Marvel Rising Series Review: NOW-stalgia on Disney+

Review by Joshua Jordan

Synopsis

The Secret Warriors are a group of up and coming super powered teens led by Daisy Johnson aka Quake. The team also includes Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, Ghost Spider (aka Spider Gwen), Patriot, Inferno, America Chavez, and Ironheart. Together they learn how to overcome their differences to fight with each other against evil villains and save the day.

My history with Marvel Animation

I am a 90’s kid, so if you’d ask me what my favorite animated superhero shows were my immediate answer would be Batman Beyond, Batman the animated series, Superman the animated series, Teen Titans, and Static Shock. That’s because I feel that even still to this day DC has a better library of animated properties. That’s not to say Marvel didn’t have any at all in fact they had two other favorites of mine Spider-Man the animated series and X-Men the animated series. Beyond that however, there hasn’t been much else at least in my opinion. That’s a shame too because with all the amazing things Marvel has done for live action movies you would think that they could also make a great animated show too. With Marvel Rising I think they have pretty close but still haven’t reached that mark.

What I liked

Marvel Rising was trying to make a series that was appealing to everyone but mainly focused on girls. This was a similar attempt done by Disney with the Star Wars Forces of Destiny short series. One of Marvel Rising’s strengths is the fact that more than half their cast is female with only two men. I feel that this is a strength for the show because a lot of superhero animated shows are usually male dominated. Another strength was using relative unknown superheroes or heroes that haven’t gotten the spotlight. The animated series that I grew up with were, for the most part, my first introductions to characters like Batman and Spider-Man. Because of this I found a love for them that continues today. So why not introduce kids and adults to characters they’ve probably never heard of like Squirrel Girl or Ms. Marvel. For example, I was happy to see Ghost Spider (aka Spider Gwen) in the group because I like the character and ever since her appearance in Into The Spiderverse I would like any opportunity to get the know the character more. Daisy Johnson aka Quake’s inclusion was something that I also liked because it was a node to any adults watching the show. For those of you not aware Daisy is a character from the comic series Inhumans. But she is commonly know from the live action Agents of SHIELD series played by Chloe Bennet. It was kind of nice touch for the show runners to get her to reprise her role in Marvel Rising, even if the character is different from her live action counterpart. Another strength for this series is the animation. The animation sort of reminded me of older cartoons I used to watch like GI Joe or ThunderCats. While the animation isn’t perfect it does it job very well. I mainly liked the action scenes which flow very well and definitely have some anime influences.

What I didn’t like

I applaud Marvel Rising for attempting to try something new and for trying something different. Yet there are some problems I would like to discuss. Starting with my biggest problem, the potential for great story telling was kind of wasted. The series has a good set up, interesting back stories for a lot of the characters, and room to expand on those characters. They come very close but they miss that mark. For example we get introduced to Ghost Spider and her back story is very similar to what we see in Into The Spiderverse and in the comics but instead of Peter Parker getting killed it’s some random guy named Kevin. This was a golden opportunity to explore an alternate universe, one that we aren’t completely familiar with but instead they don’t go there. Even though you can see that Gwen and this Kevin guy were close friends it doesn’t pay off as much as other stories have. Marvel has a plethora of interesting villains that haven’t been used yet. In Marvel Rising they don’t use any villains to their full potential. A good example is exile, the main antagonist, you’re not really sure of his intentions from the beginning and worst of all his powers aren’t really explained to well. This just makes him a very confusing villan and worst of all a terrible main antagonist. Like the heroes I applaud them for trying something new. The villains aren’t proper used to their full potential or stand out and that’s a big problem for your overall story. This is just a personal preference problem but how Disney+ puts Marvel Rising on its service is weird. The first few episodes were released originally as seven minute long shorts. Then each of the episodes that followed released as movies. These movies range in length from 45 minutes to an hour. Instead of putting them altogether Disney+ has put all of them separate and doesn’t tell you which one came first so it’s kind of a guessing game, this is frustrating. They should have just put them all together which would have made for an easier viewing experience.

Conclusion

Marvel Rising was a good attempt at trying something new and reaching a broader audience. While I didn’t hate watching it I couldn’t help but think they could have done more with it. As of the writing of this review I couldn’t find any plans to continue the series. So that potential, at least for now, will never be fully realized. Which is a shame because while I do have some problems with the show I don’t see it as a complete failure. If you have young kids who like superheroes this show is a pretty good show to sit down with them and watch. If you don’t have kids and you like superheroes and have a free afternoon I say give it a watch. Just have Google ready so you know what order to watch the episodes.

Have you watched Marvel Rising what are your thoughts? Comment below!

Series Review Score: B+

Pac-Man and The Ghostly Adventures Series Review: A Pac-Man Month Special

Reviewed by Joshua Jordan

Pacopolis is under constant attack by an army of ghost from the Netherworld and there’s only on yellow hero who can stop them, Pac-Man! Along with his friends Spiral and Cylindria and a slew of other allies Pac will have to face off against Lord Betrayus and his underlings to save the city and quite possibly all of PacWorld from certain doom.

Pac-Man and The Ghostly Adventures is a very interesting example in how to have a good foundation of a story but not use that foundation to an advantage. On the positive side this animated series looked pretty good. It had imaginative world that looked both colorful and bright but also used iconography from the real Pac-Man games as intricate designs for everything from the streets to the buildings. Another thing I enjoyed about the show is Pac-Man’s powers. I like how he eats different berries to gain different abilities and I also liked that his friends could eat them too but the berries effected them differently than Pac-Man. All of Pac-Man’s transformations look pretty cool even if they kind of looked like another round video game character named Kirby. One of the more unique aspects of show was a really good set up for the characters with compelling backstories that took a lot of great liberties that could have led to attention grabbing storytelling.

The negative side of Ghostly adventures is a lot of wasted potential. Something that could have been great but turned out not so much. The biggest problem I have with the show is that it never reaches its full potential story wise. Instead of building on the wonderful foundation that the creators of the show made with compelling backstories that could had led to potentially fascinating episodes. They almost completely ignore it and only refer to it occasionally. Another example is the humor. There is a lot of good jokes in this show that made me laugh. My problem is when they start focusing heavily on burp and fart jokes that over stay their welcome. Another good example of wasted potential is the animation. While the animation looks good at times the lip sync isn’t right and most of the time breaks the illusion. Finally, and I know this might seem like a minor gripe but the theme song isn’t good. A lot of shows have great theme songs that either set up the premise of the show or are such a great ear worm that you can consistently hum it to yourself. However Ghostly Adventures doesn’t have one, in fact, it seems like the theme was either thrown together quickly or edited so poorly that it just doesn’t work. So much so that I just tried to skip the theme song every time so I didn’t have to hear it. The Pac-Man games all have a wealth of amazing music and it would have been so much better if they’d just used one iconic tracks and just gave it a remix. As you can see Ghostly Adventures has a ton of wasted potential that stops it from being great.

Is Pac-Man and The Ghostly Adventures worth watching? If you’re a very young kid like five or six years old, the answer is yes. The colorful world and characters are enough to grab any young kid’s attention. For older kids and adults however I can’t really recommend it. Which is sad because of the potential you can see in the show. A potential that could have reached a wider audience with its story and characters. If you want to check it for yourself out the easiest way is to stream it on Netflix or watch it the reruns on Discovery Kids. There are better shows out there that masterfully bridge that gap between kids and adults but Pac-Man and The Ghostly Adventures isn’t one of them.

Series Review Score: C+