Categories
Featured Marvel TV Show

The Punisher – Nothing but a masterpiece

The Punisher. Credits: Netflix

 

 

Let me start off with how I felt when Frank Castle was first introduced back in Marvel’s Daredevil season 2. He seemed like a moron with a gun, a complete daft. I was quite sceptical about the violence. It felt unnecessarily over the top. Well as of today, I stand corrected. I have never been so glad to have been proved so utterly and absolutely wrong. Jon Bernthal is the man, carrying the whole season away on his shoulders. What a masterpiece! The series gets engaging from the very first scene which is unlike the other Marvel and Netflix series where they normally take 3-4 episodes to build up the momentum. The titular soundtrack is just as badass as The Punisher and I’m already addicted to it.

 

A stockpile of guns forming up the skull logo of Punisher. Credits: Netflix

 

There is this scene where one of the antagonists, Lewis Walcott,  sets free a pair of caged birds but they don’t move an inch. They don’t take a step away from that cage. The scene is beautiful and deeply metaphorical. They chose their hell, they’ve been there so long that flying seems abnormal to them. Freedom seems unnatural! This is what makes the show so special. The Punisher serves justice in his own way, almost divine vengeance you can say.

 

Lewis Walcott trying to free some caged birds. Credits: Netflix

 

In the end, we see the antagonists punished in a way they deserved, like one of the antagonists dying because of one of his own bombs or betrayer Billy Russo’s pretty face (his only weakness) being disfigured once and for all. Billy Russo is introduced to us as a retired Marine making it big back in American soil as a private security contractor. He is handsome, well dressed, rich, and famous among women. He has everything he had ever dreamed of and goes to extreme extents to protect what he’s achieved, till date. What I take from the show is that Frank Castle is not a cold-blooded murder but a human with a conscience who has suffered a lot.

 

Curtis Hoyle and Billy Russo. Credits: Netflix

 

Frank Castle in Kandahar, Afghanistan in a secret op. Credits: Netflix

 

So the show deals with the aftermath of wars, very gently with care. Wars are real, the troubles, the mess, the deaths are real. The apparent ‘lucky’ soldiers returning home are damaged and scarred for life. For these people, the line between right and wrong is blurred. So, The Punisher puts forward very important questions. How far would you go for your country? Would you sacrifice your conscience and sanity? Are you ready to blurred out all the lines?

At one point Frank starts to hallucinate while being tortured. He sees his wife and they’re having a happy life but the background (which signifies his hallucination) is all black unlike in his nightmares in the past which took place in his house. All of this happens inside his head but it makes me wish badly that it were true, all of it. I feel terrible for Frank, I sympathize with his pain when I realize that memories are all that he is left with.

 

Frank Castle with his wife, in his hallucinatory dreams. Credits: Netflix

 

Of course, the story has its flaws and it does start to get a little haywire at times, like when Castle taking the shittiest of beatings but still bounces back, slaying like a Bollywood hero. I enjoyed the most when Frank had some light, happy moments with his friend and partner in crime, David Lieberman. I remember being so glad when I saw this man smile.

 

David Lieberman (Micro) and Frank Castle. Credits: Netflix

At times, when he needed to get stitched up, I prayed and prayed for the whiny Claire Temple not to show up and thankfully she never did. Karen Page was, however, the real shit magnet this time. I was hoping Matt Murdock would appear at least in one of the scenes but he never did and I must say I’m disappointed. I had heard a lot of criticism about the Punisher’s physique and height before the show but in my opinion, the casting is perfect. The leaner, the better in a fight and mostly, his weapon is a gun. What’s height got to do with it, anyway? The budding romance between Karen Page and Frank Castle seems to be interesting because I want to see how they’ll make it work. Alas! They couldn’t use a brilliant character like Dinah Madani to her full potential which I hope they improve on, next time.

 

Karen Page and Frank. Credits: Netflix

 

Dinah Madani and Sam Stein. Credits: Netflix

The director’s done a good job and The Punisher is my favourite Marvel show right after Daredevil. Hopefully, it gets renewed for a second season soon.

 

Did you like Marvel Netflix’s The Punisher? Tell us in the comments.

Categories
DCcomics Featured Movies

Justice League – A movie about what could have been [No Spoiler Review]

 

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is Warner Bros’ first attempt at a superhero team up movie based on the DC Comics characters. This League, and Superheroes in general, has come a long way since its first appearance in DC Comics’ Brave and the Bold (1960).

    This is supposed to be the biggest movie based on DC Comics’ characters.

Justice League is a movie about its heroes. From the beginning, we are introduced to a world without Superman. From Lois Lane to Bruce Wayne, all feel the loss of Superman in a major way. It seems that the world is without hope – the symbol of the Last Son of Krypton. The opening few minutes of the movie is well shot with classic slow motion sequences and low light scenes, a style which is now synonymous with Zack Snyder. Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows, performed by Sigrid, plays in the background.

Parademons and Steppenwolf. Credits: Justice League

As the plot thickens, we are introduced to the threat of the otherworldly Parademons, and their general – Steppenwolf. Batman and Wonder Woman feel the necessity of gathering the other ‘metahumans’ as teased in the movie Batman V Superman. From here onwards, we meet The Flash, Cyborg and the Aquaman.

Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash
Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg

Ezra Miller as the Flash, is the comic relief of the movie. With complaints about the DCEU being all dark and grim, Flash provides some hilarious gags but a few times, the jokes felt plain and force-fed. Jason Momoa as the Aquaman, is a tough cookie. He makes sure that the League understands that he is special and is not to be meddled with. Ray Fisher’s Cyborg provides the emotional bond in the league as well as the tech support. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman leads the team, and continues her hit run from the solo movie.

Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman

 

Some of the action sequences are brilliant with Steppenwolf squaring against the Amazons, being a notable one. The soundtracks are good but not as brilliant as the modern master Hans Zimmer. Composer Danny Elfman manages to bring his classic Batman theme as well as John William’s Superman tracks to beautiful effect. But one stills laments over the lack of a perfect theme score for the League as a whole.

Now coming to Superman, there is not much to tell about him without spoiling. Comic book readers may be disappointed at the manner of his return, but Henry Cavill does a brilliant job in his short time. This movie shows the full might of Superman, after taking some heavy blows from Batman and Doomsday in BvS. One seriously underdeveloped character in this movie is the villainous Steppenwolf. His intentions or actions aren’t explained properly, and his only claim to fame is namedropping his nephew – the tyrant ruler of Apokolips.

Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds)

 

Now let’s come to the faults. Justice League is a let down on many fronts but one glaring flaw is the editing. The movie credits 3 person – David Brenner, Richard Pearson and Martin Walsh – for editing the movie, which feels disjointed and rushed. Multiple scenes from the trailers were absent. This is the third time, this has happened to this franchise after Batman v Superman and the disastrous Suicide Squad. Jos Whedon’s reshoots were apparent in a movie which provided unnecessary comic relief in tense moments instead of character development. Though the screenplay was tight, the dialogue seemed pedestrian. Overall, I felt the movie can be summed in one word – Rushed.

 

As this movie looked to undo the errors created in the first few movies, the studio chose an expendable villain to mount a weak challenge against our heroes. This movie is thus a collection of what it could have been rather than what it is.

Justice League

Did you like Justice League? Tell us in the comments below.

Categories
Featured Marvel

Thor : Ragnarok [NO SPOILERS] Review – Zapping back to its rightful throne in the MCU

Note: This is a non-spoiler review. Some plot points and characters may be discussed but no major spoilers will be referenced.
Exclusive First Look Photos of Thor: Ragnarok (Courtesy : Entertainment Weekly)

Exciting, funny, and above all fun, Thor: Ragnarok is a colorful cosmic adventure that sets a new standard for its franchise — and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

– Critics Consensus, Rotten Tomatoes

The third installment of the Thor trilogy in Marvel Cinematic Universe, released on 3rd November, worldwide, received a staggering 93% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.2/10 on IMDb and reached a rumbling $164 million on opening weekend, worldwide. Directed by Taika Waititi, starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Cate Blanchett (Hela), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk), Idris Elba (Heimdall), Anthony Hopkins (Odin), Jeff Goldblum (Grandmaster), Karl Urban (Skurge) and Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie #142); “Thor : Ragnarok” is a Norse-mythology infused galactic roller-coaster ride inside a discothèque – which inspite of mixing odd comedy and perfectly timed background score with gripping action sequences – surprisingly managed pretty well to deliver the much promised finality.

From Left to Right : Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tessa Thompson, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston, Jeff Goldblum and Cate Blanchett (Courtesy : Marvel Studios)

For noobs, “Thor : Ragnarok” is set two years after the events of “Avengers : Age of Ultron“. Hela, the Goddess of Death, an ancient enemy of Asgard, has returned. And upon engagement, broke Thor’s mighty hammer Mjölnir and are sent to the wasteland planet, Sakaar, where Thor gets captured. Imprisoned, he finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest, run by the Grandmaster, against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival, unlock his inner strength, gather up forces, make appeasements with his adopted brother and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization and bring upon the prophesized Ragnarok – the end of all worlds.

Thor possibly unlocking Odinforce after he lets go of Mjölnir and unleashes his inner power of the Thunder God (Courtesy : Thor : Ragnarok Final International trailer, YouTube)

Chris Hemsworth portrays his best Thor so far and has redefined the mythical, alien, comic superhero format that we know of, even without his goldilocks and hammer. The actor pushed his own boundaries to deliver biting humour and charming Aussie-baritone. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki in this movie has been the nicest Loki so far out and he yet again proves that whether its a senile, mischievous baddie or a deprived, predictive prince and brother, he always hits the right spot in performance. Complaints are with Cate Blanchett’s Hela, inspite of her being stellar and captivating, the lack of enough screen time for her character development left a mark in every fan’s heart, as she had been one of the best MCU villains so far, thus almost doing justice to female MCU villains. Mark Ruffalo’s Banner was a fish out of the water but his Hulk motion captures were “smashing”. Finally, a talking Hulk! And he’s really adorable too.

Team Revengers [Hulk, Thor, Valkyrie #142 and Loki prep up to fight the vicious Hela on the Rainbow Bridge] (Courtesy : Thor – Ragnarok International trailer #3/YouTube/Marvel Studios)
The rest of the cast was pretty neat too – Jeff Goldblum’s zany Grandmaster; Karl Urban’s blunt but brave Skurge, Tessa Thompson’s badass Valkyrie #142 with a redemption arc of a forgotten, alcoholic noble warrior; Idris Elba’s Heimdall “the saviour” and Anthony Hopkin’s best Odin performance, till date, as he enacts the most touching scene of the movie. Also, Benedict Cumberbatch reprises his role as Doctor Stephen Strange, for a short span on-screen, yet manages to maintain that aura and supremacy around Thor, as he aids him on Earth.

Cate Blanchett as Hela against the legion of Valkyrie. The scene looks almost like a highly-detailed Greek mural. (Courtesy : Thor – Ragnarok teaser trailer/YouTube/Marvel Studios)

Kiwi director Taika Waititi, whose credits include the flat-out brilliant vampire spoof “What We Do in the Shadows”, is responsible for the film’s wacked out comedic tone and especially for giving it a distinct voice and personality, literally, as he himself voiced the character of Korg. He just didn’t add a ton of characters into a CGI-doped blender, instead, delivered an enthusiastic, hilarious reboot of the idea of how diverse yet fun a Marvel movie can be.
Cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe did a fantastic job with the overall appeal of each scene. There are shots in this movie that would make for some high quality Greek murals. From Jack Kirby’s comic pages and previous magnificent renditions of Asgard in Thor films to the retro-futuristic Sakaar, the film made sure that each location made a prominent impact to the eyes.
The action scenes are so massively extravagant and captivating that it had to be paired with the iconic Led Zeppelin‘s – The Immigrant Song, in order to boost up our adrenaline to pointbreak. From the Marvel logo transitioning into the fires of Muspelheim to the slow-mo captures of defeated Asgardian warriors, the film makes up in editing what it lacks in strong character development of its main characters.

“I was really excited when Kevin [Feige] and the rest of Marvel jumped on board with the idea to use Kirby as a big influence in the design of the film. What’s really hard is staying authentic” : Taika Waititi on an interview (Courtesy : MCU Exchange)
The 3D aspect of this movie is almost as captivating as “Doctor Strange” and “Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2“. And the high budget Marvel CGI really pays off. Especially the ‘talking’ and childishly arrogant Hulk, in a bath-towel. Other creatures like Surtur, Korg, Meek and Fenris – the wolf, are beautifully designed too. And who’d forget the “sparkles” on Thor as the God of Thunder redeems himself and unlocks his hidden power, as he goes to strike down Hela! Man, that was a brilliant spectacle even in the trailers! Overall, the CGI doesn’t look bland but pairs well with the heavily toned performances of the actors on-screen and the laugh-out-loud humour.

“Yeah…same. Hulk like fire, Thor like water…” Mark Ruffalo’s computer-generated Hulk is a win-win (Courtesy : Marvel Studios)

After “Captain America : Civil War“, “Thor : Ragnarok” is next in line to have the best original score for its entire movie. The background score, at times, is so involving that it inspires you to pay attention even in the most narrative and explanatory scenes. It excels in hyping up the anticipation as well as provides comedic humour by going dead silent at times. It mixes previous MCU scores of the two Thor movies, with some 80’s retro-disco themes and some Led Zeppelin thrown in there for good measure.

In addition to being included in the trailer for Thor: Ragnarok, Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” is used in the film itself (Courtesy : Atlantic Records)

Besides the tons of easter eggs, references and MCU callbacks, Marvel doesn’t yet fail again to provide with a obligatory Stan Lee cameo (probably the best one ever) as well as two credit scenes. One of which sets up the tone and menacing threat of the upcoming “Avengers : Infinity War“. There are also surprising cameos from Matt Damon, Luke Hemsworth and Sam Neill. Trivia – Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum reunited after 13 years in this movie, since Jurassic Park and two Hemsworths portrays the role of Thor. That’s one of the many short candies there for movie-watchers to find.

Taika Waititi had to do little to no convincing in order to bring these stars on-board for short cameos in Thor : Ragnarok (Courtesy : Quora)

To summarise, “Thor : Ragnarok”, unlike its last two instalments, feels more like a action comedy superhero flick punched with tons of meta-commentary than a chapter on Norse mythology. In spite of Marvel’s big-budget, PG 13, low stakes monotonicity; superhero saturation, lack of enough screen time for character development, hard to miss scriptural loopholes and logical flaws, Waititi succeeds to deliver a fun-to-watch, colour capped, superhero movie with 3 distinct protagonists, each with a personality and struggle of its own. That’s no small feat, given that many directors left midway as they were not given enough freedom for their vision to unfold. But with filmmakers like Waititi, Gunn and Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther”), Marvel is entering a phase where it learns to embrace its directors individualistic voices instead of aiming for the sky. And we can only hope for the best yet to arrive.

My verdict – 4.6/5

 

Categories
Fantasy Featured

Season 2: Stranger Things got even more Strange

SPOILER WARNING: READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION!

It all started when a girl, Jane with psychokinetic abilities is kidnapped and is used to create a high energy space time tear which in turn builds a passage between dimensions. Jane, the little girl with her prisoner number 011 was actually used to eavesdrop on a man when she discovered the interdimensional creature from the ‘Upside Down’. After enduring years of torture and bizarre experimentation, ‘Eleven’ escapes and befriends Mike who is about her age. Eleven or El rescues Mike and his friend Dustin from some bullies with the help of her powers and is given a warm welcome to their gang. She helps to locate Will and Barbara, who have been taken prisoner by the interdimensional monster Demogorgon. Unfortunately, Barbara has already died. Eleven sacrifices herself in the process of saving their town, Hawkins. Even after being rescued safely and soundly, Will finds himself in ‘Upside Down’ again but hides this from his family.

Season 2 starts off with a ‘boom’ where a mystery girl Kali and (with psychic abilities and a prisoner number similar to El’s- 011) her gang rob a bank and manage to escape the authorities without much trouble. Things start to get weird again in Hawkins, where pumpkins get poisoned, Will keeps on having his episodes and gets treated for his PTSD and there’s a Mad Max in town. In his episodes, Will has visions of the Upside Down and a shadow monster which he describes as evil and will kill everybody. El is shown to be living with Officer Hopper all this while and Mike and Nancy have a real hard time dealing with the absence/death of Eleven and Barbara respectively. During episode 3 and 4, I really start feeling so bored that my interest in the show seems to hit rock bottom and I am very tempted to leave the binging right away. The pace of the story-telling is really slow BUT midway episode 5 things start picking up. There’s an unexpected twist and the Duffer brothers take help of the oldest trick in the book and bring forth an unlikely hero who is also the kindest and sweetest person in town. They show his dying moments again and again to puncture your heart with emotions but hey, the martyr twist absolutely works and my interest is piqued again! The nail biting mystery deepens and finally they’re back on track!

Number 8.

Eight episodes down, I still don’t get the need for Mad Max and her daft of a step brother, Billy. I like Maxine. She’s sweet and nice but is she an unnecessary addition to the team? I don’t know, maybe.  The Duffer brothers give season 2 a ‘Harry Potter-Voldemort-horcrux’ kinda twist where the interdimensional Demogorgon acts as some kind of a virus and latches itself onto poor little Will and has the boy under its control. Personally, I’d like it more if El had spent a little more time with her gang rather than going on a hunt with her mutant like punk sister Kali.  Kali takes Eleven/Jane on in her team and protects her like her own. We’re shown Kali’s sad and vulnerable side when El decides to abandon her sister and goes to save her friends in Hawkins instead. In Hindu mythology, ‘Kali’ is a fierce goddess who is the destroyer of evil forces and I really, really hope Kali is back for Season 3 with her amazing powers. One more thing to notice was a box named ‘Sarah'(Hopper’s dead daughter), Eleven had discovered while searching the Officer’s cabin.

MadMax.

This season was made enjoyable mostly because Dustin and Steve’s chemistry. I loved their adorable bromance and both of them were super brave this season. I liked how they developed Steve’s character, his journey from being a bully to a really good friend.

Steeve and Dustin.

As a big Star Wars fan, I was heartbroken in this one scene where Mike under his parents’ pressure gives away his Millennium Falcon for yard sale.  I think this is where Stranger Things hits it off with the millennials. The nostalgia. Bike rides, Middle School, the music, the references hit you hard. There are plenty of easter eggs too, like the kids dressing up as The Ghostbusters for Halloween, Dustin calling the mini Demogorgons as Demodogs referring to the movie Aliens, Eleven dressing up as a ghost for Halloween so that nobody recognises her; much like in the movie E.T., Lucas’s sister making He-Man and Barbie toys kiss, Will saying his favourite candy is Reese’s Pieces, the very candy mentioned in Steven Spielberg’s E.T.. Kali instructing El to channel her inner anger as X-Men’s Magneto does. El wants to avenge her mother, much like the holocaust survivor Magneto and chokes a bad man almost to his death. This scene looks like a tribute to the much powerful badass ,Darth Vader from Star Wars. The demodogs chasing the kids looked much similar to scenes from the Jurassic Park where dinosaurs terrorized everybody. During the final episode, El in an attempt to close the door to the other dimension, unleashes her full power and levitates in the air much like Jean Grey’s scene from X-Men: Apocalypse. Even Bob speaking about Mr Baldo is a reference to Pennywise from Stephen King’s IT. Stranger Things brings the best of American pop culture of the 80s to it’s audience and I could not be any happier.

The soundtrack of season 2 feels even more amazing than season 1. Bon Jovi’s Runaway plays while Eleven escapes from her mum’s house and it is my favourite. Once I finish writing this review, will download each and every song of this season, as soon as possible.

Speaking of the supernatural and horror quotient, everything is top notch. The jump scares in both the seasons are amazing and they managed to make me scream a few times. The scene where the demon/Demogorgon/virus is exorcised out of Will is the scariest and reminds me of The Exorcist. The season ends with the shadow monster being still alive towering the high school in the Upside Down. Quite honestly, if I were a resident of Hawkins and had been through these traumatizing experiences, I’d have moved without second thoughts. Having said that, cannot wait for Season 3!

What are your thoughts? Noticed more references and Easter eggs? Have any theories? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Categories
Fantasy Featured Games

Game of Thrones: Conquest

THE SEVEN KINGDOMS WILL REMEMBER YOUR NAME

“It’s the family name that lives on. It’s all that lives on” – Tywin Lannister

HBO series Game of Thrones, in collaboration with Warner Bros. Gaming brought out this game to fulfil the fantasy that we have all lived i.e., to play the Game of Thrones in Westeros.

Westeros is at war. Great houses clash, Dragons rule the sky, and the Army of the Dead threatens the realm.  Live out your fantasy and join this war.  Build your house and raise your army as you navigate a dangerous political landscape.  Based on the award-winning HBO series, Game of Thrones: Conquest allows players to become a Lord in Westeros and define a strategy for conquering the Seven Kingdoms. Winter is here and your enemy’s army will not wait to clash swords.  Wage war and join the battle today to capture the Iron Throne!

“Fight every battle everywhere, always, in your mind. Everyone is your enemy, everyone is your friend.” – Petyr Baelish

Master the innovative social system that allows players to recruit bannermen, fight wars alongside your allies, and live out your fantasy of ruling The Seven Kingdoms.

Claim the Iron Throne – In a dynamic political world, choose between deception and loyalty as you shift your allegiances.

Reward those loyal to you with titles like Hand of the King and Master of Coin as you build your Small Council.

Bestow Seats of Power to your allies granting them special military and economic advantages.

The map is set with all the houses namely, The Starks, Tullys, Greyjoys, Lannisters, Baratheons, Night’s watch but the Targaryen’s are not mentioned instead in Dragonstone Stannis’s Sigil is shown. Also it is shown that we form a house and Daenerys comes every now and then to instruct and praise on every level up and she appoints Tyrion to guide the player as a witty hand is required. Its clear that we shall support Daenerys claiming her throne at the King’s Landing. We can design our own sigil and own family name, create alliances and kick some ass. I have not reached such a high level yet I seem to enjoy the battles with my Liege and bannermen. Also if you are in a liege and loyal to the leader then you get to be the Hand of the King, Master of Coins etc. which can be used to rise in power. Also when you feel that you can overpower your own allegiance leader you can come out and attack so that you may become the leader.

However, like every other game it has its cons.

The game depends only on the levels of the house and the level of the creature/the enemy house. Its alright to keep in mind the level of enemy house but creatures like bear, coyote, boar , I personally think that the number of troops also should have some weight.as I had to march my entire army to defeat these creatures. The militia or the footmen, well equipped footmen would be enough to do the job but you need to deploy an entire army to defeat them. Also if that boar, coyote is of level 30 then its almost impossible to defeat them. To kill these creatures I had to deploy 70 footmen, 50 Slingers, 30 Long bow archers and much more whereas 5 longbow archer should be enough to kill such creatures.

The game really fulfils the fantasy of being a part of Westeros, rising a Westerosi army and claim the Iron Throne. To set an example the famous place as you all know is held by House Mormont, well not anymore in the game.

Because:

“In the Game of Thrones you either Win or Die” – Cersie Lannister

 

Image Credits – HBO

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Sketches

Carbink’s Arts: Inktober Day #20

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Sketches

Carbink’s Arts: Inktober Day #18

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Featured Sci-fi TV Show

Rick and Morty Season 3 Review Part 1 (Episode 1-5)

Dark humour. Unapologetic commentary on the obdurate nature of the society’s elite. Crazy adventures. Not so original settings. All these are inherent parts of a Rick and Morty episode. On those grounds season 3 does not disappoint.

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Sketches

Carbink’s Arts: Inktober Day #17

Categories
Sketches

Carbink’s Arts: Inktober Day #16