Saturday, July 29, 2006

Xena #1 - Reviewed

Ever since I saw the ad for the new Xena comic in Battlestar Galactica #0 I have been curious. Knowing it is being published by the same company that currently publishes Red Sonja I worried if it will be taken seriously, or if it will copy the same formula of 'barely dressed warrior woman' with black hair. Finally the first issue was released, and I picked it up. As I have done before I'll review it in two halves, first art then writing.

There are three main covers to #1. I'm not a big fan of many covers per issue, because if they are all equal rarity what's the point? The covers for the first issue are not terrible, but they do seem to lean towards different readers. There is a photo cover, which I think would be for non-comic fans to notice. The other two covers are drawn, and in my opinion one is far better than the other.

The one I don't like so much is the one used in ads for the release, the Billy Tan cover, which is Xena seemingly in combat throwing her chakram. Her face has the high cheek bones that Lucy Lawless has, and with the detailed armor screams the lead Xena. My problem I have is that for all the attention to detail, her chest is huge. Xena's chest does not balloon into and out of her armor. It is distracting and is not what makes her Xena.

The other cover is a very nice collection of characters in the issue, including Gabrielle, Joxer, Zeus, and Ares. Everyone looks like how they should (chest sizes and muscles look correct), and it is balanced. Xena is the biggest on the page, but the placement of the others give them the standing the characters should have - the title is Xena, but she isn't the only character. This is the cover you should look for if you look for the issue.

Enough about the covers, they are there only to draw your eye and try to sell the issue. The real meat is inside, and I can honestly say that the majority of the art inside is good. With the exception of a few panels, it looks like the team that worked inside actually looked at the cast and put forth the effort to translate them to the pages.

There is, however, a two page spread that introduces Xena and Gab that kind of hits you an odd way. It's their grand appearance and they are charging into battle with their torsos arched upwards as if their chests extend a magical shield of deflection. It isn't terrible, but it looks strange. I know it is probably trying to denote their are holding their heads high and they are confident going into battle, but most people I've seen that charge into battle keep their posture low. Approaching low is tactically sound, because you want to protect your critical areas. I could go on, but I digress from the real point. The line art is fairly good, and the characters look like the actual characters. The coloring is also good and really brings the art to life.

The writing is also fairly good. I personally think some of the joking Xena and Gab make in battle falls a little flat, but it doesn't ruin the issue. In the show there were moments of silliness, and it didn't always work in my mind. It's just my opinion, and others will disagree. What it does do is give the new reader and understanding of the kind of relationship Xena and Gab have, and in that respect it works.

The actual plot is paced fairly well in the issue, and felt like a quick read. I won't spoil the story here, but I will say it at least has potential. Many familiar faces are gathering or make appearences in the issue, so the setting is established quickly. There is also a well played twist ending, which will really shift things around.

The biggest drawback to the issue, and for the title in general, is the price tag. At $3.50 the comic is a bit pricey for what it is, and does not make it worth buying each cover unless you are hardcore about the title.

As for the worries about the title? For the first issue things are looking good, and I'll be picking this up for this arch. I also recomend it to anyone who has felt that feeling of 'wanting to look, but are too unsure to touch' that happens with new comics.

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Friday, July 28, 2006


Last two weeks have been rough, so theres my excuse for skipping the reviews last week. This week, I have little excuse to post something.

Batman #655 - Morrison writing, right? Should be good, right? In my opinion this issue is fairly good, but one thing bugs me. The main story in this issue deals with plot that contradicts what is going on with the Man-Bat miniseries. Maybe the mini is out of the canon storyline, or maybe Morrison didn't have the same notes to work from.

Aside from that the issue was fun to read. Morrison is aware that Batman had given up his playboy image for a long time. Bruce Wayne has to retrain himself to become a fun loving guy again, and Alfred has to keep reminding him to lose his growl. 7.5/10

Action Comics #841 - I want to like Busiek's Superman, but his run so far feels very "long." What I mean is that the issue drags along, and I think it is from so much text to read through. It's good writing, I'll grant it that, but sometimes it feels like it is a bit too much. I like the concepts of the robotic intergalactic auctioneers, and it serves as an interesting background. Sadly, that's all it really feels like. 7.5/10

Birds of Prey #96 - First I have to say I like Black Alice. She's just one of those characters that doesn't get enough panel time to become a favorite, but I like it when she shows up. Aside from that there is a good dose of character work in this issue, and what I think is the only nod to Ted Kord since Countdown to Infinite Crisis. Also, that bit about Ted Kord is really well done and should be one of the selling points of the issue. The rest, im simply biased towards, thanks to Black Alice. 8/10

Supergirl #8 - Everything from the OYL arch is finally starting to make sense. Just be warned, as fun as the cover makes this issue appear, Powergirl and Supergirl do not actually battle it out. 7/10

Nightwing #122 - Stuff happens, but if you've been reading this arch you pretty much know how this has been going. Still, I suppose watching Jason Todd going Tetsuo at the end was interesting (as interesting as anything can be right now in the title). 6/10

Blue Beetle #5 - The story is still building, and it is still holding my interest. The villains so far are interesting, which makes it fun. 7.5/10

The Spectre #3 - The acceptance and conclusion of the miniseries. This story wraps up nicely in the 3rd issue, unlike other minis (Battle for Bludhaven, for example). The twist ending isn't unpredictible, but it does hit hard. 7.5/10

52 #12 - Still on schedule, still going strong. Insane Captain Marvel is a lot of fun. 7.5/10

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Transformers news

Apparently a big piece of news was revealed at Comicon.

Peter Cullen is the voice of Optimus Prime.

My feelings for the movie is now back to even, I'm not hyped nor am I disgruntled. I think there is a chance for the movie to be great, just as much as I think it will fail miserably.

Now if only Frank Welker will get attached...

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Amazing Screw-On Head

Wow. Just saw an ad for this on SciFi Channel, and I had to watch it. If you are a fan of anything Mignola, like Hellboy and the like, you should too. Even if you don't know much, know he has a unique style and sense of humor.

Amazing Screw-On Head

Go, watch now, and enjoy.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Two very different things to mention briefly

First: What the heck did Yahoo do to their front page? It looks horrible with all the extra graphics tossed in. It's highly confusing and requires a while to load. The new lay out is a terrible mess of everything that a front service page should not be. I'm just glad they gave an option at the bottom to reset back to the text-friendly old page. Not everything should copy an OS look. I like my no-nonsense text when I read my news.

Second: Screw you, Marvel, for releasing all their second prints at the same time and multiple variant covers for Civil War. You bumped my single day comic purchase record far above its previous level, and makes me want to drop titles. It's almost assured I will not be reading Marvel for a long time after Civil War ends. I hope eBay can help me make up lost cash.

(Also, a big thank you to Israel for jump starting World War 3. )

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Transformers, the Bay Film

It could be said that I'm a fan of Transformers, specifically gen 1. I happily review the comics as they come out. I know the main players, and I have my favorites.

I am also very worried about what Michael Bay is doing.

Recently an image of Optimus Prime in vehicle mode was leaked. He's based on a Peterbilt, which makes sense. He's not a flatnose, but that doesn't bother me so much. They are not used in America anymore as far as I can tell, and they were primarily a Japanese vehicle if I remember right. There are two things that bother me about this.

First, Bay stated that he chose the Peterbilt because he thought Optimus should be a massive 40-50 foot tall robot, and that truck could house enough insides to make the mass fit. I find this hard to take, since what makes Optimus Prime such a powerful character isn't his size. It's his charisma. I always thought he was maybe 25 feet tall, which probably makes sense for the flatnose cab. His battle prowess and such came from the Matrix, which was all the knowledge of those before him and such. Making him stand 40-50 feet is very much something Bay would do, because he likes taking things to a popcorn-extreme.

Second, Optimus is black with red flames for a paint job. Sit and think about for a minute, but don't take too long else you may burst a vessel in your brain. I don't think I really need to explain this. Optimus Prime is red with white trim and a blue frame. He is Red, white, and blue - because he's a real American hero. He doesn't have black, because that is Nemesis Prime or whatever they are calling him now.

There are also issues with changing some of the vehicles, but I'm not so worried about that. Bumblebee has always been trouble because VW doesn't like others using their vehicle image. I can accept his use as the bridge with the humans, because he has often been the one who was seen more as a kid than the other Autobots.

I can also accept Megatron turned into a tank. He has also been cannon-based. I can honestly say that turning into a Walther p38 would have caused a lot of general public outcry. As much as I love the symbolism behind that, the tank makes sense according to War Within and Gen2. Besides, it is an easy way for him to have his fusion cannon, if Bay keeps the fusion cannon.

I have worries about Soudwave and Starscream. Soundwave may still be a boombox, but that'll mean that Bay keeps him about 4 feet tall in robot mode. Starscream maybe tossed into the same lump with his "brothers" Thundercracker, Dirge, Skywarp, and Sunstorm (and the rest of the clones). Starscream is the one whose spark was screwed up, became immortal, and has megolomania on par with Megatron. Starscream is just impatient when it comes to victory. I hope Bay is aware of this, as are the scriptwriters.

I would love to have Shockwave appear because he is one of my favorites, but I don't see how he would make sense in this movie. If it gets a sequel, maybe, if they return to Cybertron. Dinobots also wouldn't make much sense in this movie, and Unicron should be saved till he could be used as a cap to a trilogy.

Other issues I'm curious about are the female transformers. There aren't many, because supposedly the models became more 'gender nuetral' through upgrades and time since they didn't reproduce in that way. Arcee would be the main choice, but I fear Bay will totally mess her up if he's included her.

Bay has said he wants to audition the original voice cast, or at least those surviving. Very smart move. He has also said that he doesn't want to show any robot modes beofre the movie is released so everyone who sees the movie sees it with a fresh mind. Stupid move. Transformer geeks will rip it apart by speculation.

Get Peter Cullen, show us Optimus Prime transforming into robot mode, and have his say "Autobots, roll out" with his gun in hand while pointing. If you do this, Mr. Bay, you will have won over us geeks.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Comics! cont.

Superman #654 - The dynamic of Clark and Lois was central in the issue, and I don't remember it being so well handled. Superman was sidelined, and it worked. Electrified Popcorn, science police, and giant villain that talks too much. I'm really curious about Lana taking over Lexcorp. Though it was well written, the issue felt really long. 7/10

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #208 - Part two is on equal grounds as part one. It's not exceptional, but it isn't terrible. The art is realistic enough to hold your interest generally, though sometimes it doesn't quite work. Specifically, I don't like how the Penguin looks. I'm a fan of the 'human' Penguin, not the creepy looking one. I also don't like his entry into the strip club business - It's just not him. However, I do like the story being told. It feels slightly reused, but so far it works. It has a very dark feel. I would go so far as to call it a gothic tale, and that is only helped by many stylistic choices with the art. I will admit that this story is a bit rough to get through. 6/10

Thunderbolts #104 - This is only the second issue I've read of the series, since I'm only reading it for the Civil War tie-in. I still have no idea what is really happening, but I do understand that this Zemo guy is gaining control over the supervillains to form a 3rd party in this whole Civil War mess. There is the possibility that Zemo holds the key to the tide of the war, depending which side he fights alongside more. Also, I'm not fond of a vast majority of Marvel villains. 6/10

Civil War: Frontline #3 - Opps, there goes another neighborhood. That can't be good for the side against the registration. Also, the Baxter Building has potentially the longest escalator, making me wonder if an elivator would have been quicker. Even if it was quicker, Reed wouldn't have had the extra time to keep talking. Multiple storylines make it a little jumpy, but they are seperated into chapters. She-Hulk has another case that isn't cooperating, who is also in total denial of any wrong doing. Still wondering why they haven't nailed him with trespassing. I mean come on, they were. 6.5/10


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Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Transformers: Infiltration #6 - The grand finale to this arch was just as I great as I thought it was going to be, and I'm glad I stayed through till the end. The Autobots appear absolutely helpless, and the Decepticons are at the brink of internal war. Two things to note are Megatron looks to be a tank, and Optimus Prime shows up right on que. There's going to be a break before the next arch begins, called "Escalation" - so you can figure out what will potentially happen. I still wish they'd only have like two different covers, like their other Transformer titles. 8.5/10

Street Fighter II #4 - Holy crap issue four is finally out. It has only taken since the begining of the year for another issue to appear. So was the wait worth it? I have a solid SF bias, so I'd say yes. Gen is featured heavily, as is "Akuma" (I really wish they'd use Gouki), which makes the issue interesting. Gen doesn't get a lot of background outside this comic, so everything helps. The story focuses almost entirely on the background of Gen and Akuma, about their original battle and their rematch. Main: 8.5/10

The backup story deals with Cammy and the rest of Delta Red, mainly about trust issues and such. It is simple and straight forward, and doesn't do anything to advance the main plot. It is interesting, however, and I like the style. Backup: 7.5/10

Green Lantern #12 - It's been a long time since Cyborg Superman had a little action, and it was fun. He even has apparently been taught by the Borg and can use nanobots to control biologicals. Also, figures that Guy gets stuck into a giant Manhunter with all the fun of a parasitic metaphor. 8.5/10


Green Lantern Corps #2 - Royal intrigue, galactic lantern fanboy prince, and Mogo. I'm really interested in where this is going. Also, no way in hell Soranik is dead. 8/10

52: Week Ten - Ten weeks and still on schedule. Clark Kent is awesome, and "Supernova" reminds me of Dr. Light. 7.5/10

Green Arrow #64 - Surprise ending! Also, lots of witty banter and Deathstroke has a killer plan in the works. 7.5/10

Tomorrow I'll have more thoughts and numbers...

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Am I evil?

At least someone thinks so. That makes me happy.

To furthor my evil in this world, I have decided to pencil a certain slash parody. If the penciling is well accepted, I may go furthor in production. But for now it is simply something that really shouldn't exist...hurray!


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Back to work...

Well I am finally getting back into the swing of working on my novel. Off and on for the last few years I've worked on it in it's current form. In reality it has been in production for nearly a decade. For the most part in its early life It was going to be a graphic novel, but as I became more skilled as an artist I became frustrated with the work I had produced, scrapped it, and restarted.

So now that I'm once again working on the book, what's new? I've been rethinking the formatting from a basic 5x8 paperback size to a full 8.5x11 size. I did some quick testing of the format change to see how it would effect the length of the book, mainly out of curiosity. Turns out that the difference between what I have now and the reformat of the book is just about half the size. 108 pages turned into 51 pages.

Why am I posting about this on a more comic related weblog? First of all, it's good advertisement for the future. Second, and more on topic, is that I plan to fully illustrate the book. This may help me get into the comic industry, since it will be more published material, if only I can finish typing this thing up.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Comics! - Finally!

Yes, I have comics and they have been read. Not many came out from my selections, but I figure some things are worth talking about. Here are a few reviews, now with bold!

OMAC #1 - OMAC Project was interesting enough for me to get into the current Checkmate ongoing series, which I really like right now. However, with time I have drifted away from the idea of OMAC, and I'll admit I sort of skipped over the story in Brave New World. Now the question is begged of what I thought of this issue.

Personally, I didn't feel much happened. A single OMAC still exists and Brother Eye apparently still exists, and OMAC is being called "home" by Eye. Despite the lack of progress the story really flowed well. I'm still curious about this mini, and I have a sneaking suspision they may turn OMAC into a sort of Robocop type character - driven by protocol, nearly unstopable to carry out the law, and torn by the human aspect when making descisions. 7.5/10

Detective Comics #821 - Paul Dini writing Batman is good. Finally a single solid issue. No arching plot. One fully contained mystery that gets resolved in classic Batman style. I love it. Not much else I can say about this issue, except that I would think it would be a great starting point for the new reader.

Two things about the issue I'm not too fond of. One is petty, the other is odd. First off, I think the cover art is odd due to the way the cowl is drawn on Batman. It looks like Batman has no neck and the eye holes are huge. The petty bit is the massive 8 page ad in the center for that Dew competition. It's absurd, and who in their right mind would really read the whole thing? I barely notice ads in comics because I want to read the story. I notice ads like those because I become frustrated not being able to switch back into reading mode. It's jarring and takes me out of the story, like an infomertial in the middle of a television show. Still, I guess they could get away with including something like that considering the story. 8/10

JSA #87 - I didn't even know the title was ending on this issue. The fact that it did is upsetting, mainly since it didn't feel like it needed to end. Characters were still missing, and there was no reason to end except that the brownstone was demolished in battle.

JLA dissolved because they couldn't make ammends with each other, they went their seperate ways to cool off. Breaking up - it's a good reason to end a title. JSA didn't break up, in fact it looked like they became closer knit - not a good reason to end a title. To me, it looks like they are rebooting the title becuase they are rebooting everything else. Can't a single group title survive Infinite Crisis? I mean, come on, there has to be some continuity between preIC and postIC, and why not the group of heroes who pretty much personify legacy?

Oh well, my biggest complaint was that the title ended in more of a pop-fizz than a bang. Gent Ghost felt in the end felt like a generic bad guy bent only acting like a villain-of-the-day. No extreme struggle in which lives were honestly threatened. Ghost threatened their lives, but they were never in real danger. Besides, Wildcat gets a real shining moment, and that was fun to read. 6/10

Transformers: Evolution#1: Hearts of Steel - Long title, but I like the concept of the title. Basically think of it as an ongoing Elseworld title based on Transformers. This first story arch puts them in the Industrial Revolution, with John Henry and Mark Twain. In the begining with the story background all the transformers are like dinosaurs and dragons and stuff. Later when they reawaken, Bumblebee turns into steam engine and shockwave appears as an ironclad ship. So far I'm really liking this title, because it is essentially extreme bizarro Transformers, and that is awesome. 9/10


52: Week Nine - It's not Galactus, and more Question! 7/10

Batman: Secrets #5 - I've really liked the insanity spun by this miniseries, and the ending is just as nicely twisted as the rest of the run. 8/10

Teen Titans #37 - Doom Patrol exposed, Kid Devil and Ravager are become pretty interesting, and I didn't especially enjoy the ending. 5/10

Supergirl #7 - Supergirl is manic, Powergirl is awesome, and once again the ending left me scratching my head in a bad way. 5.5/10

Secret Six #2 - I think I have to reread Villains United and the special, becuase I don't remember some of this, still, the plot is very nice and twisted. 7/10

Conan and the Songs of the Dead #1 - Most hardcore and potentially offensive issue of DH's Conan yet, and it still reads like classic Conan. Not for kids! 7.5/10

That's it for this week. I like this review style, so look forward to it being the standard now (allows me to focus on the issues I liked, as shoot through the rest of what I have read).

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Simplified Spelling made Easy
Ever wanted a way to prove your bad spelling wasn't so bad?
Typos mean progress!


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A question of women in comic movies

You know, I've been wondering since the weekend about why the women in comic book movie adaptations always can I put it....not as good they could be. I don't know quite why this is. I'm no expert, but I am pretty critical of movies. I'll refer to the most recent big budget DC movies.

Batman Begins? I think most people will agree that the character Rachel Dawes was the weakest link in an otherwise near-perfect adaptation. Was this because she was the only character in the movie that had no comic reference? I don't want to think so, because many other female roles are written well in other movies.

Dawes seemed to be only there to react to Bruce's poor concepts of justice. She was the compass that set him back on track. She had history with Bruce as child, and she was the DA for Gotham. That is all the depth I remember from her, and as a new character in the Batman mythos she needs depth to solidify her among so many already established characters. We know about Bruce. We know about Gordon. We know about Scarecrow and Ghul. Who is this Rachel if she isn't from Year Two? Sadly, all we learn from her (aside from what I mentioned already) is what has happened to Gotham while Bruce was gone. Exposition isn't needed when it can be shown visually.

Unfortunately, I fear she may become a martyr figure for the next film without much more depth being established. She is established as the requisite love interest for the hero, in a job position that shouldn't really belong to her given the chronology of the movie. To keep the fans happy with this newly revitalized franchise, Harvey Dent needs to somehow attain her job.

Superman Returns? Kate Bosworth was, in my opinion, better in her role than katie Holmes was as Rachel, but she still felt a bit weak in contrast to the movie. I think the biggest difference was that Lois is already established from previous movies and the comics. My main issue was that she looked young, a bit too young, for the role. A five year later tag, and she looks five years younger. For her defense, so does Superman - it's just the casting.

Comic book movies have always seemed to lack strong female roles. My guess is that the comics have male leading roles, and that the women just get religaded to a backup role. I don't care so much that the women are not as strongly represented in the story, because the story is about the hero afterall. I don't like it when the female is nothing more than a motivation for the hero, arm candy, or a reporter bent solely on uncovering the secret identity.

Now, there are strong women in comic adaptations. They are just rare. For example Jennifer Connelly in Hulk was, in my opinion, a strong role. She had to be, considering she was basically the only force able to calm a force of nonstop destruction. Another strong role was Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman in Batman Returns.

I have hope for the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, however, because unlike other comic movies the lead is already a woman.

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Monday, July 03, 2006

More Con stuff

Ok, a heres a bit more now that I have rested a bit. I actually took a nap today when fatigue hit me hard this afternoon so now I have a headache, but decent otherwise. Probably won't really get back on track till the end of this week.

First of all, I forgot to mention my portfolio during my first post-con post. Marvel was doing their talent search at the con and I sat in for that. I don't think I have a Marvel style, but it was a chance to get feedback. As it turns out there were many people that showed up for it, and since I showed up at the time it was supposed to begin I was placed at the back of the line. A couple hours into waiting I struck up conversation with the guy next to me. Turns out he was there as a writer, but he had previously published work with a small team and had his work (actual printed comics) to show off. He ripped into my work after I asked him to do so, and I recieved good feedback. He even liked two of the pages I drew, aside from the Chun Li penciling (which no one has ever disliked, and I consider one of my best pieces). With that feedback I felt better for next the next con I attend, and left the audition. By that point I was only halfway through the line, so I have have been looked at in another two hours.

Besides, I was about to faint after someone had copies of the inked covers to the more recent Conan covers. He apparently was working with the original artist of them or something, and just to see the full sized pages without the color were breathtaking. One could say I had cold feet after someone had those to submit...

I haved uploaded two images from the con. Most of the photos I took over the weekend were of various artists signing my comics, so those aren't so important to show off.

First photo, probably the best one I had taken for me, is of Kalinara and I standing with Dan Didio. This photo sparked off out long chat with the big guy.

Second photo, is actually three I combined for a wide shot of the convention floor. The place was huge as you can see. Artists and writers and other important people were in the back rows of tables (the ones with the fancy white tablecloths) and all the various vendors and such were in the front. Try to ignore some of the breaks in reality - I'm decent at patching photos together, but I'm no expert. Just a warning - I left the file BIG so you can see all the details.

I'm still sifting through stuff from the con, but on the whole I think it was a resounding success and eagerly look forward to next year. Maybe then I will have become skilled enough to feel like staying through a talent search panel.

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Back from con

Back from the con - was a blast. I took a few pictures which I'll post later. Right now I feel like I've marched nonstop all weekend. As soon as I started tallying everything up from the con the fatigue hit me. I could seriously just fall asleep now if it wasn't for everything else going on at home and a bit of worry for Kal to get back home safely.

Too much went on to really type a summery, but I will say it was fun chatting with Dan Didio for about 20 minutes after the DC Nation panel (with Kalinara). It was also fun to see her make Greg Rucka and Didio break their pacing on questions asking about Major Force being beaten by a woman (their sudden reaction was priceless). Makes me wonder if she planted the seed of a future defeat of MF...

I'll get the pictures up tonight or tomorrow...

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