Agents of SHIELD: Taking The Marvel Out Of The Avengers

 

Last week, we closed out the first half of the season for the brand new show Marvel's Agents of SHIELD. As a big fan of the all the Marvel movies we've been exposed to recently, I've watched the show from the beginning with keen interest. How has it fared so far? What am I looking forward to in the second half of the season? Read on to find out.

A Great Premise

I watched the pilot episode of SHIELD and walked away very excited. In the episode, we were reintroduced to Agent Phil Coulson, the SHIELD agent we first met in Iron Man and last saw (supposedly) dying at the hands of Loki in the Avengers. We are introduced to a group of people (mostly SHIELD agents) that Coulson has gathered to react to new threats/elements in this Post-Avengers Marvel Universe. This premise sounded great, and made me think that we are going to get a Fringe/X-Files type show set in the Marvel Universe. I was all on board with that premise, and was eager to see how it would pan out in the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Misguided Focus

As the season trundled along, it feels like somewhere along the way, the writers did not quite know what they wanted to do with the story. A lot of time is spent on Skye and Agent Grant Ward, one is a hacker-turned-wannabe SHIELD agent (maybe?), the other a sterotypical hard edged solo spy type. Many of the filler moments between action scenes seem to revolve around some romantic tension between the two or focus on Skye and why she's joined up with Coulson. These storylines seem to just kill any sort of good moments that the show brings up. Neither character is really that interesting, and I really could care less about Skye and her desire to find her parents.

 

Instead, the character that the show should be focusing the most around, Coulson, is only give moments to shine here and there. I'd wager that about 75% of the people watching Agents of SHIELD are doing so because they fell in love with Agent Coulson throughout the Marvel movies and were excited to have a show focused around that character. Yet the writers on SHIELD are instead taking two of the most uninteresting characters of the series and forcing some drama down our throats. The interactions between the characters needs to be natural, not created for the purpose of filling up time. Case in point - one of the best episodes of the season, FZZZT!, spent half of the episode dealing with the two Agents Fitz and Simmons. Those moments are full of so much emotion and so much drama, while at the same time felt very natural and helped build a connection with the characters. Then, when that connection is tested at the end of the episode where it looks like one of them may perish, you find yourself on the edge of your seat hoping that it isn't true. I've yet to feel that connection with Agent Ward or Skye.

Make Mine Marvel

For a TV show supposedly based in the Marvel Universe, we've hardly seen that much of it other than an occasional reference. Instead, the show seems to want to create its own continunity, its own villians for the show to operate in, which is completely opposite of what ABC has been selling the show as. This show needs to have better tie-ins with the movie universe that made this show possible. For instance, the episode following the new Thor movie was advertised as this big tie-in with the Thor movie, which got me excited. Yet, the "tie-in" ended up being that the episode started with a few minutes of the agents cleaning up Thor's mess, followed by a new Asgard - related story that had nothing to do with Thor: The Dark World. The story was pretty good, but don't sell me on an episode being a tie-in when the biggest link to the movie is a joke about wishing for a "God of Cleaning up after himself".

 

Now, ideally it would have been cool to have Thor himself show up in the episode for at least a little bit, but I realize that gets expensive. There's two answers to that: A) This is DISNEY for crying out loud, I think they have the money to make this happen and B) there are other cheaper ways to tie into the movie. Like, could we have Kat Dennings character or the doctor appear in the episode. Since, you know, they *were* in the same area when the movie ended. That wouldn't have been that hard to coordinate. But if you are going to sell this show as being a part of the Marvel Universe then you have to actually link it to that universe - just like how in the movies characters crossed over to other movies.

I Still Have Hope

There is still time for Agents of SHIELD to impress me - we still have half of season 1 to go, in which I'm hoping we get answers to some of the bigger questions that they have been stirring up. Also, there will more than likely be a second season to this show, during which I hope they find their footing and get a better idea of what they want the show to be. In the meantime, here are a few suggestions that I have:

1. Get rid of the Skye character, and/or Agent Ward.

2. Focus more on the premise and/or Agent Coulson.

3. Give us more crossover/tie-ins with the Marvel movies (a LOT more).

4. Change up the writing staff - I figured out most of the big plot twists of the mid season finale halfway through the episode!

 

What have you guys thought of the first part of Agents of SHIELD? Have I missed anything important/not understood anything? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Quick Fix #7: Infinity #1 (Marvel Comics)

photo 2 (5)
photo 2 (5)

Thanos is looking for something...and it seems like its on Earth!  With the Avengers away, who will save us?  Today we jump over to Marvel and talk about Infinity #1.

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Board Game Review: Legendary - A Marvel Deck Building Game

As many of you who follow me on twitter may have seen (or read about in a previous article), every Monday night our local gaming store hosts a board game night. For the past couple of months, Chloe and I have been attending each week to try out many new board games. Normally, when I review board games, I try and make a video for you guys so you can see the board and visualize the game. However, I don't have the money to buy every game we play so you are going more blog posts talking about the games we are playing. Whenever I do get around to buying a game, you'll probably see a video review come out of it as well. Some of these are going to be a bit old as I need to get caught up on all the games we've played. Last month, Chloe and I tried out a game that I was very excited to learn to play. That game is "Legendary", the Marvel Comics Deck Building Game by Upper Deck. The idea of mashing up two of my favorite obsessions, board gaming and comic books, seemed too fun to be true. What did I think of the game? Read on to find out!

As I mentioned above, Legendary is a deck building card game. That means your job is to use the cards you start with to gather better cards to improve your deck for later turns. In Legendary, there are two lines of cards in front of you, a line of heroes that you can "buy" and a line of villains that you "defeat". Each line gives you cards that will be used at the game to determine who is the winner. At the same time, however, there is a "mastermind" - a villain with a plot that the players must defeat together or else everyone loses. If that sounds confusing at all, don't worry the game plays pretty well and is easy to pick up. If you've played other deck building games like Dominion, you will quickly catch on to Legendary.

Chloe and I both enjoyed this game. It strays away from other deck building games like Dominion and Ascension by adding in the cooperative gameplay of the players having to work together to defeat enemies to help topple the mastermind. This aspect, combined with villains who are constantly trying to escape, really do a good job of bringing in the superhero feel of Marvel Comics. The people we played with commented that there have been several times they've lost against the board, and they will purposely break out the game to try and defeat that mastermind again.

Yet, the addition of the Mastermind also contributes to the only problem I have with the game, which is it's length. To defeat the Mastermind, you have to kill him like 5 times, and he has a pretty high life value that you have to beat. In the game Chloe and I played, bad luck on the cards that were available really hurt us early in the game which made it hard to build up a good deck that would give us the cards we needed to hurt the Mastermind. Luckily, a couple of the other players we were with managed to hit him in a row a couple of times during the game. This also led to those players winning the game, but by that point it was getting late and I needed to get Chloe home to bed, so I was more relieved that the game was over.

That small bit aside, we did enjoy the game, and it will be added to the list of games that I want to get at some point. If you are a Marvel Comics fan, pick this game up and give it a try. I'm sure that you will find it rather enjoyable. You can even use the affiliate link below to pick up the game cheap at Amazon, which will kick back some money here to the site to help us out!

What deck building games have you played? Let me know in the comments below!

Relative Dimensions #31: "The Romulans Need To Reset Their Hearthstones"

We're back!  It has officially been a month, but we finally are back to recording podcasts - and just in time too; as not one but TWO of our favorite games have had BIG announcements in the past week.  We also kick off a brand new segment and talk about what we've been up to in the meantime.

chris@ocdcast.com

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http://twitter.com/Philip_RD

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Intro/Outro Music - "L3" by Skyhawk on his album "Function"

Phat Loots

Arm your computer with Mega Buster USB drive

http://www.joystiq.com/2013/03/01/arm-your-computer-with-mega-buster-usb-drive/

News Stories

Magic 2014: Duels of the Planeswalkers summoned this summer

http://www.joystiq.com/2013/03/21/magic-2014-duels-of-the-planeswalkers-gets-summoned-on-most-pla/

Navy Field 2 entering closed beta on March 27th

http://massively.joystiq.com/2013/02/27/navy-field-2-entering-closed-beta-on-march-27th/

Bungie considered fantasy, modern settings for Destiny

http://massively.joystiq.com/2013/03/18/bungie-considered-fantasy-modern-settings-for-destiny/

In the year 20XX, Mega Man Online is cancelled

http://massively.joystiq.com/2013/03/14/in-the-year-20xx-mega-man-online-is-cancelled/

Star Trek Online's Legacy of Romulus expansion coming May 21 [Updated]

http://massively.joystiq.com/2013/03/21/star-trek-onlines-legacy-of-romulus-expansion-coming-may-21/

Hands-on with Marvel Heroes' combat, events, and crafting http://massively.joystiq.com/2013/03/14/hands-on-with-marvel-heroes-combat-events-and-crafting/

PAX East 2013: Marvel Heroes releases June 4th, will have PvP on launch

http://massively.joystiq.com/2013/03/22/pax-east-2013-marvel-heroes-releases-june-4th-will-have-pvp-on/

What we know so far about HearthStone: Heroes of Warcraft

http://wow.joystiq.com/2013/03/22/hearthstone-what-we-know-so-far/

PAX East 2013: Blizzard announces Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft CCG

http://massively.joystiq.com/2013/03/22/pax-east-2013-blizzard-announces-hearthstone-heroes-of-warcraf/

My Take On SDCC 12: Marvel Movies - Phase 2

This past weekend was the end all be all of conventions: the San Diego Comic Con. A lot of great stuff was announced this past weekend, and I thought I would take a few posts to talk about the things that stood out to me. These posts will only be a small subset of the TONS of stuff that was announced, so if you want to know what you missed I suggest you head over to a news site like Major Spoilers. First up on the plate: Marvel's Phase 2 of Avengers movies.

To be honest, I really did not see this coming. I should have, seeing as how Phase 1 finished this past May with the release of the Avengers movie. There has been a lot of talk about Iron Man 3, but I was shocked to see what Marvel had up its sleeves. So, lets jump right in:

May 3rd, 2013 - Iron Man 3

The most predictable announcement that was made, it was only a matter of time before we saw Robert Downey Jr. don a new Iron Man armor. Don't get me wrong; I LOVE his portrayal of Tony Stark, I just have some misgivings about the movie given the fact there is a brand new director on board (and the fact that we know that Iron Man 2 was not all it could have been). Not only that, but look at this armor:

Is it just me, or is that a bit too weird? I just hope its a special armor, like the suitcase armor, and won't get much air time.

Bottom line: not looking forward to the armor, but I am curious to see how the villian the Mandarian is portrayed on the big screen.

November 8th, 2013 - Thor: The Dark World

Isn't this really soon? Doesn't it seem like we just got the first Thor movie? Also, what is with the November timeframe? Is Marvel really going to get a crowd to come to the theaters on a random weekend in November? If it was Thanksgiving or Christmas, I would understand (more) what Marvel was thinking. All pessimism aside, I am really excited for this movie. Honestly, I know next to nothing about Thor, so I have NO idea what to expect for this movie.

Bottom line: it seems a bit rushed, but I can't wait to see some trailers later this year/next year.

April 4th, 2014 - Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I KNEW IT! I positively knew while watching the first Captain America movie that Marvel was building towards this in some form. Here is the big question, though: will they follow the comics and set the story in the Cold War, or will this be a challenge for the post-Avengers Steve Rogers. I would love another Cap themed time piece set in the Cold War, but the safe bet is this will be another movie for Chris Evans to shine in.

Bottom line: considering the first Captain America was my favorite movie of last summer, this movie is probably the one I am looking forward to the most.

August 1st, 2014 - Guardians of the Galaxy

Really? Do you know what the Guardians of the Galaxy are? Me neither, but then again I am not a big Marvel fan. This movie is the one I am scratching my head about. It is hard enough to drill up interest in characters that are big with comic readers but not well known outside the comic book store, but now they are investing a lot of time and money into a property that even most comic fans are familiar with.

Bottom line: ????????

Sometime after that - Ant Man

Wasn't this movie supposed to be the next movie after Avengers? The fact that once again Marvel still has not released a date for this movie concerns me.

Bottom line: is anyone really looking forward to this movie? I'm hoping that I am wrong and the movie is worth the wait.

So, looks like we have a very interesting set of movies coming out soon. But what about Avengers 2?? Forget the other movies, I just want more of Joss Whedon making Avengers movies! What do you think? Are you actually looking forward to Ant-Man? Am I completely wrong about Guardians of the Galaxy? Hit me up in the comments below and let me know what you think, or as always email me at chris@ocdcast.com.

 

Relative Dimensions #15: "There's No Memorial Day In Sanctuary"

I'm back from my work travelling!  That means Philip and I actually manage to sit down and record an episode on this festive holiday weekend.  By the way, thank yous go out to all the men and women (like my Grandfather and Great-Grandfather, RIP) who have fought for our freedoms!

News:

MechWarrior Online announces beta, founder's program http://massively.joystiq.com/2012/05/22/mechwarrior-online-announces-closed-beta-and-founders-program/ Marvel MMO - first trailer http://massively.joystiq.com/2012/05/22/marvel-heroes-unveils-its-first-official-trailer/ Prometheus www.projectprometheus.com Star Trek Online Season #6 http://www.startrekonline.com/node/3181

Other Topics:

Diablo III House Light Strike Zombie Dice Sanctum World of Warcraft Star Trek Online Mechwarrior Online

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Intro/Outro Music: "L3" by Skyhawk on his album "Function"

Off The Shelf Reviews: New Avengers: Illuminati

One of the first books I read from my Philly comic con stack, New Avengers: Illuminati gives a behind the scenes look at some of the most powerful/influential people in the Marvel Universe.  But what did I think of it? I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure that these issues came out originally around the time that Marvel was setting up Secret Invasion.  The premise of the book is that Iron Man, Professor X, Black Bolt, Namor, Reed Richards and Dr. Strange have secretly made up a group called the "Illuminati", which they use to talk about issues facing the whole planet and other threats.  A large part of the book surrounds the events after the Kree-Skrull War and the Skrulls attempt to invade Earth.

Afterwards, the Illuminati inform the Skrulls that they will not stand for them to try and attack the Earth again.  This begins a series of events that leads towards the Skrulls plotting Secret Invasion.  In addition, there is also a story introducing the reader to the Infinity Gems and has the Illuminati discussing what to do with items that are known to hold such great power.

Given that the primary point of this book is to give the reader some background on events that happened in the Marvel universe, I think it does a very good job of explaining everything that a person needs to know.  It succeeds in telling a story where you dont need to have read anything else to understand whats going on.  Reading this along with Secret Invasion obviously provides several benefits and completely rounds out the story, but on its own, this book is entertaining.

CONCLUSION:  Borrow.  The book is not super awesome or impacting, but its a fun read that flushes out the Secret Invasion storyline.  If you aren't reading that trade or didn't find it interesting at all, then you can pass on this book.

Agree with me?  Beg to differ?  Comment below!