What a great cover! InHyuk Lee’s wonderfully dark Alien tail coiling around a troubled child’s face heralds issue #3 ; I eagerly anticipated it’s contents. Spoilers ahead….
Epsilon station, a Weyland-Yutani bioweapons and research facility is orbiting earth on a self – destruct trajectory.
Gabe Cruz has helped build the success of this station based on an encounter with Xenomorphs (Aliens) in the past. His son Danny, as part of a terrorist organisation have stolen a pass from him to get on to the station and in the process released the dangerous Xenomorphs. Cruz has had to come out of retirement to take the lead on the highly risky mission of trying to retrieve the mysterious “ALPHA” sample from Epsilon station is he is to have any chance of saving his son and preserving his legacy.
Issue #3 is a seriously action packed issue as we are propelled in to the midst of an Alien attack, with Cruz and two Weyland-Yutani agents walking into a maelstrom of terror. The time around we open with a dying agent lying on the floor, ribs exploded open having been impaled by a Xenomorph in a swift attack. In a last act of defiance he manages to fire on the creature in the midst of a firefight where Cruz and the other agent looked to be facing certain death, causing the it to sweep up the heroic agent and flee with him. The encounter brings up flashback memories for Cruz of the first time he and a crew responded to a rescue call and came under attack from Xenomorphs.
Kennedy has done a great job in crafting a tense story full of intrigue. He also finds a way to add to depth through intriguing subplots that had me wondering how this arc might develop. During one scene, there is a mention of another mysterious and enchanting female looking Alien that Cruz has some mental connection with called ” The Dark One” . This “Dark One” was pictured back in the opening issue, who could not want to learn more! Kennedy has dropped a great little back story that we are yet to see develop and possible links to plot in ways yet to be seen through Cruz’s flashbacks.
I have been consistently disappointed in Larocca’s Xenomorphs and inconsistency in drawing Cruz in previous issues, but I’m not going to rehash old reviews. What I will say is that his art is solid but at this point it just feels disconnected to the horror of the franchise and historical xenomorph art. In this issue there is so much in terms of visible xenomorphs that it detracts from some of the tension and mystery associated with what fans would associate as typical Alien horror. The art and the colors for the Aliens are bordering on cheery and too crisp to invite mystery, tension and the necessary foreboding tones. That feeling of the surprising attacking and not being so visible is lacking when they are front and centre consistently.
The lettering from Clayton Cowles is perfect for showcasing the artwork and complimenting the frenzied action and overall this issue reads well, with Kennedy doing a great job of getting the reader intrigued as to the the direction that this story may go. The clinical way Cruz kills his old friend Mitch who he knows cannot be saved is a touching and shocking moment and the emergence of two small Xenomorphs from the body is a nice unexpected twist from the conventional Alien gestation of one Alien per host.
Perhaps this is not the best jumping on point for this run and this may have been a difficult issue to open up on if you hadn’t already read issues one and two, but holds its own well enough to give the reader enough information so that they might be able to easily decide if this is the right kind of space-horror for them.
Verdict Compelling action that keeps the pages turning and a slow burn intriguing plot have this arc shaping up with promise. Despite some minor artistic gripes over character consistency here and there, Marvel’s first Aliens run continues to impress.
In the late 1990s the Pokemon franchise was taking the world by storm, a storm which grew even bigger upon the release of Pokemon: The First Movie and the subsequent Pokemon movies that followed. Currently there are a staggering 23 animated Pokemon movies and 1 live action movie (Pokemon: Detective Pikachu) in existence, but for this article I will be taking a look back at the first 3 Pokemon movies and some of the merchandise/promotions that surrounded them. As a UK-based Pokemon collector a lot of the promotions I will be discussing here will be either UK-based, or were released in the UK alongside other parts of the world, however I do hope to include lesser known merchandise and information that will hopefully allow everyone reading to take a little trip down memory lane with Ash, Pikachu and the rest of the gang!
Pokemon The First Movie and Pokemon 2000 Burger King Toys:
The Pokemon franchise has teamed up with a multitude of different food and drinks brands/outlets over the years, particularly in the early days of promoting their movies. Burger King included an array of Pokemon merchandise with their kid’s meals when promoting the first and second movies, including beanie toys, light-up figures and action power cards amongst others.
These campaigns weren’t without controversy however, as during the promotional campaign for the first movie two infant children died due to getting part of the plastic Pokeball (in which the promotional items were encased) caught over their mouths and noses which led to them suffocating. This resulted in the toys being recalled and has since led to similar Pokeball toys (such as the ones that were included in Hasbro’s 1999 and 2000 action figure lines) having air holes implemented into the design of the toys.
Despite these issues, the Burger King toys remain popular on the Pokemon collectors market, as do other promotional items associated with the campaigns, such as the cardboard Burger King crowns and kid’s meal boxes from the Pokemon 2000 promotions which included branding featuring Ash, Pikachu and Lugia.
Pokemon Movie Soundtracks and Promotional Singles:
The first 3 Pokemon movies all received releases of their respective soundtracks onto CD (and audio cassette, in the case of the first and second movie). The scores to the movies were also separately released, however mainstream marketing tended to lean more towards promoting the soundtrack CDs, which featured contemporary pop artists and songs rather than the thematic instrumentals from the films’ scores.
The soundtrack for Pokemon: The First Movie was released in November 1999 by Atlantic Records and the tracklisting for the record serves as a sort of snapshot of late 90’s bubblegum pop, featuring artists such as *NSYNC, Britney Spears and Aaron Carter. Pokemon 2000’s soundtrack was similarly centred around songs from contemporary pop artists, featuring the likes of Westlife and Dream Street, however it did also include Pokemon-themed songs written by artists for the movie, such as Weird Al Yankovic’s “Polkamon”.
Pokemon 3’s soundtrack continued this theme with the majority of the soundtrack being orientated around the characters within the franchise, which is unsurprising considering many of the songs included could be found on other Pokemon soundtrack media, such as the Totally Pokemon CD. In the UK however, Pokemon 3 was promoted in the contemporary music realm with the single “Gotta Catch ‘Em All”, released by the band 5.0 Grind featuring Pokemon Allstars.
The single was available to purchase from UK music retailers upon its release, and a promotional CD-ROM sampler was also included with the Daily Express newspaper. 5.0 Grind performed the single on Nickelodeon UK (despite the fact Pokemon wasn’t aired on Nickelodeon at that time) and the single reached number #57 in the charts. The artwork for the copies of the single released into UK music stores featured Pikachu alongside Mewtwo, despite Mewtwo having nothing to do with the third Pokemon movie. This inclusion could be due to hearsay that Mewtwo was going to appear in Pokemon 3, which later proved to be misconstrued as Mewtwo actually re-appeared in Mewtwo Returns, a straight to VHS/DVD feature-length special which was also released in 2001.
In a similar vein to the contemporary songs associated with the previous movies, “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” is very much of its era, encapsulating the rap-metal/skate rock trends of the early 00’s (albeit watered down for a younger audience and occasionally featuring Ash Ketchum giving shout-outs to his various Pokemon). Personally, as cheesy as the track is I do find it to be quite catchy and I must give kudos to the band for the conviction they showed during their Nickelodeon performance, as I imagine it must be quite hard to simultaneously rock out in front of a crowd of small children and keep a straight face, particularly in the section of the song when a sample of Jigglypuff singing its lullaby plays over the top of the track.
Retail and Newspaper Promotions:
As well as the free Daily Express “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” CD-ROM, a number of other newspaper and retail outlets also ran Pokemon movie promotions during both the cinematic and VHS/DVD releases of the films. The Daily Mail gave away a free promotional VHS tape that gave fans a sneak peek at Pokemon: The First Movie and included other details about the franchise, such as interviews with staff from 4Kids Entertainment which provided a view into how the original Japanese version of the movie was adapted for western audiences.
Woolworths and Warner Brothers stores in the UK also ran Pokemon movie promos during the release cycle of the first movie, offering exclusive promo cards and money off vouchers upon the VHS release of the film. Pokemon promotions from this period also found their way onto snack foods, with Odeon Cinemas in the UK running a competition featured on their popcorn boxes in which fans could win a Nintendo 64 console and a copy of Pokemon Stadium.
Well I couldn’t really write a blog about the promotion of the early Pokemon Movies and not include the cards which were given to ticket holders and packaged with home media releases of the movies could I? Probably the most well known of these cards are the 4 Wizards Of The Coast Black Star promo cards which were available alongside the first movie’s cinematic release, featuring Mewtwo, Pikachu (still sporting his Ken Sugimori-illustrated roundness, which I personally feel is how Pikachu should look and would very much like to see the return of Chubbychu), Dragonite and rather randomly, Electabuzz. Following the extreme renewal of interest in vintage Pokemon TCG cards in recent years, the value of these cards continues to grow (particularly as a complete set) so if you have any in your collection be sure to take good care of them!
A new version of the Mewtwo card was also included alongside VHS copies of the first movie upon its home media release. Promotional TCG cards were also available during the theatrical release of Pokemon 2000/The Power Of One, with Moltres, Zapdos and Articuno being featured. An Ancient Mew card based on the one owned by the film’s antagonist, Lawrence III, was also released, however it was only available along with the purchase of a movie ticket during the first week of the film’s release, as after this fans would only be able to receive a card featuring one of the legendary birds. In a similar fashion to the second Mewtwo card that was released with VHS copies of the first movie, a new Pikachu card was included alongside home media copies of Pokemon 2000.
Later in the course of the early Pokemon movies, in 2001 a promo card featuring Entei was available for ticket holders upon the release of Pokemon 3: Spell Of The Unown, with another promo card featuring one of the Unown being included with VHS and DVD releases of the movie.
As well as the Wizards Of The Coast-produced TCG cards, Topps Trading Cards also produced a line of trading cards featuring images of scenes from Pokemon: The First Movie, Pikachu’s Vacation and Pokemon 2000. As well as the regular Topps movie cards, rare silver foil and rainbow foil versions of cards were also randomly inserted into some packs, mirroring the ever-popular shiny hunting that helped make the TCG cards so popular.
Some of the Topps cards from the Pikachu’s Vacation animated short are notable for having some errors when it came to the names of new Pokemon, with Snubull being incorrectly named “Buru” (which may have been a mis-translation of Snubull’s Japanese name, Bulu) and Marill being named as “Pikablu”, which is perhaps an indirect reference to the rumours of a new version of Pikachu named “Pikablu” that cropped up when Marill’s design was first seen by fans. These errors were probably due to the fact that the Gold and Silver games had not yet been released in the west and that the english-language names of several new Pokemon were still being revised, as the Topps cards themselves were put into production before the western versions of Pikachu’s Vacation and the First Movie had been completed and non-Japanese audiences were yet to be familiarised with the 100 new Pokemon that would be introduced in the Johto region-based games and anime.
Other Pokemon Movie Toys:
As well as the Burger King toys, numerous other Pokemon movie toys were released. Hasbro released several different packs of Pokemon figures showcasing characters that were featured in the first 2 Pokemon movies. These packs were similar to the battle figures that were also released by Hasbro, featuring the same card battle discs that came with each character.
Hasbro also released an electronic Lugia toy following the release of Pokemon 2000, which made sounds based off the ones Lugia makes in the movie. This was quite a large toy and it was possible to fit the Ash Ketchum figure from Hasbro’s 2000 Deluxe Trainer figure line on Lugia’s back and recreate scenes from the film.
As the Pokemon world featured a vast array of characters and locations, it was an ideal choice to be transformed into Polly Pocket-esque playsets, which were popular within a variety of franchises in the 1990s. Several playsets inspired by the Indigo League and Orange Islands anime series were released by Tomy under the Pokemon House brand (known in Japan as Pokemon Mate) and when it came to the early Pokemon movies they didn’t hesitate to create playsets for them either. Pokemon 2000 had the most of these playsets produced, with the Fire, Lightning and Ice Islands from the film all receiving individual playsets along with the shrine at Shamouti Island which included Lugia keeping a watchful eye over the shrine.
Pokemon 3 seems to have had much less merchandise produced for it in comparison to the first two Pokemon movies, which is a shame as I personally consider the animation and story in this film to be fantastic and I think it deserves far more recognition than it currently receives. A Pokemon House playset inspired by the third movie was produced, however it is incredibly rare to come across. The playset was a deluxe model, featuring the Hale family home in the crystallised Greenfield which Ash and Co. had to rescue Ash’s mother from in the movie.
Books and Comics:
As is common with many movies from franchises aimed at children, the Pokemon films were also adapted into novels. Mewtwo Strikes Back: Pokemon The First Movie was written by Tracey West (who also adapted the Indigo League, Orange Islands and Johto Journeys anime series into children’s books) and published in 2000 following the western release of the movie. The book proved to be a favourite at Scholastic book fairs, which is where I purchased a copy from myself as a child when a book fair was held at my primary school. As I recall, a lot of other kids also bought the book and I’m sure our teacher was thrilled when we all handed in our weekly book reports exclaiming that Ash’s “death” during Mew and Mewtwo’s stand-off was the world of fiction’s biggest tragedy since Of Mice and Men’s Lennie last told George about “tending the rabbits”…
The animated shorts that played before the cinematic releases and VHS copies of the first 3 Pokemon movies (Pikachu’s Vacation, Pikachu’s Rescue Adventure and Pikachu And Pichu) were also adapted into Tracey West-penned novels as were Pokemon 2000 Pokemon 3, however much like in other areas of merchandising, the novelisation of the third movie was (and still is) seldom seen in comparison to its two predecessors. The First Movie was also released as a five-part comic series by Viz Media in 2000. This comic was a re-release of a 1998 graphic novel version of the movie which had been originally published by Japanese media publishers Shogakukan Inc as a singular title. The first four issues of the comic collected the story from the main film, while the fifth issue presented the story from Pikachu’s Vacation.
Much like the first movie, the comic adaptation of Pokemon 2000 had originally been released in Japan as a singular graphic novel and was presented to western audiences in five monthly comic releases, with the initial four comics containing the second movie story and the fifth comic showcasing the story from the Pikachu’s Rescue Adventure short. The Pikachu’s Vacation and Pikachu’s Rescue Adventure comics were later collected into the All That Pikachu! graphic novel, which was released by Viz Media in 2006.
Unfortunately Pokemon 3 did not receive a graphic novel or comic book release, which I think is quite a shame as I personally find it to be the most visually enticing of the early Pokemon movies and feel that it would look excellent in a panel by panel format. In recent years the comic book adaptations from the movies (particularly the first movie) have become favourites for fans to get signed by the voice actors from the Pokemon anime and signed collections of these comics can be found quite readily, which could make for a very cool addition to any collector’s arsenal of Pokemon movie merchandise (provided you have a spare £150-£300 available).
As a Pokemon fan and collector, one of my favourite things about the early movies and all the merchandise surrounding them was how they perfectly encapsulated the buzz that accompanied the release of each film, as there was nothing more exciting as a Pokemon-loving kid in the late 90’s/early 00’s than discovering the latest legendary Pokemon and new places that came along with each movie. Personally I think it would be amazing if a new animated Pokemon movie were to receive as wide a cinematic release as the early films did, or perhaps if one of the first three movies were remastered and re-released into the cinemas (maybe even in conjunction with an upcoming event or milestone, 30th anniversary I’m looking at you) as I would love for Pokemon fans old and new to have the opportunity to relive the magic of Pokemania at the movies all over again.
Written by Emily Carney
Sources and Further Reading:
Pokemon The First Movie: Free Daily Mail Promotional Video –
Hypebeast – Pokemon The First Movie Promo Toys + Cards –
Article By Andy Flood 11/8/21 The Case for… the Green Lantern Movie
No! Wait! Don’t leave, just… hear me out. Put down the weapon… there we go. Now…
Released in 2011 to a distinct lack of praise or indeed, audience appreciation, the Green Lantern movie has long been the superhero film that no-one talks about unless it’s in jest. Certainly, I remember not being overly fond of it on my initial viewing around the time of its home release (I borrowed it, don’t worry).
Following a family visit to one of our local Wow Comix to meet the very cool and kind staff (while also browsing the long boxes), my wife and I decided to revisit the film and watch with our sons. This decision came on the back of some in-store banter at the expense of the film alongside my being assigned the new run of Green Lantern for review. It seemed like as bad a time as any to watch it again and give it another chance.
Now for some, this film is a nameless horror, its number lying between 5 and 7, and so on. For my part, I remember it being quite flawed but also quite fun. We had access to the blu-ray release (we were keeping it for a friend, honest) and so were able to watch the extended version of the film, which expands on the central relationships in the film. This helps. A little.
I have found that when watching films with my sons, I often end up viewing them through a different lens; one concerned less with artistic merit or cinematic truth and more with fun and spectacle. Thought of another way, I’m more forgiving of a film’s flaws if my family are enjoying it. They have fun, I have fun.
That said, I’ve always been predisposed to finding the good in almost anything and I nearly always find something cool about whichever book, comic, game or film I’m engaged with. Sometimes even the smallest positive element can make a piece of entertainment worthy of my time and consideration. I believe that once you engage with the creative process a little for yourself, you gain a much deeper appreciation for the work and creations of others. So with that mindset, I settled in for my second viewing of the Green Lantern movie.
Even in the earliest frames of the film, it’s apparent that efforts were made to adopt some of the framing techniques used in comics in the making of this film. While there is some cross-pollination (now more so than ever) between ‘cinema’ and comics in the way images are presented, there are certain angles and ‘shots’ which are identifiably comic-like and I was happy to see some of these used here.
The opening expositional speech (delivered by Geoffrey Rush as the alien Green Lantern Tomar-Re) is similarly reminiscent of the sort of ‘catch up’ narrative you might see in comics from time to time, particularly those from silver and bronze eras. We’re introduced to the idea of the Lanterns as a sort of intergalactic police force (this being in line with the comics) and are soon introduced to a problem from their past.
Following scenes of galactic intrigue and peril, we’re brought back to Earth and are introduced to Hal Jordan as a child and witness the formative tragedy of his losing his test pilot father to an accident. We then go on to see Hal as an adult and his antics as he follows in his father’s footsteps.
As events build towards Hal being chosen as the next Green Lantern, the film tries to tap in to one of the factors which make the Green Lantern comics so appealing. Consider the idea that almost anyone could be chosen by this cosmic ring, powered by the force of will, to be a superhero.
You don’t have to be Kryptonian, obscenely wealthy/disturbed, super powered or even a particularly ‘together’ person. You just have to be fearless, or able to face fear, or strong willed; however you choose to interpret the criteria. The point is, ‘it could be you!’.
This is pretty powerful when it comes to the imagination of a child or indeed anyone with some imagination and perhaps a desire to be something else, something more. Green Lantern comics appealed to this idea and made their hero relatable. The movie actually goes some way to doing a good job with this idea too, particularly seeing as Hal is essentially quite reluctant to engage with his calling and even ‘quits’ the position at one point.
The look of the film is a lot better than all the comments berating the CG would have you believe, and the depiction of the Green Lanterns’ powers and their central world of Oa is good enough to have some fun with, particularly if you disengage your critical brain. With any high concept CG, it’s always easy to point at the flaws and scoff. But if you choose to buy into it a little more, you start to worry a little less about the way the ‘manifestations’ appear. It was always going to be a tall order to film the Green Lanterns’ powers. I feel like they did okay.
Of special note was the scene where he manifests a Hot Wheels track to save a crowd from a crashing helicopter. It’s totally bonkers and requires heavy suspension of disbelief, but when two little voices cry, “No way! Look! It’s Hot Wheels!” it’s all good.
Similarly, the space-bound, multitude of alien life, science fiction type scenes are all quite good visually and undeserving of the panning they received. The weird and wonderful space scenes were always some of my favourite aspects of the comics back in the ‘80s, so it was nice to see them represented here.
The Green Lantern (Hal) does look pretty much like the comic book version, despite the much derided CG costume. This was always a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ type decision for the makers; no matter how the costume is filmed, there’s always a chance that it doesn’t come off right. And similarly, no matter who you cast, you can’t please all the folk all of the time.
Something that did come off right was the presentation of Sinestro (even if we don’t really get to see him become a villain per se). Mark Strong does a great job with his performance and it’s a shame that the intended sequel never came to pass, as he would have made a really good comic book bad guy. Instead, the decision was made to focus on Hal’s childhood friend who, tormented by a disapproving father and being on the loosing side of a love triangle of sorts, proves an easy convert for the power of fear when a fragment of Parallax (the Green Lanterns’ nemesis in this film) enters his body. It makes for a weak antagonist and Earthbound action which left me wishing we could have been in outer space more.
This is one of those films that disappointed fans and is quite easy to poke fun at. It has pacing issues, bears the indelible mark of ‘studio interference’, feels like it was written by committee, has a poor choice of bad guy, doesn’t do enough good things with its arguably strong cast… the list goes on. In spite of all that, my eldest son (he’s 10) enjoyed it. And, because of that, and independently from that, I enjoyed it. I was entertained. And isn’t that what we’re here for?
Watch our Funko section on wowcomix.com over the next couple of weeks as we are adding a load of recent, ‘vintage’, to use the term loosely, and pre-order Funko Pops!
This week, smack your eyes on these hot pre-orders on sale from only £8.99! There’s a sweet Deadpool Pride Edition up for grabs, a brand new Mandalorian holding Grogu (aww) and, well you can’t turn down a new Carnage Pop at that price… can you?
‘Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage sees the return of Tom Hardy as investigative reporter/symbiote host Eddie Brock and his violent alter-ego Venom, as they come face-to-face with the one and only Carnage! Here we have Venom’s arch nemesis Carnage, the symbiote hosted by the body of serial killer, Cletus Kasady. Add Carnage to your Funko collection today!’
Deadpool Pride Edition – Funko Pop! Vinyl
Star Wars: The Mandalorian: Pop! Vinyl Figure: The Mandalorian With Grogu
Carnage (889): Venom: Let There Be Carnage – Funko Pop Vinyl
That’s right folks, Batman ’89 and Superman ’78 are on the way, and what better way to celebrate the revisiting of these absolute classics than to offer you the chance to save a little and pick up Superman ’78 #1 for only £2 when buying the two!
You will also find the variants on the website, however this offer is for these standard covers, which are pretty cool looking I must admit. Is it just me or does the idea of revisiting this era leave you with a little nostalgic grin? I mean, that looks to me like Gene Hackman and Margot right there, and… and that is very much a Keaton chin of course on the Batman cover.
It’s going to be a trip down memory lane by the looks of it! Get onboard and pre-order now, the offer only extends until the end of the week!