X is top-notch and every bit as brutal, bloody, and off-the-rails as any entry in the series ought to be. Time must also be taken to talk about the various game modes: the Living Towers changing regularly is a great idea because it keeps players invested and ensures that they’ll come back to this game over and over to see what new challenges are on hand for them to tackle. The large number of different modes one can play in is also praise worthy, ranging from traditional one-on-ones that are made not so traditional thanks to various modifiers, and the “Test Your Might” mini-game that is easily my single least favorite thing about the whole game. I didn’t even get the Revenant Sub-Zero skin I was supposed to unlock by beating it.

Which brings me to another minor quibble concerning the gameplay: unlocking the costumes. Basically, if you’re looking for cool alternate looks for the characters, I suggest you buy some DLC or else go to the Krypt (more on that later). The Revenant skins that have to be unlocked via various challenges are basically made unobtainable due to how you have to complete these ridiculously challenging tasks to get them, and the fact that even when I did complete the designated challenge I didn’t get my prize really makes the whole thing a complete rip-off. You’re better off ignoring the whole business and just sticking with the default looks or again, the ones unlocked via either DLC or purchased at the Krypt.

Speaking of the Krypt, I’m a little bummed that not everything in it is available from the start, but I suppose that was kind of the point; it gives you incentive to buy everything in it. In fairness, I did enjoy more than just the costumes; the character concept art was fun to unlock because each bit of it gave insight into the developer’s rationale for different character designs. As someone who appreciates that sort of thing, I liked unlocking that. And, there is a kind of fun in opening random graves in the Krypt, like they’re packs of cards and you don’t know what you’re going to get. The overall design of the Krypt in this game was also much better, even if navigating through it felt a lot more awkward this time around.

Finally, I’d like to take the time to note how in this MK game you can actually have single fights against the CPU. In MK9 and MK Vs DCU, you couldn’t do that. You could only have single fights with another player, which was too bad for someone like me who had no player 2 on hand. MKX though has a bit more common sense behind it, and allows players to fight a computer controlled foe in a single fight. It may seem like such a simple and little thing, but it was a simple and little thing that the previous MK game (and the one before that, even) didn’t have, so it’s presence here is noteworthy and praiseworthy.

Overall, I judge the various aspects of the gameplay to be a somewhat mixed bag, but definitely with more good than bad. Combat is good, the Krypt is fairly well done this time around, and the variety of different challenges is appreciated, even if Test Your Might sucks.

FINAL GRADE: A-

Overall:

While I had a few gripes with the game here and there, mostly concerning the story and various things about the gameplay I found annoying rather than fun, to focus on that would be to miss the forest for the trees. On the whole, Mortal Kombat X is an exemplary fighting game and one of the best of it’s kind I’ve ever seen, right up there with it’s predecessor, Injustice Gods Among Us, Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, and the two most recent Soul Calibur games. And honestly, it does some things better than it’s predecessor, which is also noteworthy. In short, Neatherrealm studios have crafted another winner that’s a nice blend of old and new.

FINAL GRADE: A-

5 Comments

Arkham Knight-The dos and don'ts

Arkham Knight is now only 20 days away, and to mark this milestone (and highlight my ongoing obsession with the game), I decided to do another blog post about it. This one is not a prediction of what costumes or villains will be included, but more a case of things I hope the game does, and things I really, really, don't want it to do. And I'm going to alternate between them, being a pattern of one "Do", one "Don't", and then back again. So to start...

Do: Creativity with Scarecrow's Nightmare Sequences

1492039-0.jpg

Apologies for the crappy quality of the picture, but it was the best I could find on this site.

Anyway, I think most of us can agree that the "Nightmare Sequences" in Arkham Asylum were one of the highlights of that game, and that it was precisely because of them that Scarecrow's depiction in Arkham Asylum was so popular. And it's because of that in turn (along with his absence from Arkham City), that he's getting such a big return to the spotlight here. Now, trailers have already confirmed that the Nightmare Sequences will be coming back along with the Scarecrow himself, and with that in mind, I want to see some creativity. I want to see some variety in how they're done.

Just as there were different things about the three nightmares in Arkham Asylum to make them each feel distinct, I want to see the same thing here. Perhaps a kind of "Christmas Carol" type deal, in that the first nightmare shows the biggest ghosts of Batman's past haunting him (death of Jason Todd, Barbara being shot, Joker's death, etc.), the second shows Batman's fears in the present (that he's getting too old, that Arkham Knight and Scarecrow really are winning, etc.) and finally one that shows a twisted take on a future where Batman has died/failed and Gotham has fallen into ruin, complete with his allies dead or dying and accusing him of failing. I just feel that something that macabre and disturbing and surreal would really work and not only highlight the threat Scarecrow represents to Batman's mind and body both, but also make a returning high point of the first game feel fresh and new. And, with the graphics having gotten a tremendous overhaul, skimping on visuals would just be inexcusable. So all in all, I'm glad that the Nightmare Sequences are confirmed to come back, but I want them to come back in a way that makes them still feel fresh and (disturbingly) effective.

Don't: Wuss out concerning the Joker

Arkham Joker

Yes, we all love the Arkham take on the Joker. Yes, he's Batman's arch-enemy and a good villain. But, Rocksteady killing him off at the end of Arkham City was done because it represented a radical change to the status quo that the comics would never have allowed. And thus if the Joker is brought back, that big, shocking twist is undone and rendered pretty much just a cheap stunt, rather than allowing Rocksteady to take advantage of the creative liberties it's been given. It would also be anti-climactic to bring Joker back in addition, and would take away from the villains who are supposed to be taking center-stage now that Joker is no longer able to do so. Yes, I had just gotten through saying above that I would like it if maybe Scarecrow's Nightmare scenes included references to things involving the Joker, but that does not actually necessitate showing him, much less reviving him in the game's main story. We could just hear his disembodied laugh in the nightmare sequence involving the past, and/or pre-recorded lines from Arkham City when Joker dies. But Joker doesn't need to make a physical appearance.

Rocksteady has confirmed that Joker's not coming back, and his body was cremated in tie-in comics to drive this home. But, the insane number of conspiracy theories and the massive amount of denial online is to me very telling, and so I hope that Rocksteady has not, in fact, just been pulling our leg and that those conspiracy theories ultimately become exactly that. Joker's a good villain, but the Arkhamverse version had his time in the spotlight. It's time to let the other villains step up to plate.

Do: Continue Catwoman's Character Development

4604071-cgsmmcfuqaagxcm.jpg

Catwoman's shift from criminal to Anti-Hero was foreshadowed (and in my mind, initiated), in Arkham City when she chooses to save Batman's life at the cost of her payday, and by extension, helped save all of Gotham City. Judging by her being playable once again and now actively aiding Batman in combat, it seems like her transformation to Anti-Hero is ongoing. If so, I approve. I want to see the end to that particular character journey, and I want it to be a satisfying end. Obviously, that carries with it the hope that she and Batman will finally get together and become a couple, but honestly I really just want to see Catwoman's transformation into an Anti-Hero reach it's completion, and thus finish what was started in Arkham City. Instead of...

Don't: Get cold feet concerning the above

...just having her backslide and go right back to being a complete criminal, or else have an inconclusive end to her character arc. The latter might work depending on how well done it is (though would still be disappointing), but the former would just be totally unsatisfying, not to mention make me feel like I wasted the time I've invested into her story. When a character's going through Character Development, backsliding is something you almost never want to do, because it feels cheap and also makes everything that happened up to that point feel like a complete waste of time. So, as much as Catwoman is more recognized as a villain than a hero, I'd rather Rocksteady not use that as an excuse to have Catwoman just backslide and end up right back where her story began. If they're willing to kill off the Joker, then I don't think Catwoman's successfully becoming (and staying) an Anti-Hero is too much of a stretch or break from the mythology.

Do: Solo Challenge Mode maps for Catwoman, Nightwing, and Robin, as well as new (and fun) Campaigns

4604078-batman_arkham_knight_5.jpg

I think this one's already been confirmed (solo Challenge Mode stuff for Red Hood and Harley's been confirmed, at any rate), but just so I'm on record: I want Nightwing, Robin, and Catwoman to be playable in Challenge Mode and to be able to have their solo runs the same way Batman, Harley, and Red Hood will. Again, I think it's been confirmed. But another thing I would like would be a return of the Campaigns, and hopefully this time maybe giving some of them a bit of a story. After all, Arkham City DLC featured a Black Mask campaign that entailed recapturing the escaped supervillain and Arkham Origins had a Challenge Mode DLC that showed some of Bruce Wayne's martial arts training, so why not go farther and have the Campaigns in Arkham Knight have more well fleshed out mini-stories that function as kind of "day in the life" type adventures for the heroes? They could even take place at different points in Arkham Batman's history, giving us an idea of some of the other, smaller adventures he's gone on over the course of his career. Just a thought.

Don't: Augmented Reality Training

Much as I adored Arkham City, one of the very few things about the game that just didn't do it for me was the Augmented Reality Training stuff. While I would hardly go ballistic if it made a return, I can also safely say that I would not miss it one bit if it were to not come back. More Challenge Mode stuff with my above suggestion>>>>>Augmented Reality Training.

Do: Effective newcomers to the Rogues Gallery and accompanying boss battles

1317269-arkham.jpg

There has been nary a game in the Arkham series that has not introduced new characters, including the Arkham Origins and Arkham Origins: Blackgate prequels that Rocksteady has been distancing themselves from. So, it stands to reason that the Arkham Knight is probably not going to be the only newcomer in this installment, and honestly, that would be just as well. So long as the inclusions feel well done (see below), I wouldn't mind seeing some newcomers. For a full list of such characters, along with my rationale for how and why they could and should show up, see my previous Blog post on Arkham Knight villains.

And, of course, if we're going to introduce new villains, then giving them satisfying and well-done boss battles is a must, something that Arkham Origins for all of it's being bashed did very well. I hope to see the boss fights in Arkham Knight, for both returning foes and any newcomers they introduce, be similarly well-done.

Don't: Shoe-horn Mr. Freeze, or anyone else

3496161-freeze_up-close_ac.png

For this one, I ought to stress what I mean. By "shoe-horn", I mean include a character just for the sake of including them without actually giving them even so much as a decent or meaningful side-quest or even a boss fight. With Mr. Freeze in particular, a sidequest in Arkham City ends with Batman successfully reuniting Freeze with his wife and even urging him to save her and then abandon his life of crime on the grounds that he's better than that. That to me is such a perfect ending to Mr. Freeze's story in the Arkham games that I feel like there's really no reason to ruin it, and certainly not for the sake of arbitrarily dragging him into the third and final installment. Yes, the boss fight with Mr. Freeze in Arkham City was fun, and his Arkham Origins DLC was one of the high points of that game, but this doesn't necessarily mean that we have to bring him back for another game if it feels forced or unnecessary.

To clarify, I would not be averse to Mr. Freeze showing up, but I would rather it be done with care, not just a lazy "It didn't work out with Nora, so now I'm a vengeful villain again" kind of thing. Perhaps it could involve Mr. Freeze hitting a break-through with a cure for Nora's illness, but then something happens that endangers it and forces Batman to step in and save the day, perhaps even teaming up with Freeze? Just a thought. And for those who think the notion of a Batman/Freeze team-up is ridiculous, remember that they did it in Arkham City, and it's still better than a certain other take on Mr. Freeze from a certain film.

All in all, I think that if they're going to bring Mr. Freeze (or any other villain that's return hasn't yet been confirmed), back for the finale, it needs to feel like a meaningful inclusion, especially since to do otherwise in Mr. Freeze's case would be to sabotage a good end to his character arc.

Do: Bring back some Arkham/Gotham lore

2147783-arkhamgate.jpg

One of the nice things about both the original Arkham Asylum game and also Arkham Origins were these sidequests that went into the lives of some pre-Batman Gothamites, and the history of them and what they left behind (Amadeus Arkham and Cyrus Pinkney, respectively). I actually kind of like this, because it helps add to the history of Gotham City and really fleshes it out and makes it feel like a more interesting place. For Arkham Knight, I think it would be cool to go back to that, perhaps with another series of journal entries to find, or a brief visit to the ruins of the now abandoned Arkham Asylum. References to other Gothamites of the past, such as Martin "Mad Dog" Hawkins or Bruce's own ancestor Solomon Wayne, would also not be unwelcome, and could perhaps serve as the basis of it's own sidequest (a lunatic trying to recreate Mad Dog's crimes, for instance).

And of course, with the potential for more world-building Gotham lore comes the possibility of at least hinting to the Court of Owls, which would make for a fun Easter Egg, if nothing else. Speaking of which, Rocksteady has confirmed there will be a lot of those in the game, so why not take advantage and have some of them be to the various movers and shakers of Gotham's pre-Batman past?

Don't: Forget about Hush

Arkham City Hush as Bruce

The reveal that Hush had stolen Bruce Wayne's identity in Arkham City and then flies the coop before Batman can so much as lay a finger on him was basically guaranteeing that Hush would come back as a villain in the sequel right? Right...? Right. So, if Rocksteady doesn't follow through on that, and Hush is nowhere to be found, that would be very disappointing, and also make the reveal in Arkham City nothing more than a tease, which would also be bad. So, with all that in mind, Hush had better show up in Arkham Knight and not just get swept under the rug. And, if he does show up, his having stolen Bruce Wayne's identity needs to be addressed and factor in somehow.

Do: Be creative with Arkham Knight's identity

4415305-arkham army.jpg

I think it's been confirmed that the Arkham Knight's backstory will be revealed in the tie-in comics, but I assume that it will also be revealed to the players of the game proper, so that people like me who haven't read the comics won't get cheated out of the big reveal. As to what that reveal could be, I want Rocksteady to adhere to their assurance that this is an original character (see below), but also put some thought into it. A random person who's parents were killed by the Joker would be a bit on the lazy side, whereas say, a former security guard of Arkham who transformed into a brutal, militaristic Anti-Batman due to recognizing the inadequacy of how Gotham (and Batman) deals with criminals would be a bit better, or perhaps instead the idea put forth in a supposed plot leak; that Arkham Knight is a kind of mish-mash of Terry McGinnis and Damian Wayne with a pinch of Jason Todd thrown in for good measure. A sort of "composite character".

Finally, another rumor that surfaced a while back, that the Arkham Knight is in fact a woman in disguise, would also be a nice twist, one akin to the twist seen in the excellent animated movie, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.

Don't: Cheat concerning the Arkham Knight's identity

This is basically a direct counter to the above. It's one thing to make Arkham Knight a composite character of sorts, who combines elements of a few pre-existing characters. It is quite another thing to just make it say, Jason Todd in a different costume. Especially since that would come off as Rocksteady pulling a fast one on us. It is technically a loop-hole being exploited, but it would still feel remarkably cheap if it was only an original character in terms of identity and not the person carrying it. No, for the man (or woman) behind the Arkham Knight's helmet, I want it to be someone we haven't seen before, even though that can for me be a character who resembles other, pre-existing ones.

Do: End it well...

3833543-batman-arkham-knight.jpg

Speculation abound that Batman won't live to see the end of his own video game. Myself, I believe that that could work if it's done right, and that in turn leads to my main point: I want the ending to be the kind of satisfying finale the series deserves. It needs to have some level of emotion to it, it needs to have some level of closure, and it needs to feel like some legitimate thought went into it. Whether this means Batman ends his story with a tombstone over his head or Catwoman and him enjoying retirement and/or marriage together I don't know, but it needs to be something that carries some kind of emotional punch. If a happy ending, then it won't take much to convince someone that Batman's earned it. If Batman dies, then it had best be a suitably epic death that also, ideally, involves heroic sacrifice, since that is to a certain extent what Batman's entire life has been about. And yet another thing that must be done if Batman dies is to emphasize that his allies will keep fighting where he left off, and in turn likely have (probably Nightwing) step forward as a new Batman. This will emphasize that, Bruce Wayne may be dead, but Batman the Dark Knight is an ideal not so easily killed.

Other possibilities for satisfying happy endings besides the Batman/Catwoman bit (or perhaps accompanying it), would include fast-forwarding in time to show one of the following: an elderly Bruce Wayne relaxing in his study and at peace along with preferably his loyal dog Ace, Bruce Wayne giving guidance to a newer Batman in a now more Oracle like position (could be Dick, Tim, or Terry), or perhaps even the "Earth 2" route of an older Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle with their daughter Helena. Point is, there's a lot of different ways the ending can go, and with that in mind, there's really no excuse for the final don't:

Don't: ...not cheaply

By "cheaply", I mean something along the lines of Batman having an unsatisfying death that feels forced or phoned in and done just for the sake of killing him off, or alternatively an ending that doesn't tie up anywhere near enough loose ends, doesn't give enough closure, and just overall feels too open-ended and inconclusive. I understand that for some, a "The Adventure Continues" type ending may be right up their alley, but myself, I would like something a bit more creative than that, or at the very least, a "The Adventure Continues" type ending that actually makes it feel like things will be different for Batman and his family going forwards. But honestly, considering what's being shown in the Arkham Knight tie-in comic regarding Bruce feeling that he's getting into his twilight years as Batman and thus wants to leave behind a greater lasting impression, I don't really feel like having him just continue on indefinitely as Batman without incident is really the ending that's warranted here. No, I think I want a "The Dark Knight Rises" type ending to this game's story, not a "The Dark Knight Strikes Again" one.

10 Comments

New villains for Arkham Knight

With Arkham Knight now exactly 40 days away, I decided to do another Arkham Knight related blog (and yes, I really can't wait for the game).

With one of the parts of Arkham Knight's Season Pass making mention of, and I quote: "legendary supervillains invading Gotham City", I thought it only right to take the time to speculate on what possible villains might be showing up in both that, and also the other DLC in the Season Pass. But let's start with the candidates for "The Season of Infamy":

Calendar Man:

Arkham City

This one is a possibility simply because of the title of the DLC: The season of infamy. As we know, Calendar Man is all about doing crimes on specific dates and holidays, so it's possible that the title is a twisted reference to the phrase "Tis the season". Of course, Arkham Origins took place on Christmas, but Rocksteady's been distancing themselves from that prequel. It's quite possible that Calendar Man could still take center-stage in a DLC side-story. Especially since the Arkham re-imagining of one of the most universally mocked and panned Batman villains ever was fairly well-received by players. Having him be the main villain of a story would give Rocksteady the chance to really show us just how much of a monster he is without relying on him just telling us of his misdeeds. Here, we would get showing instead of telling.

Lex Luthor:

3703030-justl_cv32_531f4cef98ce78.52574183.jpg

The three reasons I think Luthor is a possibility are as follows:

  1. Lex Luthor has actually antagonized Batman before. In the New Earth continuity he framed Batman for murder and cost him a whole year of his life by forcing him to be on the run until he could clear his name. Luthor also at one point tried to renovate Gotham City following the "No Man's Land" disaster, which also put him at odds with Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego.
  2. The Season Pass details specify that Gotham is "invaded". This would suggest that it's someone who's from "out of town" because after all, bad as they are, Batman's Rogues Gallery are not really "invaders", because they live in Gotham. So the description of the DLC suggests it is a villain not native to Gotham that is attacking it from the outside rather from within. Furthermore, the DLC also says "legendary supervillains" and it's hard to get more legendary then Superman's arch-nemesis. This also leads me to reason number 3...
  3. Superman is rumored to make a brief appearance in Arkham Knight, which would establish that he exists in the Arkhamverse. If he can show up, why can't Lex?

Deadshot:

From Arkham Origins Copperhead release trailer

I could be wrong, but I think Deadshot's appearing in Arkham Knight has already been confirmed. Nevertheless, his getting a more substantial role in a DLC side-story is possible. And he does kind of fit the "invade" bit because Deadshot is not as rooted in Gotham City as many of Batman's other main foes, instead being a bit more "mobile", per his status as an Assassin-For-Hire. Of course at the same time, Deadshot doesn't exactly have the manpower with which to stage "an invasion", and that's not really his MO anyway. So this one is a slight possibility, but not as much of one in my mind.

The League of Assassins:

3918883-strictly_for_my_ninjas_by_duss005.jpg

They've already shown up in Arkham City along with their leaders, and given that for that world's Ras al Ghul death is really just a minor and temporary inconvenience, I don't see why he can't be brought back again and then have a full-blown League invasion of Gotham City as a DLC story. It would make for a pretty epic DLC story too, which is not something you often see. And again, the fact that the League are not native to Gotham would fit the "invaded" bit of the description, and Ras al Ghul fits the "legendary" part pretty neatly as one of Batman's top foes. This could also be a great opportunity to bring in other League-affiliated villains, such as David Cain, Bronze Tiger, Lady Shiva (even if she already appeared in Origins), and (though they're not exclusively Batman villains) Cheshire and Merlyn. And of course, Talia could conceivably come back too the same way Ras could: via that ever-pesky Lazarus Pit.

The Court of Owls:

2810427-talon_2007.jpeg

I'm not gonna lie, this one's mostly wishful thinking. Given how recently they came out and how much of an involved backstory they've got, it's unlikely the Court will show up as even villains in a DLC. But I would also argue it's not entirely out of the question, and let's be honest: it would be really, really awesome to see. With the excellent graphics being what they are, the Talons in particular would look awesome, and it would be interesting to see how Rocksteady would handle the twisted Labyrinth concept. As for the "invaded" part, while the Court is also native to Gotham City, they have the manpower and resources to launch a greater kind of offensive on Gotham as a whole then what Batman's villains are usually able to bring to bear. Not to mention that waging war on Gotham City is exactly what the Court did in both the comic story they first appeared in and also an animated movie featuring them (Batman Vs. Robin). So again, it's unlikely, but not impossible. And as I've already said, I would love to see it. Maybe even have some extra Challenge Maps that show off Court of Owls environments like the aforementioned Labyrinth to go along with it.

Owlman

3140993-11_talon_final_filter.jpg

Either alone, or with the Court of Owls, I feel that Owlman is a possibility. Maybe not a strong one, but still a possibility in the end. Consider that with Arkham Knight there seems to be a recurring motif of family, with Barbara and Jim, Batman and his proteges, and also Batman and his late father, with the first Arkham Knight trailer released featuring the reading of Thomas Wayne's will and some parting words to his son. So having Owlman as a sort of villainous twist on that family motif is a possibility, especially when he shares a name with Bruce's father. The presence of Arkham Knight as a deliberate Anti-Batman makes this one and the below one perhaps less likely as candidates, but I still feel like either or both of them has a shot. On that note...

Prometheus

942118-prometheus.jpg

Prometheus was confirmed to exist in the Arkhamverse as early as the very first game in the series, so including him in the final chapter would not only be possible, it would be fitting. And, as another Batman villain who's not really native or exclusive to Gotham City, he could conceivably fit the "invaded" part of Season of Infamy's description. I'd also argue he makes sense for the title too, considering how much of a twisted mirror image of Batman he is. Hopefully, any invasion Prometheus cooks up won't involve anything akin to what he did in the disastrous Cry for Justice story, but at the same time, I wouldn't put it past Prometheus to try and cause his share of chaos in the name of tearing down the "justice" he so despises. He would also likely try and target the GCPD due to his psychotic hatred of the police. In all, I think Prometheus has got as good a shot as any of appearing in the Season of Infamy DLC, and I know I for one would like to see him. He's a cool villain, and a fight between him and Batman in the Arkham games would be awesome. Not to mention that including him could also allow for a possible reference to the Justice League, who Prometheus is as much an enemy of as a collective as he is to Batman specifically.

So, we've got the candidates for the "Season of Infamy" DLC out of the way. But who might be taking center stage in other parts of the DLC? For the Batgirl DLC, I'm thinking it actually won't be the Joker, since despite all the conspiracy theories and denial out there, Rocksteady has made it pretty clear that the Joker in the Arkhamverse is well and truly gone, and I doubt they would even want to bring him back for a "Killing Joke" type flashback story. So who else could conceivably show up as the main foe in Batgirl's DLC? Well...

James Gordon Jr.

3816673-screen shot 2014-05-12 at 8.56.59 am.png

The absolutely twisted son of James Gordon who is basically Barbara's personal Joker (or Cain and Abel if you want another analogy), James Gordon Jr. would also make sense because of the title: "A Matter of Family". James Gordon Jr. is Barbara's brother after all, so that would count. And again, in lieu of the Joker and a reference to "The Killing Joke", this seems like the most likely choice due to how he is both 1) A primary enemy for his sister and 2) Because it fits the title of the DLC. So for me, this is the one I feel very strongly is the main villain. Though there are some other possibilities, such as...

Firefly

Arkham Origins

One of Firefly's first appearances in the Post-Crisis continuity was in "Batgirl: Year One", so having him be the main villain of a Batgirl-centric DLC is certainly possible. Not to mention that Firefly's already been confirmed for the game's main story, but whether that hurts or helps his chances I can't say. What I can say is that the boss fight with Firefly in Origins was a good one, and either with Batgirl or Batman, I hope his boss fight in Arkham Knight is similarly well done.

So those are my two main ideas for who the main villain of the Batgirl DLC is. And it's always possible that they'd just throw a curveball and have her fight Great White Shark or something. But as for the Gotham City Stories DLC, I think that there will be multiple villains there, and that it will differ for each of the heroes. For Robin, I'm thinking...

Lynx

95494-95285-lynx.jpg

Lynx was an enemy of Tim Drake in the comics, so it's only right that she be the main villain of a Tim Drake-centric DLC story. And you can't say she's too minor a character to include either, because Rocksteady has shown multiple times that they know their Batman lore. The "All who follow you" trailer actually has very early on a brief visual reference to Doctor Phosphorus. If they know who Doctor Phosphorus is and are willing to make reference to him, then I think they should be willing to at least consider using Lynx.

And then for Catwoman, I'm putting my money on...

Black Mask

3202436-untitled.png

He did appear in Arkham Origins, but again, Rocksteady's really distancing themselves from that game. He also made basically a cameo in Arkham City, but nothing substantial there. Arkham Knight is really where Black Mask can take center-stage in some of the DLC as the terrifying gangster and psychopath that he is in the comics. We all know what Catwoman did to him in the comics, and even if Rocksteady doesn't choose to adapt from that story directly, there could still be some allusions to it. But having Catwoman be put through the ringer by Black Mask to the point that she maybe goes too far to take him down (or else have it be an option like the one Catwoman is given at one point in Arkham City) could make for a good, dark story that fits well with the overall grimness of the game.

And lastly, with Nightwing I'm thinking it might be...

Blockbuster

4560625-blockbuster_rd_02.jpg

No real surprises here. Blockbuster is one of Nightwing's main enemies after all, so if Nightwing was going to get a specific foe to take on in a DLC side story, it might as well be him. Not to mention that, as Blockbuster is actually from Bludhaven and not Gotham, he could also fit the "Season of Infamy" description regarding how Gotham is being "invaded by legendary supervillains". Granted, I wouldn't exactly describe Blockbuster as "legendary", but still. This is a character who could conceivably fit as either a villain for that part of the DLC, or for the "Gotham City Stories" part.

Azrael:

2048941-az.png

Azrael's confirmed to appear in the primary story, but his exact role's not clear. Going by what the folks at Rocksteady say in their first "Insider" video however, it seems that Azrael is getting the feeling that he needs to step up and succeed Batman as Gotham's protector on the grounds that the city needs a new, "better" one. Whether this means Azrael will become an enemy during the main story or not I can't say, but I will say that Azrael's trying to succeed Batman as Gotham's protector might come to a head not in the primary story, but in the "Gotham City Stories" DLC. Assuming that Batman does indeed die during the main story, and Gotham City Stories is at least partly about the members of his family trying to pick up where he left off, Azrael may then step in as "competition", forcing the Batman Family to work together to take him down and show that they are the worthy successors and not him. This could also mean that after Robin, Catwoman, and Nightwing's individual side-stories are concluded, they could all converge on Azrael as they work together to beat him. Just an idea. However, I think another possibility to this effect is...

Red Hood (Jason Todd)

4010097-arkham_world__red_hood__by_iamannonimous12-d7thdl7.jpg

Yes, yes, I know, he's playable via a Pre-Order bonus (one that I got, I might add), but that does not mean that Jason can't also appear as a villain in the Gotham City Stories DLC. After all, Joker was playable in Arkham Asylum's Challenge Maps on the Playstation, that didn't make him any less an enemy to Batman in the game's main story. So it is to me feasible that, if not Azrael trying to step in and forcefully take the mantle of Gotham's protector for himself, then Jason Todd is also a viable candidate. It could also mean we might get a Nightwing and/or Robin Vs. Red Hood matchup, and that would be pretty fun to see. It would also be interesting to see if Rocksteady has Red Hood use the same moves he uses as a playable character against the good guys, allowing players to know what it's like to both fight as Red Hood and also against him.

And who knows? Maybe Azrael and Red Hood will team up as a sort of dark mirror image of the Batman Family, especially since Azrael's also got a Red Hood (I'm here all week). Joking aside though, I think that could also (maybe) happen, and if it does, they might add a third person to their group so as to match the trio of Robin, Catwoman, and Nightwing, and that third person would be...

Huntress (Helena Bertinelli)

4335657-huntress1.jpg

Her existence in the Arkhamverse was confirmed in Batman Arkham City during dialogue between Viki Vale and Quincy Sharp, but we've yet to see her. Since Arkham Knight's supposed to be the grand finale, you have to figure that, if it's going to end soon, now's as good a time as any to finally show us Huntress. And given her reputation for brutality and the fact that she has blood on her hands, I wouldn't find it entirely implausible that she choose Red Hood and Azrael over Batman's more morally upright disciples. And again, that would make it a nice 3 Vs. 3 fight. And that would be something to see.

And that's all of my ideas for what villains might be appearing in the various Arkham Knight DLC that the Season Pass will include. Do you think my predictions are at all on point, or do you think I'm missing some big ones? Share your thoughts.

13 Comments

Batman Arkham Knight Costume Predictions

So, with Batman Arkham Knight a little over a month away, I figured now was a good time to start making predictions. More specifically, what alternate costumes will we be getting?

Considering Arkham City and Arkham Origins both had their share of alternate costumes, it's safe to assume we'll be getting quite a few in the final chapter, and even better, we'll be able to wear them right away according to Rocksteady:

So, with that in mind, what costumes will be most likely to appear? Which of the many, many alternate outfits Batman has gotten over the years show up in the game, and for that matter, alternate outfits for Robin, Catwoman, and Nightwing? (Which have also been confirmed). This is me trying to answer that question.

Personally, the costumes I think are mostly likely to appear are:

Batman:

Neal Adams - Batman

Classic/Silver Age: This one's really just a no-brainer. Batman's been wearing the classic gray with blue boots, gloves, mask, cape, and tights since the Silver Age, and it's carried over well into the character's New Earth history. For many, this is the iconic Batman look. Not to mention it's appeared as an alternate costume in other Batman games before, so really, I think this one's a pretty safe bet. Even if the Adam West Batman costume that's already been confirmed does look like it.

1863374-screen_shot_2011_06_16_at_11.14.05_am.png

Arkham Asylum/Arkham City: Another guarantee as far as I'm concerned. This was Batman's outfit in the two previous installments in the trilogy, so it's coming back for Part III as an alternate costume seems like a no-brainer. I'm fully expecting this one to show up again, and if it doesn't, I will be legitimately surprised.

4555178-batman.png

Injustice Gods Among Us: The Arkham Asylum/City costume was available in Injustice Gods Among Us as an alternate look, so why not go in the opposite direction? Batman's Injustice costume is pretty awesome, and again, the fact that this was done in the reverse means seeing this costume in Arkham Knight would not be totally implausible.

868508-batman_red_son.jpg

Red Son: It's one of the more well-known Elseworlds stories featuring Batman, and in fairness, it's a pretty dang cool outfit. While the Gotham City in Arkham Knight is not quite as "cold" as it was in Arkham Origins and Arkham City, it would still be a cool costume to wear, and I don't see it's appearing in previous Arkham games as hurting it's changes too badly.

4555196-green-lantern-batman.jpg

Green Lantern Batman: Cool, different, and visually stunning (especially if they decide to have a glowing green energy field around him), this is a natural choice for an alternate costume. Especially since we've already gotten a Sinestro Corps costume in previous Arkham games. And it's not like this costume was around for any shorter a period of time. Really, I just think this is a good costume choice. It's being too minor is also not an issue either, since minor costumes have shown up in the Arkham games before. I don't see why this one couldn't happen.

Blackest Night

Black Lantern Batman: Another Lantern costume, and one that has already appeared in Injustice Gods Among Us. Not seeing why it can't show up in Arkham Knight. It's simple to do, looks cool, and it's something different. Seems like a logical inclusion to me.

4555203-batman-sinestro-corps-skin-arkham-city.jpg

Sinestro Corps Batman: This one's shown up before, but that doesn't mean it can't show up again. While three different Lantern costumes all in one game may be unlikely, I still wouldn't be averse to all of them showing up. The black and gold looks cool, and fear is of course Batman's weapon of choice. It's also the main villain of the game's MO, so between those two things this is an appropriate costume for the game.

Bloodstorm

Vampire Batman: Considering how well-known an Elseworlds story this one is, I'm kind of surprised the Arkham games haven't used this one before. But hey, first time for everything, right? Really, Batman as a vampire is a concept that's always made a certain kind of sense, and getting to play as him in a video game would be pretty awesome. Those glowing red eyes and extra long bat ears would be sufficiently creepy.

4542215-untitled.jpg

Dark Knight Returns Anti-Superman Armor: As the above picture clearly shows, Batman's going to be wearing this armor in the upcoming Batman v. Superman movie, so why not let him wear it in Arkham Knight as well? While fighting Superman in the game's probably not going to happen, that doesn't mean Batman can't still get the opportunity to take this armor for a spin. It's a cool look, and it's also one of the more well-known Elseworlds versions of Batman. We've already seen his TDKR costume, but this is one we still haven't seen in the games yet. Arkham Knight has a perfect opportunity to rectify that.

3307907-batman_beyond_by_pryce14-d6krf1u.png

Batman Beyond: Obviously, it would be Bruce and not Terry wearing the suit, but it's just such an awesome Batman costume that it warrants appearing. Sure, it's already appeared in both Arkham City and Arkham Origins, but if anything, it's clear and enduring popularity just justifies including it one last time. It's a fan-favorite, and it should get to be in Part III of the Arkham trilogy.

The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh!

Batman of Zur-En-Arrh: This is just one of those crazy, weird, and "out-there" alternate costumes, but also one that is still known among most Batman fanatics and I think it's inclusion would be appreciated. This costume has already appeared in Lego Batman 3, so why can't it get a chance to appear in Arkham Knight? Sure, a lot of people would say it's a kooky look, but I actually think the purple/red color scheme is pretty awesome. A more colorful Batman to beat up criminals as. And you can't say it's too "out there" either, since again, the Arkham games have included obscure Batman costumes before. And is it really any less goofy than the Adam West Batman outfit that's already been confirmed?

3426466-batman 2.jpg

Thomas Wayne Batman: Another simple, but effective alternate look for Batman that's fairly well-known at this point. It already featured in Arkham Origins, and with good reason: It's awesome. If not the look pictured above, Thomas Wayne's other Batman costume from Flashpoint will likely be showing up instead. Personally, I'd prefer this one, but either way, I think it's a safe bet that one of Thomas Wayne Batman's costumes will be showing up, especially when one remembers the "Father to Son" trailer that suggests that Batman may be thinking more about his father in this entry.

3273706-screen shot 2013-08-28 at 3.48.46 am.png

Owlman: Okay, so this one's maybe more wishful thinking, but you can't say it's got no shot of appearing. It's something different to be sure, and it would be fun to wreck criminals as Owlman. Not to mention pit one Anti-Batman against another in the form of an Owlman Vs. Arkham Knight throwdown. Maybe not as likely to appear as some of the others here, but you never know for sure.

4359629-2937029056-tumbl.jpg

Gaslight Batman: Another more well-known Elseworlds story with Batman in it, especially thanks to Infinite Crisis: Fight for the Multiverse. This costume has shown up once before, but only in Arkham Origins, and only in it's multiplayer mode I believe. Getting to see it in the final installment of the Arkham trilogy would be a nice treat, and one that could well happen. Again, it's one of the more well-known alternate looks for Batman now, and video game players in particular will be more likely to be familiar with it thanks to Infinite Crisis. That, and the juxtaposition of steam-punk/Victorian Era Batman and a very hi-tech (almost near-future) Gotham City would be kind of cool.

847055-595284_speeding_bullets.jpg

Speeding Bullets Batman: A Batman who is actually also the Kal-El of that world, which is a fun twist. That, and the costume is a cool one with it's full-face covering mask and Bat symbol that's shaped more like Superman's "S" Shield. I think this one's got a solid shot because it's a Batman costume that has never shown up in an Arkham game before, and thus I think would be more likely to show up in Arkham Knight. Some costumes from previous games will (hopefully) return, as many of my predictions here shows, but I also think it's safe to assume that Arkham Knight will also have some newcomers that haven't been seen before, and this is as good a one as any.

Robin:

Robin - Batman Arkham City (Official)

Arkham City Costume: Like with Batman, having Tim's previous default look in the series return in Arkham Knight as an alternate is just a no-brainer. Especially since this look seemed to be popular too. Not much else to say here.

1557929-rr_in_for_a_penny.png

Red Robin (Pre-New 52): This is another look from Arkham City that I think stands a very real chance of coming back. It's an awesome costume, and it's one of Tim Drake's few major, alternate looks. Really, I don't think much more justification than that needs to be given. And if one Red Robin costume is good, why not have...

Red Robin

Red Robin (New 52): Tim's New 52 costume is pure awesome, and if the previous Red Robin costume doesn't show up, I think this one almost certainly will. The wings can be like a cape when not gliding, as pictured above, and then whenever he glides he can unleash those awesome wings. Seems like an obvious choice. And it would also be nice to play as Tim with hair again. Not seeing why this one can't or won't happen, especially when Batman's New 52 costume has showed up in the Arkham games before.

Robin s2 47a

Burt Ward Robin: It's with this one that I am at serious risk of losing my credibility, I recognize that. But just consider: Adam West's Batman costume has been confirmed for the game, so is it really that much of a stretch to think that Robin might also get his look from that show, corny as it is? Just saying. I think it's a possibility. And it's being Dick Grayson instead of Tim Drake doesn't mean much, because Flashpoint Batman is Thomas Wayne and not Bruce Wayne, and it was still an alternate costume for Bruce Wayne Batman. Really, I think this look showing up is possible.

Gallery image 1Gallery image 2

Tim's Classic Robin Costumes: Both the red and black and red and green costumes stand a very good chance of showing up, I think. They are Tim Robin's classic looks after all, and Batman's classic looks have been depicted in the Arkham series before. Now that Robin's getting a larger role, I think it's safe to say that these can and likely will show up.

4555293-robin_thrillkiller_02.jpg

Thrillkiller: As I've said many times above, the Arkham games are not afraid of including little-known costumes and outfits from Elseworlds, and this fits the bill. It's different looking but still distinctly Robin, and it would be interesting and cool to see it in the game. Of all the different Elseworlds Robin costumes there are (not that there are many to begin with), this seems to me like one of the ones most likely to appear. Along with...

4555294-robin_3000_by_qbatmanp-d4misfs.jpg

Robin 3000: Another minor Elseworlds story, but it does have one of the more distinct alternate Robin costumes out there. It's a cool look, and I think that it's got about as good a shot of showing up as Thrillkiller Robin does. It depends on how deep into DC's history Rocksteady's willing to go, but I think they've long since proven that they're willing to dig pretty darn deep.

Catwoman:

4464155-image.png

Knightfall/1990s Purple Costume: Catwoman's skintight black leather catsuit may be her most widely recognized and iconic look these days (and also my personal favorite), but for most of her character history this was not so. In the 1990s, this costume reigned supreme, and it's still the preferred look for her for a lot of fans to this very day. It's got enough notoriety and a following that it was included as an alternate look in Infinite Crisis (pictured above), so I don't see why it can't be in Arkham Knight as well. It's a solid look (even if it's not my favorite), and again, it's popular and well-known. Really, much like Batman's classic blue and gray, this one just makes sense as far as alternate costumes go.

274895-53224-catwoman.jpg

Golden Age/Silver Age Catwoman: Another one of her more iconic and distinct outfits. Yeah, most people don't take it seriously anymore, but it is iconic, and purely based on that I think it's got a good chance. As I said right above, Batman's Silver Age costume has shown up in the Arkham games previously and likely will again, so why can't Catwoman get her Silver Age look?

Armored Edition

Arkham City, Armored Edition: Much like how Batman and Robin's costumes from previous Arkham games are almost guaranteed to return, so too do I think this one's got a good shot at coming back, especially since Batman's Arkham Knight default costume looks a bit like his Armored Edition costume. Not to mention that those of us who never played the mobile version of Arkham City lost out on the chance to wear this costume. But if it returns in Arkham Knight, console gamers can finally get the chance to take it for a spin. Just seems like a logical choice to me.

Injustice

Injustice Gods Among Us: Has a shot for the same reasons as Batman's IGAU costume. My hopes for this one are particularly high, as this along with her Arkham City costume is one of my very favorite of Catwoman's many looks.

4555314-th.jpg

Julie Newmar Catwoman: Same reasons as Burt Ward Robin. If Adam West Batman is getting his chance in the video game spotlight, then surely the sultry (and revered) Julie Newmar take on Catwoman can get a chance as well?

Nightwing:

Arkham City

Arkham City Costume: Likely to return for the same reasons Arkham City Batman and Robin are almost guaranteed to return.

3466543-nightwing.jpg

Classic Black and Blue: Yes, it looks very similar to the costume he's got by default, and also the above Arkham City costume, but there is the slight difference of the bird image on the front, and really, it's just iconic. It's for many people Nightwing's definitive look, and I feel that that alone gives it a good chance of showing up.

2238996-2ndnightwing.jpg

1990s Glider Suit: A classic Nightwing costume showing up is almost certainly going to happen, and if forced to choose between this and his horrendous Disco look from the 1970s, I suspect they will probably be more likely to go with this one. And we did already get Azrael's Batman costume as an alternate skin, and that debuted at around the same time this look did. So who knows? Maybe it will show up. It certainly stands a decent chance. But probably not quite as good a chance as...

2988192-nightwing 1.jpg

New 52: The red variant of Nightwing's iconic black and blue is such an easy alternate look that it's hard to see Rocksteady not going for it. Especially when it's one of Nightwing's more major and well-known alternate looks as well. Really, I just see this as a natural choice.

Grayson SPY

Agent Grayson: Dick Grayson's look ever since he got tortured right out of his Nightwing role, a decision I was overall not in favor of. However, it's an alternate look that's something different, and is also minor enough that it shows off knowledge, but major enough that any serious Batman fan will recognize it. A bit more bland then Dick's other outfits, but even so, I can see this being an alternate costume for him all the same.

2463471-dick_1.png

Injustice Gods Among Us: Another slight variation of Nightwing's classic black and blue, and having pretty much the same likelihood of showing up as Batman and Catwoman's IGAU costumes. Not much else to say here.

1818618-renegade_041311.jpg

Renegade: Another good alternate costume choice due to 1) Looking cool, 2) Being something different, and 3) Showing off good knowledge of Nightwing's character history. Really, I don't know what else you need besides that.

So, that's all my predictions. Do you think they're reasonable? Did I miss any looks that you think have a good chance of showing up, or where some of my predictions perhaps too out of left field?

Also note, this is supposed to be educated guesses, not so much deciding what outfits I'd most want to see (although, the two things aren't necessarily mutually exclusive!)

15 Comments

Sora Bulq Respect Thread

Sora Bulq is a Dark Jedi from the Legends continuity who is unfortunately in running for the absolute most ruthlessly and consistently lowballed Star Wars characters I've ever seen, and for no reason more substantial than his being a Dark Jedi instead of a full Sith. This is too bad, especially considering Sora is actually an incredibly skilled lightsaber duelist in his own right, and one who absolutely deserves a Respect Thread.

So, with that in mind...

Respect Sora Bulq:

Sora Bulq with blue Sabers

"Twisted my mind?! He opened it! After defeating me on Bakura, Dooku tended to my wounds and reasoned with me! He showed me the anger at the core of my being—and made me acknowledge its power!"

Accolades:

Sora Bulq has trained many Jedi:

"Many, many Jedi has he trained. Great his influence is."

-Yoda, "Star Wars Jedi: Mace Windu"

"As a lightsaber instructor at the Temple, Sora has trained and influenced many, many Jedi."

-Mace Windu, "Jedi Vs. Sith-The Essential Chronology to the Force"

Sora Bulq is one of the greatest lightsaber instructors the Jedi Order "had ever known", also perfecting various forms of lightsaber combat:

4554801-from intrepid.png

Credit goes to Intrepid for the databank quote

Sora Bulq helped Quinlan Vos "regain his focus with a lightsaber". He also taught him some of Vaapad in the process:

"When Quinlan Vos had to be retrained after the events that left his memory impaired, it was Sora who helped Quinlan regain his focus with a lightsaber. But on recent mission to Lianna, Masters Tholme, Yoda, and I learned that Sora had taught Quinlan a maneuver from a Form VII variation known as Vaapad."

-Mace Windu, "Jedi Vs. Sith-The Essential Chronology to the Force"

Sora Bulq knows Vaapad, an incredibly dangerous form that is a variant of Juyo. To give an idea of how dangerous Juyo is to both learn and master:

"Form VII, also called Juyo, is the most difficult and demanding of all forms. Only high-level masters of multiple forms can achieve and control this discipline, which can lead to fantastic power and skill. Form VII employs bold, direct movements, more open and kinetic than Form V, but not so elaborate in appearance as the acrobatic Form IV. Unlike Form V, Form VII requires greater energy because the focus is wielded more broadly, and draws upon a deeper well of emotion; while the outward bearing of a Form VII practitioner is one of calm, the inner pressure verges on explosion. And unlike the graceful, linked movement sequences of Form IV, Form VII tactics overwhelm opponents with seemingly unconnected staccato sequences. This combination of traits makes Form VII highly unpredictable in battle."

"Because so few have achieved the necessary mastery to advance to Form VII, this discipline can only be regarded as under development by a select few, and forbidden to all others"

Taken from Jedi Vs. Sith-The Essential Chronology to the Force

And now, to give one an understanding of what Vaapad specifically entails:

"To use Vaapad, a Jedi must give himself over to the thrill of battle, enjoying the fight and the satisfaction of winning. A Jedi must also accept and embrace the fury of his opponent. This transforms a Jedi into half of a superconducting loop, the other half being the power of darkness, which passes in and out of the Jedi without touching him."

"Vaapad is more then a fighting style. It is a state of mind, a path that leads through the penumbra of the Dark Side."

"It is also not meant for any Jedi without my approval."

-Mace Windu, "Jedi Vs. Sith-The Essential Chronology to the Force"

Sora and Mace Windu worked on Vaapad together:

4554821-proof that sora co-created vaapad.jpg

Now, Mace does also say:

"I know now that it was a mistake to expose Sora Bulq to Vaapad, and hope the mistake will not extend to Quinlan"

-Taken from Jedi Vs. Sith-The Essential Chronology to the Force

There seems to be a contradiction between statements, but there actually isn't. All this shows is that Mace conceived of the initial idea of Vaapad, but he and Sora expanded on it together. So Sora was still involved in the creation of the form and thus would know it extremely well.

Combat Skill:

Versus Mace Windu:

Owing both to intrinsic skill and to knowing Mace Windu's very specific fighting style like the back of his hand (due to having mastered it himself), Sora is able to successfully duel Mace Windu to a stand-still. Yes, Mace beats him, but not, you'll notice, by virtue of being a better swordsman. Rather, he wins via a Force Push:

4554875-vs. mace windu.jpg

Apologies for the way the scans are posted. Comicvine's new rules and all. I can't post full pages in the necessary numbers anymore, so I have to do it this way. Hope it's still possible to tell what's happening. For reference, the order of scans is from left to right in rows.

Versus Tholme, round 1:

Is overwhelming Master Tholme, and correctly points out that Tholme can't beat him. Tholme agrees, and so chooses escape as an alternative:

4554883-vs. tholme, round 1.jpg

Versus Tholme, Round 2:

And for those who think the above proves nothing, here is definitive proof that Sora is indeed well above Tholme's class on the account of stomping him:

4554887-vs. tholme round 2.jpg

Versus a Force-Rage Quinlan Vos

With perhaps the added advantage of knowing how Vos would fight due to having been the one to retrain him, Sora pretty swiftly overwhelms a Quinlan Vos who's in a Force Rage and dies due to making a bad execution move because he (falsely) assumes Vos is down for the count:

4554889-vs. quinlan vos.jpg

And proof that Vos was in fact in a Force Rage at the time:

4554895-proof that vos was in a force rage.jpg

Also, proof that Vos was in the midst of conquering his inner demons during the fight:

4554901-proof of vos conquering his inner demons.jpg

I understand that the text isn't really readable, so here is a transcript:

  • (Deep within Quinlan's heart, his mind, where the darkest shadows lie)
  • Quinlan Vos: No! I deny you!
  • Dark Vos: Why? The second Sith you have sought has always lain just beneath the surface...I am your Dark Side...
  • Aayla's Voice: Quinlan...Quin...remember. I promised...when all seemed dark...that I would be a light for you...as you were for me. Remember...
  • Quinlan Vos: Get away Aayla! This is not your fight! It's mine alone! I have walked this path myself. I have created this thing, and now it is up to me to finish it!
  • Aayla: You shut us out, Quin. Tholme...and me. The creature you face cannot be killed, cannot be denied. You are bound to it because it is a part of you. Let go of your anger! It will drown you!
  • Quinlan Vos: You're wrong! I can do this! I can set things right!
  • Aayla: You guard a secret that no longer matters. You are not alone, Quin. No Jedi is ever alone. This is the core of you. This is the truth of you. You are made of light. We are all made of light. The light is greater than the anger of the Darkness, Quin. I know...because you told me that long ago...master.

And lo and behold, after being told this and getting his head back in the game, he's able to take advantage of Sora's making a bad execution move to cheap-shot him and kill him.

Force Power:

Not generally Sora's thing, but he has unleashed at least one Force Push that was sufficient to blast back Mace Windu:

4554921-sora's force push.jpg
Sora Bulq with red Sabers

Credit for the scans goes to Silver, ShootingNova, i_like_swords, and Aurbere.

12 Comments
  • 25 results
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3